Flood waters recede in Jammu and Kashmir but tempers rise

As flood waters recede in Jammu and Kashmir, tempers are rising against authorities over a perceived slow rescue and relief effort.

Flood waters recede in Jammu and Kashmir but tempers rise
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Srinagar: As flood waters recede in Jammu and Kashmir, tempers are rising against authorities over a perceived slow rescue and relief effort.

Thousands continue to remain stranded, even as the Army leads the massive rescue operation in the state that has been hit by worst floods in 60 years.

The anger has spilled onto the streets, with angry people pelting stones at Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's residence.

In another instance, an angry mob didn't let Army choppers with food supplies land close to the Governor's house suspecting the relief was meant for VIPs. Also, a jawan of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) jawan was hurt when he was attacked by locals waiting to be rescued.

Many Kashmiris feel the state government has failed to reach out to the affected people.

CM Abdullah is visibly angry. He told a news agency: "What can I do. I didn't bring the rain, nor can I stop it. If I could, I would have done that."

"This is an unprecedented situation. There is no way we could have prepared for it. Operations are being cranked up, supplies are arriving and we are doing our best," he added.

The CM also slammed those who said his government was not doing enough.

Despite such events, the armed forces continued with the relief and rescue operations on Wednesday. They have so far rescued more than 77,000 people, while 215 have been confirmed dead in the flooding.

"Unless the flood waters recede completely, and we are able to reach all the submerged areas, we cannot be sure about the exact toll in these floods," a state official said.

Officials also said many more could still be trapped in submerged areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation. He later directed officials to extend all possible help to the state authorities.

The meeting came amid fears about the possible outbreak of water-borne diseases.

People rescued from various parts of Srinagar recalled the horror.

They said the cries for help of many others in their areas had stopped, indicating they had either died or were resigned to their fate and knew that the chances of their survival were bleak.

Areas like Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gogji Bagh, Bemina, Mehjor Nagar, Karan Nagar and Qamarwari in Srinagar were still submerged.

Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who visited the flood-hit state on Wednesday, said the situation has improved and the Army was working day and night to provide relief to those affected.

"Relief and rescue operations are on. The situation has improved a lot. More boats have come today (Wednesday), we have enough boats now," he said.

"We now need to supply food, water and medicines to people in need. All resources available with us have been pressed into action," he said.

The Army Chief assured that the forces will help everyone.

The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway continued to be closed for the seventh day on Wednesday, but traffic on the 440-km long Srinagar-Leh highway was restored on Tuesday.

The road link between Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region has also been restored.

While 8,000 landlines were activated in Srinagar, mobile phone services have also been partially restored.

A fallout of the floods has been the breakdown of the communication systems in Kashmir.

(With agency inputs)

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