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Meet the Kashmiri houseboat owner hailed by PM Modi for designing floating ambulance service for COVID-19 patients in Dal Lake

Tariq Ahmad Patloo, 51, says he is grateful to the PM for appreciating his efforts, yet, he remains unmoved by the fame because successive governments have done nothing for the Hanjis- the dwellers of waters in the Dal and other lakes of Kashmir Valley.

June 28, 2021 / 08:23 PM IST
The floating ambulance by Tariq Ahmad Patloo on Dal Lake in Srinagar (Image: ANI)

The floating ambulance by Tariq Ahmad Patloo on Dal Lake in Srinagar (Image: ANI)


Houseboat owner Tariq Ahmad Patloo, who converted his boat  into a floating ambulance to ferry COVID-19 patients on the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir, found mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on June 27.

Fifty-one-year -old Patloo, who lives with his mother, wife and daughter, along with thousands of others in the houseboats stationed in the world-famous Lake of Srinagar, had designed the free floating ambulance service after he recovered from COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in August last year.

Tariq Ahmad Patloo Tariq Ahmad Patloo

Patloo, who owns the house boat named 'Sea Palace', apart from the ambulance, is grateful to the Prime Minister for appreciating his efforts. But, he is unmoved by the fame because of the grudge that successive governments have not done anything for the Hanjis- the ethnic community who are dwellers of waters in the Dal and other lakes of Kashmir Valley."I can't thank the Prime Minister enough for mentioning me in his address. But I would have been happier if the Centre, or the state, may have done something for the progress of our community." Patloo told MoneyControl.

Hanjis living in about 900 houseboats, Patloo said, have been living in misery for years. "No one care for us.  They talked about rehabilitation, nothing happened. They said they will relocate us, nothing happened. We do not have even a dispensary here. No one has been ever given a government job. We have had enough promises," he said.

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Patloo is not the only member from his family to catch Prime Minister Modi's attention. In 2018, the PM praised his eight-year-old daughter Jannat's efforts for cleaning Dal Lake.

"We don't need money. We need to live a respectful life, like any other community," he said.

During his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme the PM appreciated Patloo’s novel idea of a boat ambulance.

READ: Covishield not accepted for EU travel: Will resolve this matter soon, says Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla

“Here a boat ambulance service was started at Dal Lake. This service was started by Tariq Ahmad Patloo ji of Srinagar, who is a houseboat 0wner. He himself has also fought the battle with COVID-19 and this inspired him to start the ambulance service,” the Prime Minister said in the 78th edition of the address.

Patloo said he thought of setting up the ambulance out of his personal experience. He had faced difficulties to reach the hospital from Dal waters when he contracted the disease. He was in home isolation for the first few days but had to be hospitalised at downtown Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital after his health deteriorated.

“I had a difficult time in reaching the shore of the Dal Lake. I cannot even tell you how my family managed to take me to the hospital,” said Patloo.

The ambulance comes equipped with PPE kits, stretchers, wheelchair and other healthcare amenities. It also provides oxygen cylinders to the needy besides generating awareness regarding COVID-19 appropriate behavior.

Also, read: Parties using sub judice argument as cover to avoid raising Article 370, says National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi

Jammu and Kashmir reported 415 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths in the last 24 hours. As many as 46,148 fresh COVID-19 cases and 979 deaths were recorded across the country in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said.

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Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 11 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.
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