‘Army asked for I-cards when we were leaving on boats’

Srinagar: When floodwater entered Padgampora village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district last month, no one came to rescue of the locals. However, when they were evacuating on boats to Malaganpora village, army soldiers surrounded them and asked for I-cards, according to a Supreme Court panel appointed to access flood situation in Kashmir.
“Army personnel who had surrounded the village, stopped us and asked for identity cards,” the locals told the panel during its visit to Padgampora’s Panchayat wards A and B earlier this month.
“They (army) perhaps wanted to see whether we were actually residents of the village or there was someone else who wanted to come out of the village,” the locals said.
The two Panchayat wards comprise over 270 households, and 80 houses have collapsed as floodwater rose to the level of one-storey in the village.
The locals also told the panel that no warning about flood was given to them by the local administration.
“Some people stated that they had informed (local MLA), Deputy Commissioner Pulwama and tehsildar Awantipora about floodwater entering their village and had requested them for help, but to “no avail),” reads the report submitted separately before apex court by one of the panel members and Kashmir High Court Bar Association president, advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom.
The other members of the panel included Suresh Kumar Sharma (Registrar General J&K High Court), M K Bhaderwaj (president Bar Association Jammu), Sanjay Agarwal (Director Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi) and Vinod Kaul (Secretary J&K Revenue Relief and Rehabilitation).
For nine days, the villagers said, they had to remain either on railway track or in private schools, Agriculture University or in private houses.
“(We) were given food and clothes by people living nearby, but no relief was given by government or any official,” they said.
On their return to the village, the locals said that out of 278 families, 60 were not given 50 kilograms of ration for the month of September as had been promised by the authorities.
“Electric department is charging Rs 541 per family as electricity fee for a month, but as their houses have either collapsed or have developed cracks, they had requested the department to disconnect power supply or stop charging fee, but it was not done,” the report said, concluding that it appears Padgampora has been neglected by everyone.
The Deputy Commissioner and the tehsildar have not visited the village during the period village submerged.
“Some of the people, whose houses have collapsed, are spending their days and nights under open sky and are waiting for help,” the report added.