Samir Kumar of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) reached the air force station here with a broken thumb given by the people he had tried to rescue from the flood in Srinagar.
“They tried to put a knife into my back and cut my thumb. A local man was pressurising us to adjust more people on boat. The mob took away the raft,” said Kumar, who is from the NDRF centre at Bathinda in Punjab and who has rescued more than 2,000 people since September 4. He was attacked on Sunday morning. After giving him preliminary treatment, the authorities concerned decided to evacuate him from Srinagar.
On Tuesday, Kumar was among nearly 800 people moved here from the Jammu and Kashmir capital where the calamity has broken all communication lines. Even the air force cannot talk with Srinagar and Chandigarh. Only when any aircraft is close to Chandigarh can the message be passed through air traffic control (ATC) that the rescued are landing.
Among the rescued are many foreigners. Nasir, 22, and Hamid Popal, 21,who are from Kabul in Afghanistan and studying in Delhi University, had gone to Srinagar with four friends and got stranded in a hotel. “As the water reached up to my chest, we left the place and got to a hilltop. We survived on the water we had bought. We had no food for two days,” said Hamid. They were airlifted from the point.
Ambala resident Baljeet Singh, 28, said he couldn’t have survived without the help of locals. The social science teacher had to join duty at Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya in Kargil. “I couldn’t reach there. Rain for two consecutive days made the situation grim. There was water all around. I was trapped in Kashmir since September 4,” he recalled.
He moved to Anantnag first and then Avantipur, from where there was no way to Srinagar. “Locals gave me shelter in a madarsa (Islamic school), provided me with food and water. Outside, the prices of food items had skyrocketed. A cup of tea was being sold for `30. I have exhausted all my money,” said Baljeet Singh. He managed to reach the Srinagar airport, from where he was rescued.
Patiala resident Meena Randhawa; her aunt; and their worker, Ram Singh, stayed on the roof of their Shivpura house in Srinagar without food for three days. “We survived on water from a rooftop tank until the army rescued us on Tuesday morning,” said Ram Singh.
“Our neighbourhood was under 30-foot water. My shop and house are still under water. I managed to escape with my wife and child,” said Mukut Sharma, 30, of Narnaul in Haryana, who runs a shop in Srinagar.
The air force personnel involved in the rescue also complained they had to face the wrath of the stranded people, who complained that the government was doing nothing for them.