HDC’s unsung heroes who risked lives to save people in 2014 floods

Posted by on Thu Oct 2014 in News, Recent Work | 0 comments

Jammu and Kashmir recorded its worst flood in more than a century in September 2014 leaving thousands homeless and perishing hundreds of lives. Such was the magnitude of the catastrophe that it dented Kashmir’s economy by more than a trillion forcing centre to declare it as a national disaster.

The death toll could have gone higher if the locals would not have dared to rescue people in their make shift boats and continuously reach them with whatever, supplies of relief was possible to save the rescued ones. Many among these rescuers and relief providers included Hope Disability Centre’s staff, who risked their lives to save the many.

These are the heros who without bothering about the publicity in media or promotion from their bosses threw themselves at helping mankind.

Below are some of the inspirational stories from HDC staff:-


Tawseef Ahmad Wani (Prosthetic and Orthotic bench worker)

Living within the walking distance of office, Tawseef  is always the first one to join HDC emergency contingency plans. Therefore, when the historic floods struck the valley, Tawseef was the first one whom HDC director took on board when the latter started HDC’s rescue relief mission.

He along with HDC’s relief team was trying his level best to take relief to as many people as possible.

During this rescue relief operation, some scenes were very hard for this young 19-year-old boy to digest.

“Most of the time people, especially ladies with their kids used to come to me, saying, “Just give our kids some water.” Tawseef remembers with moist eyes.

“There were some places where make shift tents were erected at high grounds. When I noticed some middle-aged people were continuously staring at some houses in distance. On enquiring, I came to know they were the dwellers from that locality where they were staring.

“And today all the houses from that side had water filled at two or more than two stories,” recollects Tawseef.

This young chap used to leave his house early at 7 am. He toiled for the full day with his rescue relief team risking his life while distributing relief and returning home late in the night only to return the next day for the same routine.

Probably, it was his youth and never to give up attitude that made it possible for him to carry on doing what most of the people double age failed to do.

Even today, while resuming his normal prosthetic and orthotic work, Tawseef Wani continues to be the part of HDC relief team. HDC is proud to have him as its employee.

                                                            Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo



Irshad Ahmad (HDC Prosthetic and Orthotic Officer):-

Seeing children and women waving their hands to be rescued from the rising waters, Irshad without bothering about his life, trudged into the high flood water and started carrying them on his shoulders to the safer place. The work that he started from around 10 am on 7th September 2014, continued till 2 pm. After that the water had risen alarmingly. So Irshad asked an old boatman  in Dal gate- a much known tourist destination- to join him with his boat to rescue people. Though the boatman was reluctant to risk his life and source of livelihood, however, he finally gave in to Irshad’s persistence.

The water level had risen to more than 25 ft level and people including tourists were waving for help from their rooftops. Irshad along with his old boatman rescued more than 100 people in their rescue mission till late 8 pm.

Although, Irshad was offered money for his work by many tourists, however, he rejected it by saying, “This is my both moral and religious obligation to please my creator.”

Seeing his unselfish attitude, the exhausted old boatman from next day on authorized Irshad to use his boat on his own. Being the only person knowing how to rove the boat, he did the job for five consecutive days rescuing number of people from the adjoining areas of Dal gate, also Rajbagh.

Unfortunately, Irshad still gets nightmares of that gushing water. It gives him sleepless nights, yet during the day, apart from doing his routine work in HDC workshop, he continues to be the part of many relief teams.

                                                             Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo                                                                    


Ishtiyaq Ahmad Mir (Guard):-

Ishtiyaq turns emotional while narrating the horrors of flood in his area. In the remote village of Trikanjan, Boniyar the overflowing waters were flowing with such ferocity that they not only cleared all the land in the area, but it also washed away their homes. The place that is more than 100 kms away from Srinagar city, wears a desolate look.

While Ishtiyaq’s own house was at risk of getting washed away, yet he did not failed to answer the call for help by his neighbor to rescue his family. This almost 19-year-old boy rushed to his neighbor’s place, and helped him to evacuate his family members and took them to higher altitude.

Then he ran to help others till the village was filled with water. The entire village had taken refuge in a jungle on a mountain where Ishtiyaq and some boys from this locality had resurrected make shift tents. The boys also arranged the firewood for the night for heating and cooking purpose.

Standing on a nearby mountain peak Ishtiyaq was watching water filling his entire village. Seeing his house getting smithered by water broke his heart.

Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo



Bilal Ahmad Bhat (Accounts Officer HDC ) :-

No sooner did waters started rising in the Ganderbal water bodies, Bilal who works as an Accountant at HDC joined the rescue team from his residential area in Tulmulla. Not caring about his own life, Bilal along with his team went out in various tractors to rescue thousands stuck in their homes. He was also active in mobilizing the team for distribution of various food items. Besides, it was Bilal who took an initiative to collect firewood for a rescue team from Srinagar. He went door to door in his area and with the help of the volunteers gathered a tipper load of wood to dispatch it for the relief camps in Srinagar.

No sooner did Bilal heard that HDC has also started a relief team, he joined them. Here he was informed that the team needed money to get their activities done. So being a true accountant and peoples person, Bilal used all his contacts and managed to get the money for the activities from the bank.

Later he also joined HDC official team in distribution of relief in the city.

Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo



Mushtaq Ahmad Dar

Mushtaq always thought himself as a blessed person as he was living in a village that was flanked by Kashmir’s beautiful lake popularly known as Wular lake. The beautiful serene waters from the river used to condition the air to keep it cool in the hot scorching summer heat. However, on 7th September 2014, this blessing turned into a nightmare when the river water turned rough and almost wiped off everything.

No sooner did Mushtaq and his village people noticed that the level of the river adjacent to their industrial area was rising, they quickly plugged in all the leaks to its walls. However, the water was rising. In a desperate attempt to keep water at bay from entering their village, Mushtaq along with his supporters raised the river wall by piling on three layers of sandbags along it.

However, the wall gave in to the gushing water coming from the river and soon it was entering the village thick and fast. It engulfed everything that came in its way, including Mushtaq’s old house, his father’s wood sawmill. Even his close relatives lost their poultry farms.

Meanwhile, Mushtaq along with his associates started evacuating villagers from their houses, who they rushed to the adjoining areas.

Despite knowing the magnitude of devastation, yet, Mushtaq did not stopped. He joined the relief mission. Moreover, he was also collecting material from all the possible sources to send it through to various relief camps all across Kashmir.

Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo



Javeed Joo  (Physical Rehabilitation Centre Officer):-

Although Javeed dwelling area was at bay from the flood fury, yet he volunteered himself for the rescue and relief of many left inundated by the flash flood. When the flood water had created havoc all across the state, Javeed along with his mates, went out to rescue the people in Dal gate and Hassanabad area. The team of six divided in the group of two were ferrying the people to the safer bastions for two consecutive days in the boats that they hired from their own money.

On the third after floods only Javeed received a call from his office to join HDC’s rescue and relief team. Being a true professional, he joined his office team and was part of the group that was marching along the flood water to carry food and drinking water to the people who were stuck in their houses.

Holding the relief boxes on their heads, Javeed and the team walked more than nine kilometers in the five feet high water to reach to the people who needed immediate relief. He did it all day long. The next day Javeed participated in the relief camp where he along with the team distributed biscuits and water among the flood victims.

Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo



Bashir Dhobi (HDC MIS Officer)-

For more than eight days Bashir along with his entire locality was taking turns to watch the bank of river Jhelum from their side. The rising waters of the same river had breached the banks at many places causing the havoc in the entire state. Therefore, it was imperative for the people in Bashir’s area to not only watch the bank for any crack, but to also fix and raise its wall in case of any breach.

The breach from their locality side could have jeopardized more than 100,000 lives living in the area. Bashir along with people from the his area carried sand bags in tippers, push carts, and at times even on their shoulders to keep the bank at bay from any breach.

Meanwhile, Bashir along with some of the brave hearts went out to rescue some people from the adjoining areas who had called on AIR for help. He also worked actively in the relief camps and was later on seen distributing the free food and water among the needy.

Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo



Malik Afaq (Technical Support Manager, HDC)

In order to streamline its relief work and do a quick assessment of the damage caused by the flash floods in its interventional areas, HDC immediately called upon their head of technical staff-Malik Afaq. Malik was required to mobilize his entire team of more than 24 people within no time to get the relief work and assessment done as soon as possible.

With all phone lines down and a thin transport running on the roads, Afaq reached his entire staff, including the ones caught in flood, by hitchhiking to check on their well being. Then he counseled them about the importance of starting an assessment work at its earliest.

Due to his professional finesses not did he made sure that the assessment gets done ahead of time, but he also ensured HDC starts working as normal in all its four interventional districts.

To help the flood affected people Malik ensured the relief camps get organized at right places at their earliest. He also coordinated with some outside agencies, who wanted to be the part of its relief work.

Compiled and written by Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo

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