Month: September 2014
A number of people, mostly women, blocked many arterial roads in protest against the authorities’ apathy towards the sufferings of the flood-affected people of the territory. According to media sources, dozens of residents, mostly women, hailing from Maisuma and Koker Bazaar localities near Lal Chowk blocked the Budshah Bridge in protest against the failure of the authorities to dewater the areas. “Most of the houses in Maisuma have become unsafe for living and the affected people are not sure when they can start reconstruction works,” Saleema, one of the women protestors, said. “It has been 21 days since flood water entered our areas and the authorities do not seem to be bothered,” she said. Shabbir Ahmad, who owns a shop in Budshah Chowk, said while dozens of heavy duty pumps were installed in Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar area for dewatering, only few fire tenders were used for draining out water from the commercial hub of Kashmir. The blockade of the arterial bridge snapped traffic movement between north and south parts of the city. Similar protests were also held at Bemina and Qamarwari area where the residents, besides seeking faster dewatering, were also seeking relief material like blankets, ration and medicines.
9 brave-hearts, 2 boats and 1 rescue mission Pampore youth brave flood fury to save 2000 people in 3 days‘
Srinagar, Sep 24: As the river Jhelum breached its embankments and flooded several places in Pampore town on the Srinagar outskirts during the intervening night of September 6 and 7, nine youth from Drangbal here dived into the raging waters to get hold of two large sand-extraction boats anchored some 500 feet away. They quickly jumped into the river by risking their lives and over the next three days, these brave-hearts rescued around 2000 people, including children and elderly men and women, and some non-Kashmiri labourers caught in the flood waters.
“We cut the ropes off the two boats after jumping into the river and swimming with great difficulty to finally reach them,” said 38-year-old Fayaz Ahmad Bhat who jumped into the flooded Jhelum that day along with his eight friends, knowing that the only two boats in sight could be lifesaving for the trapped people.
As the flow of water was too fast, they could finally make it to the boats only after four failed attempts earlier. “Although it was very dangerous to jump into the river at that time and we could have lost our lives, we had to take that risk to save so many other lives at risk that day.”
Once the boats were brought to the shores, the nine friends first came to the rescue of some non-local labourers who were shivering in fear and craving for help from a submerged building. “After bringing them to a safer place, we headed to rescue our families and other people caught in the flood waters,” recalls Bhat.
The nine friends divided themselves into two groups and set out to rescue the trapped people in the two boats that could carry over 50 people at a time. In each round, which sometimes took two to three hours, they would bring 50 to 60 people to safer grounds. In the next three days, working tirelessly from dawn to dusk, they were able to rescue around 2000 people.
The flood water had by then submerged all the houses in the area, with water reaching much above the first floor.
Bhat says till the morning of September 7, they had hoped for some government agency to show up and rescue the marooned people. But no one turned up, and it was getting late. After successfully recovering the two boats from the raging Jhelum, and knowing that they could swim, they immediately set out on their voluntary mission. With no previous experience of handling a boat, they did not know how to wade through the waters. But that did not deter them.
“When we would go inside the inundated colonies to bring out people, it would sometimes take us more than two hours for an otherwise 10 minute distance,” says Farooq Ahmad, 40, who sells barbecues on a roadside in Drangbal.
Being elders in their group, Farooq and Fayaz would take all the critical decisions in three days of hard work. There was no room for indecision or disagreements that could have marred their rescue efforts. The rest of the seven boys would listen to the elders who coordinated and directed the rescue efforts, trusting their experience and expertise.
“Together we made a good team since we had a good understanding and everyone of us wanted to come to the rescue of people and save as many lives,” says Farooq. “At times we would carry around 100 people, including children and women, in one boat. We didn’t discriminate with anyone, we rescued everyone who came in our way.”
Fearing the boat might drown because of the increased weight, all the eight friends would at times be on one boat till the rescued people were brought to safer places. Just in case the boat capsizes, Farooq says they could still save some people by swimming out of the flood waters.
“We didn’t rest much for all those three days and ate very little, sometimes taking only some water in between short breaks, knowing that there were more people trapped who needed our help,” says Farooq. “We had decided that even if we die, we will make all efforts to save as many people as we could with the help of those two boats.” They even ferried drinking water from the nearby villages for the stranded people in three plastic water tanks which they somehow managed on their own.
Fortunately the two boats did not fail the nine brave-hearts who in turn did not give up rescuing people out of the flood waters. One of the two boats lies damaged on a nearby riverbank. And the Jhelum flows quietly beneath the damaged boat.
Veteran Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani, has urged India to take concrete measures to rehabilitate before the winter season starts the flood affected traders, farmers and people of the territory who have been rendered homeless by the recent floods. According to Kashmir Media Service, Syed Ali Gilani in a statement in Srinagar said that if India was not in a position to do that then it should issue him travel documents so that he could collect donations in foreign countries for the Kashmiri people. He said that by helping the flood victims, India was not doing them any favour because it was looting the natural resources of occupied Kashmir for the last over six decades and collecting huge taxes from the same traders and shopkeepers who were affected by the floods. The veteran leader pointed out that India was occupying Jammu and Kashmir with the help of its military might so it was its responsibility to compensate the flood affected people for their losses and rehabilitate them as soon as possible. He said that the failure of the government machinery and delay in the rehabilitation works was giving an impression that the Indian government was either not in a position to do it or it didn’t want to do it. Syed Ali Gilani maintained that the world community particularly Muslim countries had taken serious notice of the destruction caused by the floods in occupied Kashmir and the response which Hurriyet leadership received to their appeal for help was very encouraging. “If Indian government issues me travel documents, I believe I will collect as much donation for Kashmir in foreign countries that we can compensate the losses,” he stated. He also thanked and praised youth who worked as volunteers day and night to help the needy people. Meanwhile, Syed Ali Gilani and Hurriyet leader, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, took stock of the situation at the central relief camp at Hyderpora, Srinagar, and issued instructions for speeding up the relief work. A team led by Peer Saifullah and Dr Naseem Gilani distributed relief material among the affected people of Aloochi Bagh and another team in Nowgam, Chadoora and Bemina areas. Under the supervision of Tehreek-e-Hurriyet District President for Islamabad, Mir Hafizullah, ration and other relief material worth lacs of rupees was distributed in Dewaan Colony of Naibasti, Khanbal, Danter, Aaram Pora, Uran Haal, Hallmullah and in many villages of Bijbehara.
Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Muhammad Yasin Malik has said that the recent flood have badly affected the lives of Kashmiris as lacs of shops and business establishments have been totally devastated rendering thousands of people jobless. According to Kashmir Media Service, Muhammad Yasin Malik visited flood-hit areas of Soitaing, Wethpara, Lasjan, Bodipora, Fish Colony and Asthan Pora and distributed relief among the flood victims. Speaking on the occasion, he said that the Indian media on the 1st few days of flood was busy glorifying the role of Indian army in rescuing stranded people but now nobody was bothered about the miseries of the Kashmiris. Yasin Malik said that the alarming situation in the territory needed an early attention of Islamic countries and it was obligatory on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to ensure job opportunities on priority basis to the unemployed youth of Kashmir. The JKLF is delivering a letter in this regard to the OIC Secretary General that will be delivered to his office soon, he added. The JKLF Chief said that Srinagar’s main markets at Lal Chowk, Budshah Chowk, Residency Road, Maulana Azad Road, Goni khan, Hari Singh High Street, Magarmal Bagh, Sarai Bala, Batamaloo, Karan Nagar, Bemina, Qamarwari, HMT, Barbarshah, Bandirbagh, Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh were still under water and lots of garbage and hence danger of spreading diseases was looming large. Asking the people to start sanitation work on their own, Yasin Malik said, “Decomposing carcasses and mounds of garbage accumulated at all localities is more dangerous than the flood, it is creating an alarming situation which can prove fatal if not acted upon immediately. Rulers have failed in sanitizing the flood hit areas, so it is the duty of people to stand up and start sanitizing these areas to save further destruction,” he added.
Chairperson of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Aasiya Andrabi has praised the people of Kashmir for showing exemplary courage and unity after the devastating floods in the territory. According to Kashmir Media Service, Aasiya Andrabi in a statement issued in Srinagar said, “Younger generation of Kashmir proved it to the world that they can face any catastrophe. They risked their lives to save others.” She said that youngsters even during the very difficult times refused to take the relief sent by New Delhi. “Dukhtaran-e-Millat salutes young Kashmir. We hope the people of Kashmir will remain steadfast on their resolve and spirit of unity and resistance shown by them,” she added. Aasiya Andrabi expressed solidarity with the flood victims and urged the international organizations to come forward and help the Kashmiris in this hour of need. She said that New Delhi left the Kashmiris to die and made no effort to rescue them.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League (JKPL) has expressed solidarity with the flood-affected people including traders and shopkeepers. According to Kashmir Media Service, the JKPL spokesman, Imtiyaz Ahmad Reshi, on the directive of party Chairman, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, visited Lal Chowk and Batmaloo areas of Srinagar to show sympathy with the affcetees. On the occasion, he attended meetings with traders associations and also discussed with Vice Chairman of Kashmir Economical Alliance, Farooq Ahmad Dar recent loss inflicted to the traders by the floods. He appealed to the UN, OIC and international community to help the flood victims of the occupied territory besides sending teams of health for overcoming the water-borne diseases in the territory as the puppet administration had totally failed to deliver.
The puppet Chief Minister of occupied Kashmir, Omar Abdullah has refused to take donation of Rs 6 crores from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal.According to Kashmir Media Service, the AAP spokesperson, Sanjay Singh, who is currently in the Valley, in a media interview in Srinagar said that he had made several attempts to meet Omar Abdullah but to no avail. He said that AAP had collected Rs 6 crores for rehabilitation of flood-hit Kashmir. “We want to help Kashmiri people but the authorities were not cooperating. We don’t know why Omar is hesitant to take the money,” he said. Sanjay Singh, who is camping in Kashmir for last two weeks, has visited many flood-hit areas to take stock of the situation. “I have visited many flood-affected areas of Kashmir. There is a major destruction everywhere. People have lost everything. Majority of the orchard trees and paddy fields are destroyed in floods. It requires a Herculean effort to overcome the situation,” he said. He said the authorities should provide immediate compensation to farmers, whose orchards and paddy fields are destroyed in the floods. “Farmers are the most affected people. I visited many areas in Srinagar and South Kashmir, where situation is very grim”, he deplored.