The tears have dried up on 75-year-old Zoona’s wrinkled face, but they have left a trail. A resident of Akhoon Mohalla in the interiors of the Dal lake area, Zoona is living with 30 members of her family at a relief camp in Lal Bazaar’s Baghwanpora. At least 40 families from this locality of vegetable growers have lost everything in the floods that devastated the state about two weeks ago.
Most houses in the locality are made of brick and mud. “About 80% of the houses in our mohalla are damaged. We are left with nothing but the clothes we left our homes in,’’ said Ghulam Hassan Akoon, another resident of the camp.
Around 50,000 of those who live around the Dal — suppliers of vegetables to the entire Valley — have similar stories to tell. The entire crop of the famous Kashmiri nadru (lotus stem) was ready for harvest when the Jhelum waters entered the lake, submerging the surrounding areas. “Winter is approaching. How are we going to survive!” wonders Ahkoon.
Homeless at home
The President of the Maqdoom Sahib Dargah’s management committee, Showkat Ahmad Maqdoomi said hundreds of people had left their palatial houses in posh areas like Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar and taken refuge in the shrine. “People came in expensive cars. That was the only thing they were left with,’’ he said. The stagnant water in submerged areas like Suthra Shahi, behind the municipality office, continues to bother residents. The area, one of the worst affected, has lost 32 houses to the flood. “These 100 houses were built in 1959 for mostly Class IV employees. They are old constructions which have been totally damaged,’’ said Rouf Ahmad Wani, president of the area’s Resident’s Welfare Association. ML Seru, a Kashmiri Pandit, who chose not to leave the Valley in the 1990s, is one of the unfortunate victims. The Seru house, an old construction of mud and brick has collapsed. His son Sidharth Seru, who runs a small private school in the area says that what violence could not do, the water has done. “The water has displaced us, there is nothing left,’’ he said.
With inputs from Sukhdeep Kaur