Kashmir Floods: Pain, Anger And Hope Among The Affected People
By Tahir Ibn Manzoor
28 September, 2014
As the floodwaters recede in flood-ravaged Kashmir, the scale of the devastation is unravelling. Living life in tents is miserable, the affected families face the biggest challenge as they have been left homeless, just when harsh winter is creeping up on them. More than 280 were killed in Himalayan region when the floods, triggered by heavy rains, swept across Jammu and Kashmir State – with 203 in Jammu and 77 deaths in Kashmir. The flood-fury has left hundreds of villages submerged and thousands homeless. The unprecedented flood caused a loss of over Rs 1,000 crore to the apple industry in Kashmir, threatening a collapse of the horticulture industry. The farmers are helpless as the standing crop of paddy has been destroyed due to floods. The Kashmir’s famous handmade carpets has also been ruined so as, the Pashmina shawls. From store, shopkeepers, street vendor to a Chai Walla (tea seller), it’s the common man who has suffered a huge loss not only his property, but the business as well. For some it was their livelihood for the day and for it they are battling now.
When I walked barefoot along with the lens-man in the commercial hub here in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, it was very stinky and buried in layers of mud. Hundreds of shopkeepers were seen removing flood-damaged stocks – dry fruits, readymade garments, to electronic goods, from their smelly shops as the water receded.
There were greasy cars on the roadside; shopkeepers were cleaning their shops, stocks filled with the layers of mud, soaked in putrid water – the mounds of damaged stock lying outside smells stinky. The flood water was still upto the knee level in many parts of the city even after weeks passed.
Reality | Devastation
While visiting to HMT, Qamarwari, Karan Nagar, Batamaloo, Magarmal Bagh, Lal Chowk, Solina, the losses to business, housing and infrastructure is in tens of thousands of crores, the strewn articles floating, with mounds in houses wears a war-time look. The residents in flood stricken areas were seen hopeful for the betterment after battling with the death for the many days and nights.
Many houses, lanes in the HMT area are still submerged, but the flood water has receded in the past one week. Also, the relief camps are also operational at Shalteng, in the outskirts of the Srinagar.
The pumps are draining out the flood water from the submerged areas in Qamarwari and Parimpore. The water level in the Gulbagh area is above 3-4 feet.
Areas of the Bemina are still submerged the water level in the area is 3-6 feet.
The smelly, sprayed dairy farm is now the place for the flock of pigeons and dogs, that are in search of the carcasses left behind; which once was the home to hundreds of cows.
Self Help | Kashmir Quotes – Pain, Anger and Hope
“The situation was very grim when we started to rescue the people from the flooded areas. It is the biggest tragedy that I have ever seen in my life,” recounts volunteer Bilal, while rowing the boat in the Jawhar Nagar area of the City.
“When our houses were submerged in the flood waters, I thought the end is near and along with my family I moved up to the 3rd floor as the water level was rising rapidly,” said Ghulam Hassan.
"The state government has completely failed to provide the basic amenities to the people of Kashmir. As the elections are nearing they will claim the heroics,” youth talking to Kashmir Outlook said.
A lean woman yelled, “we lost everything we recently built a new house that has been badly damaged.”
“We are suffering heavily the loss due to floods, it’s smelly here with the water not receding of its own which might cause water-borne disease, the life has been miserable since past two weeks,” says the residents of Qamarwari.
“What if I would have been there and left to be starved for days,” says a youth who was at the relief distributing food.
“Everything was normal suddenly the brown-water started entering the most parts of the city I was on the 2nd floor whatever my eyes has seen is impossible to forget the slow death it was.” a student told Kashmir Outlook.
“When I heard the Jhelum spills, flood water starts to submerge the areas like Jawhar Nagar, Shivpora and Raj Bagh, within 25-45 minutes I saw the water lever has almost touched the 2nd floor of my house, there was hue and cry all around,” an elderly man told while going upstairs.
“As we were having the dinner when the flood waters submerged our house at Bemina, in the outskirts of the Srinagar, we couldn't sleep as the water level was increasing. We started packing the basic amenities to run away to the safer area. I was the witness to the scenes which were terrifying, traumatic,” crooned a female student.
“Neighbours’ were shouting for the help, I tried thrice but couldn’t do anything as the water currents were so strong. I repent.” says a youth who has a shop in Karan Nagar.
Chief Minister of J-K Omar Abdullah
There was no government official active in the early days when the floods hit Kashmir.
“I have not been able to establish contact with any of my ministers except those who were in this guest house. Now, as far as I am concerned I cannot pull-out assets to save my family members, when I am not in a position to send boats to everybody else and therefore in the normal course whoever can be rescued will be rescued, and I hope that everybody is safe and sound. But I am being the last person to deploy assets for my kiths and kins, when everybody else is suffering.”
“In my capacity as a CM I am trying hard to reach my own people. Lot has been done and lot more has to be done. We are using the resources whatever we have available… I understand their pain and anger,” Omar Abdullah said while talking to senior Correspondent Skal Bhatt when Srinagar, south Kashmir was submerged and remains cut-off.
The losses to business, housing and infrastructure is in tens of thousands of crores. The volunteers, mostly the brave local heroes rescued thousands and now can be seen distributing food, medicines and drinking water to the affected people.
Be patient, our Kashmir will rise again… so as, the spirits of the people will be high as it were helping each other. Things will change for the better. Live long brotherhood, live long Kashmir – The home of oppressed.
[The author is a Web Editor at Kashmir Outlook, student of journalism at Central University of Kashmir, tweets at @TahirIbnManzoor]
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