When water tanks turned rescue boats

Group had to stay hungry for two days

Adversities bring out the innovative best among people and the Kashmir floods have shown just that.In one instance, people cut a water tank atop a hotel into two, so that it could be used as a boat to help those stranded.

Bangalore resident K J Nataraj laid out threadbare the trials and tribulations he and 19 others had to go through during their tour of the Valley.

The group had to walk for seven km to reach the Raj Bhavan helipad in Srinagar and go hungry for two days before Armymen picked them to be shifted to the Srinagar airport. Nataraj, a resident of Sudhamanagar, said he drank only water for two days and made his children eat just two biscuits a day, before help arrived.

“We were staying in a hotel and had finished our lunch. We were planning our day and suddenly, we saw water filling the streets. Two floors of our hotel were filled with water and we were stranded,” said Nataraj.

Among the 20 persons in the group, three were children of ages seven, eight and nine years, forced to walk seven km to the helipad.

Though they reached there on Monday, they could not get any opportunity to take the chopper the same day to reach the Army base as there were over 7,000 people waiting for their turn.

“It was madness at the helipad. People were not co-operating and every time a chopper landed, they used to push each other. The local Kashmiris, especially, used to run towards the chopper. The locals even blocked the tourists from boarding choppers, saying they must be given preference. Though Armymen had asked us to form a queue and gave preference to women and children, no rules were followed. At one time, my son was injured in the stampede,” said Nataraj.

Food thrown
“Even though rescue workers used to throw food packets from choppers into the fields, we never got them. People, especially the locals, ran to pick them up. We and our family could not run to grab any food packets. We only managed to filter the water that was available at the helipad area and use it. We gave our children a few biscuits and wafers that we were carrying,” narrated Nataraj. Nataraj’s family was picked by the choppers only on Thursday. They then reached the Srinagar airport and from there, they were flown to Delhi. They reached Bangalore on Friday night. Nataraj said of the 20 members in his group, eight were still missing.

46 from State untraced
At least 100 persons who were stranded in the flood-hit Kashmir have returned to their respective locations in the State and over 486 persons have moved out of the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Gaurav Gupta, secretary, Revenue Department, said that over 100 people from the State were still at the Srinagar airport.

“We have not been able to trace 46 persons till now and even their relatives in Bangalore have not got back to the control room number. Their numbers are also not working, these persons may have also returned to the state,” Gupta said. At least 560 persons who were stranded in the flood-hit Kashmir have been moved to safer locations and 486 persons have moved out of Jammu and Kashmir region, Gupta added.
Many persons who have reached Delhi have taken shelter at the Karnataka Bhavan. Many have also moved out of the Bhavan premises to catch their flights.

60 reached Delhi
According to Joint Resident Commissioner Suprasanna, 19 persons left the Bhavan on Saturday and over 60 persons who have reached Delhi from Srinagar will be staying at the Bhavan on Saturday night.

“We have made arrangements to pick up these persons from the airport. They will be given free accommodation and food at the Bhavan,” he added.

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