Homeless families want rehabilitation first, elections later

SHABIR AHMAD

ANANTNAG: With most of the political parties supporting the conduct of elections in December, people rendered homeless in South Kashmir during the recent devastating floods and living in tents seem to be least enthusiastic about the polls.
Scores of people of Kelam Gund village of southern district Kulgam putting up in tents for over a month say that they won’t participate in elections if measures were not taken for their rehabilitation.
“We are fighting for survival on roads for last one and a half month and government seems to be least bothered about our rehabilitation. We are virtually living under open sky along with our little children. Election don’t mean anything to us as our survival is at stake,” said Khursheed Ahmad Bhat whose house was washed away by the flash floods.
At least 41 houses were completely washed away or raised to rubble and over 150 houses suffered partial damage in the village due to flash floods triggered by the heavy rains in Vaishaw Nallah on September 4.
Bhat said that the government with the distribution of 35 kgs of free rice among the flood affected seems to have closed the chapter of their rehabilitation. “What will you do with the rice when you don’t have a shelter to live in. Winter is approaching and our survival will be impossible in tents in harsh winter days. If government fails to identify the land for us before the elections I tell you on behalf of all the families living here in tents that none of us will vote,” he said.
Another resident, Imtiyaz Ahmad, said that neither the ruling parties nor opposition seems to be bothered about the rehabilitation of the flood ravaged families. “They are all doing politics on our rehabilitation. While the opposition wants to cash the failure of the ruling party, the latter opposes the elections only to gain the sympathy of the affected families. If ruling coalition is serious and really feels that elections will hamper the rehabilitation let them stay away from the poll process,” Imtiyaz told Kashmir Reader.
“We are living like nomads here. Our children have been exposed to various ailments. You can see dozens of children living here in the tents are involved in chest infection. So how can you expect us to vote when we have been left at the mercy of Allah,” he added.

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