Kashmir observes “International Day of Peace”

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Students vent out their frustrations of living in conflict zone 

SRINAGAR: Hundreds of students from various schools of Kashmir Monday participated in a daylong event to mark the International Day of Peace at “Samad Island of Peace”—a stretch of land in the heart of the world famous Dal Lake, barely a 15-minute boat ride from the adjacent Nigeen lake.

Some 120 cities from around the world are members of International Cities of Peace™ —a nonprofit association based in the United States dedicated to connecting, promoting, and encouraging the global cities of peace movement.

The convener of the event, Bashir Ahmad who is the Executive Director of the “Kashmir Peace Network—a member of the Association, said Kashmiris have unnecessarily been dragged into a vicious circle of violence where the craving of peace among the populace is felt like never before. “We’re being portrayed as violent people who know nothing but hurling stones when actually we’re the most peace-loving folks in the world,” Ahmad said. “The government of India uses stone-pelting as tool to malign Kashmiri people worldwide and undermine their genuine need to live in peace and dignity.”

“Today’s initiative which is a part of over one billion people participating worldwide, highlights the pain and plight Kashmiris and the necessity to do away with the apprehensions that peace can’t return to Kashmir with non-violent and internationally-accepted norms,” Ahmad said.

Scores of children talked about about the importance of peace in their daily lives giving emotional speeches much to the appreciation of the audience.

Eminent satirist, poet and historian, Zareef Ahmad Zareef while lauding the younger generation of the awareness with regard to their rights said: “I’m happy our generation next knows what it stands for. It, however, pains me a lot to see them talking about Peace when their minds should have been tucked with scientific and literary thoughts.”

“There’s nothing more tragic for a nation to arrive at a point where a man from an arid part of India wearing a khaki would stop me right at my bridge to ask me who I am,” Zareef scorned. “I’d request all mothers to initiate a culture where our own mother tongue is used in the homes.”

“A nation that loses its language would soon be annihilated,” Zareef warned.

Many students in their speeches highlighted the importance of taking Kashmir to the negotiating table where India, Pakistan and Kashmiris would discuss ending the simmering conflict that consumes precious lives day in and day out. “India and Pakistan, in an utter disregard to the international law, have gobbled parts of Kashmir and thrown its peace-loving people into an abyss,” Sara Soharvardi, a student from the Iqbal Memorial School, Bemina, said. “We’re so precariously perched at a crossway where India neither owns nor disowns us.”  

The Executive Director Ahmad who joyfully hopped on the tunes of a song played in the background from a mobile phone, didn’t feel the need to invite various stakeholders—representatives from the state government or the separatists—to the event. “Ours is a non-governmental organization and we’ve nothing to do with the political aspect of it,” he said. “Our main aim is to spread the awareness with regard to the importance of peace to be achieved through non-violent ways.”

He dodged the question as to what his previous events achieved with regard to the realization of peace in Kashmir and prospectus of this day’s event.

Student Voices:

Mehak, Al-Mustafa School, Sopore

I don’t know why India and Pakistan are fighting. All I need is peace.

Arusa, Firdaus Educational Institute , Srinagar

Peace is more precious even more precious than all the diamonds of the world. The government should initiate steps to ensure we lived in peace and dignity.

Kafeel, Firdaus Educational Institute, Srinagar

The Heaven on Earth is bleeding from all corners since decades now. Let’s pledge to invest ourselves in peace.

Tahseen Munir, MTM Foundation, Srinagar

Kashmiri people have lost faith in violence. Give peace a chance.

Asif Khan, MTM Foundation, Srinagar

Why was an innocent toddler killed in Sopore? He wasn’t even acquainted with his own religion. Is this the place we live in? History is in our own hands, let’s rewrite it.

Shafaq Khan, IMI, Bemina, Srinagar

Today is the day of peace. Let’s spread it to other days. Kashmir is like a coin whose faces represent Heaven and Hell – Heaven made by God and Hell by man. Let the exploitation of Kashmir from all external sources come to an end.

Sara Soharvardi, IMI, Bemina, Srinagar

Peace in Kashmir was disturbed the day India was portioned on communal lines. India and Pakistan, in an utter disregard to the international law, have gobbled parts of Kashmir and thrown its peace-loving people into an abyss. We’re so precariously perched at a crossway where India neither owns nor disowns us. India has imposed inhuman laws in the form of AFSPA which does nothing but “Give the dog a bad name and kill it.”

A stone can hurt and cause you to bleed but don’t they understand a bullet pieces through our chests.

Zohra Ismail, Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Srinagar

There’s no peace left in Kashmir

Nabeel, Ex Student, Burn Hall Higher Secondary School, Srinagar

We can’t reach to a negotiation table to discuss peace until we’ve pulled out a child working in a restaurant or saved a mother from begging.

Iqra, Shaheen Public School, Srinagar

We must hail those personalities—Gandhi, Malala Yousuf Zai etc who invested in peace and reaped the dividends.

Mehnaz Fatima, Imamiya High School, Srinagar

The basic foundation of peace is to respect the differences that exist among us inherently. We’re told to hate Jews, Christians etc but these are outdated beliefs and must not cling to.

Rahat, IMI, Bemina, Srinagar

I’m being punished for the crime I didn’t commit in the first place. What can I say of a place where a gun is pointed at my head by a non-native to prove that I belong to Kashmir?  When in the rest of India, boys and girls are discussing whose voices are sweeter—Rafi or Kishore, Kashmiri youth are differentiating between the sounds of Kalashinkos and Machine Guns.

Ayman, IMI, Bemina, Srinagar

The extent of damage that Kashmir has been subjected to seems irrevocable that can’t be undone in centuries together. We’ve studied t earn a living but not the art of living.

Kehkashan, Government High School, Baramulla

Man is the only creature who first disrupts peace and the raises the slogans of peace. The world as such that the selfishness is being discussed but not the cure of it.

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