Two tragedies that I witnessed in my recent past are stuck to my memories- the disastrous earthquake that hit on Oct. 8, 2005 and the floods of September 7, 2015.
The earthquake hit the Pakistan-administered Kashmir region and the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan; it also affected adjacent parts of India and Afghanistan too badly. At least 79,000 people were killed and more than 32,000 buildings collapsed in Kashmir, with additional fatalities and destruction, making it one of the most destructive earthquakes of contemporary times.
Morning 8:50 AM; I was on way to school and had a very narrow escape from death. I was waiting for school gate to open when the wall fencing the adjacent school premises fell on to the ground abruptly without making any noise. Tender age and little knowledge about the shaking of earth and the taste of death left me pale and dumb. I thought it is the end, the Angel of Death (malak al-maut) has arrived. I couldn’t speak but just murmur ”Lá iláha illallah.”
September floods of last year repeated the same horror with a new name “catastrophic floods & deluge.” Earthquake busted our homes, downpour pierced, and shattered our hopes. No comparison but unfortunately duo hit the same land.
Incessant rains, floods, ill timid thunderstorms ravaged the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It drowned the Kashmir vale. It came from nowhere, rose from high to higher, usual to fatal and within no time swept across all along resulting in complete devastation. Everything got destroyed. Floods hit us hard. Hit our economy, tourism, education, businesses, agriculture, and almost every field of life. Loss of precious human lives as well as of animals was a dare consequence- aftermath. There is no doubt in ‘ we belong to Allah & to him is our return’, but such incidental mass annihilation is out of human ideation truly deterrent – a heartrending lesson. Our homes were destroyed. Desolated we, could only weep and cry.
The brave Kashmiri young brigade (Volunteers) did a wonderful job. On humanitarian basis they saved whatever they could regardless of region, religion, caste, colour or creed. Listen the stories from the people who were trapped, they speak about their mammoth work by terming them “real humans.” Rescue and relief operation was in motion with the help of SDR, NDRF & IAF too but no comparison to Kashmiri brave hearts. Some NGOs too did a praiseworthy job.
How we managed to stand again proves that we are a proud nation; we are resilient and courageous. Despite the state and central governments playing blind to the miseries of flood victims, the victims are again on their feet holding their heads high. The much needed “Flood Relief Package” is nowhere visible. Prime Minister is silent; Chief Minister is silent; only some pigmies are talking about ‘announcement of the package’. The indifference shown by New Delhi has attracted massive criticism. Is New Delhi deriving sadistic pleasure by keeping Kashmiri flood victims waiting for relief?
Whether the much talked about package from New Delhi comes or not, one thing is sure that Kashmir will rise again (in fact it has already risen despite all odds. By holding the desired and needed funds back, New Delhi is strengthening the emotions of alienation and proving unabashedly that Kashmiris, for Indian leadership, are “The Other.” Mind, this “Othering” will have disastrous consequences.
| Gowhar Naz |