Mukhtar Ahmad walks down the flood ravaged streets of Srinagar and finds that it will be a lack-luster Eid for hundreds of families.
Days before the Eid festival, shopkeeper Mehmood Ahmad would be a busy man packing his shop with goods and merchandise. The bedecked and illuminated Regal Chowk, the famous shopping area would be bustling with eager shoppers preparing for Eid. But on Saturday, Mehmood was busy cleaning his flood-devastated shop in Regal Chowk.
“Though the flood waters receded, they left a trail of destruction and layers of silt in this shopping area. I had to remove all the flood damaged merchandise from my shop and use spraying pumps to clean it. It is a frustrating job,” said Mehmood.
“It would take months before we are able to make this shopping area fully functional. No one visited us for shopping this Eid. The area is normally festive on Eid, but now everything is gone,” he added. “At least I have the comfort that I am living with my family in our house which was safe as we live in a locality spared by the floods early this month,” Mehmood said. Same is the not the case with tens of thousands others who have been rendered homeless by the devastating floods for whom Eid will this time bring no festivities.
One such case is that of a state government officer, Abdul Majid, who narrowly escaped drowning with his wife and daughter while fleeing his submerged home and fast rising flood waters. He says that he along with his family left just moments before gushing flood waters inundated their home in the congested Bemina locality of the city. “We took shelter in a local mosque. We were there with hundreds others and were evacuated after four long days.”
“I want to return to my house, but the stagnant waters are making our return impossible. We are now staying with relatives and would celebrate the Eid there.” The festival, which falls on October 6 is going to be subdued, according to Majid. He is right as thousands of houses are still water logged and unlivable in the summer capital and other towns and the occupants are either putting up with relatives or in camps. The markets in areas unaffected by the September 7 floods are, however, seeing some festivities and Eid shopping. The areas are located in the old city which was by and large not hit by the floods and some stray areas in the uptown.
“There is no joy this Eid. We are celebrating this festival in this roadside tent and our relatives are visiting us. We cannot return to our home in the Bemina locality as it is still water logged and the house is unlivable,” said Abdul Gaffar. The shopkeepers in the city centre and other adjoining areas would witness business worth crores on Eid. Market of the sacrificial animals mainly sheep and goat also witnessed a slump this Eid as there are not many takers for them.
“It is not only my family but thousands others celebrating this Eid away from their homes. Eid preparations in my family would begin days ahead of the festival. We used to cook our favourite Kashmiri dishes and offer sheep sacrifice. But this time, we have rented a room to stay in uptown Hyderpora locality, several kms away from our home in Rajbagh after we lost all our belongings to floods,” said Mohammad Ayub, a businessman.