Of bonding over Kartarpur Corridor and trouble in JNU

With the opening of Kartarpur Corridor the bond between Muslims and Sikhs has grown stronger. While students protest against fee hike in JNU is disturbing. Their demands should be considered

Of bonding over Kartarpur Corridor and trouble in JNU

Humra Quraishi

Correct me if I’m wrong but the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor has brought the Sikh and Muslim communities closer. The Partition and the aftermath had brought in friction and creases between the two communities but efforts of a few individuals also continued who tried to bridge gaps.

I recall Khushwant Singh telling me that when the Rockefeller Foundation gave him the Fellowship grant to write on the history of the Sikhs he deliberately chose Aligarh Muslim University. Why? To quote Khushwant – “ I could have chosen the Delhi University or the Jawaharlal Nehru University but I chose the Aligarh Muslim University …Why? because I wanted to do my bit in bridging the gap that had come between the two communities, Sikhs and the Muslims, because of the Partition and the havoc it brought along…It was very important for me to write on the Sikh history and also important to write it from an educational institution like the AMU …After I finished writing the two volumes on the history of the Sikhs I added in Latin - Opus Exegii - my life’s work is done…To write on Sikh religion and history was my life’s ambition …Having done that I felt like one living on borrowed time, at peace with myself and the world. It did not bother me if I wrote anything else.”

And definite pointers to the Sikh -Muslim bonding can be witnessed in the Kashmir Valley. Right from the early 1990s, I have been a witness to this bonding and it has always been heartening to see the hapless finding shelter and solace and food in the various gurudwaras of the Kashmir region…And even as one travels to the interiors of the region, one can be sure of spotting and meeting Sikh families who call themselves Kashmiri Sikhs. They bond with the Kashmiri Muslims and they are living in complete harmony. Needless for me to write that the tough ground realities prevailing for decades in the region have only made the bond between the Sikhs and the Muslims grow stronger.

As the Srinagar based lawyer Hardev Singh Oberoi had told me – “Though my home was partially destroyed during the 2014 floods that hit Srinagar, I didn’t even think of moving out from here …We Sikhs will always be here…no one from my family moved out from here even during the turbulent 90s.” He even went on to tell me that not just he but his entire clan has been at ease living in the Valley” Gently he added, “Mohammadans are better friends than your kith and kin. They can give their lives for you …the only thing is that they are very sensitive about their faith.”

And in the backdrop of this, today there stands out much bonding between the two communities in other parts of the country. The opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor got members of both the communities emotional to such an extent that several of my Sikh friends hugged me tight and others greeted me with Salaams and more salaams!

We have got to protect our children, our students!

Why are we hell-bent on destroying educational institutions, and with that the lives of our children, the students! Quite obviously I’m provoked into writing this after seeing the horrifying mess taking place in and around the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University campus. Shots of our students getting dragged, pulled and pushed, thrashed and beaten by the cops are unsettling, yet the vice-chancellor of the university sits well too settled!

The build-ups for the seemingly obvious destruction of the university seemed rather too obvious for the last few years, as the political rulers tried to intrude into the very functioning of the university, together with that intruding into the everyday lives of the students.

The university has produced literary and academic and cultural giants. And one has to simply visit the campus to feel the truly academic space…In fact, each time I walked around the campus of this university I stood there wondering why people ever moved out of it! After all, it came across as a well-structured township with an air of blissful connectivity to it …complete with well spread out greenery and tall trees and well-defined roads leading to a definite destination…To an ‘outsider’ or a casual visitor, it came across an extension of a dreamy academic getaway, set in an isle of calm.

And to know the various aspects to this university, I was inspired to read JNU academic Professor Rakesh Batabyal’s book ‘JNU: The Making of a University’, where he traces out varying aspects to this university till about 1989 - that is till about the time he was enrolled in this university.

It comes across as a massive academic institution. Let's not commit the folly of allowing the political mafia destroying it on any useless alibi. This time because the students wanted a reduction in the academic cum hostel accommodation fees and flexibility in timings. Why not? Shouldn’t the students be free to voice their demands! And get them fulfilled! After all, that’s their basic right.

Students are our children and they must be respected and saved from the political mafia out to destroy their future.

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