Adil Shah, a 25 year old vendor who risked his life, was among the few people who reached Lal Ded hospital in the intervening night of September 6, 7 to evacuate the patients trapped inside the hospital, when most of the staff in the hospital had abandoned them to save their own lives from the floods that ravaged Kashmir.
The LD hospital was submerged under 15ft water.
A resident of Court Road, Lal Chowk, Shah seeing the condition of the patients arranged a shikara from his cousin to ferry the patients to safer places.
“It was horrible to see patients with caesarean delivery lying in corridors, on stairs without being looked upon. I brought a shikara from my cousin and started carrying the patients to safer places,” said Shah.
Shah claimed that he has buried three new born babies who died in hospital due to medical care being locked.
“When I reached the hospital, patients were crying for help. There were many neonates, some of which were dead due to lack of oxygen support. I carried three dead infants and buried them on Jhelum bund. Two infants had their family with them, while one was buried without any claim,” said Shah.
Shah said after ferrying the patients to the other side of the bund, he and his two friends then carried them in wheel carts and shifted them into a nearby building at bund side.
“Most of the women were caesareans patients they were not in a position to be carried far. So, we made a temporary hospital in the building at Jhelum bund owned by a businessman. However, there were some doctors who started to look after the patients,” said Shah.
At a time when Shah was rescuing patients from LD hospital, he had no idea that his own house was inundated at the Court Road.
“It was around 10:30 PM when my brother came searching for me. When I reached home I saw my own house submerged,” said Shah.
However, without caring for his own house, Shah returned to hospital to evacuate patients.
“I was among the few people who were able to handle the shikara and carry the patients to safer places. It was risky as tides in Jhelum were too strong but I couldn’t stand the pain of patients. They (patients) needed me most at that time, how could I have stayed back at home. I had to do it,” said Shah.
Shah continued with the rescue operation for next four days to make sure all the patients were evacuated from the hospital.
“I continuously visited the hospital till all the patients were rescued. I must have at least carried 200 patients in those four days,” said Shah.
Shah then arranged necessary medicines and other items and started supplying to the patients.
“After evacuating all the patients from the hospital, I started to supply medicines. Every day, doctors were giving me a list of medicines. I used to row from Amira Kadal all the way to Dalgate for the prescribed medicine,” said Shah.
After his heroics in LD hospital, Shah then started to rescue people from the areas of Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar and Lal chowk.
“I made two shifts in my rescue efforts. Early in the morning, I used to visit areas of Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar and carry people from trapped houses to safer places. During my second shift, I used to ferry medicine, food and water in Lal Chowk areas of Maiusma, Residency Road, Press Enclave and to other adjacent areas,” said Shah.
Recalling his rescue efforts, Shah said he saw some unimaginable scenes during his rescue work of three weeks.
“In one of the incident when I was supplying fruits to Yatri Niwas, Lal chowk, one apple got dropped into the water. A person jumped from two floors into that murky water to get it,” said Shah.
Shah said, “In other incident, police officer begged me to ferry him to a safer place, he was trapped in the High Court. He was abusing his department for not coming to his rescue. He was so desperate, he even raised Azadi slogans.”
He said people from different walks of life provided helping hand to him, which made it possible to reach to the flood affected people.
“It would have not been possible to carry such massive rescue efforts without any help. Many times my friends were accompanying me. I also gathered young children who used to fill water cans and gather other food items on the Amira Kadal bridge, which I later used to distribute to the needy who were inside hotels and other residential areas in Lal chowk,” said Shah.
While praising JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, Shah said that he also helped him by providing supplies to distribute in the flood affected area.
“He (Malik) was consistently supplying food material and medicines to the people. At one time I ferried him across Lal Chowk where he distributed food items and other essential commodities,” said Shah.
Meanwhile, people who were trapped inside the building in Lal Chowk hailed the efforts of Shah for his heroic efforts to save hundreds of people trapped in flood.
Lauding his heroic efforts the head priest at Yatri Niwas, Lal Chowk said that, “Nobody came to our help. Adil was among the first person who came here and helped us. He also provided us with food.”
Kumar said there were 180 people trapped inside the temple for a week before they were evacuated to safer places.
Zorawar Singh who supervises Gurdwara near Amira Kadal said no government or any other agency came to help them.
“Only locals brought us food. This young man (Shah) was the first among many who visited us and provided water, rice and other supplies,” said Singh.
Shah said after rescue, he is now engaged in relief and rehabilitation work for the affected people.
“I am now engaged in distributing relief among flood victims. Our locality at Court Road has also started sanitation drive, we need to bring Lal Chowk back to its old glory,” said Shah.
Author is a journalist working with Rising Kashmir. He can be mailed at email@example.com