Heavy militarization worsened September 2014 floods: Report

Junaid Nabi Bazaz

SRINGAR: Apart from other factors, the September 2014 floods were worsened by ‘heavy militarization’ of Kashmir, a report said.
The report titled, Occupational Hazards: The Jammu and Kashmir floods of September released by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil society on Monday said that the presence of military in the ecologically fragile territory has led to anomalous and risk- ridden growth of cities.
“Unless these areas are demilitarized, no plan for the safe and sustainable growth of the region’s cities and towns is possible,” said the report.
The report has used media reports, case studies, and oral narratives as a methodology to explore the impacts of the flooding and local community responses, in terms of survival, rescue and relief.
The report said that without community based efforts from warnings to evacuations and emergence responses, the human losses due to disaster would have undoubtedly been greater. Government figures said around 300 people died during the flood.
The report stated that the rescue operations carried out by the Indian Military during September floods was ‘discriminatory and selective’.
“Indian government prioritizes its own national security risks over the disasters risks of the local population,” it said.
The report said that despite the presence of multiple agencies, authorities, policies and regulations, disaster governance has failed in the state and no inquiry of military, civilian disaster management, flood control mechanism and planning agencies have been initiated.
During the floods, the report said that Indian state actively blockaded the International relief and aid in order to minimize the perception of the international dimension of humanitarian and medical crisis in the state.
The report said that the state was presenting a narrative of normalcy due to which International funding agencies like Asian Developmental Bank, have been colluding with the state in promoting environmentally unsustainable practices.
A panel discussion followed after the release of the report in which an anthropologist Mohammad Junaid, social rights activist Gautam Navlakha and journalist Riyaz Masroor talked about the various facets of militarization on Jammu and Kashmir.
During his talk, Junaid said that the report helps in understanding how ‘Indian occupation is responsible for changing the disaster into catastrophe’.
“The emperor stood naked after the floods,” Junaid Said.
He said after the flood we realized that how strategically important highland and Kerawa land has been under Indian military.
Gautam pointed out that this report is not only about the floods but raises larger questions about the survival of Kashmiris. He said that time has come now when we should do something.
The report said the media which rely upon military and state sources of information without taking into account the factual realities on the ground has in some cases endangered the lives of victims.
In September floods, as per the JK government figures, 2.53 lakh houses were damaged, 6.48 lakh hectare of crop was affected and 61,326 cattle were killed across the state. Industry players estimated losses of Rs one lakh crore to the state.