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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

The Core Issue: How Do We Live?

The intensity, the loss are colossal. Can Srinagar cope with this scale of relief? Updates

The Core Issue: How Do We Live?
The Core Issue: How Do We Live?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
In Uri—laid out like a freezing, open-air morgue—they are saying this to stave off terminal depression: that, across the LoC, destruction came on a magnitude so extreme that Allah seemed to have been more munificent on the Indian side. Cold, even perverse comfort. But, as survivors and relief workers endlessly pile up the corpses, hunt under the debris in some remote hope of finding signs of life, even this relative sense of escape offers a straw to clutch at. For, the truth is, five days after the earthquake struck at 9.20 am last Saturday, they are still contemplating the rubble of a collapsed universe.

At last count, the toll in the border towns of Uri, Tanghdar and the villages adjoining them stood at 1,195. The roster of the dead can only swell—leave alone survivors under the debris, early onset of snowfall has exposed even the living destitute to the crippling cold. But a traumatised people are slowly picking up the pieces. Help, initially available only in pockets where the army has a presence or could access, is now picking up as the civil administration shakes off its state of paralysis.

And yet the stories and images emerging are heart-rending, enough to break even the most benumbed onlooker: fathers with children draped in white shrouds, families gazing at a pile of rubbish that was once home, the very young orphaned in the first flush of life. A sombre air pervades the Valley, even a long familiarity with tragedy has not braced it for this. In districts like Kupwara and Baramulla, the stench of death is everywhere. Entire villages—like Jabla—were flattened by the 7.6 Richter quake, and thousands have been thrown out to cope with the elements. Those who survived the fury in Uri have horrifying tales to narrate. "Villages on the hilltop were completely wiped out. People were buried along with the animals. We are the only two...
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