Hundreds of residents residing in adjoining areas of Sonawari Tehsil in district Bandipora Thursday staged massive protests against what they term favouritism in relief distribution by government officials. Eyewitnesses told CNS that hundreds of residents from Hajin, Naidkhai, Nowgam, Gadakhud, Shignipora, Shilwat, Dangarpora, Markundal, Rakh Hajin, Baharabad and other areas assembled at Tehsil headquarter Sumbal on Thursday morning and amid anti-government slogans alleged that relief distribution process has been politicized while major chunk of relief has been given to influential people who were not hit by floods. The protestors told CNS that 75 per cent of the area in Sonawari was hit by floods but the sufferers who deserve the relief are being ignored as they lack influence.
“It is the height of apathy that few Revenue officials who visited Shilwat area to assess the damages caused due to floods had lunch in a house and in that very house they added names of few influential people in their list and ignored the rest. These officials did not bother to visit the other parts of the area and thus ignored the major sufferers,” protestors Nazir Ahmed said.
Accusing government officials of committing fraud on the behest of certain political leaders, the agitated protestors said more than 1000 residential houses have collapsed in Sonawari Tehsil, but only few affluent people who have access to power corridors have got the relief material and cheques. “Government is doing injustice in disbursement of relief money. Some non-affected people grabbed major chunk of relief as they are the supporters of a political leader,” the protestors alleged.
The protestors urged upon the government to refrain from adopting the biased approach to help the flood victims. The protestors alleged that Revenue officials are making quick bucks from the affluent people for enlisting their names in the assessment list. They appealed the Chief Minister and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to look into the matter.
Similar types of reports were reported from many parts of Kashmir. In Nai Basti area of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district people blocked the movement of traffic and rued the unfair distribution of relief cheques. They alleged that instead of providing relief to affected people, government officials and NGO’s take care of influential ones. They said that one the one hand government is making tall claims that it provide an interim relief of Rs 75000 to those whose houses collapsed during floods but on the other hand government is offering only Rs 17500 to the sufferers which is insufficient.