Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s reach out to religious leaders and community elders to seek their cooperation in spreading the message of peace and harmony is undoubtedly an laudable effort. Kashmir, known as paradise on earth, is in desperate need of peace – peace that could lead to development and progress of the region. From early 90’s, this region has witnessed anything but peace. Thousands have lost their lives and properties. The unabated violence has impacted every sphere of life. Insecurity has pushed commoners to the wall. The violence has impacted the society physically, emotionally, socially, economically and psychologically. Businesses have suffered and the economy has nose-dived. In this backdrop, it is appreciable that the Lt Governor has reached out to the section of the society that has the potential to influence the people and is being respected by one and all.
Radicalization, as articulated by the Lt Governor during a conference – ‘Confluence of Religious Leaders in Kashmir’ – should not be associated with any specific religion. That is true, any religion, misinterpreted and misunderstood has a scope to radicalize young minds. Therefore religious radicalization can better be countered by religious leaders more effectively. The religious scholars who understand the message of peace, harmony and inclusiveness of all religions can spread these messages to the youth who are being targeted by radical groups by misinterpretation of religious texts to suit their respective political agendas. Kashmir has been an abode of diverse religious and cultural influences which have deeply enriched its pluralistic ethos. The region is an amalgamation of Shivite traditions, Budhist traditions, Islamic traditions as well as Sikh traditions. From Shankar Acharya temple you can have glimpses of Makhdoom Sahib’s Ziyarat and from there you have a mesmerizing view of Gurdawara Chatti Padshahi. This is the land of Shree Amarnath, Goddess Kheer Bhavani (Maharagnya Bhagwati), Shah-e-Hamdan, Nund Reshi, Lala Ded, Baba Shukar Din, Baba Payamudin and other reshis and seers. Love and harmony is their message and that message should shape the future of this place.
The religious leaders and scholars are the most influential and respected section of the society. Their word carries weight and has a potential to change and transform the minds and hearts of those who may have a tendency of going astray. Given the tremendous impact of social media on the youth, some fanatic groups across the board are having easy access to the youth and thus are trying to radicalize them. These elements misrepresent the religious texts and try to lure the young minds towards the path of violence and destruction. A constant effort by religious leaders to reach out to the youth with the real message of the religions can counter the nefarious designs of the few. Kashmir doesn’t need radicalized youth but well educated and well skilled youth who firmly believe in the concepts of peace, communal harmony and brotherhood. The youth are our future and to guide them towards the right path that would ensure a prosperous future for them and thus for the society as a whole is every responsible citizen’s duty. Our religious leaders and scholars have to take the lead and help creating a peaceful and progressive society.