J&K known for communal harmony

In the media The Hindu - 1st November 2006
 This light under attack: Madanjeet Singh

SRINAGAR: There is a need for dialogue among all sections of people to defuse communal tension in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and South Asia Foundation (SAF) founder Madanjeet Singh.

Historically, Kashmir was an example of communal harmony and "this cherished light" ought to be kept burning, Mr. Singh said at a three-day international seminar on "Approaches to Kashmir Studies," organised by the Centre for Kashmir Studies, University of Kashmir.

This "light," he said, was under attack from those who wanted to disrupt communal harmony for their own gains. "This is the light that terrorists all over the world are trying to extinguish and which, like the Olympic torch, must be kept burning."

Since he could not attend the seminar, his speech was read out.
  Kashmiriyat as a tool

Highlighting the need to preserve Kashmiriyat to fight communal evils, Mr. Singh said the effort required great courage. "It requires all the formidable intellectual and cultural courage inherent in Kashmiriyat to fight the communal assault by religious fanatics, whether they are Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian."

Praising Kashmiri women poets such as Lalla Ded and Habba Khatoon, he said the Indian renaissance flourished when the Bhakti Movement interacted with Islamic mysticism, "inspiring superb poetry and literature in regional languages."

Even Mahatma Gandhi had observed the secular ethos of the Kashmir culture. It prompted his historical remark: “in the darkness engulfing the sub-continent, the only ray of light came from Kashmir." Mr. Singh said.

The Director of the Centre for Kashmir Studies Mustafa Khawja said: "The seminar was a success as we could piece together different perspectives on the social, political and economic issues related to Kashmir."