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US in the News - Live Punjab


'Kashmiriyat, not communal passions, prevail in Kashmir'
Sep 20 , 2014


A Gurdwara opened doors for flood-hit Pandits, Muslims
Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar, Sep 20: Satish Koul and Reyaz Ahmad are among hundreds of people putting up at the relief camp setup at Gurdwara Shaheed Monga in Baghat area of uptown Srinagar.

The Gurdwara is a scene of communal brotherhood and bonhomie displayed by the people of Kashmir - Pandits (Hindus), Muslims and Sikhs.

Satish, a resident of Jawahar Nagar area, who was rescued by the Army after remaining marooned for three days, has been staying at the Gurdwara since then.

"How long can these people house us?" he said. "The government has not done anything for us so far."

Like Satish, a resident of Mehjoor Nagar, Reyaz is also furious at the government for failing to provide relief to the flood-affected.

"But for these Sardar (Sikh) brothers of mine at the Gurdwara, I would have died of starvation," he said.

Over 1500 people from Jawahar Nagar, Aloochi Bagh, Mehjoor Nagar, Tulsi Bagh, Magarmal Bagh, Karan Nagar, Balgarden, Azad Basti Natipora and many other areas of Srinagar uptown are presently putting up at the Gurdwara where the local volunteers are serving them.

Bikram Singh, a youth from Aloochi Bagh, who has been on the rescue mission saving the marooned people in the day also serves dinner to the flood-victims at the Gurdwara.

"I worked with local bodies to rescue the Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs," he said. "We also rescued some sportsmen from different Indian states and brought them to the Gurdwara here."

Bikram said apart from the relief material, the main challenge flood-hit people would face is their rehabilitation ahead of the harsh, cold winters.

The volunteers have also setup a medical camp in the Gurdwara's library, which is one of the biggest libraries that remained open for the readers during the past two decades of turmoil in Kashmir.

Jagjit Singh, who is inchage of the medical camp at the library, said so far 7406 people had visited the camp for medical treatment.

Jagjit is helped out by people like Dr J B Singh and Harpal Singh.

While Dr J B Singh counsels the patients visiting the medical camp at the Gurdwara, Harpal, a volunteer youth has performed 100 to 150 dressings on the injured.

Dr J B Singh said patients visiting the camp were complaining of cardiac and chest ailments besides allergies.

"People are complaining of respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and allergic reactions," he said. "Besides, we are getting a lot of hypertension and diabetic patients as they have run out of medicines, which are unavailable in the market."

Dr Singh said Kashmir was also facing shortage of baby food, diapers and sanitary pads.

Amritpal Singh, a volunteer working with an international NGO, United Sikhs had come all the way from Punjab to help the flood-affected people of Kashmir.

"A lot of people are still in their houses," he said. "Imagine the relief and rehabilitation that needs to be carried to cater to all those people in addition to the people that are already living in relief camps."

Amritpal said he and his fellow volunteers had gone door-to-door in floodwaters to rescue people irrespective of their faith.

In his mission, he has company of youth like Komal J B Singh, a PhD student at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Komal, who hails from Baramulla, said Kashmir was witnessing a complete anarchy.

"There is no state, there is no administration," she said. "People are angry and their anger is genuine as we rescued people even from Lal Chowk, the city center where the government had failed to reach."

About the communal brotherhood Kashmir had displayed in a disaster, Komal said: "Disaster has no religion. I'm a Kashmiri and when we went to rescue people, we didn't see whether they were Sikhs, Muslims or Pandits. Kashmiriyat, not communal passions, prevail in Kashmir."

She said Kashmir has a population of 70,000 Sikhs of which 30,000 were affected for whom a large number of Sikh organizations worldwide were coming to Kashmir and helping not only the community members but the masses.

While Komal was all hope, Harnam Singh, a resident of Wazir Bagh, was in utter despair and critical of New Delhi.

"If Government of India is able to bring back Indians stuck in countries like Libya and Iraq, why couldn't they put in all out efforts to rescue people stuck in flood-hit areas of Kashmir," he said.

While Harnam Singh was all fire against New Delhi, Harjeet Singh, who is leading a team of volunteers who everyday go on a rescue mission to evacuate the marooned people in Srinagar, is shaken at the response of the State government to the disaster.

Harjeet, a resident of Saket Khanpur, New Delhi said while his team was on a rescue mission in Jawahar Nagar, the government officials in boats took face masks from them and left the spot.

"While these government officials shied away from rescuing people, 13 persons died after their houses collapsed," he said. "We ferried two bodies on the first day, nine on the second and two more on the third day of our rescue work."