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Floods hit north-east India states

Sep 23, 2014, 1:24 AM EDT
A Kashmiri volunteer walks on the silt in the premises of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital after the flood waters receded from the area on September 20, 2014 in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir, India.
AFP/Getty Images

Authorities in India's north-east have asked people to move to higher ground as monsoon rains triggered deadly floods and landslides in two states. The BBC reports:

Heavy rains have been battering Assam and Meghalaya states since Monday, with floods damaging bridges and sweeping away roads and houses. At least 10 people have died in Meghalaya state.

Earlier this month, more than 270 people were killed by monsoon rains in Indian-administered Kashmir. Local media reports put the number killed in Meghalaya since Monday at 25, as people were swept away or buried in the debris in North Garo Hills and West Garo Hills district.

The reports said the army had been deployed in the North Garo Hills district, where at least 100 villages have been submerged, and hundreds of villagers had taken shelter in schools and churches located on high ground.

In neighbouring Assam state, troops and federal personnel have rescued scores of people trapped by floodwaters in Goalpara district, local official Pritam Saikia told the Associated Press news agency.

An opinion column in Aljazeera states that India has turned the recent destructive flooding in the Kashmir region into a PR stunt that has backfired:

Since Sept. 7, Indian-administered Kashmir has been dealing with the biggest and most ferocious floods in a century. With nearly 250 people dead and 600,000 thousand stranded, a sizzling summer turned into a disaster overnight.

Two weeks later, the crisis has not abated, and already the cost of the damage is estimated at close to $1 billion. Authorities admit they are overwhelmed. But India has shockingly not allowed any direct aid or assistance offered by major international disaster relief agencies, including the United Nations.

It might appear that India is attempting to accomplish a mammoth feat all on its own. But the truth is that the politics of aid in Kashmir is at work. India’s humanitarianism has been deployed to serve the interests of the Indian state at the expense of the masses of suffering civilians.

To be sure, the Indian army has played an important role in relief efforts, claiming to rescue about 100,000 people. But many have complained that the army has been prioritizing the families of those with political influence as well as tourists. A week has passed since the rains ended, and people here are furious with the speed of the rescue efforts.