Suicide is the act of ending one’s own life. The upsurge in suicide cases in Kashmir is concerning. At least 2 to 3 people in Kashmir are committing suicide every day.
According to psychologists, unemployment, violence, prolonged lockdown, armed conflict, dispute and clashes have severely disturbed the mental health of people in Kashmir.
According to evidence from the Qur`an and Sunna, suicide is strictly prohibited in Islam and views suicide as a major sin. As per Islam, a Muslim is obligated to exercise patience at times of affliction and fight injustice to the best of his ability. He is prohibited to commit suicide to escape afflictions.
“And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful,” Qur`an 4: 29.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has compiled data that reveals that the state has recorded a total of 5,943 cases between 1990 and 2019.
As per a report by India Today on 5 July 2021, more than 100 people, mostly youth, have committed suicides in the valley during the last six months.
Aharbal is a hill station in Kulgam, the south-western part of Kashmir Valley, mostly known for its waterfall surrounded by the breath-taking view of mountains and meadows. The Aharbal waterfall attracts people because of its mesmerising look but unfortunately, it has become a suicide point for many people.
On 4th July 2021 – a 24-year-old mentally unfit person committed suicide by jumping into Aharbal waterfall.
On 7th July 2021, a 24-year-old youth from Kulgam ended his life by jumping into the waterfall.
On 23rd July 2021 – the third incident in just a month, a 17-year-old girl from Shopain also committed suicide by jumping into the Aharbal waterfall.
Even though the terraces leading to the falls are fenced but the gate leading to the waterfall always remains open. Without paying any heed to the warning signs put up by the authorities there, people enter the gates to take selfies and photos close to the dangerous waterfall which already has claimed many lives.
On 21st June 2021, a youth slipped into the waterfall but was luckily retrieved by his fellows and other people around.
On the same day, a woman along with her infant tried to jump into the waterfall. A man who noticed her attempt immediately rushed to her and thwarted her suicide bid.
In June, a youth from the Nowgam Shangas area of district Anantnag slipped into the waterfall and lost his life.
On 8th June 2021, a 22-year-old youth who was on a picnic along with his friends died after he accidentally fell into Aharbal waterfall. Rescuers immediately swung into the action but couldn’t save his life.
Talking to The Kashmiriyat, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, a 40-year-old Gardner in Aharbal said, “The waterfall has been fenced properly by the authorities to avoid any inconvenience but the youths trespass to the waterfall site which results in injuries and other mishaps.”
He further said, “People here lack awareness. Even if we place our men near the waterfall, the river flows to the vast area as well, how will we avoid mishaps there?”
Chaudhary Nazir Ahmed, a 40-year-old Chowkidar (Watchman), talking to The Kashmiriyat said, “There are rules and regulations at every tourist destination but people are reluctant to follow those rules. People should consult guides here to know about safe routes.”
He also said, “We always make announcements, pleading people not to go to dangerous points but unfortunately they oppose our requests and trespass to dangerous points. We sometimes use batons to disperse people from these points but they refuse to cooperate.”
“The rocks near the waterfall are as slippery as an eel. These points are dangerous. We have put up warning signs near these points but unfortunately, the educated youth still choose to trespass to these sites,” he added.
“The development authority has constructed safe routes, which are not prone to accidents but people choose the dangerous ways which result in injuries and sometimes mishaps,” Nazir Ahmed said.
Talking about the suicide cases in Aharbal, Nazir Ahmed told The Kashmiriyat, “The people may be depressed and fed up due to prolonged lockdown but it doesn’t justify suicides.”
Appealing people to cooperate with the authorities Nazir Ahmed further added, “People should always take the safe route and avoid going near the waterfalls, near the points which are marked dangerous by the authorities and should completely avoid trespassing.”
Ashiq Hussain Ganaie, a 37-year-old daily wager talking to The Kashmiriyat said, “The rush of the public has increased immensely since past few years due to which the incidents of suicides and mishaps have elevated here in Aharbal.”
“Some people trespass, by climbing the fences to the dangerous points and slip to death because of it. Some people come here to commit suicide and because of these incidents, we are held responsible. Every day we have a rush of almost 3,000 to 10,000 people. We cannot keep an eye on everyone, people have to act as responsible citizens,” Ashiq Ahmed said.
He further added, “When we try to stop these youth from trespassing they argue and even misbehave with us. We also have State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team posted here for duty.”
Talking about the viral video of a young boy jumping into the waterfall, Ashiq Ahmed said, “Recently, a mentally unfit person appeared near the Aharbal waterfall, the people around him started whistling and hooting at him, which finally instigated him to jump into the waterfall. It is difficult to handle the massive number of people here.”
Talking about the uncooperative behaviour of people, Ashiq Ahmed told The Kashmiriyat, “People refuse to obey State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), we are just civil police – how do you expect them to cooperate with us.”
Talking about the fences around the waterfall, he added, “Every year we have to repair the fences which are damaged due to heavy snowfall in this area, this process is time-consuming as well as money consuming, but people climb these fences to go near the waterfall and take pictures.”
Robert Welch has wisely said, “The real freedom of any individual can always be measured by the amount of responsibility which he must assume for his own welfare and security.”