This Article is From Oct 04, 2014

An All-Faith Mosque That Gave Hope in Flood-Hit Kashmir

Some 25 people stayed at the mosque for three days

Srinagar: In flood-battered Srinagar, devastation touched every life without distinction, and a mosque became the unifying factor.

On September 7, as the river Jhelum breached its embankments, flooding large parts of the city, a group of tourists went straight to this mosque on Residency Road and asked the cleric, Moulvi Ajaz Ahmad, for help. They didn't want just food and a place to stay. They wanted to pray.

"We all went there and we prayed. There were people from different states and different faiths also. Some from Karnataka, Hyderabad and few were from Punjab," said Vipul Sharad, the manager of a hotel from where many tourists went to the mosque.

Some 25 people stayed at the mosque for three days. They had enough food, water and freedom to pray.

"There were Hindus, Muslim... and they worshipped here as per their religious reliefs" said Moulvi Ajaz.

Chain Singh, a bank guard, thought of the mosque as he watched his hut crumble in lashing rain and storm, his wife and three young children by his side.

No help or hope came from anywhere and he turned to god.

"I would have managed, had I been alone, but I was worried about my children. There was no place to go... then I went to the mosque and the moulvi gave us milk and other food," Mr Singh said.

With its water tankers, the mosque also helped paramilitary personnel. "We gave them water, also vegetable and milk," the cleric said.

As Jammu and Kashmir recovers from the aftermath of its worst flood in a century, one that took nearly 300 lives and washed away thousands of homes, the receding waters leave behind remarkable stories of survival, and a mosque that became a refuge for all faiths.