In absence of official help, survival of flood victims depends on youths’ efforts

Tasavur Mushtaq

Srinagar

In absence of the state government and its agencies at the time when Valley is battling the major disaster, the survival of the flood victims here has become dependent on the voluntary efforts of the old city youth that is often described as the “stone pelters” and “miscreants”.

In the city of around 15, 00, 000 people, the flood only spared an estimated 10 per cent of the area, mostly in the old city. The major localities falling in the area include Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Hawal, Saraf Kadal, Khwaja Bazar, Soura, and Lal Bazar.

Coincidently, it is roughly the area that the state government places under restrictions during protests and strikes, dubbing its youth as the stone pelters.

In the hour of natural disaster, which has seen the administration and its agencies go missing, the youths from the area are voluntary carrying out rescue and relief  of the flood victims.

The youths from unaffected areas of the old city could be seen rescuing people in makeshift boats, and carrying them to relief camps located in every locality of the old city. Every school, Darsgah, and many mosques in the old city have been opened to the rescued victims.

At Rajouri Kadal, one of the most volatile considered areas, for instance, the victims from various areas have been kept at the Islamia High School. The camp is being handled by the young men who arrange food for the victims, provide them security, and even medication.

An estimated 20,000 people have taken refuge on Koh-I-Maran hill and in the shrine of Makhdoom Sahab. And it is the volunteers from the locality who are providing food to them.

“We collect donations from people in the form of money or eatables, and use it to prepare food for the victims. Sometimes, people cook Tahri or extra rice and send it to us for distribution among the victims,” Owais Ahmad, a volunteer, explained.

After every few meters, one can see people, young as well as elderly, collecting donations for the victims. Stalls have been set up at many places where eatables donated by the people are collected for distribution among the victims. And at places like Nallamar Road and Sakidafar, people can be seen preparing tea and rice on firewood for the victims.

“It is our duty to help our brothers who have been devastated by the floods. We will do our utmost to save them,” Imran Hamid, a volunteer, said.

Youths in the flood-hit areas too have been making serious efforts to rescue the trapped people. At Bemina, for instance, the youths had prepared makeshift boats by tying together the plastic drums and fitted with wooden planks. And they risked their lives by entering the submerged residential colonies in the area on these self-made boats, rescuing the trapped public and carrying supplies for those staying on the upper floors of their houses.

“We have to do it because neither the government nor army arrived here to help us,” a group of volunteers busy in rescue and relief work near  Nundreshi colony at Bemina said.

Besides the old city, the supplies for victims of Srinagar is coming from Ganderbal, Bandipora and Budgam areas, mostly. Truck loads of donated essentials is carried by the volunteers in the areas to flood-hit areas and to the relief camps running in the unaffected areas of the city.

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