SOPORE STILL SEARCHES FOR TEEN’S BODY

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 Sopore Still Searches For Teen’s Body

Family of 17-year-old who committed suicide wait to bury her
“Mahi was also suffering from ailments due to depression, because of which
she had developed migraines and chest pain. On day of her suicide, she had asked for tea and tablets.” – Mahi’s mother

by  Tufail Mian

Acclaimed for the evening buzz, the Sopore Main Chowk bridge is plunged in gloom nowadays.
Hundreds of young and old people, standing on the bridge, look intently into the deep waters of the Jhelum river, hoping for a miracle. State Disaster Response Front (SDRF) teams scour the river in an effort to retrieve the body of a teenager, the latest to jump off the bridge.
It has been eight days since a 17-year-old girl, Mahi (name changed) from Sopore, also known as Chhota London, jumped into the river and her body is still to be found. The district authorities, the Sopore police, and local residents have been trying to find her body. Experts from Pulwama have been roped in to assist in the rescue operations.

Suicides in Kashmir have witnessed a sharp rise in the last decade. Youngsters burdened with unemployment, family crises, financial troubles, and drug addiction, take this easy way out of a life they find difficult. According to the Crime Gazette 2021, released by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the Valley has seen a jump in suicide cases with Budgam district in central Kashmir and Baramulla in north Kashmir, topping the tally.
Data compiled by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed around 6,000 cases of suicide recorded in Kashmir between 1990 and 2019. In most of the cases, the victims were young. Kashmir has a higher suicide rate than Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Bihar (NCRB,2019).Tale of economic woes Mahi’s mother revealed that her daughter had committed suicide because of depression stemming from poverty.
“Her father died some 12 years ago. Her brother is suffering from kidney failure. All of which had badly affected Mahi,” her mother said, not able to stop her tears.
“Mahi was also suffering from ailments due to depression, because of which she had developed migraines and chest pain. On day of her suicide, she had asked for tea and tablets,” her mother added.
“I had gone out,” her mother continued. “When I returned and looked for her, a nearby
shopkeeper informed me that she walked out of the house after I had left. Another woman told me that she saw Mahi on the bridge. My elder daughter and I soon reached the bridge. My daughter saw Mahi leaning against the wall of the bridge. When Mahi saw her sister coming ,
she hurriedly jumped into the river leaving us in shock,” her weeping mother said.
She appealed to the administration to find her daughter’s body. She had also asked them to
provide her elder daughter with a government job to reduce their poverty.
Farooq Ahmad, who is heading the rescue operations, said: “Eight days have passed and we haven’t stopped our search operation. We want the administration to provide us with
equipment and lifesaving jackets to conduct an uninterrupted search. Since the weather is
getting colder, it is hard for the divers to go into the water and search for her body.”
Suicides in Sopore.
Three days after Mahi’s suicide, another youth attempted to jump off the same bridge. The
residents, however, spotted him and stopped him from going through with his attempt. Later, after proper counselling, he was sent back to his family .
In September, a youth hanged himself to death in Model Town, Sopore. The deceased was
pursuing an MBA from Pune and had reached home only two days earlier.
In June, a 27-year-old youth from Arampora, Sopore, allegedly committed suicide in his home. And a few days later, a teenage girl and a woman were hospitalised after they tried to commit suicide by consuming poison in Tarzoo and Rafiabad area of Sopore, respectively.
In May this year, a 12-year-old girl hanged herself to death in her home in Haigam area of
Sopore town.
In January, a student of Class 12, attempted to jump off Sopore bridge after she failed her
board exams.
Doctors blame the rise in suicides to unemployment, family issues, domestic abuse and
financial problems. Dr. Amina, a noted mental health expert and activist, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had led to economic problems for middle-class families. “Because of unemployment and continuous exposure to the internet, people were experiencing mental stress and trauma,” she added.
“Nowadays the reasons for suicide are mostly the same. Many youngsters are addicted to drugs and several are trapped in bad relationships. We have collected data that shows a worrisome trend of increasing suicides even after marriage. Women are the worst hit,” she said. It is worth noting that unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir has risen considerably over the past several years. Unfortunately, tragedies such as Mahi’s evoke widespread social media coverage. People start identifying with the victim and consider suicide as the only solution. The portrayal of self- annihilation has been the most viewed content on the internet. Pre-recorded videos of suicide bombings and hangings get widespread coverage on social media.

Meanwhile, stories of suicide survivors don’t get a mention anywhere. Those who survive
suicides are unable to lead a normal life later. Survivors who take toxic substances experience neurological problems. Others who survive face social stigma.
It is time to take the issue of increasing number of suicides seriously and adopt preventive
measures. The government needs to establish rehabilitation centres for those who have
suicidal tendencies. Creating awareness, establishing scientific methods, and making people participate in such programmes, will help curb the trend.
People in Sopore are demanding rehabilitation centres, rapid action rescue teams to be
available at a moment’s notice, and cooperation from the administration to deal with such
cases in future.
Abdul Salam Dar from Pulwama has so far retrieved 44 bodies from the Jhelum river and he was called in by the Sopore administration. “I have been fishing out bodies from the river for the last 30 years. I have carried out operations in Pulwama, Sangam, Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla. Whenever I start a rescue operation, people pin their hopes on me. I don’t use modern scientific technology or SDRF boats. I go into water by myself with a rope and long wood to fish out bodies. So far, I have never failed.”
The deputy commissioner of Baramulla, Sehrish Asgar, who faced criticism for not acting
promptly in Mahi’s case, visited the bereaved family after nine days.

She said, “It’s not possible to provide a government job for the family, but the administration will help them with assistance in every possible way.”
The authorities have now banned people from taking photos and videos of the search and
rescue operation site. People were going too close to the site to click videos and photos with the risk of more untoward incidents, they said.

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