Press Relase: Saturday 15th October, 2005 (1st Kettak, Samvat 537 Nanakshahi)
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Srinagar, India: About 170 Sikh families have lost their homes and several Gurdwaras (Sikh place of worship), including the historic Parampila Gurdwara, were destroyed by the earthquake, the UNITED SIKHS GHANAIA relief team discovered on their two day journey to the earthquake hit areas of Indian-administered Kashmir.
Sikh families, whose forefathers have been living for centuries in the frontier mountainous villages of Uri, Legaima, Slamabad, Kupawara, Simbulpora and Tribuni, were visited by the six-member UNITED SIKHS relief team over the last two days.
"Yesterday we saw that the historic Gurdwara of the Cchevee Patshah (sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib), at Parampila, had been reduced to rubble. Earlier it was believed that only the wall of the Gurdwara was damaged," Bhai Esher Singh, UNITED SIKHS Team leader reported. The team also saw that the domes of the Baramulla Cchevee Patshah historic Gurdwara have cracked. The Gurdwaras at Tribuni, Slamabad and Uri have all been destroyed.
"We removed Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh scriptures) from the rubble of the Gurdwaras and brought the saroops to the Baramulla gurdawara," Bhai Esher Singh added.
Earlier this week, press reports said that Sikhs in a village called Tribuni had received no help since the earthquake. "It took us 9 hours to travel 180 km on an ardous journey from Srinagar before we arrived at Tribuni. We were greeted by Sikhs, with tear-filled eyes, who were jubilant that someone had come to assist them. The cooked us a meal on the spot. We were moved because we had gone to help them but they were taking care of our hunger after the long journey," said Kuldip Singh, UNITED SIKHS team member, who is the president of the Srinagar Gurdwara management committee.
UNITED SIKHS distributed 200 blankets to Sikhs and Muslims in Tribuni who have lived together for so many generations. "It is very cold in the mountains and we need to distribute more blankets and warm clothes. We have ordered two thousand woollen blankets from Amritsar because there is no more stock in Srinagar," said Bhai Esher Singh.
"You are the first people to come and see us since the earthquake. Please tell our brothers and sisters outside that we need help to rebuild our homes, food and warm clothes for the winter," said Dalip Singh, president of the Tribuni Gurdwara management committee.
"Snow may fall any day and these 150 Sikh families, who have lost everything, are living under makeshift shelters made with plastic and canvas. Most of the Sikhs we met are farmers and are living in poverty. We need to help tem build their homes as soon as possible," said Bhai Esher Singh.
UNITED SIKHS has estimated that it will cost 21,000 rupees ($500) to build one tin-roof house, and it would $85,000 to build the 170 destroyed homes. Tin sheets and other building material could be purchased in Srinagar.
The UNITED SIKHS team has reported that they have visited the following Sikh homes that have been destroyed:13 in Legaima; 4 in Uri; 18 in Slamabad; 61 in Simbulpora and Tribuni. There are another 70 Sikh families in scattered villages who will be visited next.
"The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has dispatched two trucks of grains and other foodstuff from Amritsar for distribution in the earthquake affected areas," said Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, UNITED SIKHS director of community affairs, based in Amritsar.
The local members of the UNITED SIKHS relief team based in Srinagar and Baramulla are: Kuldip Singh, Vikram Singh, Kawal Nain Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Janak Singh and Mohan Singh.
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