By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan traders whose shops were gutted by fire on Nov. 8, 2016 look helplessly follwing the mishap. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 25: The tragedy of the Tibetan market in Delhi that was destroyed following a fire on Nov. 8 has has gripped the Tibetan community in exile over the last two weeks. On the ground though, the respite for the victims have come more in sympathy and solidarity than in aid, the rudimentary factor that will help things go back to a relative normality for the traders who lost everything in that fire that broke out on Nov. 8.
The Delhi state government has generously sanctioned a package of 1.38 crore INR for the relief aid for the victims; each shop owner handed over a cheque of 1 lakh INR each as of today from the Delhi government’s Disaster Management wing. Sonam Topgyal, the leader of the Tibetan Market told Phayul that the move is greatly appreciated by the people here as it is the heftiest sum of money that the victims have received since the incident. “We see it as a generous and a swift move by the Delhi government in the time of distress for us Tibetans”, Topgyal added.
The Dalai Lama Trust, the private office of the Tibetan leader has also donated a generous sum of 50 Lakh INR for relief aid, the official letter has been handed over to the concerned authorities here in Delhi, Topgyal further revealed.
The exile Tibetan government sanctioned a 15 lakh INR package for the rebuilding of the Tibetan market, the works for which had begun in the last few days. The leader of the market told Phayul, “We have finished setting up the temporary structures using steel sheets. The construction of the shops will be completed in a day or two. But we still have to go and purchase stock on loan and set up the surroundings. I think the market will be ready to resume business in the next ten days.”
Donations came in from NGO’s and private contributors and fund raising concerts took place in Dharamshala and in some areas in North America portraying a unified tone, highlighted especially by a Tibetan woman who gave her gold jewellery to add to the aid fund. The social media circuits in the Tibetan community were also flooded with crowd sourcing platforms and videos of victims crying and calling for help, shared and commented upon by netizens.
Relief committee member Sonam Topgyal told Phayul that the assistance and solidarity that the fellow Tibetans and friends of Tibetans have shown has been unprecedented and drives their resolve to rebuild and redeem their livelihood and their lives, that has been derailed since the mishap.
Yet, even with the Delhi State government aid, the total figure of relief amount collected so far is just over 2 crore INR according to Topgyal. That is just over 15 % of the estimated loss, estimated to be around 12.93 crore INR.
With the demonetization drive in effect, the rebuilding efforts for the victims of the fire ravaged market seem too laden with obstacles even when they are assisted with a modest aid and a chest full of hope.