Floods have devastated Kashmir in almost all eras. But what makes the September 2014 flood different was that it hit the capital at a time emerged into a huge concrete jungle, choking waterways and all the natural exits. Given the magnitude of the crisis, the human losses were almost negligible though the economy was decimated as all the main trade centres were hit.
The floods did not made any distinction between the classes that emerged after the 1905 floods, commoners and the governance structure were floating on the same currents for many days. Even the armed forces of all kinds landed in the same state of helplessness.
Credit goes to the thousands of young men who risked their lives and became the new hope. At various places they were joined by various officials and, in certain cases, by the soldiers as well. But the security grid had their own priorities because, all of a sudden, they found themselves inundated with the infrastructure they had created to manage the place.
After Delhi rejected the off shore support offers, diaspora chipped in. Later, various NGOs from the mainland joined the efforts of relief. Some of them got engaged in rehabilitation later. The new government, that is in place for the six months now, is consistently insisting that it is trying its level best to get the best deal. Unlike government, the insurance agencies worked quite swiftly and did whatever they could in the given situation.
To commemorate the historic catastrophe, we at Kashmir Life decided to dedicate one complete issue to the crisis. While in last one year, Team KL extensively reported different facets of the crisis, its impact on life and economy, this particular issue tackles some key areas afresh. Almost deliberately, there is not much of what government did because it will be tackled once the government comes out with what it eventually is deciding to do.
This issue has tackled part of the other side of the crisis that hitherto remained untouched.
There is a list of some of the people who were on the fore front of the rescue operations in Kashmir, mostly in Srinagar – that took the major hit, we know it is neither complete, nor final. These individuals have been identified on basis of their mention on social websites or the popular media. Also, it needs to be mentioned here that while Kashmir is observing the first anniversary of the major deluge, scores of groups at societal, individual and official level have arranged a series of functions to remember and honours the heroes. There are groups desperately seeking sponsorships of the event to make it happen.
At a time when still thousands of families are finding it really challenging to survive honourably, it seems not an opportune time for “celebrations”. While thousands of volunteers worked on relief front, those working on rehabilitation are quite a handful. The resources which are going into “celebrations” should ideally go to the needy. While a collective survival has remained a big story for the last many decades, Kashmir is still not out of danger. Not much has happened in helping Jhelum to reclaim its natural course and that is the real danger lurking on Srinagar.