Around 50 residents of Kodagu's Goodugadde village were stranded in their flooded homes on Friday morning, hoping that help would come before the river Cauvery would take away their lives.
Luckily for Goodugadde's residents, help came in the form of eight Good Samaritans, who ferried them to safe places through small iron-made coracles.
Mustafa, a 32-year-old activist from Kodagu, suspected that people were stranded in Goodugadde and other villages along the banks of the Cauvery river. Mustafa had heard from the local grapevine that many people had not left their homes despite a flood warning.
At around 6 am on Friday, Mustafa and his friends Ranjith Kumar, Afzal, Iliyas, Shafiq and four others from Siddapura, were anxious as the Dubbare Rafting Team was busy with rescue elsewhere.
Mustafa and his friends rushed to the Siddapura Police Station and requested the police to lend them the iron-made coracle lookalikes that the police had kept in the evidence room, which they had seized when they busted an illegal sand mining ring.
"We call it thappe in Kannada. They are circular, iron made vessels sand miners use to transport sand. It's smaller than a coracle but bigger than the round vessels used to carry sand in construction sites. We wanted those so we could row it and look for stranded people," Mustafa explains.
When the group reached Goodugadde, they found several senior citizens, children and middle aged people stranded in their flooded homes. Many were sitting on their rooftops, while some of them clung to trees, waiting for help.
"There were about 50 people. We began rescue at 7am and it went on till 11 am. We lost count of the number of trips we made to bring all of them to safety. They were sent to relief camps in Siddapura. By 12 pm, the Dubbare Rafting Team came to help us and we continued rescue operations in Baradi and Kakkattagadu villages," Ranjith Kumar says.
Mustafa, Ranjith and the team of local rescuers claim that they are experienced swimmers and that they had volunteered during rescue operations in the floods that hit Kodagu in 2018.
"We have lived along the banks of river Cauvery all our lives. We have a very close relationship with the river and swimming is the first thing we learnt as children. We are expert swimmers and if our skill could be put to use to help people in need, then it's our duty to help them. What is the point of being an expert at something and not helping those who could benefit from it?" Mustafa says.
Mustafa and his motley crew continue their rescue operations even now. "We will help as much as we can. Our people have seen too much damage due to rains and floods. Currently, we are going back and forth Goodugadde and recovering their belongings," Mustafa adds.