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Home > News > Report

It is a tsunami of the mountains

Anand K Sahay in Srinagar | October 10, 2005 11:33 IST

As mild tremors persisted through the night across Kashmir Valley,Kashmiriswere filled with ananxiety borderingon foreboding but everyday life had not been affected in any noticeable way.

Yet folksappeared to be more devotional than they are required to be during the month of Ramzan. I found thiseven so with the friend's family with whom I am staying for a few days in Srinagar.

On my way to Baramullah, 31 km northwest of Srinagar,yesterday after thequake, nearly every passenger with me in the taxi I took at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar appeared unusually quiet, except for a young businessman, given to dramatics, who kept insisting that 250 houses in his village near Baramullah had collapsed.

Complete Coverage: Terror from the Earth

Others did not say much, preferring to softly mouth prayers or make observations on the power of god. The news from Uri, which was already trickling in at that hour, was making the mood more sombre. Most of my fellow passengers were from that northernmost town on the Line of Control in Baramullah.

The Valley has known nothing but uncertainty, driven by terrorism-related politics,in this past decade and a half. On previousvisits to thisbeautiful vale insecurities arising from the fear of what violent men could do was uppermost on people's minds. This time it was different. The fear of heaven's retribution, an expression heard frequently since Saturday's high-intensity earthquake, was keeping the populace downcast and philosophical. People called it the tsunami of the mountains. And if you recall eight months ago, folks here were referring to February'sdeluge as a snow-nami.

It is not hard to spotthe vividimagination of the public herein Kashmir, whichperhaps stems frombeing on tenterhooks for years together. In the course of a two-hour jaunt -- made more arduous by numerous road blocks -- throughrural Baramullah in the Vaghoora block,every rumourthat I had heard on the three-hour drive from Srinagar was repeated.

Mercifully, Baramullah town and its rural areas had not suffered too much damage. But the locals' readiness to believe anything at allwas so extraordinary. A persistent rumour, scotched only well after midday, doing the rounds wasthat a prominent politician had been assassinated. Later, while I was waiting for a car for my return journey to Srinagar, someone confidently recounted that there had been some firingin Srinagar. I was almost sorry to disabuse him of his story. Somehow dwelling on imaginary dramatic happenings appeared to be a diversion from the insecurities of daily life and blurting outthe truth was almost not welcome around here.

Uri could not be reached by roads until late in the evening on Sunday. The authorities had closedthe roadto general traffic. But from all accounts, the situation there was grim, as it was across the LOC in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

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