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Kashmiri Pandits adopt quake-hit village
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | October 20, 2005 11:00 IST
Last Updated: October 20, 2005 14:39 IST
Kashmiri Pandits, living in virtual exile in their own land, have formed a 32-member relief committee comprising of prominent figures from amongst the displaced Kashmiri Pandits community in Delhi.
They decided to lend a helping hand to the Muslim community in earthquake-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir in the hour of crisis.
'We have decided to adopt a village to rehablitate the survivors of the October 8 earthquake in the border districts of Jammu and Kashmir,' said a press note issued by Omkar Razdan, secretary and co-convener.
"The money raised by the Pandits would be donated to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund as the state administration has refused to accept contributions in cash," Dr Shakti Bhan told rediff.com in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The Pandit community felt that they should come forward and join hands with all those involved in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
"We would have liked to go there ourselves and distribute the material collected. But the terrorists are continuing killings despite the natural disaster, which has struck the border districts in North Kashmir and hence we are not willing to take the risk," said Dr Bhan.
"Who can apprecite the depth of the agony and the pain of the victims of the earthquake better than Kashmiri Pandits, the victims of a concerted terrorist campaign. The rehabilitation of the survivors of the earthquake is a humanitarian cause, which must be served by all to express solidarity with those who have suffered in the natural calamity," Razdan said.
The president of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panther's Party Bhim Singh also appealed to the business houses in India and abroad to release maximum material, particularly tents and blankets for the quake-hit areas in Poonch, Uri, Tangdhar and Muzaffrabad so that help may be provided to people in need.
Singh also appealed to the government to provide the same help to the affected residents of Muzaffrabad and Poonch, which the government of India has declared for the people of Uri and Tangdhar.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government denied the Kashmiri Pandits' claim that it was not accepting money in cash towards earthquake relief.
Khalid Bashir, additional secretary in the state government, contested their claim. "This is not the correct picture. We have published appeals in all leading newspapers from the chief minister's side, and we have even given the bank account number into which people can deposit their contributions. We would like to emphasise that the chief minister's office had never refused any assistance from any quarter," Bashir told rediff.com.