It has been more than three fortnights since the worst floods hit the nucleus of Kashmir, the Srinagar city. After the people moved away from the marooned belts and the waters receded, the first priority for a large section of the population was to offer special prayers, to seek forgiveness from the God.
Within days after the shopkeepers in the city cleared the stanching muck, the new priority took over: purchasing the flood-damaged material on discounted prices. It was this crowd that faked Lal Chowk’s normalcy.
After the floods when the government started reviving, a major part of the attention was diverted to telling people that they should stay away from items that floods touched. In order to help children to stay away from any harm that floods usually get along, was to immunize them against various diseases. This requires lot of resource and effort. And then the government took the bad decision of keeping the children away from the schools.
Even the Supreme Court directed that the flood soaked material of all kinds should not get into the use of the society. Trade was also told in unequivocal terms that they should destroy these items. But what shall the government do if the people come and purchase these items at discounted prices? What will the immunization do to a baby that uses flood-soaked bedding? And if there is a problem, why should the government or an Omar Abdullah be held responsible?
Insurance agencies were categorically told by the competent offices that they should compensate the damage. They were reluctant on certain fronts and perhaps continue to be so but the courts have asked them to follow the directions in the larger good.
But after the trade understood the appetite that the market exhibited for the flood-soaked materials, it became a huge opportunity. Even the insurance agencies allegedly suggested traders to manage part of the losses by resorting to discounted sales so that the balance amount is paid by them.
The trend became so popular that traders who sell edibles like biscuits and medicine started marketing the flood soaked material. There are instances in which flood soaked biscuits were served to the flood affected populations. The latest shock came from the pharmacist sector in which as many as eight druggists were barred from selling medicines because they were marketing the flood impacted medicine.
While everybody is waiting what the government does, the bigger issue is what the society is doing. The society is actually making the job of the government very difficult by encouraging practices that they should have discouraged.
Kashmir society needs to revive the spirit it exhibited when Srinagar was under water. People from across the Valley reacted in their own way. Had not they acted fast with lot of food, water and rescue boats, the deaths of the devastating floods might have been many more. It is that spirit that needs to be encouraged so that the black sheep are identified and taught a lesson. Seeking forgiveness from the God is fundamental but the vital follow up is to choose the right path. Only prayers cannot help.