SHAMSIPORA (KULGAM): On the evening of September 3 when the Vaishaw Nallah breached its dykes and the floodwaters rushed into the houses of Shamsipora, an undeveloped village in this south Kashmir district, people lost all hopes of survival.
Due to darkness the villagers could not even make it to safer places. On the next morning the flood waters had submerged the first floor of every house. As the administration had already disappeared the trapped villagers were left with no option but to cry for help from upper floors and attics of their inundated houses.
Moved by the wails of the women and children, a group of seven bravehearts – Mohammad Shafi Dar ,Bilal Ahmad Malik, Mohammad Ramzan Bhat, Imtiyaz Ahmad, Abdul Rashid Dar, Gulzar Ahmad Shah and Sajad Ahmad Ganai—risked their lives to rescue the stranded people.
The men, who extract sand from the river Jhelum for a living, first spoke to each other over phone and decided to meet at the spot where they had anchored their boat.
They waded through chest- deep waters and rowed the boat towards the village.
But before they could rescue people they had to rescue three army men who were drowning in the floodwaters.
“As we set out for the mission we saw the boat with five army men on board approaching towards the village. Suddenly their boat capsized and three army men drowned. Though we were at a distance but their cries for help stopped us and we rushed and helped them board the boat again,” Imtiyaz said.
He said, “Army men were also coming towards the village for rescue but after their boat capsized they returned.”
“These brave hearts roved the boat to nearly every house hold and rescued the trapped people. For two consecutives days they rescued at least 1500 people from all the mohallas of the village,” said a post graduate student of the village, Sartaj Ahmad.
He said that many people who were trapped with their little kids offered them 1000 rupees for rescue but they refused to take even a single penny from anyone.
“The people of the village owe their lives to these brave hearts. They are our real heroes,” Sartaj said pointing towards one of the rescuers.
A government official of the village, residents said, even offered Rs 3 lakh to these brave hearts for rescuing his family but they rescued his family without taking any money.
Imtiyaz Ahmad, one of the members of the rescue team, said that they rescued over 1500 hundred people in 28 trips for two running days.
“We would ferry 30 to 40 people in every trip and dropped them at a railway track. Though the trapped families offered us huge amounts of cash but we did all this selflessly. It is for the first time in my life I have achieved such a satisfaction and peace of mind,” Imtiyaz told Kashmir Reader.
“While wading through the neck deep waters one of our team mates stumbled on something hard and suffered serious injuries but we kept on with our rescue mission,” he said.