Jammu and Kashmir: Rains add to miseries of flood-hit people living in tents

Hundreds of families living in tents after their houses were damaged by the devastating floods which swept Kashmir a month ago spent a sleepless night as rains lashed many parts of the Valley adding to their woes.

PTI| Updated: Oct 08, 2014, 16:10 PM IST

Srinagar: Hundreds of families living in tents after their houses were damaged by the devastating floods which swept Kashmir a month ago spent a sleepless night as rains lashed many parts of the Valley adding to their woes.

Srinagar recorded 23.6 mm of rainfall yesterday and the Met Department has predicted more for today.

"We had a sleepless night. We were awake throughout the night as it was raining heavily. It reminded us of the horrors we underwent when the floods hit," Abdul Rashid Bhat, a resident of Rajbagh area of the city here, told a news agency.

Bhat, whose family, along with 44 others, lives in tents erected on the roadside near the banks of River Jhelum, as their houses were damaged by the flood waters, said the fear was heightened by thunderstorms and lightning.

"We were terrified as the sky started to roar. There are Chinar trees around us and we were wary of those as well. A Chinar tree has already fallen on a mosque and damaged it," he said.

Bilal Ahmad Khosa, who lives with 14 of his family members, including nine children, in a tent provided by the state police, said the night was as tense as the one on September 6 when the waters started seeping into the area thereby flooding it.

"Our two-storey house was damaged by the floods. We lived in a relief camp on the Hariparbat hillock, while some others took refuge in the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) nearby. After few days, as the waters receded from the main roads, we were provided tents by the police and we erected them here," he said.

Khosa said as the rains started yesterday, the residents had to cover up the tents with tarpaulin or thermocol as water was seeping into them."We were provided a blanket for every tent. There was no bedding or furnishing in the tents except a thin sheet of black polythene. We had to buy tarpaulin and thermocol to use as furnishing but when the rain water started trickling into the tent, we had to cover it up with them leaving us without anything else on the floor when the weather was cold," Khosa said.

He said the children were frightened in the absence of electricity.

"The children are afraid of thunderstorms and lightning. They cried throughout the night. There was nothing we could do. We do not have any electricity and the temperatures dropped...These all added to our miseries," Khosa said.

However, it is not only the rains that the residents are wary of. They alleged that no government help was provided to them to mitigate their sufferings and the police was now asking them to remove the tents and leave the roadside.

"Police have been asking us to vacate the spot saying this is a VIP road and needs to be cleared. The government has issued an advisory asking people not to live in the houses which remained submerged for more than 10 days. Where will we go?" Bhat said, adding, "We do not seek alms from the government but justice".

The residents also alleged that no free ration was provided to them as was announced by the government.

"There are around 250 ration card holders in Rajbagh Ghat A, but no one was provided the ration. The authorities have promised us many things, but nothing has been done so far," Bhat said.

"The concerned MLA told us that he had sent solar lights for us, but he himself has no information where they were," the residents said.

Local MLA Nasir Aslam Wani of the ruling National Conference said the government was duty-bound to provide ration to the people and no one would remove the tents from the place.

"No one will remove the tents from the spot. People need not to fear. I will visit the place myself to address their problems and make sure that everything they need, including ration, is provided to them," Wani told a news agency.

The MLA said he would "see to it" why the solar lights and ration could not reach the affected people.