It was the other Omar who saved us!
Writing a routine column and relating personal experience of a looming disaster are two different experiences. My encounter with recent furious flood and the doom it had in store for me and my fellow Kashmiris taught me many tough lessons. The timely rescue after two days and miraculous escape from imminent disaster by savior Omar will always stay as most precious slice of my memory. September 7, the black Sunday will haunt residents of Srinagar city for decades; the day when parts of historic Srinagar city got inundated to the level of devastation. Kashmir has a history of floods with a unique pattern, but the present flood fury was anger of Mother Nature at its worst. Our senseless encroachment and devastating manipulation of ecosystem to satisfy our materialistic greed made us suffer beyond our comprehension. Beyond thoughtless ravaging and over-stretching environment by materialistic brutes the present destruction by flood was definitely outcome of a poor disaster management and inefficient governance.
In first twelve hours after the furious flood hit Srinagar—economic hub of Kashmir the whole administration was in slumber, but many of its functionaries were busy in selctive rescue operations to save influential and their own people leaving the rest at the mercy of their fate.The ambiguous statements regarding flood situation and impending danger to Srinagar city by irrigation and flood control department authorities made the situation worst. Their conscious negligence and dereliction of duty and then misleading people is a criminal act and is liable for prosecution under law. After parliamentary election a situation of inertia and paralysis has overtaken the administration. The turncoats in administration are unable to decide their side of choice and whole administration has gone into hibernation. The much talked about state disaster management apparatus (dumping ground of most creative sycophants) which was supposed to be on the forefront of rescue and relief is yet to be located even after two weeks.
As I said, it is very difficult to relate your own disastrous experience with life and death, however, at this juncture it is our duty to honour those young unsung heroes who otherwise most often are dumped in police lockups as stone-pelters or political rebels. Morning of seventh September when posh Jawaharnagar and Rajbagh localities were hit with gushing waters from all sides and the whole area got submerged within no time many brave hearts from adjoining Mehjoor Nagar who were already grappling with floods started rescue operation with very little resources and saved many lives. By the evening scores of young people with equipment ranging from improved rafting and fishing boats to water reservoir tanks and other material modified into floats launched a massive rescue operation saving hundreds from crumbling houses and flooding streets.
Several people used bundles of waste water bottles to save people. And in this crowd of saviors and survivors there was a young bearded man in his late twenties who pushed his rubber boat into service and pulled many people out of gushing waters. The lanky fellow at times looked like a composed mature man but after every rescue operation behaved like a naughty boy least bothered about his own safety. This young man, who otherwise by his looks was a fit case of a good catch for encounter specialist predators ferried his fragile rubber boat from and to Jawaharnagar relentlessly and saved hundreds.
On second day of the killer floods when this messiah offered me and my family my lifetime offer of rescue, I recognized him. He was Omar a local boy! In this hour of crisis his name reminded me of other Omar the designated and duty bound leader; the man who was otherwise supposed to manage our rescue. Alas! That fellow and his machinery of thousands of policemen and hundreds of babus were nowhere in sight. They had buried themselves under mountains of ammunition and heaps of files meant only to quell any disagreement against their political masters and their ego. In this hour of crisis all those state award recipients and publicity seeking hypocrites, where most conspicuously absent from the scene. Most probably they were watching the helpless Kashmiris from the heights of Friend’s enclave and Gupkar. But the valiant young Kashmiris gave them a befitting reply by taking the lead. And the rest will be history!