This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.

jkdlp

jkdlp

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ravages of floods and Government’s apathy?

Jhelum, Dal, Wular, streams and nullahs have claimed their respective lands!

A couple of days ahead of the onslaught of floods, meteorological department had issued warning that heavy rains were imminent in Kashmir. The government did not take it seriously. People, too, do not take such warning seriously till they are face to face with the crisis. The government adopted criminal negligence. The result was that people in the areas of Rajbagh, Korsu, Rajbagh Mandi, Natipora, Barzalla Faizabad, Jawahar Nagar and low laying areas including Lal Chowk, Polo View etc. suffered great losses owing to the Jhelum in spate even when the last level of rising water was declared. The government remained unmoved. It did not even perform the moral duty of warning the people. It appeared as if the government machinery and the political class had already surrendered their soul to defeat.

At the early stage ministers, officers and even the police staff ran off to their homes. The police cannot be blamed. It was not given the chance of saving the lives of the people. The only training they are imparted is of taking bribes and perpetrate oppression on people. They are told to provide security to the rulers of the day and suppressing and oppressing the weak and helpless. Even after the floods the MLAs and ministers did not reach the flood ravaged people. Most of the administrative departments become non-visible in this catastrophe. State Crisis Management was nowhere to be seen. People who had gone on the roof tops cried for help for four or five days.

It is 9th of September. People still remain perched on the third floor of their houses or shops waiting for help which might appear from somewhere. The NDTV channel showed the lady doctor of LD relating the heart-rending story of the patients. Catching hold of the fence of the hospital some patients were rescued. Not all but some patients were taken out. For five days no help from any side ---the police or army or government agency---- was made available. No rescue boat appeared.

CNN IBN reported that the doctors and Para medical staff of LD left patients to their condition and ran away from the hospital. Even the patients who had been operated upon were also left to their fate. Footage shown on ETV was telecast live from LD amidst the patients. This should be investigated into by a judge of the High Court. Those who abandoned their duty should be punished. We do not believe that people connected with medical profession would do such despicable deeds.

We should appreciate ETV reporter Mr. Rifat and the youth who worked with him who not caring for their lives, saved many lives. I salute them all. Up to 14 September no relief camps were set up by the government. Affected people were housed in different schools by the people themselves. Local people are also providing them with foodstuff. But eatables are not available at all. Yes the black marketers have hoarded rice and atta and other necessaries of life. Organizing committees are taking currency notes and run from place to pace looking for some eatables which are not at all to be found anywhere. People have helped some sufferers by providing them a kilogram or two of rice from their home stock.

Nobody knows the address of National Disaster Management Agency. But why should we accuse them? Joining hands with army, the NDMA has been able to save some lives.  We should not forget that army and air force did save many lives and provided some eatables and thus gave a proof of humanism. We should control our anger because lives of millions of people are at stake. Throwing stones on rescue parties or raising slogans against them means putting our own people to more suffering and abandoning them to death and disaster. We need to realize that devastation has taken vast area into its fold.

We must appreciate people who took out the tubes of their tires and doors of their shops to float them on water and thus provide life saving device to the children and women. This has been shown on various TV programs. Local administration or the government is not visible anywhere.

The Chief Minister gave an interview to NDTV in which he said that even he did not know anything about his cabinet and MLAs or administration and there was no connectivity at all. A CM speaks this on 9/10 September. The fact is that Omar Abdullah is not capable of administering the State. It is the people of the State who are suffering on account of him being the grandson of Sheikh Abdullah and the son of Farooq Abdullah? Why could he not use the boats of police and CRPF? State cabinet and administration disappeared in those trying days leaving no trace behind.

People told representatives of different channels that no minister or officer of the administration met them to ask how they were facing the crisis. If at all any representative of local administration or police did appear by chance he only served the retired senior bureaucrats the VIPs and not ordinary and common people. In this connection, I also had called Advocate Meraj-ud Din. This can be found on the Facebook of JKDLP. He lives in Faizabad (Nayak Bagh) with his two young daughters. He telephoned many people for rescue. 'A police boat came around and they cried save us save us. Nobody listened. The boat stopped in front of a retired DIG'. 

Farooq Nazki kept on appealing to all through face book for two days to rescue him in Shivpora. I regularly contacted so-called Control Room appealing for rescue of many people. For six hours I continued trying at least 50 calls. It had kept phones on engaged tone. I called Aslam Sogami at least thirty times in his capacity as MLA of Rajbagh area. Not once did he lift the receiver. If anybody responded he put it down just on hearing that I was speaking about rescue. 

God came to rescue my honor as the phone connection was severed. I ruminated what would be the destiny of this nation? The government did not want to answer the disaster and therefore it ordered disconnection of telephone lines?

If we take stock of the performance of the State government during past six years, charge sheet would grow into a full size book. Let us confine it to political arena only. Omar Abdullah government did not forewarn the people and he spoke a lie on the television saying his government had warned the people but the people ignored it. If the government was that much active, people in the areas of Rajbagh, Korsu, Lal Chowk, Jahangir chowk, Jawahar Naga, Ram Munshi Bagh, Mahjur Nagar, Faizabad and many other areas could have been rescued as soon as the Jhelum cross the danger mark?

Omar Abdullah has withdrawn his statement. The question will be asked: Which Control Room was established by his government where the chief secretary and all senior offices and ministers were assembled to review the calamitous situation minute by minute? If the government had no boats, it could at least have collected two hundred boats from Dal area.
No relief camp was established till the midnight of 14th September. Affected people were provided safety by the people in mosques, schools and private houses. People are collecting donations to provide eatables to the sufferers. But in our area in Nishat, the problem is that while we carry currency notes in our hand, we are not able to find rice, atta and other necessaries for survival. The government did not forewarn the people before the banks of the river were smashed or before the gate of the Dal was opened. The people residing on the peripheries of the Dal or on the Dal itself were abandoned to the deep waters.

The people were stunned on hearing the Chief Minister saying that "he was not instrumental in bringing down the heavy rains and that if it was in his hands he would have stopped the downpour."  Dropping water bottles from helicopter is a gimmick and cheap publicity. CM thinks he would win the goodwill of the people through these gimmicks. Even a soldier can do this. This antics resembled the antics of a separatist leader who on 6/7 September took a couple of colleagues with him and walked a few steps in the standing waters of Hamadaniya colony in Bemina locality. Nobody knows what his purpose in doing that dramatics was. They had not brought any boats with them or any relief for the needy. But of course that night his picture of wading through the flood water was flashed on the Face Book.

We all of separatist organisations should honestly concede that we have not been able to render any help or relief to the sufferers of floods. Our organisations are not disciplined and orderly. We don’t have disciplined man power as well to arrange relief on such a vast scale. It is something different that we might have made small effort within our means. I, for one arranged for opening free eateries for the affected people in the area of Shalimar and Ishbar Nishat.

On September 9 at 9 in the night, NDTV broadcast interview with some people in university area. They were crying that nobody had reached them; the government was not visible anywhere. But VIPs were being rescued before our eyes. We entreated them to save us but they did not listen. Many tourists saved from hotels situation along the Raj Bhavan Boulevard told NDTV that " they had not seen anybody from the government and civil administration. It were the Kashmiris who took us out of house boats and hotels in Raj Bagh to safer places". The tourists were very angry but thankful to ordinary people of Kashmir.

How can a government absolve itself of responsibilities in contemporary society? This is a mountainous state and in each season of the year there is one or the other calamity. But with a rising flood or with a snowfall of two to three feet, the administration gets paralyzed. With a minor climatic condition, power supply becomes the first casualty. It is weeks before power supply is restored. In the event of a light snowfall, telephone gets disconnected and one may call the telecom department a thousand times, there is no response at all. We have to remove snow from the roads ourselves and with a small snowfall power and water supply both are suspended. Despite thorough search one never comes across a single functionary of the State Crisis Management organization. They might have gone to the UK or USA for training in crisis management?

This calamity can be attributed as nature’s wrath. I am trying to find out a bright aspect out of this crisis. This catastrophe has taken the entire J & K state into its ambit, meaning PoK, Gilgit, Baltistan, entire valley, and the regions of Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch. In this way God Almighty has told us that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is not divisible. Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch also have suffered heavy losses and many bridges have been washed away. Those ravaged areas should also be taken up for providing relief and rehabilitation facility.

Inertia has overtaken functionaries of administration. Whoever you go, you will find functionaries shirking work and responsibility. Flood victims have leveled serious charges against 'some rescue teams'. They have accused that they were asked to give bribes for rescuing them. People have given interviews to the representative of NDTV -18 CNN. Soz was hooted in a camp at the airport. One person was heard yelling that "the Deputy Director of the Fire Department demanded forty thousand rupees from him by way of bribe to save his family". These allegations need to be investigated into. 

An inquiry commission consisting of two judges of the High Court should be constituted to probe all aspects related to the floods and identify the persons and organisations that have defaulted.

How and why did the floods come? This debate will go on for a long time. At the moment we need to concentrate what has to be done in future in the background of the situation that is before us. We have miscreants and devilish people in our society. They have tried to play mischief even during this calamity. Reports are that miscreants have tried to loot property from vacant residential houses and shops. We have also reports that many people of bestial instincts have demanded bribes from people for rescuing children, women and old people marooned in deep water. Many people recorded this complaint to the TV reporters. We need to seek God’s forgiveness for our collective sins. We have to desist from sins and oppressions like these. We must stop usurping the rights of others.

It is 19th September. The government has not been able to de-water areas of Lal Chowk, Rajbagh, Jawaharnagar and the rest of them. People had to come out and dismantle the bunds and turn the water back into flood channel.

The Director of SKIMS sent SMS to doctors calling them to report to duty. They are not on duty as yet. This is a joke of being duty conscious. We have only to hang our head in shame when we begin to think that we are obliged to live under the shadow of such a corrupt and inefficient government. Even after 22nd September, Lal Chowk, Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar areas remain inundated. 

Here are a few suggestions to mitigate the suffering:

1) Constitute a committee comprising representatives of civil society also with the terms of reference to underscore the problems that would arise after the food situation is over.

2) All precautions be taken to prevent spreading of epidemic after de-watering. God forbid if epidemic spreads in the aftermath of floods it will consume numberless lives.

3) Through wad committees and on locality, mohalla basis estimates of losses suffered by the people be made. Their immediate needs be taken into consideration and these be provided to them.

4) State government has limited funds. Bulk of funds comes from the centre. We should open Flood Relief Fund and appeal to people at home and outside to make lavish contributions to this fund. There are thousands of people whose houses have been destroyed and they are not in a position to rebuild their houses.

5) Businessmen of Lal Chowk area have suffered huge losses. Shopkeepers of the valley in general have suffered great losses. They deserve to be given all possible help and support. J&K Bank should provide them long term loan which should be interest free, The Bank has progressed owing to these people. Bank should also waive the loans of the affected people.

6) All central taxes as well state taxes, industrial taxes and other business taxes should be given moratorium of five years. The state should be exempted from sales and income tax. Construction meter bills should be suspended.

7) Indus, Chenab and Tawi rivers are almost dry in winter. Their de-silting should be undertaken during that period when there is no flow of water. Contractors remove sand from river beds should be given the contracts free of cost. They need drudging. Big pipes should be laid in places of low level and they will suck the water from lowlands and throw it into flood channel.

8) All channels meant to carry flood water should be kept clean and without any obstruction. The banks should be cleaned and no encroachment should be allowed that is illegal

9) No illegal construction of houses or shops close to the banks of the flood channels should be allowed. Those already existing should be dismantled. Areas below the level of the river must be provided with de- watering tube lines.

10) We have been largely responsible for the destruction of forests. Ban should be imposed on felling forest tree. Each individual should be enjoined by virtue of law to plant a sapling. Their conscience has to be stirred. Trees should be planted on the banks of rivers and streams and not the Russian alanthras. Deodar, fir and chinar trees should be planted. We have trivialized Mother Nature. Dense plantation prevents floods.

11) Wular and Dal lakes have been encroached upon beyond limits. Both of these should be cleared of encroachment without favour and prejudice on war footing. Dwellers close to Dal lake have to be attended immediately because their houses are damaged an unworthy of living.

12) Anchar Lake used to absorb extra water of the city. Birds from distant lands used to come and roost in the lake. We have turned it into a huge sewerage pit. All the refuse of the city is dumped around the bank of this lake. Waste of Soura Medical Institute and other litter is also diverted to this lake. Land mafia is active here and they sell land after encroaching it. Palatial house have been built around and in the lake area.

I will conclude by saying that one who defies the law of nature will have to suffer the repercussions. We have disrespected the paradise created by God Almighty. We have been punished strongly for the sin of spoiling nature. Let us repent our sins and save ourselves and future generations from destruction.