Victims run out of patience in roadside tents

Shaheena of Lal Mandi had completed all the preparations two weeks ago for the marriage ceremony of her son, Najeeem Matoo, scheduled for September 25. She had stocked enough food items for the preparation of Kashmiri wazwan to serve to hundreds of invitees.
However, on September 25, she along with her family was huddling together in one blanket in a tent pitched on a road after floods rendered them homeless.
Police have provided five tents to many of the families in Lal Mandi. While flood waters from most of the areas have receded, their homes remain inundated. Two to three families are taking shelter in one tent.
Shaheena who may have been serving sumptuous feast to guests is now begging for food for her family. Her husband, Mohammad Hafeez Matoo, is moving from one government department to another, only to get some help from the government. However, Saleema says no government official or agency visited them or provided them relief.
“I had stocked all the food items for the marriage ceremony of my son. We had planned feast for hundreds of guests. But today we are on road with no food to eat. Floods have taken everything,” said Shaheena.
Like Shaheena there are many other families from Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Lal Mandi living in tents erected on road side.
Police Station Raj Bagh had provided 37 tents to the residents of Raj Bagh who fled their homes.
Mohammad Abdullah Khosa of Raj Bagh fled his home along with his family 10 days ago. They have been spending nights in tents on the roadside near Presentation Convention School, Raj Bagh.
Government provided ration and other food items to them for a week. However, for last four days, Khosa has been living at the mercy of volunteers who occasionally come and drop food items in their tents.
“We are homeless and living a miserable life. We were given this tent, blanket and food packets and a rice bag by police. However, for past four days, police also stopped providing us food. We are helpless and have nothing to eat now,” says Khosa, who along with another family of Bilal Ahmad Khosa are living in one tent.
“When volunteers come and give food to us, we feed our family. But if they also stop coming, we will have nothing to eat. Government has failed to look after our needs. Where from shall we get food?” complains Khosa.
One of the officials of Police Station Raj Bagh who was registering the losses of the residents in one tent said there has been no supply of food for these people for last four days.
“We provided the residents 37 tents. We have demanded 50 more tents from the government as there are many families which are homeless and need tents. We have provided them food and cooking gas. But for past few days, there has been no supply of relief from government for these families,” said the police official.
“We have sent requisition for more tents and ration for these families. This time volunteers are providing them food.”
The flood has receded by almost seven to eight feet in many parts of the Valley, but Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Lal Mandi are still under water with many places still under four to five feet flood water.
The government has cut open the road near Presentation Convent School Raj Bagh by almost 15 feet to let accumulated flood waters of this area empty into river Jhelum.
“Two weeks have passed but the water has still not been removed from our area. Government should have used many pumps to remove water. The flood water is now stinking and will spread diseases,” said Tanveer Ahmad Khan of Lal Mandi area.

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