Government, Army didn’t rescue Kashmiris, accuse flood victims

Tasavur Mushtaq

Srinagar

The state government and the army miserably failed in providing relief to the flood victims in the valley, leaving the public fuming.

While the civilians have been risking their lives for safety and survival of human lives in the flood-devastated areas, there has been no sign of the state government anywhere in relief and rescue work.

Except for the chief minister Omar Abdullah’s isolated effort to air-drop bananas and water bottles for the victims, the cabinet ministers have been absent from the scene on most days of the disaster. The bureaucrats and head of the government departments too were rendered immobile by the flood, reflecting the disaster preparedness that the state government has been bragging about.

In a radio programme on Sunday, the minister of state for PHE Nazir Ahmad Gurezi admitted that the state government miserably failed to handle the situation in  first 36 hours of the flood. And that the state government only had 250-odd boats to rescue the people.

“We were not prepared for the disaster of this magnitude. Our officials were trapped, our secretariat was under water, our police lines were hit by floods,” he said.

According to the victims, the army too was of little help. Rather, the people accuse the army of being selective in rescuing them.

Syed Imad of Zakura said: “On Wednesday, I was walking through water from Qamarwari to Bemina to rescue my trapped  relatives. Just then an army chopper flying over us air-dropped few water bottles and a packet for us, but all of them fell into the water, and were wasted.

“When I reached close to the Tattoo ground, I saw army men waiting for relief and rescue on the rooftops of the buildings in the camp. An another army chopper flew over us right then, and it almost landed on the rooftop to handover eatables to the trapped army men.”

A family from Ahmad Nagar trapped in a house at Solina in civil lines here said “the army choppers flew over us several times, but made no efforts for our rescue.”

“We were rescued by our relatives after the water had receded,” said a woman of the family.

The people said that the army trucks were stationed at close to submerged Tengpora-Bemina stretch of the bye-pass, making no effort to help the civilians who were trying to cross the road.

“On Friday, I had to go to Chanapora to see if my family was fine. I, like all civilians, walked through thigh-high water from Bemina to Tengpora. I saw about a dozen army trucks stationed on the stretch of the road, but they made no effort to help us even when the civilian trucks and tractors were trying desperately to help us,” Irshad Ahmad, a resident of Chanapora stranded at Khanyar due to floods, said.

Witnesses said that on Saturday the army had to face resentment from public at the Budshah bridge where it had arrived almost a week after the city was submerged under water. The reports said the public forced the army to flee the spot.

“The people were angry because army didn’t help the Kashmiris in the most desperate times. And when the situation is getting better, the army is trying to take credit for the work it didn’t do,” Zahoor Ahmad, a resident of Lal Chowk who had witnessed the incident, said.

The civilians have been arranging boats on their own to rescue their trapped relatives from the flood hit areas.

“My sister and her family was trapped at Narbal for four days, and neither the army or the state government was there to help them. Seeing no help coming, I arranged a boat myself, and rescued them,” Samir Ahmad of Zakura said.

“On all four days, I tried to rescue them. But I never saw any army man or government official present in the area to rescue the civilians,” he added.

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