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Muslims rush relief for quake victims
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Muslims all around the country have come out with full assistance for the quake victims in Gujarat. The deadly quake hit hard the western state of the country on 26 January, the last Republic Day, and caused the death and destruction on an unbelievably high magnitude. More than fifty thousand people are reported to have perished in the quake, the number is just double if one goes by the estimates of the Defence Minister George Fernandes. A number of victims are still believed to be trapped in Bhuj the last district on the Indo-Pak border.

Innumerable Muslim organizations, big and small rushed to the quake hit areas with assistance for the victims of the natural disaster. Muslim organizations from around the country have reached the affected areas. They are still busy in the work of rehabilitation and assistance for the quake victims.

When the stories of discrimination against the minority communities are increasingly coming to the fore, these organizations are working overtime to save the people who are unable to come out of the trauma caused by the death of near and dear ones.

A number of Muslim organizations from Mumbai reached the affected areas immediately in the aftermath of the disaster. Mumbai houses a large number of people from these areas. Gujrati community is among the most prosperous communities of the metropolis. The Muslim community with tags of Patel and Memon are also from these very areas. Kuchi Memon are all from the most affected area namely Kutch. These people were among first non-governmental organizations to reach the affected areas. They worked overtime in areas where the assistance from around the world was hardly visible. Memon Welfare and Education Trust is one such organization which worked selflessly for the victims of the deadly earthquake. They pressed a number of social workers from Mumbai in rescuing the people who were trapped under the debris and distributing relief material.

Kutchi Memon Chotani Jamat is also another organization which started assisting the hapless victims immediately after the earthquake.

It were not the organizations having their roots in the devastated areas alone who were there to assist the victims. A number of other organizations too gave their complete attention to the people who were affected by the fury of nature.

Jamaat-e-Islami was one such organization that put in all its machinery to help out the people affected by the biggest natural disaster of the independent India. They put on use all their machinery in the state and went ahead with their plan to rehabilitate affected people. Jamaat has the largest organizational base in the state among Muslims. It was not the state organization that was made to do everything. Jamaat-e-Islami deputed one of its general secretaries Maulana Abdul Qayyum to organize the relief work and rehabilitation program. Jamaat alone had spent around ten million rupees on the rehabilitation work of the affected people till 10 February. Jamaat has set up a number of centres in areas that were worst hit by the quake. It set up more than hundred centres in Bhuj and Anjar alone, the places worst hit by the quake. By 10 February it was assisting around twenty thousand families through these centres. It had distributed around 0.5 million kg of wheat through these centres. They had distributed around ten thousand blankets and around one thousand tents also.

Jamaat also provided much needed medical assistance through its medical camps to the injured. A number of doctors were sent to the affected areas and they are still camping there.

Rehana Undre, the chairman of Konkan Bank who also runs Royal Educational Society reached there immediately after the earth quake with her volunteers and camped there for several days. She provided assistance to a number of people. She is also organizing neurological camps in Mumbai to help the traumatized people.

Milli Council, a Delhi-based organization was also one of such organizations which reached Gujarat immediately after the earthquake. The council sent a number of doctors and other necessary assistance to help the victims. Their medical team is still camping there. They have distributed more than three thousand blankets and tens of tonnes of other essentials to the victims.

Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) also came out with full support for the victims. They arranged and coordinated their work well. Not only that they reached the people who were affected most but they also coordinated with a number of organizations, and diverted the assistance that would have rotten if not given to people who needed it most. Their teams also coordinated closely with several foreign non-governmental organizations. They provided thirty four truckloads of assistance each carrying around 10 tons of assistance material. They distributed more than one thousand blankets, around one thousand tents, thousands of kilograms of wheat and rice and other essentials. Their medical team treated around ten thousand patients. On seeing their excellent network, a relief team from Hong Kong gave them their fully functional makeshift hospital with operation facilities.

Jamiatul Ulama-e-Hind also sent a number of its workers with financial and other assistance. Maulana Asad Madani and his son along with several volunteers were camping in the affected areas for several days.

Other people also came with great help. In Ahmadabad, the Gujarat capital around hundred youths after deadly quake went to the Municipal Corporation Hospital on 26 January and asked the doctors to take out as much blood from their bodies as was needed. They did not move from the hospital even when the doctors told them that they can not extract more blood from their bodies. These people stayed there for days and gave their blood to every victim.

People in Kashmir were also not far behind when it came to helping other suffering people. JKLF organized a blood donation camp in Srinagar. The front activists donated 100 pints of blood through local hospitals for earthquake victims. Maulana Ahmad Bukhari, imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi, also sent a large quantity of assistance material and blanket and tents for the victims. Shia-Sunni Front has also sent a large number of tents, blankets and other essentials for the victims. 

Excerpts from SIMI's report:

‘When we first arrived two days after the incident, there were people who didn't have food for two days. Kutch has been a rich region with lot of natural and earned wealth. It's all buried. In Anjar we happened to meet a person with flat expressions on his face. We offered him food. After he had his share he said that he didn't have meals since the disaster. He pointed out towards rubble and murmured, "There lies my wife and three children; my hard earned Rs 25 lakhs have been buried. I was ashamed of begging and no one offered me food." He is a gold smith and had a jewelry shop in famous Gold bazar of Anjar.

There came another person to us at our camp in Bhuj. Looking graceful, he couldn't speak. A little while later he started, ‘I am a doctor at the civil hospital (which totally collapsed on the 26th). I don't ask for food, but my children lie in the open. I want a tent if you could provide one.’ All we could do at the time was to hold back our tears, since we had no tent available at the moment. Our workers themselves were lying in the open.

Due to broken bridges we were turned back to Ahmedabad from Viramgam (100 km from Ahmedabad) We could reach Bhuj only on 29th Jan. We broke up our team in to three groups. One to distribute food which we had brought. One to survey the remote areas of Kutch region. And one to guide other relief agencies to needy people. Since people from outside were unloading their relief only in Bhuj and Anjar etc., these areas were soon filled with relief but remote villages could not get their share of relief. Our survey team brought us the suffering of villagers. We had very little stock so we turned to others who were dumping their truckloads in city areas or close to road areas. It worked and soon people realized and handed over their relief to us. And not only that they also guided others to contact us to distribute their relief in proper manner. One of the relief workers from Borsad gave his new Toyota Qualis along with the driver to facilitate our survey and distribution work. Another person from Surat appreciated our style of working and donated us a mobile van, which we turned into a mobile dispensary for medical aid to remote areas. It went further and a group of twenty doctors along with a truckload of medicine and chartered bus joined hand with us.

With better planning and for good results we broke up the doctor's group in to four. One to camp with us and treat local Bhuj people and three others for villages up to Nakthrana, Khawda, Hajipir, Mundra etc.

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