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J&K floods: Army vehicles pelted with stones; people’s anger justified, says Omar

SRINAGAR: Terming the flood situation in the flood-ravaged Kashmir valley as very serious, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said he understood the anger of the people affected by the unprecedented catastrophe.

Omar also dismissed criticism of his government in the handling of the flood crisis, saying joint efforts involving various agencies including his administration are being made to help people tide over the crisis.

Over 200 people have been killed in floods, landslides and house collapses triggered by torrential rains. Four-lakh people still remain stranded. Omar on Tuesday described the floods that has devastated the state as the worst in 109 years.

Asked about the criticism of the state government over the handling of the situation, Omar said if there was heckling, “People are alive to shout slogans, I have no problems. It means that these people have been rescued, they have been accommodated somewhere. Where they have been accommodated is not my concern,” he said.

“I understand the anger (of people). I don’t grudge them. They have gone through difficult times.” Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was heckled in one of the relief camps. In another incident, Army vehicles loaded with supplies were pelted with stones as they tried to make their way through Srinagar.

Omar said the situation was unprecedented. “The focus is entirely on making available all assets. Such situations are handled through joint efforts... It is a very serious humanitarian situation in terms of rescue and relief of the people.

“... It is an unprecedented situation. In nobody's life time, we remember water to be at this level. It is something nobody could have prepared for. The efforts of the central government, army, air force and state government and operations have been ramped up. Supplies are arriving and we are doing our best to rescue people,” he said.

The chief minister said there was no ‘weakness’ in coordination between the forces on ground and the state government is working together with the armed forces.

“I am in touch with the Army, the Navy and trying to make sure that the right stuff reaches the right place and we are able to achieve the stuff properly. We are not able to communicate with the people,” he said. He said the main source of worry for him was the likely spread of diseases after the water level in flood-hit areas recedes.