Ahmedabad, Dec 25: Hit by severe flood last year followed by extreme cold conditions, at least 400 people from Jammu and Kashmir have been compelled to leave their native place and take refuge in a slum locality in city's Saraspur area, till the situation improves there.
These 60-odd families, after arriving in the city, have taken shelter at an open compound in Saraspur area where they are living in make-shift huts made of plastic sheets. The families belong to places like Badgam, Anantnag, Drass, Leh and Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.
"There are many other families who have been forced to migrate during this winter. We came to Gujarat because we learnt that people here are very friendly. Now, we are expecting some help from them till we are here, as we don't have money to buy anything," said a native of Badgam.
According to them, this is the first time when they have been left with no other option than to shift their base due to the nature's fury.
"Heavy floods have swept away our homes, farmlands and our businesses. Majority of us are either farmers or craftsmen having very marginal income. Before the government could build homes for us, heavy snowfall started in the Valley, which stalled the construction," Kargil resident Bashir Ahmed said.
"For the very first time, we have to shift our base. We came here one month earlier and are living in this camp, where we don't have food or water. I urge the local people and leaders to help us as many women and small children are also with us," he said.
According to an Anantnag native, they have been apperhensive of locals' reaction to their coming here. "The place where we are staying at present is an open ground.... We would be grateful if we get some help." On learning about their plight, municipal corporator Haji Mirza Baig has come forward to help them. "These people are our guests and it is our duty to help them.
Since Saraspur is not in my ward, I have asked my men to go to the spot and find out their problems. I along with other leaders will extend all the help required. I will also talk to local police to ensure their safety," said Baig, who represents the Sarkhej ward.
The families plan to return home in March after cold conditions subside there. According to them, many other families too have taken refuge in other parts of the country.