The people in Kashmir valley might be angry, and unhappy with the failure of the state government during the floods but despite facing an unmitigated disaster they have not forgotten the deep rooted culture of warm hospitality for which Kashmir is famous. A large number of tourists who were caught up in the aftermath of flood in Valley are telling about the brave acts by local Kashmiris, their kindness which ensured that they could surive the ordeal, and also escape the disaster, and resturn home.
Despite disaster staring at their face, the locals offered food, shelter, and water which became a scarce commodity during the days when no help was forthcoming, and government has completely paralyzed. Kashmiris particularly those related to tourism doubled up as porters, helpers and drivers to ensure that their guests could wade through the surging flood waters to reach the airport from where they could leave the valley.
A tourist from Rajasthan tells that the hospitality accorded by a Muslim family was beyond description. She said that culture of caring and sharing even in such bad times had remained intact in the valley, and this shows the resilience of the people, and their faith in humane values. Even more important was the fact that there was complete communal harmony as a large number of Hindu families were hosted by the Muslims.
In a related incident, a group of tourists staying on the bank of Dal Lake had to vacate the hotel, and when they were leaving and moving towards the upper reaches, a young man from Nishat offered refuge to them. A tourist says a large number of Kashmiri families had accomodated the visitors as it was almost impossible to wade through the rising water. Food, water and warmth was shared equally which helped them to sruvive the ordeal else it would have been the end of their journey, he adds.
Not only this several groups of Muslim youth helped the tourists to reach the Rajbhavan by carrying their bags, suitcases and other stuff. Rakesh Agarwal , a tourist says that the volunteers, and families which had given them shelter treated them as part of the family, and they would never forget the help given by residents of Nishat. Even some of the mosques set up community kitchens to help the locals, and tourists alike in this hour of tragedy.
Meanwhile, apart from the security forces local residents are also running self-help groups to help each other, and the tourists stuck in the valley. Members for the Self-Help Group for Kashmir Flood Victims says that this initiative based on humanity. We are not, managing camps to settle down political ambitions or to make materialistic benefits. We want to make things clear to our audience, right from the day one functioning we had tried to provide relief to the flood victims for the sake of humanity.
This Self Help Group operating through the Facebook has reached out those places which were completely inaccessible, walking, in boats to provide water and other relief commodities. As of today many organizations are reaching out to the valley when the tip of crisis is already about to settle, but the need of hour is not the number of people who are reaching out to the victims, but professionally trained people in disaster management is the need of the hour. We hope, people who have past experience in disaster management join the rehabilitation process in state of J&K in collaboration with all other agencies that are operating for peoples’ welfare. Co-ordination is very important at the moment and centralization of data of victims, data about destruction of houses and very importantly the data of diagnosis of diseases, that are coming up from various medical camps that are being setup locally, army and volunteers.