On Rambagh bridge, a rare patch of dry stretch in the submerged city from where rescue operations are being launched, hapless survivors wait despondently for news of their loved ones marooned in the floods.
Flood and the absence of any means of communication, have led to chaos and utter breakdown of the government.
“My two children and husband are stranded on the second floor of our house, and both the floors are under water,” Mymoona Nazir (43) told The Hindu. Mymoona came to the bridge at 5.30 a.m. from her father’s house where she had gone on a two-day visit leaving her husband and kids behind. Now, she anxiously paces across the bridge fearing the worst.
“I fear for my children’s lives. Our house must have collapsed by now,” she said.
Like Mymoona’s family in Jawahar Nagar, thousands remain trapped inside their homes across Srinagar, with hundreds of houses already having collapsed. Police officers fear a lot of casualties, and in the absence of adequate number of boats, they feel helpless.
“Since Sunday, I have been running around trying to rescue as many people as I could. The scale of devastation is such that it drove me to tears,” said a senior police officer, who led rescue teams off the bridge.
“We do not have enough boats. When thousands of people are trapped in this area alone, what can we do with just 40 boats,” he rued.
Most residents say they were rescued by local volunteers using makeshift boats made out of rubber tubes, air-mattresses and wooden rafts.
“We were crying out for help from our second-floor window in the Budshah Nagar area. The water had gone above our knees and continued to rise. Our phones were rendered useless and we could not contact anyone for help. For the entire day, not a single rescue team came by our lane,” said Afroza Akhtar.
Akhtar was finally rescued by a neighbour ferrying a pregnant woman in a makeshift raft. “He stopped when he spotted me crying. My father and brothers sent me along with him to safety. They are left behind as the raft could not carry any more people. I fear for their lives,” Akhtar said.
In a marriage hall at Sanatnagar, now converted into a relief camp, around 600 people — who fled their homes or were rescued from across Srinagar — sat like refugees, anxious about the safety of their families.
“We somehow survived. But what about those left behind,” wondered Ali Mohammad Wani, whose family escaped using tyre-tubes as the water gushed into their house in Bemina.
“There is a complete absence of government on the ground. All we see is officials surveying from above,” he said, pointing towards a chopper hovering overhead. The camp has been set up by locals who complained that no one from the government had yet offered them any food, necessary supplies and medicines.
While the police, the National Disaster Response Force and the Army carried out rescue operations, the dearth of boats and other essentials like public announcement systems and search lights impeded their efforts.
As another night fell over Kashmir and thousands remained trapped in the floods, many fearing it could well be their last night.