5,000 residents of Handwara face loss of life and disruption due to lack of bridge
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5,000 residents of Handwara face loss of life and disruption due to lack of bridge

5,000 residents of Handwara face loss of life and disruption due to lack of bridge
A resident of Reshwari Handwara crosses a dangerous wooden bridge over the Mawar stream on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Aabid Nabi

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, July 9: Lack of a proper bridge in Reshwari village, located in Handwara area of ​​north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, has led to numerous deaths and made life miserable for nearly 5,000 villagers.
Reshwari, located about nine kilometres from Handwara town, relies on the Mawar stream, which becomes dangerous from April to July due to glacial melt. The picturesque landscape of Reshwari belies the harsh reality faced by its residents. The improvised bridge over the Mawar stream, often dangerous, tragically claimed human and livestock lives. Every year, several residents, especially children, lose their lives trying to cross the swollen stream, while countless cattle drown.
Bashir Ahmad, 45, recalled with pain how he lost his son while crossing a stream on his way to school. “I lost my son when he fell into the stream. His body was never found. Many families have suffered similar losses,” he lamented.
Ahmad added that the community lives in constant fear, with parents hesitant to send their children to school and expectant mothers often having to be carried on their backs across the stream because vehicles are not accessible.
Last week, another resident, Shamim, said tragedy struck again when a 7-year-old girl slipped and fell into a stream. Her body was never found, plunging her family into despair and underscoring the urgent need for a safer crossing. “The girl comes from a poor family. In fact, all the people here work as labourers and therefore cannot accompany their children to school. It is safer for them not to send them to school,” he said, adding that the construction of a proper bridge is the only demand of the residents.
The residents have been demanding a proper bridge for decades. Despite numerous visits by political leaders and officials, no concrete action has been taken. “We have been demanding this bridge for decades, but our demands remain unfulfilled,” said another resident. He added that the community hopes that the authorities will finally respond to their urgent need, ending the cycle of tragedies and hardships caused by the Mawar stream.
Acknowledging the problem, Handwara Additional Deputy Commissioner Aziz Ahmad Rather said the Roads and Buildings Department has identified areas where bridges are needed, prioritising places with unsafe wooden structures. “When it rains and streams overflow, these bridges become dangerous, often carrying away cattle and even people. Addressing these needs is crucial to ensuring safe connectivity,” he said.
Rather urged members of the Neighborhood Development Council to allocate funds for the bridge, emphasizing the importance of preventing further loss of life.