Kuldip goes home to Lahore

A piece I put together for Aman ki Asha based on information and conversations about the upcoming events this Friday and Saturday in Lahore in honour of the late, great Kuldip Nayar. Borrowed the great headline above from friend and longtime peacemonger iFaqeer‘s blog post. 

Seminars, tree-planting to accompany Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar’s ashes immersion ceremony in Pakistan 

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Peace activists are grateful to the Pakistani authorities for granting various permissions required for events related to the last rites of acclaimed Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar to take place in Pakistan this coming weekend.

Nayar passed away in Delhi on 23 August 2018, shortly after celebrating his 95th birthday on 14 August. His funeral the following day was attended by thousands, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Nayar’s granddaughter Mandira Nayar and her husband Ratish Nanda from Delhi will cross Wagah border on the morning of Friday 5 October 2018 to participate in an Asthi Visarjan (immersion of the ashes) ceremony that afternoon.

Goodwill

The Joint Action Committee of People’s Rights, an umbrella group of several non-profit organisations that is coordinating the programme in Pakistan, will take Nayar’s family, friends and followers out in boats to the middle of the River Ravi to immerse his ashes.

Ashes of other peace activists have been previously scattered in Pakistan before, like Gandhian leader Nirmala Despande and journalist Praful Bidwai. The symbolic gesture flies in the face of the ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan and their refusal to grant visas on a normal level.

Nayar and Nanda will stay on to attend other events in Lahore that evening and the following day to honour Nayar, who had made it his life’s mission to promote peace between the two countries. The events will be broadcast live on Facebook at the page Celebrating Kuldip Nayar and His Vision of Peace.

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Kuldip Nayar, Nandita Das, Asma Jahangir at Wagah border: Celebrating Aug 14-15. Undated file photo

Mandira Nayar, a journalist with The Week, India, appreciated the Pakistan Embassy for giving her and her husband visas to participate in her grandfather’s last rites. “I was amazed at the goodwill and how helpful and cooperative they have been,” she said gratefully.

The Pakistani Rangers in charge of border security have granted special permission for a host delegation to enter the border reception hall at Azadi (freedom) Gate and meet the Indian guests as they emerge from immigration and customs.

Since the 2014 suicide blast that killed over 50 people, Pakistan has created a buffer zone here. Crossing over to Pakistan from India at Wagah border, travelers now have to walk over a mile to exit the restricted area into which no one is allowed without special clearance.

“When I called a senior officer to ask about arrangements for receiving our Indian guests and he said they would let us bring our cars all the way in, I was so surprised, I had to ask him to repeat what he had said,” laughed Karamat Ali.

Ali is a founding member of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) that Nayar had also been long involved with.

The organisers have sent the names of delegation members and vehicle registration numbers to be allowed up to the border reception area.

Legacy

One of Nayar’s enduring legacies is the joint Independence Day celebrations of Pakistan and India, 14-15 August. Since 2000, Nayar had led peace activists to light candles at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar.

The recent restrictions on the Pakistan side force the peacemongers to stand far back, unable to see their friends on the other side. However, lights from their candles and snatches of music and song do waft through the darkness to the other side at the border ceremony every year that activists doggedly insist on holding.

A couple of weeks ago, peace activists held an Asthi Visarjan at the Ravi on the Indian side of the border and planted a mango tree on no-man’s land. The Indian Border Security Force was fully cooperative, said Ramesh Yadav of the Folklore Research Academy that had often joined hands with the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch (India-Pakistan friendship forum) founded by Kuldip Nayar.

Mango was Nayar’s “favourite fruit,” said his granddaughter.

Tree for Asma

Pakistani activists plan to plant a tree on the Pakistan side of the border near Nayar’s tree in memory of the pioneering human rights lawyer and peacebuilder Asma Jahangir who passed away earlier this year.

Mandiri Nayar said she likes the idea of trees to honour her grandfather and his friend being planted across the border from each other.

Nayar’s Asthi Visarjan in Pakistan will be followed by a reference at the Lahore Press Club. On Saturday morning, 6 October, the Government College University will hold a seminar honouring Nayar, and plant another tree in his honour.

In the evening, there will be a reference co-hosted by several organisations at the South Asia Free Media Association at the SAFMA auditorium in Lahore.

In Hyderabad, India, the Peace Now and Forever Campaign Secretariat at the Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) plans to host a gathering at Lamakaan, Banjara Hills. Those interested in joining the collective live viewing of Kuldip Nayar’s Asthi Visarjan, or need help connecting to or posting on the Facebook page, may contact program coordinator Gowtham Uyyala, Communications Officer, COVA. Email: crmo@covanetwork.org, mobile: +91 99892 22959.

They would like the event to be “shared widely through different social media platforms to enable others to participate and promote peace and cohesion across our borders” and continue Nayar’s mission.

For more details or to attend a programme in Pakistan honouring Kuldip Nayar, contact Irfan Mufti (SAP- Pakistan) at +92 300 8480822 or email: irfanmufti@gmail.com

— Beena Sarwar

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Remembering Kuldip Nayar, journalist, activist, peacemonger

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A precious photo: Kuldip Nayar, Nandita Das and Asma Jahangir at Wagah border. Photo: courtesy Seema Mustafa, The Citizen

I was sad to hear about the passing away of veteran journalist and peacemonger Kuldip Nayar, 95, in Delhi. His passing in general evoked great sadness — as well as a resolve to keep working for his values — not only in India but the land of his birth, Pakistan. I had got to know Kuldip ji over the years through the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) that I joined as a young journalist from Lahore when it was launched in 1994-95, as the largest people-to-people organization between the two countries. The last time I met him was at Allahabad train station a few years ago. The lawyer S.M.A. Kazmi and our family friend Zia ul Haq — the comrade, not the general, himself now over 90 were dropping me off and picking him up. He got the surprise of his life. We didn’t have much time to chat as my train was about to leave but I treasure that memory.

Sharing here the two pieces I put together for Aman Ki Asha (hope for peace), the India-Pakistan website I edit. One is pegged on a tribute from Dr Syeda Hameed in Delhi his long-time friend and fellow-activist, former member of the Planning Commission of India and founder trustee of the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation. She aptly termed him the “gentle giant of India Pakistan peace” in her wonderful piece in The Citizen. See also her account of the Aman Dost Yatra (peace and friendship march) at the border. In the other piece, I put together other tributes paid to him by Pakistanis.

Here are links to both pieces: Remembering the ‘gentle giant of India Pakistan peace’,  and Pakistanis pay tribute to Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar.

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(L-R) Dr Syeda Hameed, Navaid Hamid, Kuldip Nayar, Maulana Syed Jalauddin Umari. File photo – Indiatomorrow.ne.

Aman ki Asha and a daughter’s appeal

Ajmer, Jan 2011: Unable to walk, Dr Chishty is carried to the courtroom. Photo: TOI

In humanity’s name: Aman ki Asha has been campaigning for clemency towards cross-border prisoners – young boys who stray across by mistake or in search of ‘Bollywood’, fishermen who cross the maritime border, families who have committed minor transgressions, long-term prisoners incarcerated for years on either side, until their story is taken up by human rights activists and media…. See articles compiled at the Aman ki Asha website at the link ‘In humanity’s name‘. Four articles, including the one below, published today, available at this link.

A campaign is building up in India for the release of an elderly retired Pakistani professor detained for over 19 years

By Beena Sarwar Continue reading

Appeal to Indian President for release of aged Pakistani prisoner

On April 4, 2011 Amna Chishty, daughter of retired Pakistani professor Dr Khaleel Chishty currently a prisoner in Ajmer prison hospital appealed to Aman ki Asha to secure her father’s release, inspired by the Indian Supreme Court’s appeal for the release of Indian prisoner Gopal Dass in Pakistan, whom the Pakistan government subsequently released. Since then, events have moved fast in India, with various high-powered individuals working behind the scenes to help Dr Chishty. Below, an appeal from distinguished Indian citizens to their president.

Continue reading

Indian Peace Delegation meets Pakistan Prime Minister, policy makers and people in successful visit

PRESS STATEMENT

Indian Peace Delegation meets Pakistan Prime Minister, policy makers and people in successful visit

An Indian Peace Delegation visited Pakistan from March 17-25, 2011. During their stay they visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore. They met Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Reza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Senators of various political parties, civil society activists, journalists, members of business community, and students amongst others. Continue reading

Indian peace delegation is back from Pakistan with a message of love & friendship

Their faces smudged with the colours of holi, Indian peace delegation wearing Sindhi ajraks address a gathering in Hyderabad. Photo: Piler, Karachi

PRESS STATEMENT: Indian peace delegation is back from Pakistan with a message of love & friendship

An Indian Peace Delegation visited Pakistan from 17th to 25th March 2011. During their stay they visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore. They met Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Reza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Law makers of various political parties, civil society activists, journalists, members of business community,  students amongst others. The 12 member Indian delegation was led by Mr. Kuldip Nayar and included Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, Mr. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Mr. Shahid Siddiqui, Mr. Jatin Desai, Dr. Mazher Hussain, Ms. Kamla Bhasin, Mr. Ramesh Yadav, Mr.Sanjay Nahar, Mr. Haris Kidwai, Mr. Laxmi Prasad. Mr. Krishna Rao. Continue reading

‘Bridging Partition: People’s Initiatives for Peace between India and Pakistan’

Cover art: K.B. Abro; design: Bindia Thapar

JUST PUBLISHED

BRIDGING PARTITION: People’s Intitiatives for Peace Between India and Pakistan

Edited by SMITU KOTHARI and ZIA MIAN

With Kamla Bhasin, A H Nayyar and Mohammad Tahseen
Essays by Shehryar Ahmad, Karamat Ali, Sumanta Banerjee, Kamla Bhasin, Nirupama Dutt, Madeeha Gauhar, Mubashir Hasan, Pervez Hoodboy, Asma Jehangir, Sheema Kirmani, Sanat Mohanty, Kuldip Nayar, Sandeep Pandey, Narendra Panjwani, Anand Patwardhan, Balraj Puri, Laxminarayan Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas, I A Rehman, Beena Sarwar, Jamila Verghese, Achin Vanaik

“Over the past three decades, in the shadow of hostile nationalisms fuelled by radical Islamic and Hindu politics, military crises, a runaway arms race, nuclear weapons and war, an amazing set of civil society initiatives has been taking root in India and Pakistan. A citizens diplomacy movement embracing thousands of activists, scholars, business people and retired government officials has emerged in an unprecedented effort to build national and cross-border networks for peace and cooperation between the two countries.

“In these essays, leading scholars, activists and writers from India and Pakistan reflect on the political and personal impact of crossing the border, and explore the possibilities and limits of this new movement in its quest to chart a path to peace between the two countries.”

Cover design Bindia Thapar
Cover art 60 Years of India Pakistan by K. B. Abro

Published by Orient BlackSwan India

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