No place to call home for Kashmiri Pandits hit by floods

A Kashmiri Pandit family braved all odds to stay back when militancy engulfed the Valley in 1990 but the devastating flood last month has forced to live them separately after losing everything including the roof over their heads.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 05, 2014, 15:44 PM IST

Srinagar: A Kashmiri Pandit family braved all odds to stay back when militancy engulfed the Valley in 1990 but the devastating flood last month has forced to live them separately after losing everything including the roof over their heads.

"I am putting up with a friend in Shalimar, my son and wife is at Aloochi Bagh with her friend's family while I was forced to shift to my parents place in Delhi following the floods. We want to live together again but we have no roof over our head," Arun Kumar Gaind told.

The Gainds, who chose not to migrate when militancy erupted in the Valley in 1990, own an electronic goods shop in commercial hub of Lal Chowk and Arun works as a technician in the state's Power Development Department (PDD).

They lost everything in the deluge as their rented house in Jawahar Nagar collapsed due to ravaging flood while the goods in the shop were destroyed in Lal Chowk.

A well-to-do family, before the natural calamity struck on September 7, Arun is now running from pillar to post to get some help from the Government so that he can reunite his family.

"We had a close shave with death in the deluge as the three-storied rented accommodation collapsed minutes after we moved out of it to a neighbour's concrete house," he said.

"I approached my department and the Estates Department as well for some accommodation but my case has been rejected on the basis that they don't have enough room for Civil Secretariat employees," the 37-year-old government employee said.

Jawahar Nagar was one of the worst-hit localities in Srinagar and remained submerged for nearly a month, forcing hundreds of families to leave for safer places.

Many residents, whose houses have escaped damages, have started returning and are busy clearing the muck but Gainds at the moment have nowhere to go.

Arun is now cursing the day when his family decided to

stay back in the Valley in 1990.

"The state government is providing so many facilities to migrant employees but those who stayed back are being denied the same. I guess it would have been better for us to migrate as well," he added.

He suggested the government provide the flats constructed for migrant Pandits to accommodate the families affected by the floods.

"Why cannot these buildings be used to accommodate those in immediate need? Whenever the migrants decide to return, we will vacate these flats," he said.

Last month, the government asked the Darbar Move employees whose accommodations have been affected by the floods to seek alternate arrangement.

"The Estates Department has made sufficient arrangements for 'move' employees whose allotted accommodation has been affected due to unprecedented floods," the government had said.

Arun said he is not in a position to arrange private accommodation since he has nothing left.

"Nobody is coming forward to help us...We have no money or clothes," he said.

Pointing towards the clothes he was wearing, Arun said even those were borrowed from his Muslim friend with whom he was putting up.

Arun said it was because of the support of the local Muslims "that we are still alive."

"The Muslim neighbours not only supported my family but several others including Sikh families for three days.It was after three days that some local Muslim youth reached us in a boat and we were evacuated and dropped at Rajbagh bund.The youth did not charge us any money,he said.

From there the Gainds moved to Shalimar with a friend but due to shortage of space, Arun sent his parents to Delhi.

"They were airlifted by IAF to Delhi free of cost.They are now staying with a relation but are craving for early return," he said.

Arun is worried about his mother who is suffering from a heart ailment and want his parents back with him as soon as possible.