Mr. Omar Abdullah,
Chief Minster of J&K,
Following publication of an article on 3rd October 2014, captioned “Tragedy of errors” on Op-ed page of Daily “Greater Kashmir”, Of which I am the Editor, your law Department has among others, served me a notice threatening to stop the publication of newspaper. Being chief executive of the State & head of administration, I take it granted that the notice has been issued with your consent & prior approval. I, therefore, deem it prudent to reply you directly.
Mr. Omar Abdullah- As per the notice, the article written in the context of recent floods which has devastated the State in general & Srinagar city in particular, allegedly contains false & misleading facts which has defamed your Govt. by showing it in a poor light. Sir- before a conclusion can be drawn whether your Govt. has been defamed or not because of the said write-up, it is imperative to know the quantum of fame & reputation carried on by your Govt. in view of following flood related specific issues.
1) The prediction of a devastating flood was made as early as four years ago. What we know from the published facts is that your Govt. submitted a comprehensive plan involving an outlay of Rs. 2200 crore to Central Govt. for taking up certain projects by way of remedial measures. The matter rests with the authorities at New-Delhi categorically stating that the State Govt. did not respond to various queries & clarifications regarding techno-economic feasibility of the project submitted in this regard. Will your Govt. issue a whit-paper on this issue enabling the beleaguered & besieged people of this state to know the persons responsible behind the laxity?
2) As you may be aware that there is a standard operating procedure for diverting Excess water flowing in River Jehlum to various Flood channels & water bodies to save Srinagar City. Your Govt. failed to adhere to the said procedure under the vote-Bank pressure of few so-called elected representatives. One of them ,a close buddy of yours, also resented diversion of water at a particular location to save his own vote bank. Incidentally he is the same MLA whose security Guards fired at and chased a young boy at Batmaloo, Srinagar forcing him to drown which triggered 2010 agitation. Instead of wasting your time in issuing me a notice, Your Govt. should have by now constituted a judicial commission to ascertain the facts and put these so-called representatives behind bars for interfering in the set procedure.
3) It is the general impression that your Govt. deliberately allowed excavation of Bunds surrounding Srinagar City for facilitating illegal constructions thereon which ultimately weakened them. A glaring engineering & administrative failure is the commissioning of a Bridge across Flood Channel near Jawahar Nagar which hindered the free flow of water therein creating extra pressure on Bunds. Similarly construction of skewed bridge near Convent school, despite vociferous opposition from civil society and permission given to a goon to construct a school in the Jehlum water bed near Kursoo Raj Bagh became contributory causes for ravaging floods.
4) Post floods your administration failed miserably to rescue marooned people. You could have done a lot in this regard but your whole Govt. & administrative machinery was caught unawares & napping. By way of a small instance, let me tell you that in Srinagar alone there are nearly one thousand registered & unregistered Shikaras available in Dal-Lake . These could have been requisitioned along with rovers & deployed in flood hit areas but were not. State Govt. employees posted outside Srinagar should have been recalled to perform emergency duties. Had it not been due to valor of young Brave-hearts, whom your Govt does not hesitate to kill at slightest provocation, who saved thousands of people from drowning at a tremendous risk to their own lives, the causality figure would have been in thousands.
5) Regarding relief operations-less said the better. One of your Minsters has distributed truckloads of relief material in his constituency which is not effected by floods. It is simply shameful.
There are scores of other instances which testify your Govt’s failure & criminal negligence in preventing the catastrophe & its aftermaths. Putting them in black & white here is simply not possible. Suffice it to say that if your Govt. had been operating in a civilized world without any political concession from New-Delhi, it would have been put on trial by now. But Operating under a matrix of administrative lies & political deception, you have been able to hang on to the chair. Six years ago when you were anointed Chief Minster of the State, a columnist wrote-“Tifle showd Khandar-Khana showd Wairan “(A child at helm heralds destruction of household).How prophetic that quotation proved to be?
Last but not least, let me tell you that if you have arrogance of power, I have the better company of Principles. You might be vested with brute force but I have truth on my Side. So, if you desire, let the fight begin.
(The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant. E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)