With the official relief mechanism severely stretched by the fallout of last week's killer earthquake, people from India and Pakistan came together on Saturday to appeal to their governments to allow non-governmental organisations into Kashmir to carry out rehabilitation work.
Representatives of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy, who had visited the affected areas, said there was a major shortage of blankets, tarpaulins and medicines and appealed to citizens to mobilise relief for the quake-hit, thousands of whom were still living in the open.
"People have no shelter and the weather has already turned bitter. Arrangement of shelter is a priority," the Forum's General Secretary Tapan Bose told reporters here.
Former Pakistan minister Mubashir Hassan even advocated mass evacuation from the worst-hit areas, if no shelter could be provided before the winter set in. He said non-governmental organisations were well equipped to handle the situation and the governments should allow them into the affected areas.
However, Bose pointed out that many of these places still required security clearance and asked the government to remove this hurdle. Asking the citizens and corporates to donate generously, he said the Indian Railways had agreed to ferry relief material free of cost.
Bose said teams of doctors from Bangalore, Gujarat and Delhi would go to the affected areas next week. The Forum had also decided to train local masons to make earthquake-resistant structures, he added.