South Kashmir Cut-off: Thousands Trapped, Admin Inaccessible

7 September 2014
Rising Kashmir
Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar: Thousands of people in south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama are trapped and battling for survival while the district administrations are inaccessible and have failed to reach out to the flood-affected people. With the flood bringing massive devastation in the four southern Kashmir districts, the government has been unable to reach out to the people of these areas. In Achtal village of Kulgam district, which has been badly affected by floods, around 175 families were weeping as they were waiting for help. In Ardi Ghatnu, 30 to 35 people were stranded in a nearby mosque praying for their survival. In Gund near Kellan area of Devsar, around 40 to 45 people were trapped and crying for help. In Home Shalibugh area, dozens of villages were submerged. Locals seeking help are not able to communicate to the district administration as the telephone lines have been snapped and mobile networks gone off. The teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel who were dispatched to Anantnag and Kulgam were unable to reach the two districts and got stuck in Pulwama where they have been unable to do anything. Talking to Rising Kashmir, MLA Kulgam and State Secretary of CPI (M), Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami, said it would be a huge catastrophe if the government fails to reach out to the trapped people. He said the Government of India (GoI) assistance was not sufficient and urged New Delhi to respond by sending Indian Air Force and Army for the rescue work. 'GoI is only making announcements and it is time for them to act as the devastation is unprecedented,' he said. Hundreds of people in Gudar, Nici, Chiner, Aharbal areas and upper reaches of the Noorabad constituency are stranded with the government being unable to reach out to them. The routes in Noorabad are cutoff, the bridges collapsed and people in a large number of villages are trapped. The situation in areas with the population of Schedule Tribes like Gujjars and Bakerwals is grave. Minister for Social Welfare, and Public Grievances, Sakina Itoo told Rising Kashmir that the situation across south Kashmir was grim. Itoo, who represents Noorabad assembly segment, said the telephone network had gone off as a result of which the communication was snapped. 'The damages are enormous and we are trying to reach out to the people,' she said. The NC leader said she was in touch with the people and had communicated to the divisional commissioner and the chief secretary to help rescue the stranded and provide relief to them. The administration failed to reach out to the flood-affected villages in Sangam, Bijbehara, Khanabal, Tral, Pulwama and Pampore. Most of the bridges in Kokernag constituency collapsed while two persons lost their lives. Hundreds of residential houses were completely destroyed and severely damaged while roads were washed off while paddy and maize fields were completely submerged under flood water. The Drangi Nalla created havoc in Mati Gawran, Daksum, Simthan Top and areas through which the stream passes. At Wailu, the devastation was unprecedented. The roads were cut off and power and water supply could not be found anywhere. Talking to Rising Kashmir, Minister for Public Enterprises, Hajj, Auqaf and Floriculture, and MLA Kokernag, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed said the devastation in south Kashmir was massive. 'The government cannot do anything, the primary focus right now is to save the lives of people,' Sayeed said. In Pahalgam constituency of Anantnag district, Tashnambal, Sakharas, Pethunu, Phor, Arizol, Suller, Bagwani, Batpora, Amad and Akad villages witnessed utter devastation as the protection bunds were severely damaged, giving way to the flood water into habitations. The affected people were without ration and all communication lines were snapped. MLA Pahalgam, Rafi Ahmad Mir told Rising Kashmir that he had brought the situation to the notice of the government but found that the government machinery was not enough. 'On the first day, the government tried to come to the rescue of the affected people but since then, no help has arrived,' Mir said. Most of the south Kashmir residents complained that DIG South Kashmir as well as the respective DCs and SPs were inaccessible to them as their mobile phones were switched off and landlines not working. Panic gripped Pampore area morning when the River Jhelum started overflowing its banks at Galandar near HP Gas plant. The water of the Jhelum overflowed its banks near the Gas plant and the river breached near the under construction bridge some meters away. The fast moving water toward the town resulted in chaos and tension among the residents. Additional Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Muneer-ul-Islam told Rising Kashmir that 600 people had been trapped in Ratnipora but all of them were rescued. Aakhon village in Kakapora area of Pulwama was washed away in floods. Six hundred residents of the village were trapped in their homes as the water level touched around 15 feet. The flood-affected people of the area complained that no government agency had come to their rescue. The villagers were awaiting rescue teams under the open sky as rains continued to pour. People living on the left side of Jhelum in Pampore were evacuated from their residences and shifted to two schools that were turned into flood emergency shelters. MEI Pampore and Government Boys Higher Secondary School were converted into emergency shelters after breach in Jhelum in the area forced administration to evacuate people from their homes. A local Auqaf is presently arranging food for these flood victims. Three hundred and fifty families were also trapped in south Kashmir villages including Adder in Khanabal, Kellem Gund in Kulgam and, Patal Bagh Galander and Somber in Pampore. A group of villagers told Rising Kashmir that nearly 200 families are trapped in Adder village while 150 were trapped in Kellem and they had now shifted to second floors of their houses. 'Nobody came to our rescue so far,' they said and urged the administration to evacuate them at the earliest. Patients and attendants along with doctors and paramedic staff were also trapped in Sheer Bagh, Anantnag Maternity Care Hospital which was hit by floods with no access to the outside world. Meanwhile, Police claimed to have rescued 2000 people from Kakapora area of Pulwama. Police said it had rescued over 2000 people from Sakras, Diver and Porden villages of Anantnag district and shifted them to safer places.