Srinagar/New Delhi: India’s armed forces continued their coordinated efforts in Jammu and Kashmir, rescuing over 77,000 people so far as the toll in the state’s worst flood in six decades reached 215. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday took stock of the situation and was briefed on the status of operations, amid concerns about the possible outbreak of water-borne diseases.
Flood waters receded in the Kashmir Valley Wednesday but anxiety prevailed among people who are still stranded.
Over 77,000 people have been rescued so far in the state by the armed forces and the National Disaster Response Force.
However, there was a sense of despondency and apprehension among families who lost a large part of their belongings in the flood waters.
Many people are trapped in Srinagar city alone that submerged in the flood waters during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.
Officials said 215 people have died in the floods.
“Unless the flood waters recede completely, and we are able to reach all the submerged areas, we cannot be sure about the exact toll in these floods,” a state official said.
Officials also said many more could still be trapped in submerged areas.
People rescued from various parts of Srinagar recalled the horror.
They said the cries for help of many others in their areas had stopped, indicating they had either died or were resigned to their fate and knew that the chances of their survival were bleak.
Areas like Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gogji Bagh, Bemina, Mehjor Nagar, Karan Nagar and Qamarwari in Srinagar were still submerged.
Many Kashmiris feel the state government has failed to reach out to the affected people.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, however, dismissed the criticism that his government did not do enough.
“This is an unprecedented situation. There is no way we could have prepared for it. Operations are being cranked up, supplies are arriving and we are doing our best,” he said.
Army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, who visited the flood-hit state Wednesday, said the situation has improved and the army was working day and night to provide relief to those affected.
“Relief and rescue operations are on. The situation has improved a lot. More boats have come today (Wednesday), we have enough boats now,” he said.
“We now need to supply food, water and medicines to people in need. All resources available with us have been pressed into action,” he said.
The army chief assured that the forces will help everyone.
An acute crisis of petrol and kerosene has hit the Kashmir Valley. On Wednesday, all filling stations in Srinagar said they have run out of fuel.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway continued to be closed for the seventh day Wednesday, but traffic on the 440-km long Srinagar-Leh highway was restored Tuesday.
The road link between Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region has also been restored.
Inspector General of Police Garib Das said Wednesday that 31 people were still missing following a landslide in which 40 people died in Panchauri area in Udhampur district Tuesday.
Eighty transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force and Army Aviation Corps have been pressed into relief operations.
In view of the huge magnitude of the calamity, the central government is assisting the state in further ramping up the rescue and relief operations.
Apart from providing food and water to the people, the central government is keen to help the state in paying more attention to hygiene and sanitation in the water-logged areas of Srinagar to prevent any outbreak of water-borne diseases.
While 8,000 landlines were activated in Srinagar, mobile phone services have also been partially restored.
A fallout of the floods has been the breakdown of the communication systems in Kashmir. The radio station and Doordarshan facility have been shut for the last four days.
Congress leader Karan Singh – who hails from Kashmir – said the state had witnessed its worst floods “in living memory”.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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