Kashmir Unites To Protest Delay In Flood Relief: 'Black Day' On Sept 7

4 September 2015
The Citizen
Jehangir Ali

Srinagar: Civil society groups, separatists as well as the opposition National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir will observe 'Black Day' on September 7 as a mark of protest against the delay in rehabilitating the victims of last year's flood that wreaked havoc across the state last year. The call for the strike on September 7, the day last year when Kashmir was hit by the devastating flood, has been issued by the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), a conglomerate of business bodies and civil society groups, against the 'inordinate delay' by the Centre in releasing the financial package for the flood-hit state. 'We have called for a Kashmir bandh on September 7. Traders will observe September 7 as a 'Black Day' against the central government's delay in providing financial assistance to them as well as the ordinary people who were hit by the floods,' KEA Chairman, Showkat Chaudhary, said. The separatist groups as well as the opposition National Conference have extended support to the call. 'We support the call for hartal on September 7 as a mark of protest against the Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) led government's criminal indifference towards the flood victims. Although one year has passed, the coalition government has refused to show any political will to compensate the flood victims,' National Conference provincial president, Nasir Aslam Wani, said. He alleged that the coalition government 'intentionally sabotaged' the 44,000 crore flood relief package proposal of National Conference as the state's finance minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, opposed his government's Rs 44,000 crore financial package proposal on the floor of the legislative assembly, giving the central government 'an excuse' to 'trivialise the misery' of the flood victims. Moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also extended support to the KEA's call for a general strike on September 7. 'The unprecedented floods devastated Kashmir last year, but the Centre as well as the state government is least bothered to rehabilitate the victims. Even the international aid was denied to the people of Kashmir by India. To protest this callousness, we will support KEA's call for strike on September 7,' a spokesperson of moderate Hurriyat said. JKLF chairman Yasin Malik said he also supports the strike call given by various trade bodies. 'Whenever such kind of natural calamities hit any nation or area, international community rising above political and religious distinctions rush to support the affected people. That Kashmiris being a subjugated nation could not use this international support as Indian authorities denied and refused to give permission and entry to this international aid,' he said. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah's government had described September floods that affected over 45 lakh people as an national disaster with independent estimates pegging losses to private and public infrastructure at Rs 100,000 crores. Omar's government had submitted a proposal to the Centre, seeking a special financial package of Rs 44,000 crore for the rehabilitation of flood affected people. However, the central government is yet to make any announcement in this regard. Over the last two months, the PDP-BJP government is expecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a 'massive' economic package for J&K which will be used over next five years for development projects and also for rehabilitating flood victims. In August, the Centre announced Rs 2400 crore as relief for the state, angering the opposition as well as the civil society groups and the ruling PDP, which described the amount as 'paltry' with the separatists accusing both the centre and the state government of 'rubbing salt on the wounds' of flood-hit people.