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Fight terror with knowledge, not guns, Amit Shah tells J&K student

Amit Shah interacted with orphaned Kashmiri youth on Sunday at an event organised by Sarhad foundation in Pune

“I want to join the Police or security forces to take revenge for the killing of my 15 family members by terrorists,” Joginder Singh, a student from Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district told Union Home Minister Amit Shah who was holding an interaction with Kashmiri students at Sanjay Nahar’s Sarhad foundation in Pune on Sunday evening.

“Pursue your studies diligently. Knowledge, not killing, is the best revenge against terror,” Shah counselled Joginder, who has just completed his Masters in Commerce from the University of Pune. Fifteen of Joginder’s family members were massacred by terrorists at village Lehota, in the mountainous Doda district on the night of 19 July 1999 when he was barely four years old.


Joginder’s father, uncles and cousins were part of a Village Defence Committee (VDC) constituted to defend the villagers with .303 rifles against any attacks from terrorists. Those gunned down by the heavily armed terrorists included Joginder’s father, mother, two minor brothers, two uncles and grandmother.

Of the 20 persons in the house that night, only five, including Joginder’s two sisters and an older brother, survived. After the tragedy, Joginder went to the SOS Children’s Village in Jammu, where he shared camaraderie and painful memories with other orphaned children from the zone of strife. In 2012, then Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who also hails from Doda, recommended Joginder to Pune-based non-profit Sarhad which has been sponsoring education of children from families of terror victims.


On Nahar’s initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office in 2018 forwarded Joginder’s representation for a government job to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary which vanished somewhere in the corridors of bureaucracy.

Apparently fatigued after meeting a host of his commitments in Pune, Shah was remarkably delighted by his interaction with the Kashmiri students, mostly alumni from Sarhad and other schools and colleges in Maharashtra. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, State Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil and Sarhad’s Founder-President Sanjay Nahar were present.

A pleasant surprise came to all in some Marathi and Hindi numbers by a Sarhad alumnus, Shameema Akhtar, who is a resident of a far-flung hamlet in northern Kashmir’s Bandipora district. Akhtar, who has finished her Sangeet Visharad and is now associated with Sarhad’s larger music project, has grown famous with her songs in Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Hindi, Dogri and her mother tongue, Kashmiri.

Akhtar recited ‘Pasaydan’ written by Sant Dnyaneshwar while Ruqaya Maqbool chanted the ‘Navkar Mantra.’ The Union Home Minister appreciated that the young Kashmiri singer pursued Indian classical music in Pune and gave a message of universal peace and brotherhood, which was the need of the country at present. He expressed happiness that it had begun from Kashmir and Sarhad Pune.

Shah asked Akhtar if she knew the meaning of the song she had sung. As she said it was a song for peace, Shah quipped: “Haan, yeh shanti ka mantra hai”.  He sounded relaxed and said that his day in Pune had ended up in solace. “I felt happy and my stress vanished when I saw the smiling faces of these children, who have suffered a lot”, Shah said. He mingled with the Kashmiri children and youths and answered their questions delightfully.

Akhtar brought to the Home Minister’s notice that there was not a single house in the valley, where gunshots were not heard. She insisted that the people of Kashmir wanted peace. “I assure you the dream of young Kashmiris like you will be fulfilled. Our government is working on a massive scale to establish schools, colleges in Kashmir for a bright future for children there”, Shah assured the young singing sensation.

“On one hand, the army and the police are doing their work while on the other hand the NGOs like Sarhad are bringing people together and working hard to establish peace and harmony in the valley, which is laudable. The government will encourage such efforts in the future also,” Shah asserted. “Though the children from Kashmir are studying in other states today, there will be a time when children from other states will go to Kashmir to study. The government is working to build such an atmosphere there.”

Adil Malik, a former student supported by Sarhad Sarhad, told Shah that the Kashmiri youths had a great potential of positive production if they got an opportunity.

Sharing his experiences from Kashmir, Sanjay Nahar said, “Jammu and Kashmir has suffered a lot in the past. There is no other state in India, which has gone through so much pain and grief. The young generations want to live in safety and security. These children feel grateful for what Maharashtra,  particularly Pune, has done for them.”

Shah lauded the efforts made by Sarhad such as establishing the world’s largest Book Village in Aragam Bandipora, Lolab Kupwara as a valley of knowledge, a school in Dardpora Kupwara besides Kargil International Marathon, adopting Kashmiri orphans, and empowering women and farmers from the valley.

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