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

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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 The notice was withdrawn,” Butt was quoted as saying.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

 

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The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

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Gulyana, Pakistan

By: Wali Imran (Hindu Council of Australia)

900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Before 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Land owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Bakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Muslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.

Gulyana, Pakistan

When the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.Gulyana, Pakistan

I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.

Gulyana, Pakistan

 

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.

In short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

Gulyana, Pakistan

I am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Also Read: Protecting The World, The Hindu Way

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa. (Hindu Council of Australia)