“The ministers and senior officers fled the Valley when people needed them most in the flood,” said leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad in an exclusive Interview to Greater Kashmir.
“I know the ministers and senior officers who fled the Valley,” Azad said. “Best minister, best officer is one who would have died with people. When everybody would have drowned they too would have”..
Azad, however, bailed out the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah saying he did what he could do under the circumstances. “I don’t hold the Chief Minister responsible. I faced the same situation when I was the chief minister. No officer, no minister came forward to save the situation and I had to quit,” Azad said. “I am not acting as chief minister’s spokesman but as a former chief minister I can realize the difficulties he would be facing as his instruments and tools are not cooperating.”
The former Chief Minister clarified that he was not alleging all the government employees had failed. “Some officials have done a commendable job, but some government employees are hiding behind the excuse. It’s a deliberate attempt as in Jammu and Kashmir the bureaucracy is highly politicized,” Azad said. “Some people are doing it by design. They want Omar Abdullah government to die like this. That is not done”.
Azad asked people not to accept Rs 70,000 as compensation for the destroyed houses and demanded that Government of India should at least give Rs 5 lakh to the victims. “We are not going to accept Rs 70,000 for reconstruction of the houses. This amount is peanuts for a person who has lost the house worth Rs 1 crore,” he said. “We suggest that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should lead an All Party Delegation to Delhi. We don’t mind joining him.”
Congress leader was all praise for Kashmiri youth who, he said, rose to the challenge and put their lives on line to save the flood-hit. “I want to salute the people of Jammu and Kashmir especially the people from Chenab Valley who left no stone unturned to reach out to the flood hit victims of Kashmir. NGOs played a vital role and did whatever they could,” Azad said. “I also salute the young boys of Kashmir for being on the forefront and rescuing the marooned people. They rescued more than 80 percent of the population and saved precious lives”.