Jul 28, 2008

India - Where communal harmony is a way of life

Mahore: In this remote hamlet on the foothills of Pir Panjal range of Reasi district, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus have come together to fight militancy. Secularism is not merely a theoretical concept for the residents but they live it every day.
“For us respect for each others’ religious sentiments is a way of life which we inherited from our ancestors. We are against anybody who misuses the religion for narrow ends,” says Mohammad Qasim, a village elder. This was the prime reason that the locals from all faiths picked up weapons to fight militancy.
Villagers have come to know of a group of militants who have entered the belt. Mohammad Aslam, a Village Defence Committee member says, “Our sources have pointed out that a fresh group of militants have made their way in the hills. At the moment they are silent but we apprehend they would strike when they have sufficient mobilisation.” To cope with the lingering danger the committee has a pattern of multiple tier security cover.
Security officials hold the view that one must understand the terrain and the risk to the local population . “It is simply impossible to provide security cover to every family in this difficult terrain where some villages are located seven hours from the nearest road. Abnormal conditions demand abnormal steps but with due regard to the laws of the land. The village elders keep an effective check over the activities of the men so that guns are not used to settle personal disputes. Every bullet fired by the men is counted for,” a security official said.

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