People power provides lifeline in Kashmir

Volunteers flying essentials out to affected areas; social media abuzz with Save our Souls messages

September 14, 2014 11:15 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 05:48 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The flood tragedy in Jammu and Kashmir has given birth to heroes across the world who have succeeded in reaching essential supplies to inundated areas. Using social networks and online applications, civil society has created supply chains using unpaid volunteers — many of whom are themselves affected.

One such effort, has brought corporates and NGOs together to channel supplies to those stranded. Started by a group of professionals in India, the United States and Singapore, the group has delivered more than 30 tonnes of supplies.

One of its members, Raheel Khursheed — Head of News, Politics and Government at Twitter India — said they had tied up with local groups such as the Sajid Iqbal Foundation (SIF). “We now have a person at Srinagar Airport who takes supplies to the warehouse from where volunteers of the SIF and Goonj take it to remote areas. We are using places where a mobile network is available as hubs to reach out to other areas,” he said.

The group has also set a target to collect Rs.10 lakh by November 11 through crowd-funding. Save our Souls messages on social networks and text messages are being fed into Google’s Person Finder, which is being monitored by the Army’s control room in Srinagar. On Twitter, the hashtag ‘#KashmirFloods’ is being used to transmit rescue messages.

Volunteers have flown supplies out to affected areas in the Valley.

The residence of the Resident Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir on Prithviraj Road was abuzz with activity on Sunday. Over the past few days, visitors have been streaming in with donation materials. Speaking to The Hindu , Sona Gupta, who is in-charge of the collection point, said they were ensuring that the materials reached the affected areas as quickly as possible. “Right now, what they need the most is water, edible oil, basic medicines, salt biscuits, diapers, sanitary napkins, masks and blankets,” she explained.

Companies like HeyMath in Chennai are also flying food and medicines out to the Valley. “We felt that right now we would focus on preventing disease as any amount of medicines would not be enough. We’ve bought medicines with monetary contributions and are flying them to Delhi. They are taken to a centre in Nizamuddin from where other volunteers get them to Kashmir,” said the company’s MD Nirmala Sankaran.

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