Secular, inclusive character of Jammu under stress, say worried civil society members

We have noted with deep concern and reasonable regrets that a pattern of events and responses thereof over past few years appear to be posing challenge to what identifies Jammu -a diverse, accommodative, tolerant and culturally rich region. It is being increasingly seen in the backdrop of every challenging event or circumstance some questions of the nature of “us” and “them” are often raised.

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Former top cop Dr Masud Chaudhary and other members of the civil society addressing a press conference in Jammu on Thursday
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The Jammu Civil Society for Peace and Brotherhood, an organisation which has come up in response to incidents happening in backdrop of Pulwama carnage, has said that the challenge by fringe elements to secular and inclusive character of Jammu needs to be thwarted in time.

Prominent faces from different walks of life, including former top cop and BGSB University Vice Chancellor Masud Chaudhary, former Advocate General Aslam Goni, former Judge Harbans Lal and former member of the PSC Roop Lal Bharti were among over a dozen concerned citizens who addressed a press conference in Jammu on Thursday.

The members of Jammu Civil Society for Peace and Brotherhood, said “while the Pulwama carnage of 14 February left each one of us deeply anguished and hurt but the developments in the aftermath also inspired us to a raise collective voice of anger and strong condemnation.

The unfortunate Pulwama incident triggered a nationwide, rather a worldwide, chain of response at all levels. In this backdrop, the members said, “the Jammu Civil Society for Peace and Brotherhood has come into being to prevent the collateral damages to the society that incidents of terrorism inflict. We must not lose sight of the fact that the real intent of such incidents is to pose challenge to social, political and economic environments in its aftermath. Those acting irrationally in reaction to such incidents eventually play in the hands of anti-national and anti-social elements.

The members further said that they understood that Jammu and Kashmir state has constantly been in challenging political situation for decades where number of external and internal factors pose serious challenge to peace and brotherhood. In view of such a scenario, said the members, “it is imperative upon responsible members of the society to not only watch the situation but also intervene to ensure that peace, trust and social brotherhood is not breached at any cost. While as the bigger challenges facing the state are being dealt with at various levels and with multi-pronged approaches including political, economic and security measures at national and the state level, but it is very important for the civil society to play its essential role at social level. Our state is a unique microcosm of regional and cultural identities among which Jammu region holds a status which offers pride to its residents.

Jammu region, a certain reflection of our national pride of unity in diversity, is uniquely diverse in every aspect. In terms of challenging political environment of our state, Jammu region may have been diverse in terms of its electoral choices but the region has always represented homogenous political ideology. Casting any aspersion on the issues of national integrity and sovereignty has never been a tradition in Jammu even in worst and trying political circumstances. On all major issues of national interest, the consensus in Jammu has always stood high and exemplary. Having said this, it is also very important to keep on examining whether these ethos have percolated down to our younger generations? It is also equally important to investigate if there is any complacency in yielding space to elements potentially inimical to peace and the traditional social brotherhood in Jammu.

We have noted with deep concern and reasonable regrets that a pattern of events and responses thereof over past few years appear to be posing challenge to what identifies Jammu -a diverse, accommodative, tolerant and culturally rich region. It is being increasingly seen in the backdrop of every challenging event or circumstance some questions of the nature of “us” and “them” are often raised. To our collective thinking, this has never been the culture of Jammu. So the critical question before us is to ask ourselves whether there is disconnect between Jammu’s original thought process and the today’s social media consumed younger generation or have we left spaces for the external elements to cause unrest among us? This is a question for everyone who takes pride in the identity of historical Jammu.

Most recently, it has been seen in the backdrop of Pulwama incident, that certain fringe elements embarked on a ruthless attack in particular areas and upon particular sections of society. While one could give such elements benefit of doubt for no sense of differentiation between good and bad, the response of administration left a lot to be desired. This incident is also clarion call for enhancing understanding between sub-regions and communities so as to avoid further manufacturing of enemies.

The Jammu Civil Society for Peace and Brotherhood, which has come into being with a sense of urgency, seeks to expand its dialogue across the region and communities for wider understanding of our collective challenges and their solutions. One of the key purposes of this media interaction, the members said, is also to send a message across the region that we will soon be reaching out to all diverse sections of the society for their participation in this initiative of peace, brotherhood and mutually respected coexistence.

According to Society’s Convener Shah Mohammad Chowdhary, advocate,  besides Dr Chaudhary, founder Vice Chancellor, BGSB University, Ex-ADGP J&K Police and patron-in-chief Gurjardesh Charitable Trust and Aslam Goni and other members of the society are Major General (Retd) RS Jamwal, S Gurmukh Singh, M.R. Qureshi, Advocate and former MLC, Roop Lal Bharti, former member PSC, Harbans Lal, ex Sessions Judge, Mohammad Aslam Qureshi, former IAS, J&K, BR Dogra, ex Chief Engineer, Saleem Mohammad, former IAS, J&K, Khalid Hussain, former Deputy Commissioner, renowned writer,  G.A. Khwaja, former Deputy Commissioner, Abdul Hamid Choudhary, Chairman Gurjardesh Trust, Suhail Kazmi, senior journalist, J.A. Kazmi, Advocate, social activist, Prof Assadullah Wani, renowned educationist and Hussain Mohammad, renowned educationist besides others.

 

 

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