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 devastated 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
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
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
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.