'What is reported is only the tip of the iceberg'

'What is reported is only the tip of the iceberg'

Zulfikar Majid, Deccan Herald’s principal correspondent in Srinagar, was among the lakhs of Kashmiris stuck in the deadly disaster that ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.

Here is a personal account of how difficult it was for journalists to carry out their professional work in their hour of tragedy:

“For journalists in Sringar, it was a huge task reporting on the disaster. On September 6 when the heavy downpour began to lash Srinagar, mobile and internet connectivity was hard to get that evening. I went to Press Colony where all newspaper offices are situated and where internet normally works. I was there till 8 pm when I took my friend in my car to drop him at his Jawahar Nagar home, a few km away.  It was raining heavily.

There was no power. He asked me to stay back, I agreed. Around 1 am, I thought something wrong was going to happen. I woke up and left the place. People were already on the streets as there were announcements made from masjids and police vehicles that the Jhelum river was about to breach.It asked people to leave for safe areas; 99 per cent did not. I somehow crossed the reservoir embankment. I could see the river water raising and reaching the bridge. I finally managed to reach my home in Ahmed Nagar, north Srinagar, which was relatively unaffected.

The next day, mobile networks were working till 4 pm though internet was difficult to get. With no power to charge the laptop, I could connect to my office only through phone. One of my friends called to say city’s Rajbhag and Jawahar Nagar were flooded. He was pleading for a  boat to take his family out. I called Imtiaz Ahmed, SP, Police Control Room, whom I know. He said there was no chance of sending the boat. Police control room itself was under water.

On Monday, I managed to reach Kashmir University, where some telephone lines were working. I went to the vice chancellor’s office to find out about phone lines and internet. Nothing was working.
Outside, I could see  hundreds of people coming  there as temporary relief camp was set up at the campus. I knew this is a catastrophe and started working at the relief camp, as a volunteer. People were coming from different parts of the city. On Tuesday, I tried my luck with mobile connections at army camp, 12 km from my residence. No luck again.

It was only on Thursday that Aircel network started  working but only sporadically. This time, I went to the highway near Ganderbal, about 30 km away. I could contact my office.
The enormity of the devastation has shocked me like everyone else in J&K. Forget my father, even my grandmother says she has not seen anything like this in her lifetime.  Like most Kashmiris, I still don’t know about the fate of many of my close friends and relatives, though some of them live well within the city. As for the devastation, what can I say? What I have seen for these days is only the tip of the iceberg.”

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