BY JALAL-UD-DIN SHAH
In our childhood we would beat the heat by taking baths in water bodies frequently available around,,Kotu Kul ,Nalla Mar, Sunar Kul,Tsuent Kul ,Dal lake and River Jehlum itself.Drowning incidents were very frequent and common, dead bodies were retrieved much downstream from Cement bridge,Shadipora ,Ponzinara,Safapora upto Nayiud Khaie called Motu Khoun. Twice I was saved by two brave persons from virtual drowning.First time near Khankah-i-Moula in front of Kali Asthapun by the brave Prohit when my elder brother and cousins had given up the hope and ran away from the spot.That Goru Ji from Gounkhun area was my savior and I respected him lifelong !! Then it was in 1954, I was in 4th primary,schools had taken note of such incidents and parents were scary.Ink stamp was pasted at thigh by school management which were checked by parents regularly in the evening retreat of children !!.Some were wolf type boys prepared fake stamps and tempted us to take bath in troubled waters.One such boy was late Abdul Hamid Najar.In my Mohalla ( Shah Mohalla) once he mislead a group of youngsters for a bath near Nawab Bazar. He himself was an ace swimmer and tempted us to swim upto mid of stream. I got drowned in the centre of Kotukoul.Children ran away without marking fake stamp on their thighs.Hamid Jumped in the water like a tiger, caught hold of my hair and dragged me to safety. Subsequently entire locality rushed to Master Mohammad Jamal,father of Hamid and he received good thrashing and was nearly discharged from the school.He was a real hero, intelligent and creative type of a wolf boy,Allah Magfirati Ataa karai.God through good luck saved me twice.
Jammu Srinagar Banihal cart road is unnatural and non-feasible connection of Kashmir with plains. Actual potent and competent connection is downstream Jehlum Valley road and has been in use for thousands of years, nearly fair-weather round the year connectivity. So many traffic tragedies have occurred along what is called NH1 from Jammu Srinagar and NH2 Batote Kishtawar.Thousands of families so far have become victims from time to time.Where and how these accident occur is different subject and treacherous terrain is still there where it has been in 1905 when Nashri Nallah triggered for the first time.Tunnels and other stabilizing methods though have given some relief but extensive traffic flow and heavy landslides are beyond control.
In the year 1969 when our classes were off for final preparation, A nepali Gurkha boy Raman Bahadur dropped in our hostel.He was perusing M.Com at Aligarh university.He invited me to accompany him for next morning travel in his father’s Hera Truck.I readily agreed and handed him my small locked box containing books.As per the schedule I couldn’t reach to catch the truck in time, but boarded a different passenger bus.Next day I went to Magarmal Bagh, to collect my belongings only to find mourning at the house of my friend.He, his father and two more had passed away, as the truck had fallen down into the gorge at Khooni Nala,,
In the year 1982 I had to travel from Srinagar to Kishtwar by local passenger bus. Leaving early at 6 AM from Lalchowk we had lunch at Batote.I had occupied seat near front window and my co passenger was a kashmiri pandith employee in a local hotel at Kishtwar.I wanted to ease up but Pandith Ji held me by arm.Wouin Karoukh Pul Doda Pueshab. As we reached near petrol pump at Pul Doda bus took right turn to petrol pump and myself and Pandith Ji came down to seize the opportunity at road side lavatory point. Buss filled with full tanky tried to reach the road by reversing. Driver couldn’t maintain the control, straightway went down into deep Chinab river alongwith around 30 passengers.Just few bubbles in the turbulent waters of mighty Chinab and no trace out. We caught a bus ,conductor was crying Kishtwar Kishtwar .We the two had miraculous escape, death was not yet in our destiny.
In the year 1986 the then Commissioner power transferred me to remotest corner of the state Basohli.I accepted the Challenge.Bashli was in ruins where massacre of muslims was randomly done under an organized plane !!. Only kashmiri speaking population and few Bakerwals living on higher reaches like Bani,,LOIE Malhar,Chandihar ,etc had survived.They had forgotten Islam muslim culture when I visited here in late Eighties ,Milini was performed instead of Nikah.One Mohd Sadiq of Bhoond was much worried about such happenings.I would meet him on way to our Dam Site which was at Gati on river Sewa.Sadiq was very famous for social works I have fond memories with him.One day I had to report to dam site for payment to labourers who were engaged for blasting in drift on the both the abutment, of proposed tunnel. After leaving Bhoond had to ascend the barren peak of Bangal for 4 hours and to descend upto river level for another 4 hours.Unfortunately I lost the track while in dense forest.There was no trace of life around and evening befalling. I climbed an oak tree and survived for full night. Early in the morning we started to travel to river side and spotted a Gujar Kotha Waved off my jacket. Gujar took me inside with brief case in my hands. Soon I spotted some mischievous movments around. I lost all hope of my life. All of a sudden the door opened and an elderly person entered with an axe in his hands. On seeing me he cried Aie Bewqufu Yeh Sadiq Ka Banda Heiu. I survived and even one boy accompanied me to my camp site few hundred meters upstream.Few days later I was preparing for a sleep in my site tent. A daily wage labourer warned me that my camp was close to river Sewa,which can be dangerous. Somehow he carried my belongings upto foothill cottage. All of a sudden there was furore in the water as a cloud burst had occurred, somewhere in upstream catchment thunders and lightening was frequent. In the morning I didn’t see the trace of the site tent where I was camped. Everything gone and I was thankful to Kunju the poor labourer by whose experience and wit I got one more stint of life.
Jalal-Ud-Din Shah can be reached at email@example.com