A caravan of seven heavy truckloads reached Kashmir at 15:30 after a journey of more than twenty-four hours. There were about 70 PTUDC comrades that travelled with the caravan, the trucks of which were filled with blankets, medicines, tents, flour, food, and warm clothes. Due to the shortage of trucks a large amount of relief goods had to be left behind.
The police in Lahore had in fact impounded two of the trucks destined for the caravan. These are now going to be used for the procession of the mayor of Lahore! This shows what kind of priorities the local authorities have! It is another example of their callous cruelty and disregard for the suffering of their own people!
Two further trucks filled with similar relief goods that were to join the caravan from India were not allowed by the Pakistani authorities to cross the border at Wagah under the pretext of “security concerns”.
The caravan trucks were covered with banners on which the PTUDC’s “Revolutionary Solidarity Caravan” logo was clearly written and all the red flags on the trucks had hammers and sickles on them. The comrades who went with the caravan come from all regions and nationalities of Pakistan. All these comrades have gone to the devastated Himalayan Valley to assist and support the comrades in this hour of dire need. Three of the trucks have gone to Muzaffarabad, two to Rawalakot and two to Bagh, the three most deevastated towns of Kashmir. The caravan was received with enthusiasm by the Kashmiri comrades who are operating JKNSF/PTUDC/YFIS camps in these towns. Revolutionary slogans, such as “Revolution, Revolution… Socialist Revolution”, “No to Religious war, No to National War… Only class war! Class war!” could be heard as the trucks arrived.
The Kashmiri comrades are in a high spirits and are instilled with a revolutionary spirit in spite of the devastation, trauma and personal grief they have gone through. The comrades are working around the clock in rescue and relief operations in temperatures of 3-5 degrees, with a totally destroyed infrastructure and very little protection from other hazards. There are still mild tremors being felt in the aftermath of the main earthquake. But it is the commitment of the comrades to the cause of Socialism and their revolutionary daring that allows them to defeat all odds and overcome all obstacles.
Yesterday, October 18, three Indian members of parliament, A.R. Shaheen MP from Baramula (city of Indian-held Kashmir), Nirmala Deshpande Member of the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Indian Parliament), and Hannan Mulla, a CPI(M) MP from West Bengal, crossed over to join the PTUDC Revolutionary Solidarity Caravan to Kashmir. The doctors and goods they had brought with them were not allowed to cross the border, but the MPs were allowed to enter Pakistan due to their diplomatic immunity as parliamentarians.
Comrade Manzoor Ahmed, MP and President of the PTUDC, and several PTUDC and YFIS activists received them. After the reception they went to send off the caravan to Kashmir from Kasur. From there they came to the Lahore Press Club where they expressed their solidarity with the victims of the calamity and protested against the Pakistani regime’s refusal to allow the relief goods and doctors destined for the disaster hit areas of Kashmir and Pashtoonkhawa to enter the country.
Nirmala Deshpande and Hannan Mulla could not embark on the hazardous journey of the PTUDC caravan due to ill health. A.R Shaheen along with Manzoor went to Islamabad to lead the caravan into the steppes of the Himalayas. Once again due to the callous attitude of the regime Mr. A.R Shaheen was not allowed to enter Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The irony is that Mr. Shaheen is a Muslim and a Kashmiri and has been elected by hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri voters. But he was not allowed to enter Kashmir from Pakistan’s territory. The only reason being that he is from the other side of the Line of Control and is travelling on an Indian passport.
Comrade Manzoor has filed an official complaint with the Ministry of Home Affairs and negotiations are now taking place. The PTUDC is putting full pressure on the regime to allow MR Shaheen, an ethnic Kashmiri to visit and meet the victims of this disaster in Kashmir. Paradoxically, those Indian Kashmiris who toe the line of the Pakistani regime have been invited as state guests and have toured around the affected area escorted by the state agencies on army helicopters! If the negotiations succeed, then comrade Manzoor and Mr. A.R Shaheen will travel by road to Kashmir tomorrow and join the caravan and visit the PTUDC camps and victims of the earthquake.
Two more trucks are on their way to Kashmir from Peshawar and other parts of Pashtoonkhawa to join the PTUDC caravan. These trucks also contain relief goods and are also transporting comrades who wanted to personally join in the rescue and relief operation launched by the PTUDC/YFIS in Kashmir. The relief goods should arrive very soon and our relief operation will really be under way.
All of the comrades would like to thank all of those who have donated money to the PTUDC Earthquake Appeal. The money donated will be of great assistance to our efforts in Kashmir. We ask that anyone that can afford to donate any amount of money please do so, so that we can continue with our relief operations, and to provide a steady supply of goods to the camps.
To view the Daily Times coverage of the caravan please click here.
For more information on how to make a donation please see:
Pakistan earthquake: an appeal for the Kashmiri workers