Two days after US government announced $250,000 (Rs 1.5 crore) aid for flood victims of Jammu and Kashmir, US business tycoon Bill Gates announced $700,000 (Rs 4.25 crore) aid as a relief package for the flood-ravaged state.
A prominent philanthropistl Gates (co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) extended “deepest sympathies” to the flood affected people of the state.
Earlier, Charge d’Affaires Ambassador Kathleen Stephens announced that the US intends to provide USD 250,000 to select NGOs through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in response to the needs of the people affected by the disaster.
Besides US, the UAE government Wednesday announced that “it would send urgent humanitarian assistance to the flood victims in Jammu and Kashmir”. Australia too had provided Rs 15 lakh for the victims of flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.
The worst floods have left around 280 people dead so far and 2300 villages damaged across the state. And to help out relief victims, the foreign countries have been announcing aid for the flood-ravaged state.
But after New Delhi’s tacit refusal to solicit help from the United Nations, foreign aid seemingly got stalled before the state government Friday said it would ask the centre to waive customs duty on relief material. “I will take up the matter with the centre,” chief minister Omar Abdullah said.
New Delhi’s resistance against foreign aid drew flak back in valley with the civil society group, Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCDS), saying that if international aid was availed at the time of natural calamities in Bhuj, Orissa and Latur, why is the government hesitant to seek it for helping the flood-affected victims in Kashmir. “At the time of earthquake in Pakistan administered Kashmir, international aid flew from US, Turkey, Italy and China. Why is India reluctant to accept it for Kashmir? We feel it is a deliberate move to increase the hardships of Kashmiris,” the KCDS said in a statement.
Even Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq asked New Delhi “to rise above politics and on humanitarian grounds allow international aid agencies to reach out to the flood-hit people”.
On the first day of the floods, said Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, we appealed to the international community including United Nations, UNICEF, OIC and other Muslim countries for urgent relief. “We got a positive and warm response and many people outside were more than eager to send relief,” Geelani said in a statement, “but arrogant and biased Indian establishment did not allow that aid to reach us, thereby proving that they always wanted us to be treated as their own slaves.”