Lal Chowk: Paralyzed By Floods in 14, This Time By Government

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

SRINAGAR

City centre Lal Chowk. Photo: Bilal Bahadur
City centre Lal Chowk. Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Exactly one year ago, Lal Chowk was deluged and there was no life. After incessant rains lashed valley for many days together, flood was imminent. Early Sunday, raging Jhelum waters had entered city and people fled for safety, however, many were caught. Ghosts roamed Lal Chowk as water went 22 feet high in following days.

This day, in 2015, when traders’ bodies across board decided to observe shutdown as PDP-BJP government failed to announce any special package, the government decided to impose severe restrictions in city areas. Police made additional deployment while city centre – Lal Chowk was caged as police and Para military forces raised concertina wires around Ghanta Ghar.

Supported by all pro-freedom groups including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar and Muhammad Yasin Malik, the traders had decided to hold a protest demonstration in Lal Chowk today marking one complete year of 2014 deluge. Unionist National Conference, also had supported the strike call.

The 2014 September floods ravaged the Srinagar city and the then Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress government had put the losses at Indian Rs One Lakh Crore and had asked union government for a financial package of Rs 44000 Crore.

The floods saw Kashmir youth taking the Himalayan challenge head on and helped themselves. As government went missing (It came out only after 25 days later), local self-help groups and Mohalla committees went canoeing deep in waters to save people and distribute necessary help.

Concertina wires were raised around City Centre as not to allow any protest demonstration by trade fraternity. Police men stand gurad near Amira Kadal from Hari Singh straight. (Pic by: Bilal Bahadur)
Concertina wires were raised around City Centre as not to allow any protest demonstration by trade fraternity near Ghanta Ghar. Police men stand gurad near Amira Kadal from Hari Singh straight. (Pic by: Bilal Bahadur)

Unlike Kashmir based media which was deluged and printed again after ten days, New Delhi based flew its ‘reporters-cum-activists’ to ‘cover’ Kashmir floods. The move, helped by defence personnel stationed in Kashmir, was criticised by all, alike as the TV crews roved their cameras around army men, only!

Narendra Modi led right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government had taken over union government in May last year – months ahead of Kashmir 2014 deluge. Though, Modi visited Kashmir quite a few times post floods but announced only Rs 1000 Crore packaged then.

The post Kashmir 2014 floods witnessed state assembly elections which resulted in PDP-BJP coalition Sarkar and people expected the announcement of economic package from the Union government which is yet to see light of the day.

The state government late Sunday evening decided not to allow any protest demonstration and it ordered detention of various trade leaders. Geelani continues to be under house detention while Sehrai, Ayaz Akbar, Mirwaiz, Yasin Malik were detained in their homes.

Roads leading to Srinagar city were barricaded. At Parimpora, concertina wires were raised against the road leading to Qamarwari. Public traffic is completely off the road while business establishments are closed down. Schools, colleges and Universities have been shut while University of Kashmir also postponed its exams scheduled for the day.

Separatist groups, NGOs honoured the youth (Brave Hearts) who worked tirelessly in 2014 floods while government had planned ‘Revival Day’ which has been postponed to September 12 in view of strike today.

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