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Quake victims upset with politicians' vanishing act

By M I Jehangir
October 26, 2005 19:27 IST
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Residents of some quake-ravaged villages in Uri are a peeved lot today.

More than the meagre quake-relief that they have got till now, they are disgusted with politicians, who literally pestered them for votes in the run up to various elections but have not showed up in their hour of crisis.

So disgruntled are the people that they have threatened to boycott the poll process in future -- a thing they did not even do in the heydays of militancy despite threats to life.

"We will not cast our votes in any elections in the  future," Mohammad Muneer and his neighbours told PTI in Jabla village.

Residents of Jabla in Uri, which housed around 300 families, said no minister or senior state administration official visited them since the October eight quake.

"Our minister Taj Mohiuddin (also a member of the legislative assembly from Uri segment) visited this place several times during the elections in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004 but he has not set foot in this village since the quake struck and almost destroyed our lives," Muneer said.

Shabbir Ahmad, another villager, said people in Jabla took part in all elections in the past without caring for militant threats and cross-border shelling, which used to be a common feature in those days, but now no more.

"Yeh neta log to apna ulloo seedha karnay yahan aatay hain, matlab nikalgaya, phir na jaan na pehchaan (these politicians come here to serve their own interest. Once  their job is done, they don't even recognise you), said Ahmad.

Jabla and Gawalan were two of the worst-hit villages in Uri tehsil where nearly 50 deaths were recorded and almost every  house, school, mosque and cow-shed was razed in the quake.

Although, these villages are barely 10 kilometres away from the main Uri town and are connected by a road, there are no signs of officials having distributed relief in the area.

The highest official to have visited the villages is a Patwari (revenue record clerk) for assessing the damages caused by the earthquake.

And that too has sparked controversies, said Ahmad, whose house was completely flattened.

Even as the Jammu and Kashmir government has initiated the process of relief distribution and cash doles to the quake-affected people, villagers here claim that succor had bypassed them thus far.

"I went to Uri for three consecutive days to collect the relief cheque as my daughter was killed under the debris. On Tuesday, they said they will come to my village to hand out the cheque but no one has come  till now," 50-year-old Ruumjan said with tears trickling down her wrinkled cheeks.

Shahid Hussain, who lost his wife to the monster quake, said the government had also not provided them with the first instalment of cash relief for construction of houses.

"I have six children and we have no shelter to protect us from the harsh winter that is looming large. No tents or  waterproof sheets have been sent here," he said.

Had it not been for some non governmental organisations, the villagers would have been bereft of any relief material, they claim.

"Government has only given us one-month's free ration. Rest has come from NGOs," Ahmad claimed.

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M I Jehangir
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