‘Army helicopter dropped expired biscuits, rescued liquor sellers’

Moazum Mohammad

Srinagar: Most of the people living in Badami Bagh Cantonment area have rejected army’s claims of coming to their rescue during last month’s devastating floods.
On Thursday, the army facilitated interaction of journalists with people residing under the jurisdiction of the Badami Bagh Cantonment Board. While a local man Parvez Ahmad, who identified himself as a Cantonment Board member from Batwara area, showered praise on army’s “rescue operation” in the area, most of his neighbours disagreed with him.
“Army rescued around 3500 Biharis and shifted some patients to its Base Hospital. They distributed 240 milk packets apart from fast food items in our area,” Parvez told reporters here
But Shaheen Ahmad Wani, a contractor from Herpora, Batwara, said, “We managed everything on our own. Army didn’t help or evacuate us in the floods. They rescued non-locals. After the floods, the army organised medical camps,” Wani said.
Wani’s words were echoed by other residents of the area.
“They (army) organised medical camps twice for the sake of publicity. Those who acclaim that army helped Kashmiris during the floods are their own people. Such people misrepresent us. Go inside the mohalla and you will come across facts. The Cantonment Board hasn’t laid proper drainage system in spite of innumerable requests,” said a shopkeeper Imran Khan of main stop Batwara, adding “people from Haryana distributed relief here but not army.”
At Ward 7 of Indra Nagar, Popinder Singh of Gurdwara Singh Sangat asked the reporters to look at the heap of garbage, which was being lifted by trucks employed by the army. “The roads are not clean yet. Look at the muck and garbage. The army is lifting garbage now. There has been an inordinate delay. Power hasn’t been restored and there is water supply shortage here. No ration reached us even though we suffered 80 percent damages,” Singh said.
An unemployed youth Mohammad Amin Khan said, “Nobody came to our help. Yes, a helicopter dropped expired biscuits and bottled water. I have kept those biscuits at my home.”
Riyaz Ahmad Bhat, a contractor, and Talib Yusuf Bhat, a businessman, also rejected army’s claims of helping people during the floods. “No army, CRPF or police came to our help. Why do they lie? We led rescue operation ourselves. The army came after dewatering the neighborhood. Liquor sellers were rescued while we were trapped in our submerged houses,” they said.
As the army cavalcade ferrying reporters reached the interiors of Shivpora, Assadullah Dar, a former employee of Military Engineering Services (MES), praised the role of the army. He said that with the help of the army, electricity and potable water supply was restored in the area.
Irfan Ahmad, a Kashmir arts trader, criticized opposition PDP’s Member Parliament Tariq Hamid Karra for doing nothing in the area. “Karra is a resident of Shivpora but he didn’t provide any sort of help to us. It was only army, which came to our rescue,” he said.
A local imam of Jamia Masjid, Shivpora, Mohammad Sayeed Peer, said that once the road was cleaned up by people, then the army came to their help. “We have sought tents from army for the people whose houses collapsed in the floods. Only four tents have been provided as of now. We have sought 14 more from them. Forty percent of people have migrated from here,” Peer said.