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Residents of villages near LoC struggle for survival

Source: PTI
October 21, 2005 15:30 IST
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Faraqat Sulaiman squats near the relief co-ordination centre in Uri district of Jammu and Kashmir, awaiting his turn for getting essential supplies. With moistened eyes, he recollects the gory sight of his four-year-old child's hands protruding
from the rubble, her cries muffled by the debris that had fallen above her.

"Mumtaz's hands, which stuck out from the debris seemed like calling me to her. Her faint cries for help from under the mound still rings in my ears," Sulaiman, a resident of the remote Udoosa village near the Line of Control says, breaking into a fit of sobs while remembering the October eight killer quake that claimed thousands of lives and left many more homeless.

"I was out grazing the sheep, when I heard a deafening noise and the felt the soil under my feet give way. For more than five minutes I could not figure out it was an earthquake. Then when I realised, I ran to my house. All I saw was a big heap of rubble.

"I could see my wife emerging out from the debris, her whole body smattered with blood. Slowly other elders of the family wriggled out. 'Mumtaz, our Mumtaz,' my wife cried, pointing out to the heap that was once our home.    

"Pushing aside a big block of the roof, I saw my child's hands protruding out from the heap. I could also hear her faint cries for help. I clawed the rubble like a madman till my fingers began bleeding. The earth shook violently, I felt something heavy falling over me and I fainted." he says.

But when Sulaiman regained consciousness the real tragedy unfolded before him. His father, brother, sister-in-law and their five-year-old child, were also dead.

Left with a broken hand, he is now the sole breadwinner of 12 members of the family who were spared by the quake.

Sulaiman's village Udoosa, along with other remote hamlets like Goalta, Khalsapati, Batakot, and Dharapati remained cut off from the rest of the country for around three days, till the army, paramilitary forces and the Border Roads Organisation cleared some of the tracks.

However, Sulaiman's tragedy did not end here. Slowly recovering from the loss of his near and dear, he is faced with the onus of feeding the surviving members of his family and providing them shelter.    

"I trek miles together to reach Uri daily and wait for my share of supplies. Though I had been lucky in getting some food and blankets, my family is still out in the open. We have not got any cover over our heads," he says.  

The administration, faced with allegations that influential people were grabbing most of the relief materials, had issued duplicate ration cards to the quake survivors in a bid to avoid any irregularity. Entries are made in the cards so as to ensure that one family does not pocket the relief items twice.

Complete Coverage: Terror from the earth

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