Chandigarh, July 4: “Taking up the cases of Indian prisoners was not an easy job when two countries are in conflict and strictly following the policies of confrontation. During the pleading of the case of death row prisoner Sarbjit Singh and other Indian prisoners, I faced many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested but I did not give up myself to despair”, shared Awais Shiekh the noted human rights lawyer and peace activist today at an interaction organized by Yuvsatta & Peace Club of KB DAV Sr. Sec. Public School, Sector 7 B, Chandigarh. Former Union Cabinet Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presided over the event.
Awais Sheikh also mentioned an instance of his personal meeting with an Indian 1971’s POW (prisoner of war). And he said that now after lapse of four decades the Pakistan Government is not releasing these soldiers because of expected international fall-out. Now Shiekh with UNO’s support has taken permanent refuge in Sweden following his alleged abduction bid near Lahore a day before Sarabjit’s death. Sharing a moving account of his trials and tribulations, atrocities faced by ordinary people and human rights violations, he urged the gathering to open their minds and hearts and believe in the power of peace, friendship and brotherhood.
Introducing his book ‘Samjauhta Express’ Awais Sheikh shared that inspired by the teachings and life of Gandhi who firmly believed in actions and not merely slogans to gain popularity, he remained mover and seeker. Gandhi’s role as a young Barrister fighting for the indentured laborers in South Africa a century ago provided me a source of inspiration to take up the cases of Indian prisoners confined in Pakistani jails even after the laps of their terms of imprisonment. He penned down his book Samjhota Express with the view to help in promoting peace and harmony between the two conflicts ridden countries of South Asia, Pakistan and India. This was the best way, he thought, to spread feelings of brotherhood and a sense of belonging amongst the people living on both sides of the border. This book also covers age-old Indo-Pak relations the joint cultural heritage, dance & music.
Appreciating the book Pawan Kumar Bansal said that Awais Sheikh’s visit to India has strengthened the links and bonds of friendship between the peoples of two countries. India and Pakistan are two sovereign countries who should respect each other’s sovereignty. Besides there are so many similarities that we can share and get lots of benefit in our lives and literature. Pawan Kumar Bansal also shared that he is planning to start a ‘Chandigarh People’s Forum’ to regularly debate/deliberate on issues promoting peace, goodwill, understanding and respect of others. He shared and gave insight into the vast experiences of his life and urged both the governments not to politicize issues. He asked the young Peace Club activists of KBDAV-7 to become the ‘Wings of Change’.
Thanking Awais Shiekh & Pawan Kumar Bansal, Madhu Bahl, Regional Director & Principal of the KB DAV Sr. Sec. Public School, a committed social activist and educations of repute, expressed that in the past they had hosted many delegations of peace lovers from Pakistan and other parts of the world as well. And in future too, KB DAV-7 management and staff will be doing its best to promote the culture of nonviolence, compassion & peace, especially among young minds.
Prominent amongst those who also participated on the occasion included Sanjay Sharma, Resident Editor, Sunday Gaurdian, & Pramod Sharma, Coordinator, Yuvsatta. Both emphasized upon the need to maintain Indo-Pak dialogue and nurture a new generation of caring hearts for unity of South Asia.