The people of Indian-administered Kashmir, reeling from the effects of a massive flood have turned their anger onto state administrators, blaming them for not doing enough to ensure their safety and have reportedly discarded aid and supplies sent by the Indian government.
Large parts of the capital of the Indian state, Srinagar lies underwater with many people still trapped on rooftops while others live in crowded relief camps, according to a Reuters report.
The only state in India with a Muslim majority, Kashmir has seen tensions between those calling for independence or a union with Pakistan, and those loyal to the Indian government in a violent insurgency that erupted in the 90s. The natural disaster has only added to the state's problems as the administration struggles to bring relief to the people even as many accuse the government, which maintains a heavy military presence in the region, of not helping them in this calamity.
People who have been stranded for several days since the floods began have reportedly accused the army of selectively rescuing tourists and others but leaving locals to be rescued by volunteers.
“Helicopters came, and we waved our arms,” Aasiya Kutoo, a local who was living at a temporary shelter reportedly said. “Nobody came for us. Nobody in our area was rescued by air.”
Food supplies and aid dropped by the Indian military earlier has reportedly been dumped in a gutter.
“People said we don’t need this government food,” a Nayeem local reportedly said, adding that since India has occupied Kashmir, they were only providing relief out of duty. “If another state occupied this land, they would be bound to do the same.”
A senior Indian army official said it was unfortunate that the rescue effort has been politicized. “Our air force does not permit selective rescue,” he reportedly said adding: “The population has been affected by a tragedy. This reaction is a reflection of their lack of faith in the civic administration.”
Riyaz Ahmad, a government official and relief volunteer reportedly said “The local government is totally crippled. There has been no communication from my superiors. Every department is totally defunct.”
Omar Abdullah, chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir reportedly said that the severity of the floods had knocked out his administration's infrastructure within the event's first few hours. However the administration had since recovered and is doing its best to deliver aid, he said.
Abdullah reportedly said that part of the problem was that people did not take the flood warnings broadcast from government vehicles and mosques last weekend seriously.
Extensive floods have hit both the Indian and Pakistani sides of the disputed Himalayan territory. The Jhelum River, which flows from Indian Kashmir to the Pakistan side has been swollen by unusually heavy rain and overflew its banks last week.
The death toll on the Indian side of Kashmir has been pegged at 200. However, there are fears that number could increase, given that Srinagar is a city of over a million people. Pakistani officials reportedly said that 264 people had died on their side of the border on Friday.