Its early September and Kashmir Valley is in bloom and bustling with tourists.Then it rains for 6 continuous days and soon South Kashmir and the State capital, Srinagar, are submerged under water.With flood waters raging and a dysfunctional State administration the situation became dire and unleashed untold misery on the people, who were left to fend for themselves.
Just prior to the rains, the Pir Panjal Ranges had witnessed heavy snow fall and rapid melting and combined with incessant rains the Jhelum and its tributaries soon brimmed over.Water levels rose steadily and hundreds perished and many thousands remained marooned.
Left to themselves, the local population found its heroes amongst its youth, shikara operators and hundreds others who risked their lives to save others.Make shift rafts, human chains and lines laid across swollen waterways led to the rescue of a huge number of flood victims.At this stage the Indian Army (IA) ,though reeling under the effect of the floods, mobilised more than 250 flood relief columns and went about its job professionally and rescued thousands of people and re-established road and communication links and set up temporary relief camps and dispensaries.The Indian Air Force (IAF) too played its part.
Social media sprung into action and set up numerous links to help those who were stranded in remote areas.Aircel extended its services universally to all mobile users and Indigo airlines joined in as well.NGOs and local youth set up adhoc call centres to provide details of survivors and convey messages from those yet to be recovered.
It was the combined effort of all involved that let to some succour being provided in those harrowing days.
This is when “Peepli Live ” happened.
The media arrived , not at the scene, but in New Delhi and started imagining wild fantasies.Arnab Goswamy shouted and posed questions to which he didnt want answers to.Overnight,it seemed, he had conducted a survey (with the flood waters rising) of every individual in the Valley and arrived at the conclusion (?) that none acknowedged the effort of the IA.
And Barkha Dutt? She went on an aerial survey in a service aircraft and without wetting as much as her little finger assessed all about the situation !
Both these characters and many others like them – self styled (idiots?) custodians of the image of the Security Forces – depicted the people of Kashmir as ungrateful because they had failed to acknowledge the “heroic efforts” of the IA, an institution they reviled, yet were saved by its efforts.Nothing could have been dumber than this and more damaging too!
Did the IA do a favour?No! The institution knows its role and its commitment towards the citizen of the country.It just did its job and sought no reward or recognition.The good work done by the IA was negated by this unwanted media hype.And for old mindsets to change it takes time and not hectoring by the likes of Dutt and Goswamy.
For this yeomen service to the Nation, Barkha and Arnab should permanently travel to the deepest Amazon jungle and cover the “effect of sun light on the menopause of the butterfly” for the rest of their lives.
Interestingly,during the trying times the face of the State administration was Omar Abdullah alone.Where were the others – DC, the Police and the ministers?All had vanished ! They probably thought that if they aren’t around they wouldn’t be blamed at all ! And that after the floods not many would remain to remember it anyway!!!
The Minister for Flood Control didn’t do anything about the measures required while there was time as he thought that his job was to control the flood when it happened and not prevent it !!! (English language !!)
Many blame the CM for not pulling up his colleagues to make them respond during the crisis.But he did “tweet” in his own inimitable style.But could not reach them.So its not their fault, right?After all they are all Cerelac babies and needed to be spoon fed !
The Police too vanished and it seems they have decided to sacrifice themselves to reslove the financial crisis in the State.After this “no show” the Police in the State is now ready to be disbanded and the money thus saved could go towards flood relief !
The Amul ad/ topical on the Kashmir floods depicts a flooded Jhelum and the IA personnel assisting in evacuation of the local population by wading in the raging waters.The Amul Girl is one amongst those being rescued. The strip is showcasing the relief and rescue efforts of the IA but could have done a better job by depicting the efforts of the locals too.
The Tag Line.…Mission Koshishmir..is a play on a hindi movie title “Mission Kashmir” and the hindi word “koshish” which means “to try” and on the name of the Kashmir State.It accentuates upon the mission of the IA to rescue as many people from the floods as possible.
The Punch Line…Spread the Word…talks about spreading the word regarding the people still stranded and to be rescued as also subtly endorses the Amul butter.
When Omar Abdullah had been passed on the baton by his father Faroque Abdullah,a lot was expected from the young Chief Minister.With the largesse of lineage to back him he had the mandate to go beyond the normal discourse and stereotype in Kashmiri politics.But he largely failed to control the local “satraps” and in all was a damp squibThis hurt the people of Kashmir when they needed his leadership the most.A previous Amul ad strip on Omar Abdullah had captured the hopes that his elevation in politics had raised.
The Amul ad shows caricatures representing the father son duo on a shikara (a traditional boat used in Kashmir) with Faroque Abdullah having a reassuring arm over Omar’s shoulder and seemingly presenting him to the people as the new face of the state leadership.The tag line and the Punch line are a take on Omar Abdullah’s name and his elevation to the post of Chief Minister.The Amul Girl is shown rowing the Shikara in the Dal Lake, in traditional Kashmiri attire.
In the final analysis, what emerges is that similar floods have hit Srinagar in 1902 and 1959 as well and the lessons were there for all to pay heed to.Yet the deluge was a direct consequence of the neglect of flood control infrastructure and exploitation of wetlands.Flood-monitoring systems are on all rivers in the country with the exception of J&K as the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) has handed over all of Kashmir’s rivers to Pakistan – but given them no concomitant management rights. Besides, there is no room for storage on Jhelum and limited storage on Chenab.
In 2010 the State government had predicted a massive flood within 5 years and recommended preventive measures.Nothing was done about it.Time is up and there’s no guarantee this wont happen next year as well.Its winters in the Valley and no infrastructure can come up before next summer.So lets just keep our fingers crossed.
For the people of Kashmir – see through the media smokescreen.There was genuine effort from the IA and the entire Nation stood by you and felt your pain.