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OLD ISSUE
FROM JAMMU & KASHMIR
Human spirit Above All
In the hour of darkness, people from all walks of life came together to stand by
By Divya Srivastava
Leh: “I have never seen a rainfall leading to such a disaster. It seemed as if the nature was full of vengeance ‘which’ — it decided to inflict on the innocent people of Leh.” These are the words of an old man who has been visiting Leh every year for the last 18 years to earn his living. “Though I was fortunate enough not to be affected by the flashflood, but what hurts me the most is fear and agony in the eyes of the people of Leh, who have given my family a living, perhaps, this is what we call destiny.”
“It had poured a night before also, so we thought it to be a normal rain that would stop in a few minutes. We never bothered to get under the shed and carried on sleeping on the roof without even having the slightest clue that after a few seconds the heavy rainfall will wash away many of us,” said a labourer from Chhattisgarh, Ram Ratan. He was staying at the labour colony along with 150 more people out of which 64 were found missing that night, 18 dead and the rest of them were missing. Almost all the families residing in Leh, be it the natives of the region or the migrant labourers who had come to earn their livelihood, were affected.

Sarita worked in Leh as a daily wager along with her husband and she was eight months pregnant when the floods struck. “I came here with my husband to work on daily wages for a contractor, who was working in for the location of Ladakh Scout Regiment Center. Since I was on the family way and like any parent wanted to give our child a good future, I continued working during my pregnancy as well. We were staying in the labour colony. Unaware of what was going to happen, we were sleeping on the terrace though there was downpour and thundering, yet we all thought it was normal and continued sleeping. Suddenly, there were shouts of ‘bhago paani aa gaya’ and before we could react, flashfloods had washed us down. I was frightened and lost consciousness in no time. When I woke up, I was in the army hospital. Two people who were at the back of my mind were my husband and my yet to come child. I have a feeling that my child’s movement has stopped and I don’t even know whether it is dead or alive.” After Sarita managed to tell her experience, we spoke to the doctor who attended her. He told us, “What Sarita does not know is that while she was being washed away, perhaps a boulder had hit her on the stomach and apart from that she had suffered a head injury also. When she was evacuated to the army hospital, we had to operate on her head injury first as she was having excessive internal bleeding. The surgery saved her life but her unborn child could not be saved. The lady was in so much of trauma that we couldn’t tell her about the miscarriage. Though she knows that her child is no more, she still believes that she is carrying the child inside her,” said Col Chitra Banerjee. Her husband, who was also washed in the same flood, rescued and was brought to the same hospital with no major injuries.
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