Srinagar: Thousands left homeless by the deluge in Kashmir Valley found an extended family and a new home run by the public alone without any government help.
When the flood hit Kashmir, Islamia High School Rajouri Kadal here was overnight tuned from an educational institute into a massive rehabilitation and relief centre for the victims.
“The gates of this school were open for all,” said Ghulam Qadir Beigh, in-charge of the relief and rehabilitation operations held under the aegis of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Awami Action Committee (AAC) .
“Initially, we planned to carry out relief operations in flood hit areas where we delivered the necessary ration to the flood affected people. We even rescued them,” he said. “But then people started rushing to us for shelter and relief. And we eventually started this relief camp.”
Beigh said the relief operations at the school started as flood situation worsened on September 7 with the school receiving several flood hit families. At a time, around 750 families, 40 tourists, 300 students, 200 non-local labourers, and several residents from Ladakh were provided refuge in the camp. Most families came from Bemina, Qamerwari, Dalgate, and Nowpora areas took shelter here
Muhammad Sidiq Hazari told Kashmir Reader that once accommodated in the school complex spanning several buildings, the victims were provided separate rooms for males, females, and critical patients.
The challenge, however, was to arrange the food for more than 3500 people and to provide them with bedding.
“We did well. We not only prepared food for the families kept here, but also for the other rehabilitation centers run at several community centers around here. We acted as a nodal place to deliver food,” he said.
“Initially, we purchased food products from the market, and engaged the local chefs for preparing meals. We produced separate meals for the vegetarian non-local families,” he said.
After the floods hit the essential supplies, there was a call for donations from Mirwaiz Umar and the people from unaffected areas of the city brought the necessary commodities to the camp.
“The polled donations gave us an additional support as the government ignored us completely,” Hazari said.
“All the support provided to us was from the locals,” he said, adding the relief also came from the villages and even from Ladakh “after we served some of the locals from that area”.
After the flood situation improved, the management of the camp sent the tourists to airport for flights to their homelands.
“At the time of their departure they took with them T-shirts prepared by the AAC to celebrate golden jubilee. It was their way of paying gratitude to us for out services,” Hazari said, calling the gender segregation at the camp as “effective”.
“Many local ladies also lent support to us in running the affairs of community Kitchen,” Hazari said.
Ghulam Mohammad Koul was rescued from Chattabal and brought to the school. He was quite satisfied by the way relief and rehabilitation camp was run by the public without any government help.
“Everything was well organised and the support system was much better here,” he said.