‘Only Allah can save us’

SRINAGAR: With the water level in rivers, streams, and lakes rising, panic-ridden people dwelling in the vicinity of the water bodies in Kashmir were seen seeking divine intervention for an end to their troubles.
In flood hit areas and in vulnerable localities, the young and elderly were keeping an eye on the rising water levels to be able to ensure timely evacuation.
At Sangam, Eidgah, located between river Jhelum and Anchar lake, the people offered special prayers in the local mosque for the downpour to stop. The loudspeakers were kept on during the prayers for the entire locality to be part of the effort made in utter desperation.
Already, the low-lying houses in the locality are partly submerged due to water surge in the Anchar. And the people, in absence of any government men and machinery, are making desperate efforts to try and evacuate the inmates to safe locations.
Soon after the prayers, the young as well as elderly gathered outside the mosque to find ways and means to overcome the crisis.
“We only have this primary health centre here where people can take shelter. There is a government school behind it, but the building is not safe since it is placed right on the banks of overflowing Jhelum,” many local residents told Kashmir Reader.
“We are in touch with the hospital authorities. Hope they allow us to use the building for sheltering the families that are under water,” they said, displaying lack of faith in the government despite local legislator Mubarak Gul’s participation in the prayers.
“Only Allah can save us. What will the government do,” an angry youth said.
The area is sandwiched between Jhelum and Anchar. The flooded river is overflowing its banks, and the only barrier that now stands between its water and the residential areas is the elevated road.
On the other side, the water level in Anchar is only a few feet below the inhabited landmass. Receiving water of the river Sind, the level of Anchar is rising with the increase in the flood in the river.
“We are monitoring the water level of Jhelum. We are worried because if the Jhelum crosses the road, the entire city up to Safa Kadal will be under water. And we would be the first ones to drown,” the people grouped close to the Jhelum bund said.
Not just at Sangam, Eidgah, the panic caused by the worst flood in six decades is visible everywhere.
On the bridge over the flood channel near Bemina here, the youth and a few baton-wielding policemen have placed concertina wire to limit the movement. Only trucks ferrying the people, ambulances, and fleeing pedestrians are allowed to cross the bridge.
As the rush of people who had arrived at the spot to witness the devastation rose, the local youths assisting in the evacuation lost temper.
“We are dying and these people come here to click photographs and shoot videos of us,” shouted a youth, hurling all kinds of abuses he seemed to know.
But when the rush didn’t subside, the youth started forcing the ‘spectators’ to turn back, almost causing a brawl.  The situation, however, remained peaceful, and trucks of traffic police and State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) shifted people from submerged houses to the bye-pass across the bridge.
At 4:30 pm Saturday, the water in the channel was flowing only few inches below the embankments while, much to the worry of the escaping locals, rain hadn’t stopped yet.