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Quake has not shattered communal ties in J&K
A M Sofi in Uri | October 25, 2005 11:11 IST
Nestling in a pictursque hillock overlooking a temple on the Srinagar-Uri National Highway, inhabitants of this area survived the tremor and so has Jammu and Kashmir's age-old communal harmony.
Several Hindu and Muslim families share a piece of land adjacent to Dutta Mandir after the killer October 8 earthquake devastated their houses and forced them into tents.
About 100 persons belonging to both the communities are now sharing 19 small snow tents provided to them by the Border Security Force, which came to their rescue minutes after the earthquake flattened their houses.
They are also sharing the relief materials.
"The situation we face is apparently a challenge to test our unity," Gowardan Devi, an elderly woman, said. "Ours is a mutual bond since ages. How can tragedy divide us? We have shared joy and sorrow for years and face this horrific time together."
"Unity is our strength," observed Sharief-ud-Din, adding "We are living together and if destiny desires so, we will die together."
It is very difficult for a visitor to distinguish between the Hindus and Muslims at the relief centre, notwithstanding the bindi on the forehead of Hindu women.
Pointing towards their children, who play adjacent to the tented shelters, Sharief-ud-Din says, "Can anyone guess who among them is a Muslim or a Hindu?"
"When militancy broke out in the valley and there was a mass exodus of Kashmiri pandits, our Muslim neighbours came to us and pleaded that we don't leave our homes," Jevi remembered. She said she was glad that the community members living in this sector paid heed to the assurances of the Muslim brethren and stayed back.
Praising the BSF personnel for timely help, they said the paramilitary force rendered self-less service.
Deputy Inspector General of BSF, K Srinivasan, who is monitoring the relief and rehabilitation work of the force, said BSF personnel posted for the safety of the Hindu population were the first to reach the village.
"We removed the populace to safety and those whose houses have been rendered unsafe for living were provided tents," Srinivasan said.
He said they were also provided with blankets and food by the troops of 19th Battalion,áthe force posted in the area.
We are for your help and will do our best to see that you will go back to your homes and resume peaceful life, Srinivasan assured them. The BSF officer said mobile doctors are regularly visiting the camp and attending to the inmates.
"None of them was seriously injured in the earthquake, although some of them have superficial wounds, which we attended to on the first day itself," S K Yadav, unit doctor of 19th Battalion BSF, said. He is leading the mobile medical team.
They are suffering from normal seasonal diseases and have been provided treatment, the doctor said.
"We are visiting them again and again, as they are living inátents and their children are exposed to some cold-related diseases," the doctor added.