As a number of people rescued from the flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir were brought to Chandigarh by the air force, city couple Colonel Jatinder Singh (retd) and Rajinder Kaur recalled their harrowing experience. They had gone for a holiday to Srinagar.
“Our guesthouse was near the Jhelum. When it breached the bank, our guesthouse got flooded. We were on the first floor and moved to the second floor, then to the roof. There were 28 people on the roof,” said Col Jatinder.
He said an army camp was about 2.5km from there.
“We had to stay on the roof for a day, and Colonel Gagandeep Singh Narula evacuated us through army boats and we were moved to army camps. On the way we saw a hospital almost submerged in water. Patients were crying and waiting to be evacuated. People were hanging from the buildings hoping to board the boat, but the army boats could take only a limited number of people and had to make a number of rounds.”
After staying in the army camp on Sunday, they were moved to another guesthouse on Monday, and eventually flown back to Chandigarh.
The retired armyman’s wife, Rajinder Kaur, could not stop her tears and said the army had proved to be God for them. She said she was the only woman among the group of 28 stuck on the roof of their guesthouse.
Army in action despite challenges
The armed forces are battling several challenges in the rescue operation. Even communication between air force authorities has snapped at times, but the Chandigarh air force station has been carrying out sorties and by Tuesday evening had rescued around 800 people.
Rising Corps under the Western Command has also provided six tonnes of food, including rice, flour and pulses, to displaced families from the flood-affected areas. It has also donated about 13 tonnes of packed food and 7,000 bottles of mineral water in Srinagar and areas around it.
Army engineers have already commenced construction of a 100-metre bridge on the Nikki Tawi river at Mandal in Jammu that will help restore road connectivity to forward areas near the international border with Pakistan.
The Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) from Western Command, along with Retired Defence Officers’ Wives Welfare Association (R-DOWWA), both NGOs, appealed to all citizens to donate clothes and food for the affected people. Special collection centres have been opened at CSDs, the DSOI in Sector 36, at ECHS polyclinics and the Command Hospital in Chandimandir.