Earthquake Update: Eyewitness report from Kashmir

We have received this report from Pakistan containing information from the PTUDC teams on the ground in Kashmir. The comrades have been hard at work establishing Solidarity Relief camps and holding meetings to discuss an action plan for the relief effort on the ground.

On Saturday October 15 a meeting of the PTUDC and YFIS was held in Kashmir’s devastated city of Rawalakot. One hundred and twelve people, mainly Kashmiri youth attended the meeting. There was hardly anyone present who was not personally affected by the devastation of this calamity. Nealry everyone's house or dwelling was either totally destroyed or badly damaged. Five comrades have been confirmed dead. They were all young aged between 15 and 20 years. The names of the comrades who perished are comrade Attique and Khurshid from Muzzaferabad and Tasawar, Masroor and Rizwan from Bagh. Two female comrades and several male comrades were severely injured. Comrade Mishaal, who was one of the leading female comrades in Kashmir, had both of her legs broken. Just a few weeks ago she had given a fiery revolutionary speech at the mammoth rally of the JKNSF (Marxist) in Hajira, Kashmir.

Another female comrade Rizwana, who was teaching 36 primary school children near Bagh when the roof collapsed, was buried in the debris along with the children for several hours. Most of the children died, and she is in critical condition.

There are still 30 comrades missing in Muzaffarabad and 37 in Bagh. Some comrades at the meeting had lost their near and dear ones. Comrade Mumtaz lost his four infant children along with his father in the disaster. Comrade Jabbar and comrade Abrar’s father was killed in the earthquake. The sister of comrades Rashid Sheikh, Akram, and Abbas perished in the catastrophe. There is a long list of tragedies that have been inflicted upon the comrades by this calamity.

After observing a two-minute silence for the departed comrades, the meeting then moved on to the agenda to draw up an emergency plan of action for the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts launched by the PTUDC.

The first discussion was on how to cope with the chaos due to the collapse of the state institutions and structures. Teams of comrades were set up for different areas, which are in fact, defense committees for the poor victims. The meeting gave great courage and strength to the comrades and instilled a renewed enthusiasm amongst them to fight the repercussions of this tragedy. It was decided that a second similar meeting of the PTUDC would be held in Bagh on Sunday (today) to take similar steps for rescue and relief operations.

The meeting in Rawalakot was held at the central office of the PTUDC, which is slightly damaged but still intact. This office is being used as the headquarters for organizing all the activities and as a relief camp.

The main “Revolutionary Solidarity Camp” of the PTUDC has been set up in the devastated capital of the Pakistan-Controlled Kashmir, Muzzafarabad. Apart from the relief and rescue efforts, there are continous discussion taking place about the causes of this disaster, its political repercussions and the impact of the policies of the ruling class and their rotten system on the causalities and overall devastation. The different committees that have been setup will take these discussions to different neighbourhoods and villages in Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot and Bagh cities and districts. The other main tasks of these committees decided in this meeting, were to ensure that the relief items actually reach the victims who are weak and in shock. Another purpose is to collect information about the whereabouts of the missing comrades, to investigate the villages and shantytowns where urgent aid is needed, to protect aid and materials from looting and the lumpen agents of the bureaucracy and the aristocracy.

A special issue of the paper, Class Struggle has been produced and is being sent to Kashmir. One hundred red flags and PTUDC emblems were requested by the Kashmiri comrades to be put up at the camps. These have already been sent from Rawalpindi. Messages of support from comrades in Denmark, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Austria, the USA, and Britain have also been sent to our comrades in Kashmir. Comrade Alan Woods’ message has been translated and is being read out in these camps and according to telephone conversations the comrades are encouraged, enthused and inspired by these messages of international solidarity and support.

Meanwhile, the preparations for the “Revolutionary Solidarity Caravan” are under way and comrade Manzoor’s press conference has been reported in the mainstream press (please see below). The main problem is transportation and the rottenness of the capitalist psychology and greed. Most trucks have been snatched away by state forces and those available are demanding eight to ten times the normal hiring prices.

We are confident that we will be able to begin the journey of the caravan late Monday night or early this morning and will take a couple of days to deliver the relief goods to the PTUDC camps in Kashmir. Comrades in the rest of Pakistan have set up PTUDC relief camps in Quetta, Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan, Rahimyarkhan, Peshawar, Dadu, Lahore, Kasur, Wah, Taxila, Bhawalpur, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Thatta, Jampur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Kalat, Okara and several other towns from where the reports have yet to be confirmed. Two teams of doctors and medical supplies have already gone to Kashmir from Molten. One team each from Bhawalpur and Hyderabad are on their way.

The morale of the Kashmiri comrades is high and they are fighting this calamity and its repercussions with a revolutionary fervour and determination. The international solidarity campaign has had a tremendous impact on boosting the morale of the comrades and assuring them that THEY ARE NOT ALONE. We received word from London that the financial appeal has been very successful thus far. Over this weekend we received several thousand pounds, all of which will go directly to establish our camps and maintain a steady supply of resources and goods. But this is no time to become complacent, there is still a lot of work to be done, so please keep the donations coming in!

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Hina Zain,

PTUDC Lahore

To see a clipping of the article in the DAWN please click here.
To see a clipping of the article in the Urdu daily Jang please click here.

English translation of the Jang article:

A delegation of Indian Members of Parliment, doctors, and voluteers will reach the Wagha border on Monday morning to join the Solidarity Carvan. MP Manzoor Ahmed told journalists that this delegation is led by Nirmila Deshpanday (Indian MP). Other members of the delegation include A.R Shaheen (M.P from Indian held Kashmir), Yosaf Tarigami (MLA from Indian Held Kashmir), Nivodpal Vashu (MP from West Bengal)and nearly 100 doctors journalists and voluteers. MP Manzoor Ahmed demanded that the Government grant this delegation instant visas.

For more information on how to make a donation please see:
Pakistan earthquake: an appeal for the Kashmiri workers