Flood shocks and aftershocks

By Wasaf Jeelani

Gow Kadal

Drizzle that started drenching valley on September 2 had submerged half of the city till September 7. All roads were water-logged. No vehicular din was heard. Only a haunting silence reigned supreme.

I remember government announcement at 11:00 am on September 6. I went out with some of my cousins to evacuate the other family members. At Zero Bridge, the sight was too scary. A feeling—the end is near—ran inside my head!

I could see water level kissing the bridge. A spillover was quite clear. It was simply an unnerving sight.

But before such scenes would have shaken us apart, we had failed to heed alarms bells at first place itself. Out of habit, I believe, we shrugged off shocking signals.

Many people stayed put only to be driven out later by the devastating deluge.

In the garb of night, Jhelum swelled perilously. Not many sensed it. It was complete misreading of the incoming calamity. But once they opened their eyes in next morning, they stood petrified. The flood water was already in their compounds, lawns and gardens! There was no way out for them. They were held hostage by nature’s fury.

Everything happened so fast—within 24 hours. Phones started buzzing up, alarmingly. Everyone was screaming for help. I heard people literally crying their hearts out: “Save us! Anybody there? Please, save us!” These cries made me feel that nature was about doom us! Such was panic. Such was hysteria. And, such was terror!

But not everyone was losing mind in the face of nature’s fury though. Most were finding ways and means to save their loved ones. But many were looking helpless to rescue their loved ones. The families, which were trapped in their houses, started praying to Allah. He was the only hope left.

In the middle of all this, phones were continuously ringing. Grave and grievous conversations were on. But around 3 o’clock, all phones went dead. The communication breakage further created panic.

At Zero Bridge, almost all Rajbagh – rendered homeless by flood – had turned up. Everyone was shouting! Screaming! Crying!

Some were literally begging boatmen to save their loved ones. People were even giving their car keys and thousands of rupees just to avail a boat. But such was the ferocity of Jhelum that even boats appeared useless.

In the same state, days passed into nights and nights into days. But the horror triggered by flood was only intensifying.

Some four days later, the nature showed some signs of kindness. Jhelum mellowed down. Now, many people got back to rescue works. Before their eyes, people were watching how flood had reduced their lifetime property, savings and documents into slush.

And once Jhelum assumed normal course, people started assessing their losses. Insurance companies chipped in. But not everyone was insured. The aid, therefore, proved selective.

In between, International aid was on way to valley. But it hit the roadblock after central government stopped its march. Many read the move – “worst than the flood itself”.

To ‘flaunt’ solidarity, Modi visited Kashmir to celebrate Diwali in the Muslim majority region. “He should have visited us on Eid instead, if at all, he wanted to show solidarity with us,” many rued.

Modi’s K-visits, however, didn’t cease. He kept visiting the valley without ushering any change on ground. “Visits don’t change the situation,” one commentator observed.

But now when PDP-BJP ‘complicated’ alliance is already a reality in JK, many believe Mufti must motivate Modi to lift ban on international aid. Maybe, the move might paddle Mufti-Modi bonhomie in the state where the state of flood-hit continues to be critical.

(Wasaf Jeelani is a convergent journalism student from Central University)


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