From militancy victim to flood-hit farmers, people line up to meet Modi

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Oct 23, 2014 15:17 IST

Her husband disappeared during peak of militancy, Misra Asha, a resident of Boatman Colony Bemina in Srinagar, walked more than 10 km on foot and argued with security personnel at every barricade to meet prime minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

Asha claims her one-storey house was washed away by floods on September 7. "My son was injured while saving stranded people. I have no money to buy medicine for him. This government failed to help rebuild house. I pin hope on Modi ji. He will listen to us," said Asha.

Asha is among a dozen people who reached Srinagar's Raj Bhawan, crossing security barricades, to have an audience with the prime minister. Many are waiting since morning to meet the prime minister. "I am feeling very hungry. But will meet Modi ji," she added.

From fruit growers to fathers of unemployed youth to flood victims, hopes run high among the people reaching the governor's house.

"Buyers outside the state have stopped buying apples from us. They allege these are flood-affected crops. I request Modi ji to assure people outside that the fruit is genuine," said Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Harwan. Ahmad, a farmer, finds it difficult to find decent market for his apple and pear orchards, which were not affected by floods.

Abdul Ghani, in his 60s, have travelled from Pulwama district to Srinagar, to meet Modi. "My son is an MBA in Finance and unemployed. I have faith in Modi. I have lost my farmland to floods but if I get audience with Modi he will handed over a job. I have no faith in this government," said Ghani.

A number of farmers have come with applications, families with details of damaged houses and business centres to seek relief and compensation from the prime minister.

J-K flood-hit expect 'genuine' relief package

There is an eerie calm on Srinagar's streets due to the shutdown calls by separatists, but many flood-affected areas are abuzz with people expressing what they expect from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the state.

"Our house was completely damaged in the floods. It has been more than 45 days we have not received any money to reconstruct our house. The state government categorically tells us that they are waiting for the Centre's funds," said Mushtaq Bukhari, a resident of Ikhrajpora.

Bukhari expects the Prime Minister to announce a "genuine" relief package. "The package should commensurate our damages. The state government is offering me Rs 75,000 for the loss of more than Rs 45 lakh. How can I reconstruct my house?" asked Bukhari.

Around 400 houses were damaged in Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh and Gogjibah localities of this upmarket colony.

"We welcome Modi's gesture. It will be a fruitful visit if he assess the situation post-floods and responds to it positively," said Muhammaf Yousuf, resident of flood-affected area of Wazirbagh.

The Prime Minister is likely to face anxious and exhausted people at Shivpora area where the stink, poor roads and non-availability of electricity even 45 days after the floods have forced people to migrate to other locations.

"Everyone has failed us. This government failed to rescue us. It has been more than a month but there is no relief from reconstruction and rehabilitation," said Basheer Ahmad, a resident of Shivpora.

The PM is likely to drive around in flood-affected areas of uptown Srinagar later in the day.

The valley's business community, which is staring at Rs 33,000 crore losses, has asked the Prime Minister to declare income tax holiday for 10 years.

"There should be immediate assessment of losses of all sectors by Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, a world bank entity. We demand declaring of J-K as a free economic zone," said Mubeen Shah, a member of the State Economic Reconstruction Forum, a joint body of the trading community of Kashmir.

He said the PM should include Srinagar as one of the smart cities being built in the country. The SERF claims there are more than Rs one lakh crore loss to the valley due to floods.

The state government has sought a relief package of Rs 44,000 crore from the Centre. "We demand that the losses should be compensated through relief and banking sector so that Kashmir rises again," said Shah.

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