IMC-USA urges Indian Govt & NGOs to increase relief efforts; Urges US to grant temporary amnesty to undocumented Indians from Jammu & Kashmir.
October 23, 2005
Indian Muslim Council-USA, an advocacy group dedicated to the promotion of pluralism in India and the US, expressed alarm at the lack of a robust response from the Indian government and the prominent Indian and Non Resident Indian (NRI) NGOs to the earthquake that has devastated large parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmiris have been protesting the less than satisfactory relief efforts of the Indian government as well as the double standards shown by the business community and the high-profile NGOs.
Media reports have quoted Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s reference to the massive relief efforts of the private sector and NGOs after the earthquake in Gujarat a few years ago, "It is sad that people have not responded to this great tragedy. This was not expected. When Latur and Bhuj were ravaged, big industrialists stepped forward to help. But no one seems to be coming to our aid."
Khaleej Times has reported from the French news agency, AFP, that villagers in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday blocked roads with burning tires, halting relief trucks to protest a lack of supplies to several remote villages more than a week after a devastating earthquake.
According to the newspaper, residents poured onto the main highway at various places in northern Tangdar sector, one of the two worst hit districts of Indian Kashmir, witnesses said.
"We are worried that this lack of compassion by Indian and NRI relief and professional organizations will further alienate Kashmiris who are feeling abandoned," said Rasheed Ahmed, the vice president of IMC-USA. "The last time we checked, AAPI and AAHOA websites were silent about the Kashmir earthquake just as they were when thousands of Indians were killed and maimed in the anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat three years ago," said Ahmed, referring to the physician and hotel owners associations of Indian-Americans. He added, “The army has done a good job of providing relief but the Indian government’s efforts in providing prompt and life-saving relief especially in remote areas have not been up to the mark."
In a letter to the Prime Minister of India, Ahmed urged the Indian government to undertake the following steps:
In the short term: Every affected family must be provided with a winter tent, winter clothing, water, food and medicine.
In the mid term: Army barracks and government buildings should be used for housing and for temporary schools.
In the long term: The villages should be rebuilt in full compliance with anti-earthquake building codes.
Ahmed thanked IMC-USA volunteers for their involvement in the relief efforts through US-based relief organizations and lauded the efforts of many secular groups in providing relief. He urged the IMC-USA members to work with their pluralist allies in Coalition to Build a Better India (CBBI) to raise awareness about the urgency of providing relief to the thousands of survivors in Jammu and Kashmir who face death and disease because of starvation and the bitter Himalayan cold.
In an action alert, IMC-USA has urged all people of conscience to donate generously to the relief organizations and to contact the US policy makers and the administration to be generous and prompt in providing relief including transportation helicopters and heavy cranes. IMC-USA asked its supporters to contact the US law makers to try to obtain temporary amnesty for the Indians from Jammu and Kashmir who are not yet legal residents of the US so that they may be able to visit their devastated relatives.
IMC-USA action alert to save lives
BBC coverage of insufficient relief aid in Jammu and Kashmir:
Quake-hit villagers protest relief efforts in Indian Kashmir
Where are the NGOs
Is India Inc suffering from compassion fatigue?
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