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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Universal Will Needed To Fight Terrorism

“Many afternoons evenings and nights did one spend on the walks by the inked sea at this Promenade .. today one gets up with a heavy heart to hear and see its destruction and the trauma it undergoes ..
No words can even begin their journey to describe such devastation and remorse .. can we not just sit and talk it out and stop .. !!” (Big B Blog)

We certainly can sit and talk it out and stop, BUT, for this to happen we have to have the universal will to do it, especially amongst the mightiest of the mighty who have the means to launch a "shock and awe" bombing campaign that takes lacs of innocent lives, called collateral damage. I am giving here eye- witness accounts  to illustrate and elaborate on what I am trying to say:

Lahore always remained a living example of religious harmony where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians lived in absolute peace and calm without a single reported incident of communal clashes. People in Lahore generally were very broad-minded, who believed in Punjabi brotherhood rather than in religious divide. Promoters of Pakistan did not relish it as they saw it as a hinderance in their propaganda that Muslims would not be safe in the Hindu majority India after the independence. Disturbing the peace in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, was a dire necessity for them to demonstrate and prove their point of view that the two communities could never live together in peace. And it was not difficult to mastermind such a disturbance. They knew that even though the vast majority of the Hindus were secular, there still was a section amongst them who had hated Muslims for centuries for being the first invaders in history of the Hindu India. They only had to incite and trap this small section of the Hindus to start communal clashes in the city. They were still working on their strategy when an unfortunate incident provided them the opportunity to push their plans on a platter.

During a hockey match between two major teams, known arch rivals, heated arguments on a disputed goal got out of control and caused a fight between the two teams in which hockey sticks were freely used. Such incidents had happened earlier also, but this time it took an ugly turn as one player was killed in the clash. This was, in all probability, accidental, the hockey stick hitting some sensitive part of the body. However, since the boy who was killed was a Hindu and the one who hit, a Muslim, the incident started the rumor that communal rioting had started in the city with a Muslim student killing a Hindu. And in no time a Muslim student was stabbed to death in another part of the city, leading to a series of vengeful stabbing and arson in the city. Clearly, the extremist elements amongst the Hindus, who vowed to avenge every such killing, had fallen into the carefully laid trap of the fundamentalist Muslims, whose foremost agenda was to somehow shatter to pieces the prevailing peace between Hindus and Muslims in Lahore. And we saw what the result was - the Partition and in its aftermath millions uprooted from their homes and equal number of innocent lives lost on both sides of the border.
Lesson to learn: We must avoid at all costs falling into the trap laid by fanatic forces.

It was the last week in October of 1947, barely ten weeks after India became independent from the British rule. I was in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, and was an eyewitness to Srinagar's proud record in war against terror, when the city was saved by the triaumph of secular forces over the evil of communal fundamentalists. Tribal militias, backed by Pakistan military, had invaded Kashmir. Before the raiders had almost reached the outskirts of the city, all the Maharaja's men fled to Jammu and beyond. In the absence of any administration, the city's infrastructure had totally collapsed to leave us without water and electricity in our homes. It was then that the citizens of Srinagar experienced something very strange--a unique power to pull together, the vast majority of the Muslim population along with Hindus and Sikhs, to save the city from falling to the tribal invaders and to restore all the essential services in the city including law and order.
Imagine the scenario, Muslim fundamentalists, motivated to wage a 'Jihad', to capture Kashmir, pushing forward to within miles of Srinagar, the capital, could not cross the human barrier of brave men whose only weapon was their united stand for secularism and a strong will to overcome the forces of communalism. Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle for India's independence was their inspiration, Pundit Nehru's passion for secularism provided the strength and Sheikh Abdullah's leadership gave the guiding light that led them to victory, and saved their beloved city, Srinagar. The saga of Srinagar is as relevant today as it was then, in war against terror and extremist forces anywhere in the world.
Lesson to learn: The only way to defeat the terrorists is to fight them unitedly - whatever be our beliefs or borders.

People can often overcome their deepest of differences, but it is the media environment where both sides treat each other with suspicion. You're just not likely to see it on television, but if you look at the  public as a whole, there is a "vast middle" of unengaged people who aren't very polarized. People are mostly quite social, as proved by the immense popularity of social networks. What is most important to most of us is our relationships. We are affected by others’ behavior toward us and what they say about us. We adapt to others and they adapt to us. We develop a way, or ways, of relating to others in different situations. We can see our lives from one point of view as adapting to and influencing others. I may learn something of great importance from you or impart some information that is helpful.

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” - Gandhi.


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