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Anger rises in flood-affected J-K as victims attack rescuers

Flood waters are receding in Kashmir but anger and resentment are mounting over what is being seen as a slow rescue and relief effort, as hundreds of thousands of people are still stranded.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2014 08:09 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times

Flood waters are receding in Kashmir but anger and resentment are mounting over what is being seen as a slow rescue and relief effort, with hundreds of thousands of people still stranded.

In Srinagar, an angry mob stoned CM’s residence, close to the governor’s house another crowd didn’t allow helicopters to deliver food supplies while an NDRF jawan was attacked by locals waiting to be rescued.

“We want water and food. We will die here. Please ask IAF choppers to drop some food pockets here,” S Lala, stranded in Srinagar’s Hari Prabat Hill area, said.

The chief minister termed the situation in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir "serious" but hit out at critics who said his government was not doing enough.

"What can I do. I didn't bring the rain, nor can I stop it. If I could, I would have done that," an angry Omar told ANI.

Watch:'I didn't bring the rain, I can't stop it,' says Omar Abdullah

An NDRF jawan was attacked by angry locals in Srinagar while few other personnel of the force were heckled while they were rendering relief and rescue operations in the flood-hit areas.

Officials said a National Disaster Response Force trooper received severe injuries on his hand when the locals attacked him.

The desperate situation saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking officials to provide all-possible support to the state government in scaling up rescue and relief operations.

Chairing a high-level emergency meeting in New Delhi to review relief operations late Wednesday, Modi also said essential commodities be made available at the earliest.

Though 32,500 people were evacuated — taking to 80,000 the number of people rescued in a continuing multi-agency effort — about five lakh people are still waiting help.

The state’s worst floods in 60 years have killed more than 200 people and the extent of damage is unclear even after a week. Once water levels drop, a more real picture will emerge of what chief minister Omar Abdullah has described as a “serious humanitarian crisis”.

A flooded street in Srinagar. (Nitin Kanotra/HT Photo)

Thousands are stuck on rooftops, bus roofs and hillocks in the state capital, which was ravaged early Sunday by swirling waters of the Jhelum, with little or no food and water.

Read: Weather brings respite to stranded

In the evening, Abdullah’s home was pelted with stones by a crowd seeking help. “The CM ordered that they be given food, but they started throwing stones, asking for more relief,” a government official said.

“The situation is pathetic. We are wondering why we voted for a state government that does nothing for us,” said Salim Nabi. Nabi, his wife and two sons have been camping on a stretch of a Srinagar road for days with only a plastic sheet for shelter.

Watch:IAF rescues J-K flood victims

Earlier, a crowd didn’t allow food-laden choppers to land near Raj Bhawan. Locals complaine the rescue effort is concentrated on "VIPs" and they are being left out. Troopers are bearing the brunt of this resentment.

The NDRF’s Samir Kumar said a mob attacked him at the air force station Sunday. “They put a knife to my back, cut my thumb. A local was pressuring us to adjust more people on the boat. The mob took away the raft.”

The forces would continue to work “day and night”, army chief Gen Dalbir Singh said. “We need to supply food, water and medicine to people.”

Read: After the floods, fear of disease grows

The army and air force are also helping state-run BSNL re-establish mobile services and partial restoration was expected soon, officials said.

Indian Red Cross Society will Thursday send two water-sanitising units that can clean 3,000 litres of water to Srinagar.

Defence ministry statement said the army has deployed 329 columns of its personnel for rescue and relief operations, of which 244 columns were deployed in the Srinagar region and 85 in the Jammu region.

An army spokesperson said additional columns and helicopters have been pressed into use and people were being moved relief camps established by the army as well as civil administration.

"Unless the flood waters recede completely, and we are able to reach all the submerged areas, we cannot be sure about the exact toll in these floods," a top state official said in Srinagar.

The stranded people are guiding rescue teams to the worst-affected areas. The army has airlifted some tourists including foreign tourists.

Survivors wait to be airlifted by IAF chopper in Srinagar. (Nitin Kanotra/HT Photo)

The army in coordination with the Air Force handed over 10 tons of supplies to the civil administration for distribution. 15 tons of pre-cooked food and 15000 litres of water were also distributed among the affected people, an army spokes person said.

In South Kashmir and Srinagar army camps are also flooded and over 1000 army personnel and families are stranded without food and water.

While supplies are being made available to them, army said it is giving priority to civilians.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Sep 10, 2014 11:49 IST