Chaos, confusion, shrieks, screams exploded the cool, calm and serene atmosphere of this quiet town as an invisible hiss of a gas leak set everything ablaze!
There after there were gas cylinder explosions and the dark night lit up. It was SSP Baramulla Rayees Ahmed Bhat and his officers especially Sub Inspector Aijaz Ahmed Rather and his team who fought the fire and eventually won!
Noor Bagh in Baramulla is a typical Kashmiri locality with the houses huddled up together, made of concrete and wood, massive rooms all decked up with beautiful props and wall to wall carpets which give an extra edge to the extravagant hospitality which Kashmir is famous for.
Baramulla has a great history, in fact a phenomenal one and who better than the languidly and merrily flowing waters of Jhelum know it better but they cannot speak but make audible splashes as if they are trying to remind us all something.
But yesterday night something happened which was unexpected as flames of a maximized blazes gobbled up houses after houses.
Suddenly fire alarms were sounding everywhere with the rescue teams rushing out in gushes from every possible gate of Army barracks, Police lines, Fire brigade zone and civil administration offices.
The people too joined in and the size of the flames grew larger in size with plumes of smoke going in every direction.
This is not the first time that such a fire has engulfed a locality in the family and if it happens in one house it is bound to spread.
Fire spread is one thing that the inmates of the house had to wrestle with. It was the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It took place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, It was just not the heat that was so concerned the major one is as to who is where. Ultimately in this unmatched contest if a person survived along with his family, that was the ultimate victory but plenty had been lost and that is a sickening feeling. The house stood razed to the ground and only ashes to look at is a terrible sight because they are now without a shelter
It was almost midnight and the whole town of Baramulla was inside their houses while as usual the Army and Police mobile patrols carried on with their routine duties. No one was expecting the furore that was about to take place and lo! everything exploded. The LPG cylinder blast set the things rolling in a devastating fashion as one after the other houses began to be taken over by the deadly flames. Obviously the people had to panic and the environment had suddenly changed into a one which we see in Hollywood action extravaganzas.
The Army, Police, Fire Brigade vehicles, fire fighters in their attire, civil administration in offices all were in a frantic active mode as the fire had to be controlled and the lives saved. The fire was beyond control as it consumed 18 houses, 30 families were on the roadside seeing their dream houses reduced to a heap of rubble and one vehicle burnt out. The damage could have been much more had the brave hearts from Police not jumped into the flames.
The first leap into the fire was taken by Sub Inspector Aijaz Ahmed Rather , a young officer from Budhal in Rajouri. He was seen pulling out people from the engulfing fire. Seeing playing with flames SSP Baramulla Rayees Ahmed Bhat along with many others got into action mode as the rescue act continued full scale. It was a timely and swift action in which lives were saved and only one person sustained burns which were treated subsequently.
The people seeing the entire action could only wonder and say, ‘here was a man who now for the first time found himself looking into the eyes of the flames which were like death staring and roaring, who was passing through one of those rare moments of experience when we feel the truth of a commonplace, which is as different from what we call knowing it. This was a fight against a visible demon which loves to burn the skin as if it is a thin paper sheet on fire but Rayees and Aijaz knew that the fight had to be won. It was!
Had at the moment someone asked these two gentlemen as to how they felt going through this ordeal, the reply would have been, ‘it seemed to us that if you or we must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember that our getting into the flaming hot whirlpool was with a purpose. We could not have stood aside passing orders when children, ladies and elders were shrieking for help’! I do not think there could have been a better reply because that is what they exactly said when everything was over at midnight.
Many people who had just had a close shave with death in those hours when life stood still in front of their own eyes must have felt some emotional upsurge in their hearts and minds which said, ‘in spite of everything we still believe that people are really good at heart. They simply are outstanding and today we realized that for us they can do anything. We were all in confusion, misery and looking at surefire death but these men took it all in their stride’. Well done SSP Baramulla Rayees Ahmed bhat and Sub Inspector Aijaz Ahmed Rather The effort was simply out of the world!
The problems were not yet over. The people who were now stranded had to be taken care off. For the time being they have been shifted to temporary accommodation and are being looked after by the civil administration. But the thought process keeps lingering. A few hours back they were inside their homes sleeping snoring with their kids!
In tough times, the best way to overcome hardship is to lean on all of your loved ones. In such circumstances the most loved ones have to be the men in uniform and they could be from either Olive Greens or Khakis and together they can do wonders as they did in this rescue act!