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Kashmir campaigns for peace, Facebook and beyond

Kashmir campaigns for peace, Facebook and beyond
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First Published: Tue, Aug 10 2010. 05 57 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Aug 10 2010. 05 57 PM IST
New Delhi: Not all Kashmiris want to battle government bullets with stones. A fair number of citizens from Jammu and Kashmir would much prefer peace, and are trying to reach out to likeminded people via Facebook. Last month, Mint did a story on Facebook groups that supported stone throwers and urged people join their cause. But the group Roots in Kashmir, is very different.
Started four years ago with 65 members, Roots in Kashmir was started to help Kashmiri pandits or the Hindu population who were forced out of the state due to militancy. However, with their state simmering in violence the group most recently launched the Peace Book Campaign asking people to help restore peace in the valley. So far, over 1,700 joined the campaign as on date.
“The Peace Book Campaign is not a sole Roots in Kashmir campaign but a campaign where saner Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris cutting across religious and sectarian lines have come together to appeal for peace in Kashmir,” said Rashneek Kher, a representative of the group.
Kher said group members were hurt to watch Kashmiri youths being killed on the roads. “On the face of it might seem that the young people are throwing stones but the malaise behind the same are instigators like (Syed Ali) Geelani and others. So as Kashmiris it is our duty to do our bit to bring down tempers, cool frayed nerves and bring some semblance of sanity,” Kher said.
The group has not limited its efforts to cyberspace. “Roots in Kashmir tried everything from approaching the government to sending our proposals to separatists to knocking at the doors of human rights commissions. But our plea has fallen on deaf ears,” Kher said.
“So we have set forth a mission of peace that is completely unbiased and requests nothing but sanity. We have no tolerance for people who support violence and people who seek support for stone throwers are again those who we think of as instigators and not someone who actually throw stones. So we will be sending books to them as they need it most,” he said.
And what kind of books they are going to send?
“We already have about 400 odd books on different subjects from simple story books to books on history and religion. We will send them as soon as we know it will reach them and not got stuck in some post office,” Kher said. Books are answer to stones and bullets, said Wangoo.
Explaining why he joined the Peace Book Campaign, another group member Nadeem Jafri said, “This is the true way of fighting the menace. If we educate people and equip them with right knowledge, I am sure they would not face the atrocities which they are currently facing. And even if they face they will be capable of fighting it out.”
On being asked, about the success of such a campaign, Kher was however, not very sure.
“Honestly we don’t know how far it might or will go but that notwithstanding we must make concerted efforts for peace no matter howsoever small or inconsequential it might seem,” said the representative of group, which has already registered over 1,500 members.
Jafri sounded far more positive.
He said the campaign would certainly create a flutter among the educated people.
“It is going to take some time but it will be effective,” he said.
simantik.d@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Aug 10 2010. 05 57 PM IST