Kashmir is witnessing the worst flood in the last fifty years engulfing more than 2500 villages, killing at least 200 people and causing severe casualties.
The incessant rains have swallowed up the roads, bridges, houses and other government buildings and telecommunication lines and power have been cut off. Several areas have become inaccessible due to the floods and the situation is getting worse than ever. Rescue operations are being continued. The Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Relief Force are all working round-the-clock to help the people stranded in the flood-ravaged areas. The Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has said that it does not matter whether the Centre declares the situation in Jammu and Kashmir a 'national calamity', as long as timely help comes for the people. Rivers Chenab and Jehlum have been overflowing flooding both India and Pakistan. The catastrophe on this scale is said to be the worst in the past five decades. People are evacuated and temporary camps have been set up for shelter. More than 200 Keralites holidaying in Jammu and Kashmir were stuck in the floods including an actress. Attempts are being continued to land them back to safety.
The heads of both the countries have exhibited a commendable solidarity by reaching out to each other in the time of calamity. Prime Minister Modi visited the site announcing a rescue package of Rs 1000 crore for the victims. He called on other states to come for the rescue and relief operations. Modi even expressed his willingness to provide any humanitarian assistance if required. Pakistan PM too had thanked Modi for his help in the time of distress. Effective teamwork for tackling the natural disasters from both sides has helped to bring the situation under control and should be a part of the agenda of peace and development in the region. The relations between both the countries had deteriorated after India cancelled the foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan following Pakistan ambassador met with the Kashmiri separatist leaders. Continuous ceasefire violations have also further strained the relations. The assistance during the time of disaster is therefore a welcome change. How the relations between both the neighbours would proceed, is hard to access. Let the Jammu and Kashmir disaster management be a catalyst for the two countries to strengthen the ties rather than focusing on politics.