India Is Using Natural Calamity To Punish Kashmiris
By Maria Atiq
Kashmir has witnessed the second major flood in six months. The heavy showers over the last three weeks have left the River Jhelum swelling, raising fears of a flood similar to the one in September last year that wreaked havoc in Kashmir. Those floods resulted in loss of more than 300 Kashmiri lives and left the infrastructure devastated, estimated by some accounts to $16 billion. Those floods affected six million Kashmiris, with three million people completely submerged in water.
The highlight of these floods was the complete failure of the Indian occupation administration in responding to the crisis. The most alarming aspect was the accusation of most Kashmiris that India used a natural calamity to punish Kashmiris opposed to Indian occupation.
Although the valley is occupied by more than 750,000 Indian military personnel, the Indian army showed utter disregard to Kashmiri lives, saving only Indian settlers in Kashmir, or foreign tourists. Certain sections of Kashmir also accused India of abandoning Muslim-majority affected and confining the relief efforts only to Hindu-majority regions. This act of discrimination by India’s occupation army can sow the seeds of religious hatred, which never existed before in Kashmir. Polarizing Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus appears to be the new strategy of India’s right-wing government led by Narendra Modi.
The reason of these frequent floods is the poor and inappropriate infrastructure of Indian-occupied Kashmir. India invaded and occupied Kashmir nearly seven decades ago. India refuses to improve the conditions of Kashmiris because the population refuses to accept Indian occupation.
In the year 2010, the Indian-appointed ‘Chief Minister’ of Kashmir ignored the report by the Floods Control Department, which predicted that Kashmir will be hit by severe floods over the next five years. The reasons cited were unplanned constructions over flood channels, river banks and encroachments. The report warned of the possibility that Srinagar could drown in a deluge of flood water. However, the Indian-appointed official in the occupation administration ignored the warning and did not have any mechanism to save human life and property. The report presciently predicted that 150,000 cusecs of water from river Jehlum will hit the summer capital and submerge most of it. Ironically, when Indian-occupied Kashmir witnessed one of the worst floods last year, the Indian-appointed ‘chief minister’ said his administration was caught off-guard.
However, the puppet regime in Kashmir is least bothered by the threats looming over the valley. The local Indian administration proposed a plan worth INR 22 billion to improve the infrastructure so that the threat of floods can be reduced. This plan asked the then Indian government led by PM Manmohan Singh to lend INR 5 billion. However, even after five years no implementation was done in this regard. Consequently the threat of floods again looms over Kashmir. The scenic valley is turning into a valley of death. The only logical reason seems to be India’s reluctance to save Kashmiri lives, and to use the threat of floods as a bargaining chip in Kashmir’s demand to end the Indian occupation in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.