Raw Courage

Last month when a cloudburst nearly swept away three people including two children in Tral, a gallant young man jumped into trouble saving their lives. Zahid Maqbool narrates the story of the valiant act of this brave man.

When the government machinery’s laid-back efforts failed to rescue people from raging waters in the upper reaches of Tral following a major cloudburst, a young man, Ishfaq Ahmad Khan, got the trapped people out of trouble with his unparalleled courage.

The cloudburst caught the people in the low-lying areas off guard. Many villagers who were working in or around streams had to run for cover. Most of them were lucky but two children and a tractor driver could not make it to the safer place. Umer Farooq Bhat (12), Mehrab-Un-Nabi (14) and Shabir Ahmed Bhat (23) got caught in floods.

On a sunny afternoon of August 2011, things were going as usual in Lorow area in Tral. More than a dozen boys were playing in a nearby stream- the main source of irrigation for the villages and its adjoining areas. A tractor driver was filling his trolley with gravel.

“They sky was clear and everyone was busy with their work. All of a sudden, massive jets of muddy water started flowing towards us. We ran for safety to an elevated piece of land near the banks of the stream but Umer, Mehrab and Shabir, a tractor driver couldn’t make it and got trapped,” said an eyewitness.

As the news spread, hundreds of villagers made their way to the spot. All seemed helpless in front of these strong currents. The family members of the three trapped persons couldn’t do anything either except crying in helplessness. Two trapped children cried for help as the third one fainted into unconsciousness.

With sun starting to set and hope of rescuing the trio dwindling, a young man in his early twenties decided to go for the rescue. Knowing well that it could be his last action, Ishfaq braved the strong torrents and jumped.

His love for athletics proved to be helpful for Ishfaq, a B.A 2nd year student of Government Degree College Tral.
“When I reached there, I everyone crying. The two trapped children waved their hands towards us. The driver was lying on the ground. Initially I feared to go but something happened to me; I removed my clothes, tied a rope around my body and jumped straight into the turbulent waters,” he says

Soon, Ishfaq says, three other boys also joined. “They nearly drowned but fortunately they got hold of trees and were saved. I was alone and tried very hard to reach there. At one point I thought I was going to die but I did not give up. When I reached there, children were crying and driver was lying unconscious,” Ishfaq says.

Umer, the youngest of the three, narrates his feelings when Ishfaq set out to rescue them. “When he was coming towards us, I felt we could be saved now. Even our family members did not dare to save us. I shouted, ‘Ishfaq Baya, Asi bachaav’ (Brother save us), ”says Umer.

As Ishfaq reached to save the trio his own fear overpowered him. “I pressed Shabir’s chest, he showed no response. For a moment I thought he was no more. I confess, I feared water would sweep all four of us,” he says.
Ishfaq recounts proudly, “It wasn’t possible to take all the three  to safety once. So I decided to help them out of trouble one by one.”

Umer was first to have be saved followed by Mehrab. As Ishfaq’s succeeded into bringing all the three to safety, the jubilant crowd shouted in his praise.

When asked what made him to take daredevil step, “It was the will of God that made me to save their lives. I am lucky He chose me for this Job.”

Ishfaq’s heroism conveys if courage marriages common sense, damages due to natural calamities can well be limited or averted.

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