My friend Kanwal Peshin & I share a bond that might go beyond the known & unknown practicalities of human thoughts. Often we differ , stop talking for days and then like good old friends start communications again. we often demonstrate all those traits that friends in LORD of the RINGS did.
I am writing this story to give words to his heroism and humanity which often we forget in his MASKERY ( stand up comedian acts ). he works for Fire department in Kashmir and is often known for his Kashmiri jokes , hilarious songs , humor and laughter. He fills the gathering with joy and entertainment to make life lighter and easy to breath. He is called vyang Shrimoni by his community members. a title he earned for his satire & comedy.
I am putting words to his story and feeling the moments as he narrates the things to me.
On the intervening night of 6/7 September I ,along with my roommate got up around midnight and went out of our Hotel Hill View in Indira Nagar. After accessing the raised water level & sent information about water flowing into Shivpora area to head quarters but it looked like the things were surprisingly getting out of control much before the SMS could reach the authority. Panic was gripping across the place.
Irshad one of the Hotel employees asked us to leave hotel despite my resentment , we started to move out as quickly as possible. Taking along as many people as we could & those who believed on our word.
The water was fast rising up in adjoining areas & we managed to reach Batmaloo Fire & Emergency Services Headquarters . I was posted there and as such it was my first stop to reach along with many more people whom I didn't knew anyone personally but carried them along as a fellow human being.
On the way we saw water flowing into Jahangir chowk as if a well was getting filled with monsoon water. Water had started to move into our Hqrs too and upto first floor .
Water had crossed the all limits as if it was jhelum was flowing towards Batmaloo Bus stand rather than its normal course. Our Head quarter was almost getting dysfunctional as none of us could move out & we have no means to move out . No boats No rafts No life jackets . what ever rescue stock was available was already underwater . It was left to few of us within the HO to save with what ever supplies we had and what ever we could achieve.
We had to act with what ever few boats we got at our disposal. Suthrashahi was fully submerged & we were rescuing as many people from the locality on our rescue boats but water flow was on such high current that we where forced to stop operation at around . fully exhausted by then & left with few pull overs, we were dirty , wet & fighting for survival . I could hear people praying . Sikhism , hinduism and Islam : All prayers reaching together to almighty for help. It was only Human being and Almighty God which was to connect and survive. I was cracking jokes but I knew they wont have any effect on people but may be let them have smile on face in this dance of death.
As our own Family quarters submerged & we started shifting the old , women and children to big Hqrs building which was considered little safe.
In the meantime a truck carrying passengers from Airport managed to reach nearby & we offered them rescue through ropes& boats to reach our Headquarters. The water level had increased & even one floor of our Headoffice building was submerged now.
In the morning situation was worst & 100s of people rescued to our Hqrs where afraid of loosing precious lives.
I along with colleage Abrar & his small brother reached top of the building & wrote HELP on the roof and waved Red shirt to Army Helicopters .
One of them responded n came to close range he was asking me the situation . I briefed him about the females n children along with others but main cause of worry was Lucky Singhs wife who was expecting and in labour pain. There was hardly anything around to feed people with .Drinking Water was almost over.
IN this situation , we were supposed to help people in rest of city but we were ourselves on brink of starvation and death was hovering over us. I was thinking to discharge my duties and I thought it is best to start in the perimeter where I am stuck.
Helicopter promised to return with other rescue chopper because he failed to rescue women n children in his first stint. Lucky sing was weeping but I was assuring him & other people that chooper will return to rescue them tomorrow.
I could have easily saved myself but I opted to save all. I didnt climb the ladder of Chopper thinking about my duty to save rest whoc were weak , fragile and looked upon me as the one who could turn the things. one old muslim lady called me BATTEH BAHADUR ( A brave KP ) after I came down from roof top risking my life again to wave to helicopter.
Next morning same exercise started & Air force rescue chopper came thrice & I manged to rescue all needy people but few tourists could not be air lifted. I again promised them for tomorrow but water level was stagnant on that day. it was a time for group discussion and keepingt he morale of people high. there were lots of locals and non locals . Human bond knew no end and people were connecting hungry and few were angry on themselves and their near & dear ones too.
Same exercise carried & chopper came for mission again. I rescued all those whom I could in next 6 shifts & I was relieved now as my responsibility was over. Everytime I was looking towards towards Shankracharya temple for blessing me and towards the end , I could see a sun shine on Hari Parvat giving me a smile that things would be better soon.
All these days I almost forgot that I have a family whom I have informed about my safety . All these days , I felt people areound me are the ones who are my family. I never though of anyone being Hindu , muslim , pro or anti , ideological or Plural , moderate or extremists. My 5 days went on to see human being as Human being only.
Now I couldnt search anyone else who wanted to be moved out by chopper. I found two ppl who didn't want to take risk to board a chopper. I promised them safety & I had forgotten day & date by then. Over a joke , Mohan Lal said its friday today sir & Sohan lal replied sir its 12th September. Someone said we have survived 9.11 too.
I asked them if anyone of you ready to move with me into city and then back home to jammu. By now the confidence to succeed was so strong that many of them replied yes.
But all three of us who were working so far to rescue people in flood where non swimmers that was the worry inside the hearts but all those whom we rescued , they never knew about it till date that I cant swim. Now that it was time to tread journey towards home , I had to break this secret to the utter laughter of all those in room.
Many didn't believe me at all wondered as to how I carried so many things in last one week risking my life at times. I had tears flowing my eyes and I just couldnt answer other than thanking God for what all I had done.
And I proceeded in the morning with the help of a fire ladder we reached on top of a fire vehicle & we shifted the ladder to other side where flow of water was less & we started our mission Airport. A tough ordeal of another two days via Batmaloo , Rek Chowk , Allochibagh , Rambagh & then Airforce station. I was not fearing anyhow now , faith in God and successful rescue at Head office had made my will to survive even stronger. May be I swam or I didnt at time . I waded through water above my head or upto my head was something which I didnt even know. I was a trans like situation as if I was fully under some unfluence of drug. I was singing kashmiri songs ... ZINDH ROZNE BAPAT CHE MARAAN LUKH & sometimes CHYET WATYI AKYE WIZ WAARYE CHE PAKH ALBARYE ...
Many rescuers and relief operators saw me , many were wondering on my state of mind and many local & army rescuers were motivated by me on way but now I had just my son and wife in mind. With no news for days now about me , I knew they would in state of shock considering the place where I used to stay was washed away or submerged totally.
I had no contact with anyone in outside world other than my few companions and flood victims around me. As I moved on , someone finally picked me up at airport and I found myself with Maaza mango fruity box and as it went into my body , I couldnt hardly digest it.
Fatigue or infection of 8 days , insomania & total leaching of Body . I was feeling as if a dead man walking. As of today I am on antibiotics and resting at home but everytime I touch water , it looks like flood will comeout of it.
Some Names that I rememered in rescue attemps include
Sonali kumari Banglore.Soom Nath jammuGopi Shouri jmuKasim ....uriMohan lal jmuAftab Ah jmuManzoor Hussain RajouriManju kumari...delhiSanju kumar.....Delhi.Lucky singhW/o lucky singhRandeep singhGh nabi Sheikh pulwamaAb Qayoom Rangreh nOther 50 to 69 names not known.
This how Kanwal Peshin our Ladisha Laughter man Vyang Shremoni saved lives & cracks a joke in kashmiri poem like a true LADISHA
|Attempts to take out the Trucks from Fire department was impossibility|
|It was not flood but Satisar resurrected|
|All I could think was Almighty god and Scenes of Titanic|
|Even getting stuck and Water jamming Engines , we swam and tried again|
|Swimming across and using Electric wires for rescue|
|Roping up people and giving them confidence to survive|
|Every time Helicopter would arrive , it would mean some more would survive|
|Final Evacuation drill|
|Laid On Floor Exhausted ! Hungry , Thirsty and Starved|