Srinagar: Five years have passed since Kashmir witnessed devastating floods, but the scars of disaster are still fresh in the mind of 65 -year -old school teacher MotiLalDhar of Mandarbagh, Srinagar.
Dhar, the only Kashmiri Pandit who did not migrate in 1990 and continues to live in Muslim neighbourhood, lost everything in the deluge on September 7, 2017.
Dhar’s house collapsed after embankment of Jhelum breached near LalChowk and water entered his locality. When Dhar had lost all hopes of survival, his Muslim students risked their lives to evacuate him and his family to safety.
The group of students travelled from different areas of Srinagar just to save the lone Pandit family in Mandarbagh. Students managed a boat and rescued Dhar and his family who were stuck on top of debris
“On September 7, our house collapsed soon after water entered our area. We somehow survived by clutching a tin sheet on top of the debris. We were sitting quiet and prepared to die. Suddenly some boys,who happened to be my old students came and shouted Panditji….Panditji. I would hardly remember them but it was a proud moment to see how they risked their lives to save me,” he said.
Dhar’s survival didn’t end his worries. The real battle began after as he had no means to reconstruct the house. Call it a stroke of luck, MandarbaghMohalla Committee decided to build his house for free.
“I received a call from my Mohalla committee informing me that four houses are going to be built in the locality by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq After conducting draw of lots, my name featured at number three. People hugged me because they all wanted that my house should be build first. I am people’s darling in my locality and I am proud for that,” Dhar said.
Five years after Dhar is very critical of government for failing the flood victims. “Government did nothing to rehabilitate the flood victims. I did not even get a meagre compensation. I haven’t received a penny from government so far,” he said.
Dhar said his family is passing through a difficult phase as they have no means to live a comfortable life. “Life after floods has been full of misfortune and hardships. We have become paupers,” he lamented.