Srinagar: As news of floodwaters submerging Shutrashahi near the Civil Secretariat reached Manzoor Ahmad Dar and his brother Javid Ahmad Dar, they rushed to evacuate people without any life saving jacket or a boat. At 3:30 pm on September 7, the duo was set to face death as they were caught in floods. There was no way out as water level was above 10-feet and most of the houses were submerged. One by one, boundary walls started to collapse and they too were trapped on a boundary wall. Miraculously, an empty, drifting boat flowed with the floodwaters.
“We evacuated many families there, and all of a sudden water level rose to a height of above 10-feet. It was challenging to row the boat on the backside of Fire and Emergency Services headquarters. It took us more than an hour to reach Balgarden. Later, that boat turned to be a savior for many people. That’s terrible to recount,” Javid, a Phd Scholar at Kashmir University, told Kashmir Reader at his home at Banpur, Batamaloo.
As the two brothers reached home in the evening, water had began to flood the area. “That night, we waded through waters and started to rescue our neighbors, mostly Hindu families. We put them up in a community centre as their houses had either collapsed or had only one-storey,” said Manzoor, a demolishing guard at Srinagar Development Authority and a part-time hunter.
In the following days, the two brothers rescued, among others, cancer patients, expecting women and elderly people from their adjoining colonies.
“We heard about a cancer patient trapped on the first floor of his house at Mominabad. He was facing some complications. We rescued him in a boat to a safer place. We also shifted four expecting women to a private nursing home. Against all odds we evacuated people. Our own house was submerged and we were staying in our locality mosque,” the duo said.
“We had drawn a schedule for our work. From 8 am to 7 pm, we used to evacuate people from different places. From 7 pm to 11 pm, we used to distribute food items and medicine to people. It wasn’t an easy task to row boat during nights as no electricity was available,” said Javid, who used to sleep after hectic day of work.
For Manzoor, however the job didn’t end there as he used to keep awake to protect his neighborhood from thieves. “I used to guard my locality from the balcony with my 12 bore licensed rifle to keep thieves away. One night, I had to fire shots in the air as thieves tried to break into the house of my neighbor K D Singh. On hearing the shots, the thieves fled from the scene in a boat,” Manzoor said, sitting by his rifle in a corner.