Two weeks ago, before the rains caused the worst-ever floods in election-bound Jammu and Kashmir, political discussions in the State centred around the seat projections of various parties, their vote share and the poll boycott call by separatists.
Today, as the people of Kashmir grapple with the devastation, what they want to know most is why mainstream political parties, which had announced candidates and even informally launched election campaigns as early as in August, are nowhere to be seen in this hour of crisis.
Among the mainstream political parties, the only one doing some visible work on the ground is Sajjad Ghani Lone’s party. It has set up a free medical camp in Sanat Nagar that is catering to hundreds of patients.
Political leaders, however, disputed the charge of deserting the public. “We set up an office within three hours of the floods and began rescue and relief operations,” senior National Conference leader and Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar told The Hindu . “We have been doing a lot of work.” The PDP too claimed that its leader, Mehbooba Mufti, has been providing relief outside her official residence in the city’s Gupkar area.
Separatist leaders have reached out to the flood victims in Srinagar and adjoining areas.
In the old city’s Islamia School, the stronghold of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, hundreds of people from submerged areas such as Qamarwari, Chattabal, Rainawari and Bemina, are being provided free food.
“There are more than six free langars being run here by local volunteers with the help of Mirwaiz. He appealed to us that we should open our hearts and doors at this time of crisis,” said Saleem Ahmad, who runs a langar in the Kawadara area.
Other separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan have also organised relief camps and visited the submerged areas in boats.
But the separatists gave the credit to the youth. “Relief work is being done by the youth themselves, we only helped where we could. It is the people who have shown resilience,” Mr. Khan said.