Srinagar: As government machineryâ€™s dawdling efforts failed to rescue people from sudden rising waters in a small stream of Tral, it was left to young Ishfaq Ahmad Khan to brave strong current and save three lives, which included two boys, who found themselves stranded mid-stream.
A cloud burst in the upper reaches of Tral caught low lying areas off guard. Gushing waters trapped many villagers who had to run for cover as the calamity struck the otherwise quiet region of Kashmir. While most were able to get out of harms way but two kids and a tractor driver could not make it to safe grounds.
Umer Farooq Bhat (12), Mehrab-Un-Nabi (14) and Shabir Ahmed Bhat (23) found themselves surrounded by flood waters and the flow was way too fast to try any adventurous swim.
Eye-witnesses recalled that last week life was normal at Lorow Tral. About a dozen boys were playing near a stream, which irrigates the nearby villages.
A tractor was parked besides the stream and the driver was laboring to load the tractor trolley with stones, when hell broke loose.
â€œIt was clear sky and boys were at play while others were busy at work. It was a shock to see a high wave of muddy waters rushing towards us.
As we ran helter-skelter, most were able to get out of the flash floods way but but Umer, Mehrab and Shabir, the tractor driver couldnâ€™t not make it,â€ said a survivor from the nature fury.
A cloud had burst and poured tons of water upstream in the hills and what had disrupted the calm at Tral was flash flood making its way downstream.
There were many who had occupied high grounds safe from the passing flood but none dared step into it to try and save the three whose lives were under grave threat. All, including family members, watched in helplessness as strong currents threatened to sweep away the three in peril.
Hope of rescuing them dwindling and with the sun beginning to set, Ishfaq, a BA II student at Government Degree College, Tral, took the plunge to try and rescue the three, knowing well that he could be swept away by the flood.
Seeing the young man in his early twenties enter the water, three others also joined him. With a rope tied to Ishfaq waste, he moved on leading the rescue team into the water.
Those behind him were swept aside and found refuge by holding onto trees and rocks and retreated back to safety.
â€œWhen I got there, the children Mehrab and Umer were crying and Shabir had fainted from shock,â€ recalls Ishfaq.
Though I had managed to reach the spot where the three were stranded but to be honest I feared the current would sweep all of us,â€ he says.
It was not possible to bring all of them to safety in one go. Umer, being the youngest was first moved out followed by Mehrab.
The governments Fire and Emergency Service joined in the rescue operation and a ladder was used to bring a heavy weight Shabir to safety.
What made Ishfaq to take life threatening step? â€œIt was the will of God that made me to save their lives. I consider myself lucky that He selected me for this task,â€ is how Ishfaq humbly sums up his heroic act.
Zahid Maqbool is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar.