The Kashmir Valley which was threatened by floods this year found an unlikely hero in the form of Jammu and Kashmir police which after getting a new set of leaders has found a spring in it’s steps. With local people calling the police repeatedly for help particularly in Srinagar city, the higher-ups in the department took up the cudgels on their own realizing that they would have to play an important role in shoring up the morale of the people as well as to set up the basic relief and rescue infrastructure. This became even more important because the civil administration in the state is seen as defunct, and dysfunctional and people have little trust on the bureaucracy to act during such diasters.
So in such trying conditions newly appointed IG of Kashmir, Javed Mujtaba Gillani and his team of officials, acted in time, assessed the situation, and deployed thousands of troops to allay the fears of the valley residents, particularly those in Srinagar. The response was planned after getting a frantic call from one of the posh colonies in Srinagar which was getting waterlogged, the IG, Kashmir rushed there with his men, and assessed the situation to be grim. However what helped was that the police had brought with them a powerful de-watering pump which was put to good use. With flood waters receding the men in Khaki also brought sandbags to strengthen the embankments of the flood channel. The initial experience at this colony gave an insight to Jilani as to how afraid the people of Srinagar would be because of this flood threat.
Realizing that this eercise could be repeated in entire Srinagar city, the IG Kashmir set up immediately a Special Control Room to handle the flood situation, and share specific information related to flood, and weather condition with people through phone, and social media.
Gillani also ensured that his men remained on the ground, and patrol the banks of the mighty Jehlum which was flowing very close to the danger mark. The police on the street acted swiftly whenever the water level inundated a residential area, organized evacuation, and set up flood relief camps with the help of villagers. The instant response of the police which was guided from the top by senior officials has come as a pleasant surprise for the people in Kashmir valley. They do not recall when an arm of the state worked so perfectly in the time of distress to help the people successfully.
In a number of colonies across Srinagar, the policemen used the sixty de-watering pumps they had bought, and also put thousands of sandbags to strengthen the flood which helped in averting a major crisis.
Men from J&K police patrolled the flood prone areas during night, and more than fifteen thousand officials were deployed to manage the relief and rescue operations. The police also had forty boats to manage evacuation, and officials said that hundreds of people were evacuated, and brought to safer places. With Gillani keeping a watchful eye on the entire operation, the men on the ground also understood the importance of reassuring the people that there was someone watching their back, and prepared to risk their lives to save them if things went bad. This was unlike Septembr 2014 floods when things went haywire as there was no planned approach either with the government or the police. Even policemen had to be rescued as the flood became a deluge, and the entire operation had to be carried out by the Indian army.
A very important role to overcome the emergency was played by the Special Control Room for flood because information about the situation was being shared with people real time. The weather update, water levels, and how the people could contact police was up and available all the time. This helped in reducing uncertainty, and fear among the masses. The police control room got 30,000 calls from distressed people, who were reassurances, help, and evacuated in case the situation was serious.
In Srinagar, the waterlogging was caused more by the failed drainage system which led to spilling of water on roads, and streets. There was initial panic but the timely action by police officials in Srinagar city led by SSP Amit Kumar helped in defusing the situation. Kumar brought the de-watering pumps, and ensured that they were made functional quickly even as officials from civic agencies as usual took their own sweet time to act.
Locals appreciate the efforts put in by J&K police led on the front by SSP Amit Kumar who was seen on the roads everyday reassuring people that police will do everything to protect their lives. He also gave helpline numbers to people, and directed his men to keep the vigil, and control the ground situation to avoid damage and destruction. For the time the Jammu and Kashmir police has been successful in managing the situation on the ground but the job is not finished. Gillani, Amit Kumar and all the men in J&K police are keeping a close watch on the situation, and not resting till this is over.