Though he is a student of hotel management course in Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) at Srinagar, he along with his other classmates had to survive on uncooked food including rice and pulses for three days before they could be rescued and sent back to respective places they come from.
The IIHM campus is located at Rajbagh in Srinagar, which got drowned after a dyke in river Jehlum broke.
Sarthak Sharma, 19, a resident of Kotra in Bhopal came back home on Friday. Sharma was one of the students, who spent over three days at IIHM campus, before they were rescued by the Indian Army on September 9.
Recounting horror of the unprecedented rain and floods that devastated the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Sharma said they were left with no option but to have uncooked rice and pulses. The students had picked up them from the hostel mess, before flood submerged the first floor of the building.
"We had rice and dal that too in small quantity. We chewed uncooked rice just to keep ourselves alive,"Sharma said, while talking to HT.
He said alarm was sounded about the flood, however, nobody took it seriously.
"When water started reaching our college building, we immediately picked up some rice and other food items and went to the first floor of our hostel. Later, water level rose up to the first floor."
The horrors that Sharma faced have shaken him so much that he is not able to sleep properly.
"The bodies were floating in the water. Many people were trying to get out of the water. We wanted to save them, but we couldn’t as we didn’t have any option but to stay calm in anticipation of some help. Had water level risen more, we would not have been alive today," said Sharma.
During the day, Sharma and his friends used to wave clothes from the windows of the building to seek help. The trio switched on torches to give signals so that rescue team could spot them during the night. "We also used to shout one by one, so that rescue team members could hear our voice and come to us," he said.
After rescue, Sharma and other students were taken to the base camp of rescue operations and later they were taken to Chandigarh. From Chandigarh, Sharma was sent to Delhi, from where he reached Bhopal.
"When I reached Chandigarh, I finally realised I was safe. I immediately called up my parents and informed them that I was safe," said Sharma.
The family members of Sharma are spending as much time as possible with Sharma so that he could forget horrors of the flood and overcome his mental trauma.
"We are giving him time. In fact, he is now at a relative’s place along with his mother so that nobody disturbs him," said Sarthak’s father Arvind Sharma.