The statement given by Yann Gavillot, a Geo-Scientist from the Oregon State University of USA about an impending earthquake of 8 or more on the Richter scale in Jammu & Kashmir has sent a wave of panic among the people. According to Gavillot, the Reasi fault in J & K has been building up stress for thousands of years and is due for sliding to release the stress. Additionally, the construction of power projects in the Chenab valley creating large bodies of water must also be putting some pressure underneath. There have been some earthquakes, even though smaller in intensity, in the Chenab valley. A similar sliding had occurred in the Balakot fault in Muzaffrabad area of Pak Administered Kashmir in 2005 which resulted in more than 80,000 casualties. Gavillot estimates more than a million casualties due to Resai fault sliding as there are several towns in this area. He has further emphasized that the question is not whether this will happen or not but only when it will happen? Such a disaster would be truly a mother of all disasters the state has faced in the living memory!
Geologically, the Valley of Kashmir itself is a tectonic creation. Koh-i-Sulaiman or the Shankaracharya hill and Hariparbat are supposed to be dormant volcanos. As the legend goes, Kashmir Valley was once a huge lake called Satisar and Kashyap Rishi, the Sage, after long meditation was able to kill the demon Jalodhbhava at Uri which released the waters. The result was Kashmir Valley with Jhelum flowing through its middle. Again the release of waters must have been a tectonic movement which removed the blockade at the Uri gorge. It is certain that the Valley was a huge lake. This is confirmed by the Karewas all-round the valley. These are the sedimentary clay formations in layers.
Earthquakes have been occurring in Kashmir off and on as it is situated in the most susceptible earthquake zone in the Himalayas. However, there is no history of such a strong earthquake having occurred in the past. Many scientists have been predicting some strong earthquakes in the Himalayan region. It is stated to be because of the collision of the continental plates in Earth’s crust. The Indian plate is thrusting into the Eurasian plate. The Himalayas are supposed to be a creation of this collision. Even though scientists are able to give various hypotheses yet no one has been able to predict earthquakes with some definite accuracy.
In the earlier times, Kashmir has faced many disasters like floods, famines, plagues and sometimes earthquakes. There have also been many political upheavals. Many migrations of Kashmiris have taken place in the past because of these natural as well as manmade disasters. It is said that at one time only eleven households were left in Kashmir! But then we grew back again due to our resilience and the incredible capacity for survival.
Apart from a scientific explanation of some of the disasters, there is a spiritual view also. Kashmir is known as the valley of the saints because of many pious personalities who have been meditating and praying here. The Rishi or Sufi culture of Kashmir has been hailed by all as the true humanism. Some people opine that the natural disasters are a divine retribution for our misdeeds. It is a fact that the last 70 years or so have seen a total change in Kashmiri character. People have become totally materialistic and greedy. Immorality and waywardness is gone haywire! Religion has been reduced to symbols and rituals. Faith is missing! The last flood which virtually destroyed parts of Srinagar too was opined to be a divine retribution by some religious men. It was said that this time God had taken our possessions only but next time He will take our lives also unless we mend our ways! The Holy Quran describes the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities of sin. Prophet Lot was sent to them as a messenger to warn the people against the sinful lives they were pursuing. However, they did not mend their ways and God destroyed these cities.
Well, both from the scientific world and the Spiritual World there are warnings of an impending disaster. When will it strike? God alone has the knowledge. Kashmir’s political problem has been plaguing not only the sub-continent but entire South Asia for almost 70 years now. One of the reasons for the prolongation of the problem has been the deviant behaviourof the people inhabiting the land. God Almighty may finally resort to the ultimate solution for ending the problem once and for all unless we mend our ways soon!