Srinagar: A washed-out small-sized cloth on the first-floor of a community building surrounded by a stack of timber is an abode for Chayan Singh and his family since floods hit Kashmir. They eat and sleep on this cloth. The floodwaters have ruined them. Their two-storey house at Banpur, Batamaloo in the heart of Srinagar, has turned into rubble. Nothing has been salvaged. Their clothes, household items, and belongings are under debris.
On September 7, Singh along with his wife and four daughters moved to first-floor of their collapsed house on seeing floodwaters submerging their adjoining neighborhood. They shifted each household item along with them to the upper floor to salvage it. However, that evening floodwaters hit their house from two-sides and in no-time collapsed it. On looking at the helplessness of this family, their neighbors evacuated them and offered them a safer place.
“The horror of that night will live with me till my end. We survived because of our Muslim neighbors. They put their lives in danger and rescued my family. For me they are my Bhagwan. I owe my life to them,” said Singh, a painter, who proudly calls himself a Kashmiri and speaks fluent Kashmiri. The first-floor of entire locality of around 200 households remained submerged for a fortnight.
Recounting the days of survival during the crises, Singh lamented at the government and army’s response towards the affected people. “We were provided food and cash by the locals. For us they are the government. How can I forget their role? Nobody reached to us since floods. We sought attention from army choppers hovering in the sky but they never provided any aid or help,” Singh told Kashmir Reader.
“People from villages as far as Sopore and Anantnag reached to us through floodwaters. I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that everyone, except the government and army, helped us. Politicians come to us at the time of elections for seeking vote. They stuff their own wealth. They left people fending for basic items during floods,” he said.
Singh’s wife Chanda Jamwal chipped in, saying it was not the first time locals helped them.
“Water-level increased suddenly and we could salvage nothing. My daughters’ clothes, books and whatever little we had is gone. It’s difficult to recount all that we have lost. We are thankful to local Masjid Committee and social reforms organization for helping us. They provided us utensils, ration and blankets. In 1998, when my sister-in-law got married, locals offered us help that time,” said Chanda as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Among her four daughters, Chinki, a Class 6 student at a government-run school in Batamaloo, is worried about her books and school bag. “I never knew our house will get submerged. At least I should have saved my books and bag as my examinations are ahead.”