Stranded, hungry and homeless: A ground report from flood-hit Kashmir

Bemina (Srinagar): Fareeda Dar, 34, has been living on a road-divider on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway since the morning of 6 August with her children

The 34-year-old woman's current home on the road divider in the Bemina area, on the outskirts of Srinagar, is around seven feet above the Boat Colony area. At around seven in morning the flood waters, which overflowed from a blocked flood canal near Hyderpora, entered the area and inundated all the residential houses of the locality.

"There are thousands of people still inside their houses here, hoping against the hope, that the water level will come down. My husband is one  of them," Dar, a teacher in a nearby school that is also flooded, told Firstpost on Tuesday.

 Stranded, hungry and homeless: A ground report from flood-hit Kashmir

Flood water in the heart of Srinagar. PTI image

"My children have not eaten anything for the last two days, and have only water, which local volunteers bring. I tell them after every hour food will soon arrive and they sleep waiting for that," she said.

In Kashmir, where people spend lakhs on buying land for graves, Ghulam Mohmmad Wani's body lay on a road waiting for a burial as the graveyard where he was to be buried by his family is submerged. Wani had died in the Karan Nagar area of Srinagar on Sunday of a heart attack.

Through Monday, Indian Air Force helicopters hovered over the Hyderpora, Peerbagh and Barzulla areas trying to rescue people trapped on the rooftops.

On the main highway that connects Srinagar city with the airport, which is mainly submerged, around five hundred feet of road was dry. Close to 2,000 people gathered there so that they could be rescued. Thousands of people are still stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway without food and water.

Wherever Air Force personnel from a rescue helicopter dropped a box of water or packets of food, thousands would fight them.

"I have never seen this kind of crisis in my life. I begged for food for the only child of my son. My son and his wife are still stuck in Hyderpora on the third floor of our house. I was rescued by the army," Tariq Zaman, a resident of Hyderpora area and a prominent Kashmiri handicrafts exporter, told Firstpost.

Srinagar is submerged, Rajbagh is inaccessible, Karan Nagar is flooded, and residents of Batmaloo have fled. Thousands of residents of north Kashmir's Baramulla district fled to safer areas. There's water is everywhere but none to drink. People stuck in their houses are sleeping on rooftops hoping the IAF choppers will rescue them. But how many can they really rescue?

There is every possibility of water borne diseases spreading as well as most of the city remains inundated that is not moving and has been rising. Most residents of Srinagar city spent Monday night on rooftops without food and electricity.

Srinagar's famous Boulevard Road is completely submerged and tourists are still stranded there without food thanks to neither the state nor central government giving any warning about the floods.

There is still no news from the hundreds of villages submerged in many districts of south Kashmir, the first region to get flooded, as communication lines remain down. The entire region is still inaccessible by road.

The Indian army and state police have rescued thousands of people trapped in their houses in south Kashmir. The army has deployed whatever it could to rescue people, given its own base in Badami Bagh cantonment was flooded.

NN Joshi, a Defence spokesperson based in Srinagar, had said the army was trying to save the lives of people trapped in most remote areas in south Kashmir.

"Apart from that, we are also trying to provide food to people. The army has rescued thousands of people since Friday," he told Firstpost before the phone lines in the city went down.

"Half of the city of Srinagar is submerged in water, as the water from south Kashmir moves towards Srinagar city. The water level is going to rise more and we are preparing for the worst," Javed Jaffar, Chief Engineer of Flood and Irrigation department of Kashmir, had said on Saturday.

Hundreds of volunteers from Kashmir University are trying to get as many people as possible to the university campus where they have set up a temporary relief camp.

"We are running out of food and number of people is increasing," an organiser of the relief camp told Khalid Hussain, a Network18 correspondent in Srinagar.

The met department predicts the rain in Kashmir will reduce over next three days but no one knows how long it will take for the water to drain out of Srinagar and people to return to their lives.

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Updated Date: Sep 09, 2014 20:40:26 IST