Nepal-based Kashmiri traders in distress, authorities helpless

Adil Lateef

SRINAGAR: Several Kashmiri businessmen working in Kathmandu Monday alleged that they were left in the lurch by the Indian agencies involved in relief and rescue efforts in the quake-hit country.
“We are in distress. No one is helping us and the situation is worse. There is no food and water. No one is receiving our calls on helpline numbers of Indian Embassy. It was only due to our own efforts that we have been able to reach the airport,” Waseem, a businessman, told local news agency, GNS, over phone from Kathmandu.
Waseem said he was living with his family in Naya Bazar locality, a distance of around some 8 km from the airport.
“The taxi which we hired charged us Rs 5000. I managed to push my family and several other people into the airport premises, but now I am left outside with some other people,” he said.
Waseem said seven of his friends are accompanying him but he has no information about other Kashmiris living in other parts of Nepal.
“I will tell you honestly that we are in a distressful condition. We don’t know whether Indian authorities are helping people from other states or not.”
Another businessman, who spoke to GNS on the condition of anonymity, said: “Don’t tell us about these help lines established by Indian Embassy. Forget about us, they aren’t even able to take care of themselves. It was all due to our own efforts and self help that we are here at the airport.”
He said the Kashmiri businessmen have left their shops and belongings and are only concerned about saving their lives and flying home.
The Additional Resident Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Syed Mureed Hussain said they are not able to connect to people in Nepal due to communication breakdown.
“The government is trying its best. But what can we do? You witnessed communication breakdown in Kashmir during floods. Even our satellite phones are not working.”
He said he spoke to Chief Managing Director of Air Indian, Raj Shekhar, in Kathmandu for the evacuation of J&K citizens and for transport of bodies of the two people from state who died in the quake.
“Believe me, we are trying our best. You know some things are out of bounds. I cannot go there by foot. I don’t know how two or three Kashmiris have managed to reach here,” he said. —GNS