Housing For All | Bandipora villagers protest over deletion of names from Prime Minister’s housing scheme

Bandipora, Dec 26: Several villagers from Doban in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district protested at the Block Development Office (BDO) on Tuesday after officials told them about “auto deletion” of their names from the online data of Prime Minister’s housing scheme.

The villagers, including elderly, women and middle-aged people, displayed applications and photographs showing they were included in the list after “proper verification” and geotagging, with cases dating back as long as 2014.

However, the villagers, who are mostly tribal, said they have been “forced’” to run from pillar to post after officials told them their names have been “auto deleted” from the beneficiary list.

Sadam Hussain, one of the villagers, said he was among the “priority” people when the names were announced, but he has been waiting since 2017. “Since then, we have been pushed to the wall,” Hussain said.

Hussain and at least 20 other people from the village said they were told by the village-level workers to construct foundations, which they did, and then they were “geotagged” and enlisted for the scheme.

“My previous base for the house has been damaged. I even reconstructed it, but the officials are saying nothing apart from false assurances,” Hussain continued.

The villagers said they have been visiting the office for a long time now, but nothing has happened even as several officers and VLWs have changed since, they said.

Rosha Jan, another middle-aged woman, said it has been almost seven years that she has been visiting every officer in the district, “but no one pays attention or listens to my pleas.”

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She continued, “My husband is ill and I have small children to take care of. It has been so many years now … I am living in a shanty.” She added that justice should be done.

Riyaz Ahmad Chohan, another villager, said, “It is surprising that the officials are saying that all the villagers enlisted for the scheme have been auto-deleted from the online list.”

Chohan said the department was feigning ignorance by blaming the technical “error from Delhi” for the auto deletion and they “have nothing to do with it.”

The villagers said they are “deep in debt” since they had purchased the raw material from their savings and the department has further frustrated them by dropping them from the beneficiary list.

They also shouted slogans against the BDO officials, denouncing the mental toll the issue had taken on them.

Another elderly man from Panzigan village of the district, Ali Mohammad Shah, hard of hearing, who joined the protestors from Doban said that he had been following his case from 2014.

“I have submitted three files since,” he said, but everytime, he added, officials claimed that they have either “misplaced them or the file has been lost”.

Requesting a thorough investigation from the higher authorities, the villagers said those involved in the discrepancies should be brought to book and their issue should be sorted out on priority.

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