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J&K: Sonia sends 500 quake-hit kids to Pune

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
December 10, 2005 22:48 IST
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Congress President Sonia Gandhi late Saturday afternoon flagged off 500 children of quake hit areas of north Kashmir for their new home in Pune in Maharasthra where a Non Government Organisation has decided to adopt them.

Pune based Bharatiya Jain Sanghathana has decided to bear all the expenses for the 500 quake affected children. The children left for the NGO's headquarters in Pune in Maharasthra Saturday afternoon.

Most of these children have lost their parents while those of some are crippled for life as all of them lost their home and hearth in the October 8 devastating quake.

Sonia Gandhi, who concluded her two-day long visit to the quake affected areas in Jammu and Kashmir state, interacted with these children before they left for Pune Saturday.

All of them looked happy though none had forgotten the tragedy that devastated their lives. "As the earth shook I was on way to my school. I saw stones rolling down from the slope and within seconds all the houses were destroyed so was my school. I lost my parents in the quake. I am going to make my life and that is why I have decided to go to Pune," said Ashiq Hussain (17).

Sonia was accompanied by the state chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress general secretary, Ambika Soni. She spent the night at the Uri border town with the quake survivors yesterday. Earlier, she went to the Tangdhar town in the north Kashmir Kupwara border district which had suffered massive damage in the temblor.

Locals at Tangdhar told the Congress President that more relief should be provided to them to rebuild their lives. Sonia assured them that everything needed would be done to rehabilitate the quake affected people in their own villages and the authorities had been told to leave no stone unturned in helping the survivors.

Although no media briefing was allowed by the authorities in Srinagar today, Sonia told waiting reporters, that she was "satisfied with the work done by the state government."

"Given the magnitude of the tragedy, no relief would look sufficient, but I am satisfied with what has been done and is being done in these areas. Of course, more needs to be done to help the victims." Sonia returned to New Delhi Saturday evening.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar