Even as Kashmir reels under the worst-ever floods in living memory, the administration it seems is nowhere in sight. Thousands of people are still trapped in their homes in Srinagar with little or no food, water and medicines. The only State presence on the ground is that of the Armed forces and a handful of policemen.
There is a major breakdown in all forms of communication — not only between the people, but also between the district administration and the government. This has stalled a coordinated response to the floods.
Both inside the flooded city and the rare dry islands, there were scenes of helplessness on Tuesday. From Natipora to Nowgam, a stretch of 5 km where more than 2,500 houses have been submerged, people rowed along in makeshift rafts amid cries of help for drinking water, food and even insulin.
“What we saw was horrible and it will take a while to sink in,” a volunteer, Mohammad Shafi, told The Hindu . “If the government can’t take the marooned people out, it can at least send them items of basic necessity.” At Solina bund, from where Army and National Disaster Response Force personnel carried out rescue operations, there were scenes of emotional family reunions. People gave directions of their family members trapped in the floods to the rescue team.
“My two little nephews have been on the roof of their house for the past 24 hours and my sister is not well. Please save them. They have nothing to eat,” a man kept pleading with the rescue team.
While the boats kept bringing hordes of stranded people, thousands are still trapped and the dearth of boats and lack of an organised response to the calamity has only fuelled anger among the residents.
“The magnitude of the disaster is beyond my imagination and we need support from every quarter,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate Srinagar Abid Rashid said. Abid was running around frantically near one of the rescue spots — at times carrying a screaming young girl in his arms and at others helplessly pleading with people not to impede rescue operations by blocking the way. Except for a few, most of police stations in Srinagar are submerged and some of its senior officers are missing. “The State has not set up a single control room. Where is the government?” a retired senior police officer asked.
With Srinagar in chaos, there is no word about south Kashmir where the floods first hit causing great damage.