J&K floods: Discontent Kashmiris aiding each other in time of crisis

credit: www.thehindu.om
credit: www.ndtv.com
credit: www.ndtv.com

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

Baramulla (Jammu and Kashmir): Nearly a year after the deadly J&K floods that claimed almost 300 lives, the Kashmiris feel that the government was not doing enough and in some strange ways, they believe that the deluge united them like never before.

There are scores of people living in makeshift houses in Baramulla district, around 40 km from Srinagar and to make things worse, they don’t have any source of income.

Lamenting on the destruction of his weaving unit, Ali Mohammed Butt, a carpet weaver by profession from Duslipora village, says he needs Rs.50, 000 to Rs.60, 000 to restore it.

Adding salt to the wound, not only the weaving unit but his home was also destroyed in the floods. Butt and his family, during the day time, live in a half wooden structure built with government aid. At night, they shift into a community hall as their “home” is not safe for women.

Recently, he was ordered to evict the community hall.

“I was depressed after getting the notice as I was worried about the safety of my daughter and wife. But the villagers came into my rescue. The notice was withdrawn,” Butt was quoted as saying.

Gulam Nabi, another carpet weaver, said after the J&K floods he had to work as a labourer in Srinagar as his carpet loom too was destroyed.

Two months ago, Nabi resumed his carpet weaving after members of a village-level committee formed by NGO ActionAid India came to his rescue.

“The flood has further distressed people in Kashmir who were already suffering from psychosocial issues,” said Nasreen, a psychologist with the J and K Yateem Trust. “It was a challenge to boost their morale again.”

The Trust is a local partner of ActionAid, a global NGO working in India since 1972.

Few Kashmiris can forget the horror of September 6, 2014 night when the floods swept through the valley and Jammu region, claiming nearly 300 lives and  hundreds of houses were destroyed. With water rising upto over 15 feet in places, thousands became homeless and lost virtually everything.

Tabia Muzaffar of ActionAid India said: “Livelihood was badly hit by the floods. We are providing counselling and helping the victims to restart their business so that they can earn their livelihood.”

She said her NGO’s focus was on districts like Baramulla, Anantnag, Pulwama and Kulgam.

Muzaffar said ActionAid India was focusing on providing psychosocial counselling and helping in the restoration of livelihoods and linkages of families with government entitlements.

It appeared to be a popular sentiment that the government was not doing enough for people. Maqbul Rather, the sarpanch of Harinara village, said that villagers did not get much help from the authorities during and after the J&K floods and it were people who helped each other.

“In my village, 80 percent of families are into carpet weaving. After the floods they are working as daily labourers. Road and bridges are yet to be repaired. Some people got government assistance to construct their homes but the amount is not enough,” Rather said.

Another sarpanch from Yakhmanpura village, Gulam Ahmed Dar, shared the same feelings, “We need more help. Nothing was done to normalise our lives.”

A loss-memo of Rs.44,000 crore ($6.5 billion) was sent to the central government by the Jammu and Kashmir government for immediate assistance in October 2014. Activists say the memo is gathering dust in New Delhi.

With inputs from IANS