Former QPR boss Trevor Francis believes current manager Mark Hughes can have no complaints about the pressure he is under.Disgruntled fans want Hughes out following a dismal run that has seen the team fail to win a league match this season.And Francis told Sky Sports News: “If you haven’t won a game and it’s the middle of November, you expect to be under pressure.“I think Mark expected his team to do better. They were desperately close to getting relegated last season and Mark actually predicted that he would never be in that position again – but that’s where they find themselves.“I’ve watched QPR live twice this season and on both occasions I was somewhat disappointed with the manner in which they defended.“Until they start keeping clean sheets they’re going to have huge problems.”Click here for Wednesday’s QPR quizShould Hughes keep his job? Click here to voteSee also:Listen to Hughes insist QPR are ‘very close’ to turning things 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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
One of the strongest regional satraps of the Congress, Amarinder Singh put the party back in the saddle in Punjab after the “father of all battles” that decimated the SAD and crushed the AAP’s dream of expanding its footprint beyond Delhi.75-year-old Amarinder, a widely respected and popular leader, steered the Congress to a landslide victory winning 77 seats in the 117 member Assembly to occupy the chief minister’s post for the second time.The maharaja’s win in Punjab after 10 years has also rekindled the hopes for the revival of the grand old party.Belonging to a very rare breed of politicians who have seen action in the Indo—Pak war, Mr. Singh this time tasted success after Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal foiled his previous attempts to become chief minister in 2007 and 2012.Once a leader of the Akali Dal, the ‘scion of Patiala’ fought in the 1965 war after he rejoined the army a few months after his resignation. He again resigned from the Services as a decorated soldier at the conclusion of the war.The Punjab Congress chief and husband of Patiala MP Preneet Kaur was born to late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala.After his initial schooling at Lawrence School, Sanawar and Doon School in Dehradun, he joined the National Defence Academy, Kharagwasla July 1959 and graduated from there in December 1963.Commissioned in the Indian Army in 1963, he was posted in 2nd Bn. Sikh Regiment (both his father and grandfather had served the battalion), served in Field Area — Indo Tibetan border for two years and was appointed Aide—de—Camp to Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, GOC—in—C Western Command.His army career was shortlived as he resigned in early 1965 after his father was appointed Ambassador to Italy and his services were required at home.But he joined the army again immediately after hostilities broke out with Pakistan and took part in operations in the war only to resign again in early 1966 after the war was over.His political career began in January 1980 when he was elected MP. But he resigned from the Congress and the Lok Sabha in protest against the entry of the army into the Golden Temple during “Operation Blue Star” in 1984.
A flood victim with her children in SrinagarZinda ho?” As the people of Srinagar return to the forced sham that passes for normalcy two weeks after the fury of the Jhelum changed their lives forever, that brutal, forthright question seems to have been transformed into a straightforward term of endearment.,A flood victim with her children in SrinagarZinda ho?” As the people of Srinagar return to the forced sham that passes for normalcy two weeks after the fury of the Jhelum changed their lives forever, that brutal, forthright question seems to have been transformed into a straightforward term of endearment. The ‘Assalaam aleikum’ will come later, perhaps next week or the week after. Today, just these words, part-reassurance-part-statement, are enough. Are you alive? Already, Srinagar’s world is being circumscribed by the events of the last fortnight. Seven days ago, by September 12, the fury of the flood was abating a week before that, on September 6, it was just about beginning. As reminiscences of those hours take over, survivors report their slow oscillation between a crowded bunch of memories-and emptiness.The slow rise of water as it, surprisingly, lapped at your feet that unforgettable morning of September 7 in the kitchen, at about 6.30 a.m. So you step out of your ground floor apartment in Jawahar Nagar to see where it is coming from, open the small gate that leads to the street and look right. There’s a wall of water moving rapidly in your direction, about 8-10 feet high, carrying a whitecoloured Scorpio vehicle in its wake. You step back and run back home, fear overwhelming your thudding heart. The next hour is taken up in transporting the goods of your elderly landlord from the second to the third floor. By the time you return to your own ground-floor apartment, the gas cylinders are floating in the water, hitting your chest. You can hardly keep your grip on the floor. It is impossible to retrieve the hand-written, 250-year-old Koran normally kept on the top shelf, out of reach of children and all other harm, that has been especially gifted to you by the family.advertisementNearly two weeks later, as Srinagar fights to hold on to a semblance of its old dignity, the fragility of its citizenry is exposed for all the world to see. On the Bemina-Tengpora road close to the airport, several people displaced by the waters have set up tents on the flyover’s central verge. By the middle of November, winter will set in, which means they have two months to find a house to live in. In these parts, the winter is so severe that cement doesn’t take long to freeze over. The normally short working season, from April to November, has just become even more truncated.In Jawahar Nagar and Raj Bagh, colonies of the middle bureaucracy and the new rich, the water is still chest-high. But several residents have already returned home to protect the remainder of their worldly goods. That’s because the looters, allegedly shikarawallahs offering a helping hand to victims desperate to get away, are said to return in the dead of night. What the Jhelum gives, it also takes away. Meanwhile, two heavy-duty pumps sent by the Central government started working in the Rajbagh area more than a week after the disaster. But as the water level recedes, local volunteers are finding more and more bodies of those who didn’t make the escape.Apathy fuels outrageAcross Srinagar, old men grown grey with unkept promises made by successive governments are slow to anger, as you ask them about that morning and how and why the Jhelum broke its banks. Younger men, fed on a cyclical diet of conflict and resentment, curfew and hartal as well as much bigger words such as “intifada”, have a much shorter fuse. But as they ride the waters in wooden boats, some of them converted from coffins borrowed from the local masjid, their anger wells over into cursing beneath their breath.Flood waters inundate Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of Srinagar”Where are our MLAs? They haven’t shown their faces to us in our hour of need. This Nasir Wani, before he got elected as the National Conference MLA from Amirakadal constituency, used to have a monthly account in my provision store in Jawahar Nagar and would often find it difficult to pay up. Today he is a very rich man. Where did he get his money from? All these men know is to make money off our pain and our grief,” says Mushtaq, riding on a local volunteer’s boat to shore up supplies at home.This mounting anger against an apathetic political class, which failed to stand by its people as the life-giving river became a river of death, is fuelled by an insensitive civil administration which preferred to fall back on bureaucratic lethargy and red-tapism rather than cut short the rules in the distribution of food supplies in this hour of crisis. Stories abound of godowns full of rice and wheat which could not be opened because the man who had the key to the lock had gone to Jammu. In an exclusive interview with INDIA TODAY, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah admitted that 24 crucial hours were lost in one instance because officials insisted that trucks carrying supplies would need to be first registered, their dispatch order signed and only then released.advertisementBut the anger that manifests against Abdullah’s government is also spilling over into resentment against the army, the air force as well as National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel, who are being increasingly perceived as demanding gratitude from an ingrate people-although, Kashmiris admit, they have all performed yeoman service. As they put it, “a completely insensitive mainstream media” has changed the tone of the army/air force/NDRF rescue, by forcing Srinagar’s citizenry to publicly admit homage.”Don’t get us wrong,” says Manzoor Ahmed, a retired driver who lives in downtown Srinagar. “We know that the Indian Army saved hundreds of people in this flood, and we are grateful for that. When the army men went in with their boats, they didn’t worry whether people were Kashmiri or tourist, Muslim or Pandit, their only concern was who was in greater danger and needed to be rescued first. We appreciate that very much. But when your media keeps rubbing it into our face that we are ungrateful for all that is being done for us, then it really bothers,” he adds.Ahmed says people should also not forget that hundreds of Kashmiri civilians also put themselves into grave personal danger by taking their shikaras into the roiling waters of the Jhelum and rescuing ailing men, pregnant women and children. Several worked alongside the army, several alone. “We must all acknowledge their contribution,” he adds.Asked why he and his government were missing from the streets of Srinagar, Abdullah said, “At first, we were constrained by the lack of communications. The telephone network was completely down and even I couldn’t get in touch with my ministers or my senior officials. Then we were trying to get the people out. But I agree, the government needs to be seen interacting with the people in their hour of crisis. The crowds may get hostile, but we have to understand that,” he added.Here and nowIn this volatile climate, Abdullah admits the challenges ahead are grave. Large parts of the city are still under water -notably Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh, where the Jhelum breached its banks and converted these colonies into a veritable death-trap, as well as parts of Bemina, Tengpora and Batamaloo-and stagnant water is a direct invitation to water-borne diseases such as gastroenteritis, dysentery and diarrhoea. Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who flew into Srinagar to take stock, and his doctors have advised that all children in the age-group of 0-15 years be inoculated against measles. Dog bites are being reported, and the fear of rabies is rising, as scared and famished street dogs who have survived the flood look to assuage their hunger.advertisementVIP colony Jawahar Nagar is one of the worst-affected areas in SrinagarWith insulin and anti-blood pressure drugs in high demand, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon is believed to have sent a few tonnes of the former from Bangalore. Relief organisations are in fact putting their best face forward, among them the Kashmir Valley in Delhi for Flood Relief (KVIDFR), which started out as a group of well-meaning as well as well-to-do South Srinagar kids from out of town, but has grown into an organised group that has gone into the deepest parts of the city to provide relief to people.The fear of an impending epidemic, especially if the water-logged areas are not cleared soon, gnaws at government and private doctors alike. Old British records from the 1902 flood that last submerged the Kashmir Valley reveal that while only 92 died in the Jhelum’s fury, as many as 15,000 were killed by the diseases that came in the wake of the flood. According to Dr Naqshbandi of the private Ahmed hospital near the Srinagar airport-to which several patients were shifted since the government hospitals were shut-the lack of diagnostic equipment, now lost in the flood, will significantly deter the detection of even simple diseases.Moreover, with the winter looming large, the forced proximity of people is likely to aggravate infections. Orders have also been issued to remove carcasses of animals- chickens, dogs, cows littering street corners. On the outskirts of Srinagar, more than half the cattle at the army’s 330-strong dairy farm have died; the government is still looking for place to bury them. People who were rescued from their flooded homes even 3-4 days after the arrival of the flood and happened to walk past the army dairy, reported a thunderous lowing of the cattle those nights, as if it were a prophecy of doomsday.The telecommunication network, both government owned and private, remains spotty at best. Bitter that the lines are still down, Abdullah holds fort from Hari Nivas, one of several beautifully appointed pleasure houses of the former maharaja of Kashmir. He has finally been able to call a meeting of his council of ministers here more than a week after the flood, as his Secretariat is still under a couple of feet of water. But these elected representatives are said to be mutinous, and don’t want to stay in Srinagar.Volunteers distribute drinking water bottlesStories abound. Health minister Taj Mohiuddin was so keen on leaving the capital that he barely met his wife for an hour before rushing to his constituency, Uri. Revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister Ajaz Ahmad Khan would rather stay in the Jammu region, near his constituency Gool Arnas, as does Minister for Housing, Horticulture, Culture and Sports, Raman Bhalla. None of them have been sighted on the streets of the capital since the deluge, although several were spotted on the freshly mowed lawns of Hari Nivas. Plans are now believed to be afoot to persuade them to accompany trucks of food supplies into the flood-affected areas so that the people, furious at being abandoned in their hour of need, do not take out their pent-up frustration and anger on them.Chief Secretary Iqbal Khandey, also standing on the lawns of Hari Nivas in the company of Bhalla, Urban Development and Urban Local Bodies minister Nawang Rigzin Jora and Abdullah’s confidante Devinder Rana, is unwilling to answer questions about why he and the rest of his civil administration have failed to lead the civilian relief effort. Asked where the government relief camps are located, Khandey at first points to the Dal, upon which a junior official softly interjects to say that most people have left from there, then adds that there are a few in the Nishat Bagh area.Meanwhile, the city has been divided into three zones, one senior official in charge of each to supervise the removal of garbage. Restoring the city’s water supply is a priority, which even in ordinary times was mixed with alum and chlorine; a few days ago 200 tonnes was ordered to be flown in. The army is supplementing the effort by providing reverse osmosis (RO) systems that churn out 300,000 gallons of water a day. But everywhere in the city, in areas like Maisuma considered to be the stronghold of separatist leader Yasin Malik as well as in the innards of Barbar Shah, the filthy streets are being cleaned by the people who live there. Elsewhere in Sheikh Bagh, close to Lal Chowk, shopkeepers have deployed their own hosepipes to pump the water out. If the state is deploying people, they are few and far in between and largely invisible.Certainly, the army has played a stellar role in providing medical services in Srinagar, treating infants as young as four days. As many as 80 medical teams and six army field hospitals have been established, which are likely to remain operational at least for another month.Economy under waterThe loss to life and property in the Jammu region has also been severe. Intersected by the mighty Chenab and the Tawi rivers and their various tributaries and feeders, the shock effect of the late monsoon deluge was felt when a bus carrying a marriage party fell into the river below, killing as many as 63 people, out of the total toll of 164 so far. According to Northern Army Commander Lt-Gen D. S. Hooda, who led the army’s rescue operations in the state, “No one expected the speed at which the water came. Many casualties occurred as people tried to cross causeways,” he said. Luckily, the rains stopped around September 8, allowing the waters to flow onwards into Pakistan in the following 24 hours, making the task of connecting Rajouri and Poonch much easier. Electricity and water supply was restored, as was communication and the vital road supply route.A flooded ward in SMHS hospital, the valley’s top general hospitalAccording to Shakeel Qalander, entrepreneur and member of former PM Manmohan Singh’s economic advisory council, back-of-the-envelope calculations puts the estimated loss to the Jammu & Kashmir economy at a staggering Rs 100,000 crore. With the floods also having affected several districts in south Kashmir like Anantnag and Pulwama, about three lakh houses (out of approximately 20 lakh in the state) have been either fully or partially destroyed; the stagnant water is expected to undermine the plinth by about 25 years. The expected loss in this sector alone amounts to Rs 30,000 crore, even as the government has announced Rs 75,000 for a damaged house and Rs 3.5 lakh for death. Abdullah said he had requested the central government to extend insurance against fire also to floods. Other key sectors, namely agriculture and horticulture -the current standing crop of paddy and apples respectively- shaves off another fraction of the state GDP.Tourism, including hotels, houseboats and commercial establishments (and each shop’s goods worth about Rs 25 lakh), will set the state back by another Rs 25,000 crore. Additional losses from the extensive damage to infrastructure- roads, bridges, etc-add up the rest. “This has been a huge flood which has caused such extensive damage that we will take decades to recover. We are grateful to civil society and state governments elsewhere in the country for helping the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but we also demand that the Central government allow foreign countries such as the UK, as well as international organisations such as the UN, to disburse aid to us in our time of need,” Qalander said.Winter threatAs the winter looms large, officials point out that the state only has until the middle of November to carry out its major tasks. Kashmiris are hoping that national infrastructure companies will build prefabricated houses and supply them quickly perhaps, some wealthy enterprises will even adopt villages or parts of Srinagar city. Operationalising the national highway and keeping it open is another priority as that is the lifeline of the Valley. The Srinagar-Baramullah railway track has just been restored, but it will take some time to normalise the link to Banihal. The exodus of outside labour, back to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, will add to Kashmir’s woes.Victims take shelter in boats in PulwamaCertainly, the 2014 flood has irrevocably changed the way Srinagar looks at itself, as well as the rest of the country. But as it waits for its fate to change, it focuses on tales of heroism that no one can take away. Like the story of Fazil, a 22-year-old small-time businessman dealing in tiles, who bought a boat for Rs 5,000 on the morning of September 7 and didn’t rest until he had rescued over a 100 people from the watery jaws of death in Jawahar Nagar.Or like the story of Talha Jahangir, satirist and much loved broadcaster on Radio Kashmir, who was in conversation with a government official the evening before the waters struck, just as the Jhelum began her assault of the city. The well-meaning official, hoping to avoid a general panic, kept assuring the Kashmiri people on air that there was nothing to fear from the encircling rumours of devastation, until Jahangir gently told him that the water had reached his feet inside the studio and that he was cutting short the show. Radio Kashmir as well as the local Doordarshan station shut down soon after.Or even like the rescue of Srinagar’s very important people on Church Lane, carried out by jawans of the CRPF’s 79th Battalion in the adjacent Badami Bagh cantonment area: senior bureaucrats, including chief secretary Khandey, three senior judges besides Chief Justice M.M. Kumar, as well as the state’s intelligence chief B. Srinivas were taken out, along with 40-50 hired help who had been left behind. All the government ministers for whom they worked had fled the previous night, warned by news of the impending tide. Even in its worst hour of crisis, Kashmir’s elite had not been afraid of invoking a caste system of entitlement.With inputs from Manu PubbyFollow the writer on Twitter @jomalhotraTo read more, get your copy of India Today here.
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