JAMMU, Jan 8: Maintaining that Jammu can take lead in settling Kashmir and other issues pending for decades together, Lt General (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain, a veteran security expert and visiting Fellow Vivekananda Foundation today made a fervent appeal to people of Jammu to come forward and play their role in settling the vexed issue internally.
Addressing a function jointly organized by All Party Migrant Camp Coordination Committee (APMCC) and Gangbal Trust in connection with giving away of Fourth Annual Gangbal Awards at Abhinav Theatre here today, he said “if we want to resolve Kashmir and maintain peace that is not possible until and unless Jammu raises its voice”.
He asserted that if any one has best understanding of Kashmir issue and the best knowledge about it in all over India that is Jammu and till Jammu will not come ahead and take the lead the situation will not change.
Lauding the role of Kashmiri Pandits and their culture, the former Army Lt. General who had also served as GoC Srinagar Corps, said that restoration of peace is not possible without the Pandits in Valley. He said “I am interested in Kashmiri Pandits culture as I am a great believer of tolerance and pluralism and my presence in today’s function is also to protect and preserve the pluralism and tolerance”, he added.
Lt Gen Hasnain said that he had visited the holy cave of Amarnath JI eight times and bowed before Lord Shiva there. “Besides, I have also visited the holy shrine of Gangbal four times”, he added.
Referring to holy Shrine of Goddess Sharda which is in PoK, he said, “during his tenure in Kashmir he visited above the border area various times in the copter and saw the holy shrine from sky. But at that time, he was not knowing that it was the Sharda Shrine”.
While strongly advocating that Hindus of J&K be allowed to visit the holy shrine, he said the best and nearest route to shrine is via Kupwara, Tangdar and Teetwal in Kupwara district of Kashmir and not via Uri in Baramulla district of North Kashmir as demanded by some one in the gathering.
Lt Gen Hasnain said that people in PoK have also formed Sharda Committee and people of J&K should also form such a Committee for preservation of this shrine so that an interaction is held and people from this side can go and pray at the holy shrine.
Making it clear that he has no political link with APMCC, the veteran security expert said that he is only offering support to them in accomplishing their goal.
Hasnain said, he is so obsessed with Kashmiri Pandits that when Vessu camp in Anantnag district of South Kashmir was established some years back for the migrant KP employees to meet them, he was denied permission. But later without seeking permission from any body he visited the camp and interacted with the camp inmates there.
Earlier addressing the gathering, shrine BJP MLC Surinder Ambardar also said that Kupwara was nearest route to Sharda shrine and stressed on launching a campaign at global level by KPs for pilgrimage to holy shrine.
He said it was the responsibility of the community to counter Pakistan sponsored terrorism internationally and the community played a great role in this regard. He also made it clear that pace can’t be restored in Valley without the return of Pandits. He said the decision of holding talks with Pakistan should be reviewed in view of its role.
He assured the gathering that BJP is committed to protect the shrines and temples.
On the occasion, a proposed Shrines Bill was also released by the APMCCC and its spokesman King C Bharti said that the Bill is the replica of official bill which was tabled in the Assembly last time with some amendments in it.
In his address, Vinod Pandita demanded that KPs and Dogras of Jammu be given permission to visit Sharda shrine on the same pattern as members of Sikh Community are allowed to visit holy shrine of Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. He said why there are two standards in this regard.
Pandita also reminded the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi his promise made with the APMCC when Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat over five years back and his organization sat on fast unto death in Gujarat demanding settlement of Pandits issue. He said Modi had given assurance to him when he broke the fast that after BJP Government comes to power it will settle all six demands of the APMCC.
Addressing the function Minister for Industries and Commerce, Chander Parkash Ganga said that Government is committed for the welfare and prosperity of the Kashmiri Pandit community.
The Minister said that Kashmiri Migrant Pandit community is a vital component of the society here and Jammu and Kashmir Government is committed to their welfare. He said that the Government would make sure to involve Kashmiri Pandit Community in formulating welfare measures for the community. He further said that the culture Kashmiri Pandits carry along is part of the larger picture of the State’s history and its preservation is priority for the current dispensation.
Responding to the demands by the community regarding the renovation and preservation of the holy places, the Minister said that Government is mulling to revamp these sites for the devotees.
The Minister lauded All Parties Migrants Co-ordination Committee (APMCC) and Harmukh Ganga (Gangbal) Trust (HGGT) who organized the jam-packed function. The programme was organized to felicitate prominent personalities of Kashmiri Pandit community and organizations to recognize their contribution to community, society and nation.
Minister of State for Education and Culture Priya Sethi also assured every sort of support to Pandits and said the doors of her office are always open for them. She said she was pained greatly to see their plight and sufferings and said their sufferings is result of decades old persecution. She said she will take up the seven point agenda of the APMCC in the party for resolution.
Ramesh Arora MLC, Hollywood celebrity Preeti Saproo, BJP vice president Yudhvir Sethi, Laxmi Kaul , Founder and Executive Member Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society, London, Swami Kumar Ji were among the other dignitaries.
The welcome address was read by Anil Kandroo while the programme was compared by Kusum Tickoo a well known artist and Kamal Peshin a theatre expert.
On the occasion, three KP martyrs were awarded posthumously. Besides, some journalists and prominent members of the community who have done remarkable work in different fields were also presented Fourth Gangbal Awards.