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J&K floods: How a man with a microphone and phone connected thousands

It has been a month since the floods wreaked havoc in Jammu and Kashmir. As water levels subside, there are extraordinary tales of courage and commitment that have come have to light.
At a time when the entire government machinery in the state went missing, a public servant became the voice of solace for the devastated state.

Armed with a microphones and a cell phone, Deputy Director of Radio Kashmir’s 102.6 mega hertz Shamshad Karlawari did the extraordinary. Wading through the water, he climbed the Shankaracharya hill top which houses the second largest transmittor in Asia and connected over 30,000 families .

“Army had augmented towers where SMS were reaching. I gave my number and there was a flood of messages. We did what we could to avoid spreading of rumours of any kind. We just had a phone and a mic,” he said.

Many would say that Shamshad Karlawari just did his job as a public broadcaster. But what makes his story truly extraordinary is the fact that his own home was under 10 feet of water and his own family was in a crisis.

“At home, we were in a traumatic condition. We were scared. There was water every where but not even a single drop to drink. But I had to leave my family. It was a challenge to reach there. I walked, got lift from NDRF and scaled the mountain after walking for nearly six hours. You won’t believe I took a shower after 14 days,” he said.

The appreciation hasn’t stopped pouring in for the braveheart as people thank him for his help and cooperation.

Meanwhile, even a month after the floods, Karlawari’s office is still a mess. It is filled with sludge and mud and he has to climb through his window to reach his room.

At a time when the entire state machinery failed its people, a few good men like Karlawari who placed duty before self to reach out to people who were living in fear and panic. He retires in the next 5 months leaving behind an example that will be tough to follow.

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