Despite Gurdaspur attack, candlelight vigil to be held at Indo-Pak border
Notwithstanding the Pakistan bashing in Parliament in wake of the recent Gurdaspur attack, peaceniks on both sides of the India-Pakistan border will light candles at the Wagah-Attari border near Amritsar on the midnight of August 14-15.Updated: Aug 12, 2015 09:56 IST
Notwithstanding the Pakistan bashing in Parliament in wake of the recent Gurdaspur attack, peaceniks on both sides of the India-Pakistan border will light candles at the Wagah-Attari border near Amritsar on the midnight of August 14-15.
Seminars, mushiaras and cultural programmes have also been scheduled both in Lahore and Amritsar, as the volunteers of Hind-Pak Dosti, South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) and Folklore Research Academy from both the historic cities have invited the delegations from across the borders.
Many volunteers have thronged the Pakistan high commission in Delhi to get visas with invites in hands, wanting to cross over to Lahore on August 13 and 14.
Awaiting the Indian guests on the other side, SAFMA Pakistan chapter president Imtiaz Alam told HT from Lahore that he was expecting many people above 65 as both countries had signed a pact for liberal visas to that age group.
"Getting visas even on invitations is a problem that is becoming complicated every year, like looking for a guarantor, or making an affidavit," Alam said, adding that they might not be able to receive a good number of guests invited from India.
"I will call upon both the sides to allow the civilians meet one another and let the bilateral dialogue continue without any interruption," the SAFMA Pak chapter chief said.
Peacenik Avtar Singh Paul was, however, disappointed after his team comprising journalists and social activists was denied visa on Monday. Paul said his group would throng the Wagah border on August 14-15 to join the candlelight event.
"Talking of Punjab-Punjab bonhomie only is not going to solve the purpose, in the backdrop of a crucial issue like the Kashmir problem," Paul said, assessing the reasons for visa complications between the two neighbouring countries.
Peace activist Satnam Manak of Hind-Pak Dosti said, "We are making efforts for years to ensure peace and brotherhood between two nations but certain forces do not want this to happen. But we are committed and will continue giving a message of peace."
The BSF has allowed the Hind-Pak Dosti to bring in some 100 people for the midnight candlelight event at the border, Manak said.
Peace activist Chanchal Manohar Singh looked forward to lighting the candle on the other side of the border along with the other Indian guests to be hosted by Imtiaz Alam.
Seminar, cultural evening in Amritsar
Before the candlelight vigil at the border on the night of August 14, various organisations, including Hind-Pak Dosti Manch, Folklore Research Academy and others will organise a seminar on the issue, 'Challenges of Terrorism and role of South Asian countries'. The seminar will be held at Punjab Naatshala on August 14. Noted speakers and a couple of guests from across the border will participate in the seminar.
Also, on the night of August 14, a cultural programme will be organised at the Naatshala wherein Sufi singing will be organised.
Ramesh Yadav, president of Folklore Research Academy, told HT, "We are pained by the recent terror attack in Dinanagar and strikes in Jammu and Kashmir but have decided to go ahead with the function just because we need to carry on with our peace efforts. If we stop trying, this can be a morale-booster to anti-national elements."
Guest list from Pakistan drops
Contrary to the past years, the guest list from Pakistan has dropped considerably. It is learnt that only two guests are coming from across the border and just two are going from this side.
At one point, over 50 Pakistani guests, including journalists, peaceniks, singers and politicians, came to India. Yadav says, "Visa is an issue and this is the reason for the drop in guests from both sides."