Karnah is an administrative tehsil of the Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir, India.
It has 42 villages and is away from the main town of Kupwara. Paharis form a majority
population in the tehsil apart from Gujjars and Bakarwals. These Gujjars and Bakarwals are
the nomadic people who migrate with the livestock depending upon the season, this is the
main source of income for them.
The movement of these people start mainly in the month of May when the snow has
melted and the green pastures start showing up in the mountains. The upkeep of their houses
‘Dhoks’ begin and they also start looking for the suitable location for grazing their cattles.
Apart from grazing the main effort of these nomadic population is channelized towards saving
them from the predators like leapord, bears etc. The making of protected enclosure and being
on guard during night to ward off any danger becomes their main duty.
The population while moving also takes the children along with them as there is no one
to take care of them. Children accompanying the Gujjars and Bakarwals are visually vibrant
towards their respective goals. They have been instrumental in uplifting the living standards
and the society as a whole. The children carry books along with them to the places their
parents migrate, where they do not even have a proper bed to sleep, this speaks volumes
about the dedication and conviction of the youth in making a mark for themselves.
The people staying in these remote areas has always played a pivotal role in
showcasing the real Kashmir. Inspite of their proximity to Line of Control and continuous
disruption due to weather and cease fire violations the most prominent feature on display of
this town is the development undertaken and the happiness of local residents. The
government initiatives along with the connect between Awaam (locals) and security forces
has ensured a paradigm shift in bringing the available opportunities to the doorsteps and
further nourish the rich talent available in the bowl.
An improved infrastructure and development setup after abrogation of Article 370 is
furthering the hopes and beliefs of the locals that the vision of ‘Naya Kashmir’ is now slowly
but surely turning into reality. The conditions of roads has improved even in this remotest of
places connecting villages. This has infused an enthusiasm among the locals and especially
among the aspiring youth. It’s not just the ease of commuting but the feeling of connect and
belongingness with rest of the Union Territory and country that has been cultivated.
The sustained effort and investment in the education system of the bowl by the civil
administration by opening Government schools and colleges as well as armed forces via
Army Goodwill schools of Tithwal and Hajinar are attracting the Non-Government
Organisations from other parts of the country to this remote tehsil. The aspirations of the
youth is being realised and the same is visible in the results of last two years. Two count a
few success stories there have been Five selections in Indian Administrative Service and
State Provincial Civil Service, Four MBBS selections, One scientist in Stanford, numerous
people into Armed Forces, the list just goes on and on and that to from the Western most
corner of the valley having a population of just around 70000 with extremely limited
resources, uncountable and unthinkable challenges.
The improvement in communication with restoration of 4G network has also helped the
people to connect with the outer world. It has opened new avenues for the youth who aspire
to follow on the footsteps of the successful personalities of this location. The classes are now
available at the doorstep and even to the children of the Bakarwals who used to miss out on
important part of their education in the formative years. The classes for the competitive
courses are available to be at par with the students hailing from other parts of the country.
The government has also ascertained the uninterrupted power supply is available to Karnah
by provisioning of a new power plant in Karnah, providing unconditional illumination to the
hopes of these simple yet tremendous people.
Gone are the days when the students of Karnah had to rush to Srinagar for meaningful
education. This was earlier only available to the people with a sound financial background
due to the money involved in staying, food and tuition fees. With the aid from civil
administration, the electricity and internet available to these underprivileged youth 24*7, the
facilities have been provisioned by civil administration to the people of Karnah giving them a
fresh lease of life. The administration has also ensured the posting of competitive educational
staff in these education institutes.
To increase the employment opportunities for the Awaam, the security forces
have come forward, and in conjunction with the civil administration, has conducted seamless
skill development programs. These skill development programs have even been women
centric also like Arogya Sevika, empowering women towards their goals and enabling them to
take care of their household apart from creating the aspiration of becoming a doctor/ nurse.
The employment avenues have definitely grown throughout the valley after the
abrogation of Article 370, with the government introducing new infrastructural and
development projects, getting the youth of Kashmir at par with the rest and making up for the
time lost by them due to Pakistan’s false narrative creating unrest in the valley by coming up with schemes like Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojna in which 1.24 lakh local
youth of the valley are being trained in job intensive vocational courses and the citizens of
Karnah were not the people who would let this opportunity slip. Opportunities have been
grasped with both hands exponentially increasing the employment rate in this remote bowl.
Another similar scheme Udaan, this sceme has given a boost in corporate experience to the
locals greatly enriching their skills and increasing the talent pool available in the valley.
Though everything is still not tickety-boo. The Pakistan sponsored drug menace still
persists as plague and there are some black sheep’s who are involved in furthering the
Pakistan’s false narrative by smuggling arms, ammunition and narcotics to hinterland being
lured by money. However, the brighter side is that the youth is walking shoulder to shoulder
with the civil administration in curbing these menaces from the bowl which can be easily
gauged by the footfall in every Anti drug campaign. The people of Karnah have understood
the nefarious designs of our neighbour and are giving every possible support to thwart their
rancorous designs. The Awaam, civil administration and the security forces are working in
consonance to ensure that Karnah be nowhere related to any malaise, Karnah stands strong
for the progress, development and various success stories that this remote Western corner
of Kashmir has achieved.
Writter AR Bhat