Rifat Abdullah


It was the recent 7th of September 2014! Water from River Jhelum had entered the localities of Rajbagh forcing the residents to move on to the roof tops. The level of water was continuously rising and the speed was such that even cars were washed away. It was chaos. Mournful, tense, helpless faces were visible all around. Cries for help but no one to hear. Weeping children, wailing women and helpless men were waving their hands through windows and rooftops. Despite repeated attempts of seeking help, no one came to their rescue. Faced with certain death in deluged Rajbagh, ETV’s Rifat Abdullah recorded his last message after dialling his high-end contacts for help turned futile. That was when the dare-devil reporter who not only managed to get out alive, but saved many others, decided to swim across Jhelum to arrange for a boat with no idea where he was going to get one. Through divine intervention of providence he got the boat! The first one in the locality which he managed to rescue was his family, workmate, and an old man in the neighbourhood. He took the boat back and forth rescuing people, since the need was immediate and urgent in the locality of Rajbagh. Rifat continued risking his life by taking part in the dangerous rescue operation for almost four days in which he along with other volunteers rescued 300 people, many of them children whom he carried on his shoulders taking them to safer places. Being a sportsperson who has participated in national swimming and kayaking and canoeing championships, he was able to combine together all these skills brilliantly to make the risky rescue mission effective. After the floods subsided four days later, he managed to fly to his head-office in Hyderabad where he handed over the footage and on his way back via Delhi he collected medicines and baby food from friends and got them to the flood affected valley in Kashmir. The story of the Devastation in Kashmir will not be told without the courageous and selfless Rifat Abdullah who endangered his own safety to rescue 300 people which has no doubt earned him a place in the pantheon of the profiles of courage.