Saharsa, about 400 kms from Bihar's capital Patna, is one of the nodal points for people fleeing their homes flooded by the Kosi. For the past two weeks, this small town of 40,000 people has been hosting more than twice its population, with over 1 lakh people from its peripheral villages and neighbouring Madhepura district fleeing their flooded homes.
The locals and the outsiders are easily distinguishable: While the former are clothed in trousers and shirts and are going about their business as usual, the latter stand out thanks to their faded, crumpled and worn out clothes -- mostly it is a sleeveless vest and mud-caked trousers rolled up above the knee -- almost rendered to rags by the waters which they have waded through for days together.
Their blank eyes are the clincher. "I have lost everything that I had but I myself have survived. I am now thinking what next and I don't have an answer," is the universal message of these eyes.
With the government struggling to cope with the flow of outsiders, the common people of the town have stepped in. There are more makeshift camps made by the townspeople than what the government has put up.
Image: Flood-affected victims have taken refuge at the madrasa
Text & Photograph: Krishnakumar P
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