“I have never been so close to death in my entire life,” says Shafiul Alam Ishaque, speaking to The Indian Express over the phone.
Ishaque is the only one from Bengal in the group of around 80 people stranded at a camp near Srinagar Airport in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been ravaged by floods in the past few days.
Displaying his Whatsapp status ‘God is Great!!’, Ishaque says it is nothing less than a miracle that he is still alive. “At some places, water is as high as 18 feet. Boats are plying everywhere. Buildings have collapsed like matchboxes and there is no proper account of how many people have died here.”
In a couple of days, the state has changed massively. “When I touched down here on Monday, I was shocked. You walk for five minutes and all you see is water and nothing else. We are living on rice and dal at the moment. We have been told we might be here (at the camp) for at least two more days before the next plan of action is decided,” Ishaque said, and added that the Army and some of the civilians are looking after them.
The phone lines that went off on Monday resumed at 7.30 am on Wednesday. “It was tormenting to be alive but not being able to tell anxious people back home.”
Ishaque is the general manager of R K Sarovar Protico, a hotel on Gupkar Road, next to the United Nation Base at Sonwar in Srinagar. He had returned to Srinagar on September 8 from Chandigarh.
He has learned that people at his hotel, located at a very high altitude, are safe. “We usually have stocks of food and fuel that could last for 15 days, so I don’t think there is anything to worry. I have got the news that guests at my hotel have not faced any problem. Of the 53 rooms at the hotel, 45 were occupied when the calamity happened,” he said.
“With news about the widespread devastation on TV and newspapers, we were very nervous. It was a huge relief hearing from him this morning,” said Rabia Ishaque, Shafiul’s 70-year-old mother who went to live with one of her daughters in Tollygunge ever since the news about floods in J&K broke out.
Rabia said her son was assured by her employer that arrangements will be made and he will be airlifted from the place to return home safely. She, like her son, is still waiting.