This is a story that Kashmiris, who survived death and destruction caused by floods, will record for their great grandchildren — of how they were abandoned by those whom they had elected, and rescued by those whom they were made to hate. Had the Army not responded to the call of duty, the Valley would not have been there to tell any story. Local volunteers also did unparalleled service in rescuing people. No one else was seen anywhere on the scene.
Over the last weekend, the events that followed were horrific. People are still marooned, waiting for evacuation while many others are in a distress situation without food and water, now for days together. The rescuers, mostly personnel of the Army, National Disaster Response Force and the Air Force and local volunteers, could not reach each and every person. At some places, Army personnel, NDRF men and IAF choppers were stoned, injuring the rescuers, but they kept up the rescue and relief work.
The armed forces against whom hatred was generated not only by separatists but also by mainstream parties rose to the occasion. Their own losses were huge, but they worked overtime to save Kashmir. Whatever is left of the Kashmir valley today is because of the valiant efforts of the armed forces and that of local volunteers.
It is baffling as to why the armed forces are being pelted with stones. It may be because of the hate campaign of the political elements and propaganda from across the border. People in distress do not come up with banners that they “don’t need Indian relief” and “stop the drama of choppers”.
Some anti-India forces are undoubtedly at work. There was a social media campaign by some elements sitting outside the Valley who accused the Army of placing conditions for rescuing people. They said the Army was demanding that once people were rescued, they should tell the media that “the Army rescued them”.
The Army personnel cannot speak Kashmiri and how could they tutor people who do not understand Hindi. Elderly women, who do not know even a word of Hindi or Urdu, were heard saying that the Army rescued them in chaste Kashmiri.
There is criticism that the Army preferred to rescue only migrant labourers, tourists and non-locals. This is a part of the hate campaign against the Army. As of now, hundreds of tourists and non-locals are stranded and more than 15,000 migrant labourers, tourists and others have climbed mountains to reach Ramsoo — 165 km north of Jammu — on foot. The fact is that wherever the Army could reach, braving the stone-throwing by miscreants, it brought out people from a near-death-like situation.
These hate campaigners were doing it deliberately despite knowing that the first rule of the disaster management is to shift out the non-local population to ease pressure of food and water on the local population. That reduces the number of the mouths demanding food and water, and the relief material can straightaway make way to the locals. They are doing their duty. They are doing their duty to save the distressed people, and what they are getting in return are stones. Nowhere in the world, people caught in a natural calamity throw stones at their rescuers.