On 24th April, 2015, an unfortunate incident took place in Bajin, a village in the district of Udhampur, Kashmir. Two brothers, Mani and Zaroop were crossing the river to go across to another village. They were accompanied by their father. Suddenly both the boys fell into the river. Their father tried desperately to save them but in vain. He saw his two sons being washed away in front of his eyes. This incident shook everyone. Even today when the father recalls the accident, his hair stands on their end. Incidentally, 25th April 2016 was their first death anniversary. Their father was naturally very sad but he seemed to have a look of relief on his face.
The reason was inauguration of the new bridge which the local villagers have dedicated to his two sons. This 65 feet bridge that has been constructed with the support of the district authorities interconnects six villages in Udhampur district. Besides, this bridge is going to be useful to 300 students and 1,500 dwellers in the area.
Not just, Bajin but in several villages in Udhampur, kids and villagers had to cross the river to go to schools or other villages. In the past two years nearly 30 people had lost their lives similar to Mani and Zaroop. During monsoons, the rivers would swell and kids would bunk school. Parents were scared and hence would not send their kids to school. This had an adverse effect on children but they had no other options.
Then in 2013, some wooden bridges were built in Udhampur. But in 2015, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary undertook “PROJECT RAHAT”. The Government of Jammu & Kashmir also supported this project. The aim of this project was to construct a strong and a durable river-bridge. For this they took the help of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization). Under this project, 56 small bridges have been built. Recently the Chief Minister of J&K, Mehbooba Mufti, inaugurated these bridges. By the end of 2016, 170 bridges will be constructed in Udhampur. Of these, 56 are ready and the 103 bridges are in offing. These 56 bridges are going to benefit 327 schools and 27,000 students of Udhampur. These bridges have reduced the distance from the villages to the schools by stunning 349 km! The kids can go to schools even during monsoons and this has brought great relief to the parents.
More than 150 thousands residents, including the students are using this bridge in Udhampur today. It is saving time and is much more convenient. Most importantly, the villagers and students are not at the risk of being washed away or drowned in swelling waters, not even during the heavy rains.