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Published in the 16-31 Jan 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslims help tsunami victims

New Delhi: Muslim social and religious organisations and individuals all over the country expressed grief and anguish over death and destruction caused by tsunami that struck the coastal areas of South Asian countries India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh on December 26 leaving approximately 0.15 million people dead. Muslim organisations, institutions and individuals are actively working side by side with other national and international agencies for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims. Masjids and dargahs have opened their doors sheltering and helping victims. 

The affected states in India are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Kerala, Pondichery and Orissa. Over ten thousand people have been killed in these states and there was still no trace of another six thousand people who might be dead by now. 

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind general secretary Mohammad Jafar has appealed for liberal help to the victims. The state units of the Jamaat in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are engaged in relief and rehabilitation work.

All India Milli Council general secretary, Dr Manzoor Alam, said that a three-member committee comprising the council’s vice president Mufti Ashraf Ali, Abdur Raheem Qureshi and J Inayatullah has been set up for coordinating relief and rehabilitation work. The committee will function under the overall supervision of the council’s president Ibrahim Sulaiman Sait.

Jamiatul Ulama-e-Hind president Maulana Asad Madni expressed sorrow over the loss of life and property and made an appeal to people to render all possible help to the victims without any consideration of religion, caste and creed.

The Ameer of Amarat-e-Sharia of Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand, Maulana Syed Nizamuddin, has sent a team to Chennai to take stock of the situation to start relief work. Darul Uloom, Deoband, Markazi Jamaat-e Ahl-e Hadith, All India Tanzeemul Muslmeen among others have made appeals to the people to help the victims. 

There are individuals like Rahmatullah, and Mohammed Yunus who are working overtime to help and rehabilitate the victims. They are the members of a local organisation United Islamic Jamaat in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. In Cuddalore the second hardest-hit town in the state, the Jamaat and a masjid have become rallying points for thousands of fishermen almost all of them are Hindus and Christians.

When tsunami struck Pudukuppam, Samayarpettah, Chinoor and other villages along the Cuddalore coast in the morning of December 26, Yunus summoned his flock. Within half an hour, his men had left their shops and homes for the beaches in their vans, cars, two-wheelers and cycles to ferry the injured to hospitals 

By noon the Jamaat arranged milk for a few hundred babies and food for over 3000 survivors. By evening, about 3,000 Muslim men were tending to over 10,000 Hindus and Christians in makeshift camps in the local schools. Some of them stayed in a masjid and many others in the Jamaat’s office.

The Jamaat employed 24 cooks who worked round the clock to feed about 9,000-odd survivors. The administration provided rice and milk and the Jamaat bought vegetables and other things. Its members carried dead bodies and cremated them. Yunus said that they were trying to make sure that Hindus were cremated and Christians buried.

Younus has not slept well after the tragedy struck. He had been running around the five villages guiding his men, looking after the survivors. He said that none of his 3,000 men would stop relief work until the survivours are back on their feet. "We will continue to raise money to feed them for as long as they need. They are welcome to be with us as long as they want," added Yunus.

Muslims of Parangi Pathai, a town in Cuddalore, took immediate steps for helping tsunami victims and made arrangements for accommodating them in mosques, community halls and by mutual contributions opened a mess for arranging meals for the victims. S. Krishnan, one of the refugees in a community hall said that they have been living harmoniously with Muslims but now the love and help of Muslims at such a critical time have won their hearts. Rajesh Dogar, a businessman, said that it was not surprising that Muslims were helping Hindus because both the communities have been living peacefully in these areas since long.

People in Parangi Pathai said that even after the tragic events like Gujarat carnage and Babri Masjid demolition the place remained peaceful and Muslims saved the properties of Hindus.

A dargah in Nagapattinam, Nagore, opened its door for the living as well as dead. On December 26 Christians and Muslims gathered at the 440-year-old dargah, seeking shelter. The dargah allowed anyone willing to perform the last rites of those killed. Nearly 10,000 refugees from Nagapatinam, Chikeeripalli and other hamlets stayed at the dargah. During the first two days the dargah was overflowing. People started leaving the dargah but they returned when the government sounded tsunami alert on December 28.

The dargah started a kitchen to feed refugees for the first two days, but later the local tehsildar office started sending supplies.

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