– by Special Correspondent, Nasheman
Srinagar: On 7th September, 2014 Kashmir witnessed the worst disaster of the century when the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir got submerged. Rajbagh, Shivpura, Indra Nagar, Jawahar Nagar and Bemina were the worst hit. Water levels rose upto 18 feet in these areas. People were shocked and unable to understand how to save their life. But as we say life has its own ways, people started marching towards these areas and tried to rescue people and bring them out of these submerged houses.
In the state government, except the Chief Minister & DGP everyone else was trying to save himself and his family. I reached Srinagar airport on 5th September and on the same day on directions of Home Ministry two NDRF teams had reached Srinagar airport. Mubashir Bukhari, Dy. SP JK police was briefing them about the situation. NDRF was clueless about the topography of the area and in Kashmir we still don’t have Google maps updated so you can understand how tough it would have been for this police officer to brief them. But anyhow NDRF teams were sent to the destination.
On 7th September when water started entering Srinagar city, locals, NDRF teams and some J&K policemen started rescue operation. On the morning of 8th September, we saw big fleet of helicopters of IAF pressed in the rescue operation. Whenever there is any natural calamity, I have never seen that rescue operations are done by government only, in most of the cases, during rescue operation locals do more work than government machinery and same happened in Kashmir..
Air Force, Army did tremendous job in rescuing people. I Saw army without any hesitation taking people in their vehicles and people also getting into these vehicles without any hesitation. This was the Kashmir which I had seen in my childhood when army and public were friends, though after 1990 everything changed. Till 9th of September everything was going on peacefully but on 10th I again saw anti army voices raising especially in non flood hit areas. I was wondering what happened suddenly, why are people against the army? Why are people saying army is rescuing only non-Kashmiris? Then I realised the battery of journalists who had come with IAF fleet were just showing rescue operation of army and not of the locals. Unfortunately, these reporters were just showing the interviews of only those people who were from outside, this reporting gave the impression that government is only trying to rescue non Kashmiris which was not true. Though few channels did commendable job by taking messages of people stranded in the flood to their families but all these efforts were wasted by some editors for reasons well known to them. This was the time when media could have played the constructive role and tried to narrow down the gap between localities and Army.
Worst was when few channels started playing visuals of stone pelting on security forces in 2010 and rescue operation. I didn’t understand what they were trying to tell people of Kashmir by showing these pictures. Didn’t the media spoil the work done by army and IAF and didn’t this reportage allow people to raise questions.
There were lot of stories which these journalists could have done. Boat owners taking thousands for few kilometers. Thieves trying to sneak in these submerged houses and some heroic jobs of local people.
I am a journalist and fortunately or unfortunately i was in Kashmir during these floods and witnessed as how some media reportage not only spoilt the work done by government but widened the gap between Kashmiris and the government.