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A family finds shelter in a car, prays for missing children

MID the long hours of waiting for the waters to recede, the city shows its resilience and courage.

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Srinagar | Updated: September 11, 2014 9:01:28 am
car People from far-off villages are coming with food and water for those who are trapped.

Amid the long hours of waiting for the waters to recede, the city shows its resilience and courage. A few examples:

Abdul Hameed Garhanji has a thick plaster around his broken leg. He escaped the fury of the floods in Mehjoor Nagar, which was among the first colonies to be submerged. “Only my wife and youngest son, Mohmin, were with me when a group of volunteers came to rescue us,’’ he says. “We don’t know anything about our other three children — the oldest is 10 and the youngest 7. They had gone to a relative’s place when the floods came,” he recalls.

For the past five days, Garhanji and his family have been living in his red Maruti car, parked right next to the Rambagh bridge. “There’s no way to find my children. I am unable to go and search for them,’’ he says. They depend on the generosity of those living in the neighbourhood for food and water, as they scan the faces of the people who surface at the bridge after being rescued from the submerged localities. The wait seems endless.

Behind the Maruti car, there are three more families living out of two trucks. They don’t even want to talk.

Mohammad Yaseen Kalla of Shamswari was rescued from Panthachowk, on the other edge of Srinagar where Jhelum enters the city. A government official, Kalla, says he had to abandon his Santro car. He couldn’t go home because there was no way to cross the vast stretch of submerged neighbourhoods and the Jhelum river. He wanted to go to his relatives in nearby Tengpora Batamaloo where his sister-in-law was unwell. That neighbourhood too is submerged.

Sitting on the roof of an abandoned yellow schoolbus stuck in the flood waters near Solina, he says, “For three days, I am stuck here, waiting.” Around the bus, the level of water is still about four feet. Three tractors push through the water to bring back rescued people from a cluster of submerged neighbourhoods a few metres ahead, where the Army and NDRF personnel navigated their boats to find trapped people.

People from far-off villages are coming with food and water for those who are trapped. In fact, there are so many people coming with food and water that it is hampering rescue work. Moreover, those who bring the food packets and water bottles often insist on accompanying the Army and NDRF personnel on their rescue boats.

As the state government is still absent on the ground, the relief work is being organised by the people themselves. A marriage hall in Sanantnagar locality has been converted into a major relief camp. The mosque committee of Rawalpora and adjoining neighbourhoods have even arranged for a team of doctors and medicines to help the survivors.

Another relief camp is being run at a nearby mosque. In fact, it is diagonally opposite another relief camp inside the gurdwara in Sanatnagar. While the gurdwara primarily caters to the Sikh population rescued from the submerged neighbourhoods of Jawahar Nagar, Mahjoor Nagar, Aloochi Bagh, Gogjoi Bagh, Wazir Bagh and Haft Chinar, there are five Muslim families too who have taken refuge there.

Though the Army air-dropped rations at the gurdwara grounds on Wednesday, the local mosque has extended help by providing rations to this relief camp. “In such times of distress, we are all together,’’ says Malla Begum, who has come to the camp with her four children.

While the posh Jawahar Nagar-Rajbagh area gets attention from the rescue teams, the situation is different in the less affluent and influential neighbourhoods of Batamaloo, Tengpora and other surrounding areas. Dozens of tents have come up between Tengpora bund and JVC bund. Several families are living on the Tengpora bridge. There is an acute shortage of baby milk and medicines, and no doctor is visible.

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