AMRITSAR: Peaceniks including journalists, intellectuals and members of various organizations on Sunday vowed to continue struggle for ensuring peace and friendship between Indian and Pakistan during 27th Hind-Pak Dosti Mela (India-Pakistan Friendship Festival) held in Amritsar city and Attari-Wagah border on 75th anniversary of the partition of Indian subcontinent.
On day time of the festival organized by Hind-Pak Dosti Manch in collaboration with Folklore Research Academy, South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy and other like minded organizations, a seminar was held at Punjab Natshala here on ‘Current Situation of Indo-Pak Ties’.
Valuable thoughts were shared by former Indian diplomat Navdeep Singh Suri and former diplomat and central leader of Congress Mani Shankar Aiyar, besides various intellectuals, former diplomats, journalists, authors and farmer leaders from various parts of the country, on the occasion.
Suri, who was the main speaker, said, “Encouraging and patronizing communal forces in the country is not in the interests of the country. Once communal fire erupts, it is very difficult to douse it. If the government does not contain these forces, the country would face another partition”. He also referred to the novels authored by his grandfather and legendary Punjabi novelist late Nanak Singh on the partition while listing dire consequences of communalism.
Batting for good India-Pakistan ties, he said, “If India can improve relations with East Pakistan which is Bangladesh now, why not it is taking similar steps in case of West Pakistan?”
Raising the concerns of the minorities of India, Aiyar said, “The Minorities of the country must be protected by the government. By suppressing their rights, the government cannot take the country to forward”.
“Untill India and Pakistan do not go for dialogue to peacefully resolve Kashmir and other issues, abnormal ties between both the countries will persist”, said he.
Hind-Pak Dosti Manch General Secretary Satnam Singh Manak said while addressing that the aim of organizing this event was to disseminate a message to South Asian nations that the well -being and progress of this region lies in love and friendship among them. “All these nations should learn a lesson from the 1947 partition and make efforts to ensure warm ties with each other”, he added.
Manak also remembered legendary journalist Kuldeep Nayar who founded Hind-Pak Dosti Manch and took the initiative of organizing the event at Attari-Wagah border to promote peace and love between both the countries.
While addressing Punjab Cabinet Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal stressed upon opening of trans-border agro trade stating that it will open doors of prosperity in India and Pakistan. He also advocated stronger federal structure in the country.
The seminar was also addressed by BJP leader Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina, Folklore Research Academy president Ramesh Yadav, farmer leader Dr. Darshan Pal, Punjabi thinker Dr. Sukhdev Singh Sirsa and Prof. Jagmohan Singh, Prof Kuldeep Singh.
In the declaration released on the occasion, the peaceniks saluted all those martyrs who laid their lives and had gone through torture in the jails to secure independence for from British imperialism. They also paid tribute to nearly 10 lakh people who lost their lives at the time of partition of the Indian subcontinent in communal violence.
Raising certain demands in the declaration, they said, “The people, who had to migrate from one side to the other due to the partition leaving behind their home and hearth, should be given an opportunity to see their old homes, villages and cities by the governments of both the countries. “Many of those have already left for heavenly abode and few are surviving. On a humanitarian ground, these people should be granted visas easily to enable them to go across borders in order to reduce their pain and sufferings, which they had to suffer during the time of partition”, reads it.
They asked the governments of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to resolve their bilateral issues peacefully through dialogue and said that extremist and terrorist outfits should not be given any support. They reiterated that the Attari-Wagah border should be reopened for trade and travel of the people.
Liberal approach was sought in granting visas to the peaceniks including journalists, intellectuals, artists and other activists, who are working for peace between India and Pakistan, so that they can go across the border without any hassle.
They disagreed with the “harsher” laws of transport through Kartarpur corridor, due to which most of the people are unable to go to the last resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak and pay obeisance there. “We demand that instead of the condition of passport, other documents of identification should also be allowed so as to enable a person to visit Sri Kartarpur Sahib. India should raise this issue with Pakistan”, they asserted.
The chief guests of the seminar also unveiled Folklore Research Academy annual souvenir ‘Panj Pani’, eminent Punjabi poet Gurbhajan Gill’s book ‘Khair Panjan Panian Di’ and OP Shah’s English book ‘In Pursuit of Peace Improving Indo-Pak Relations’.
After this seminar, a cultural programme in the form of Sufi Sham was organized to promote a sense of Punjabiat and promote friendship between two neighbouring countries. Sufi singers Yakoob and Anadi Mishra performed their songs.
Pertinently, peaceniks of both the countries gathered on both sides of the zero line on Attari-Wagah joint check post at mid night and they organized candle vigil to disseminate a message of love and peace between both the countries and pay a rich tribute to 10 lakh people killed during partition. Notably, peaceniks of India got the nod of organizing the vigil on the border at the eleventh hour from the Government of India (GOI).