By Varghese Alengaden
Indore, Feb. 17, 2019: February 14 brought shocking news of terrorist attack that killed 44 CRPF soldiers when a 20-year-old suicide bomber rammed his vehicle laden with 350 kg of explosives into a bus travelling on Jammu–Srinagar highway.
It was part of 78–vehicle convoy carrying 2500 CRPF personnel on way to Pulwama, 30 km from Srinagar. Abdul Ahmad Dar, an eleventh grade class drop out from Kashmir and a member of Pakistan–based Jaish-e-Mohammaed ( JeM), said in his video message before his death “after waiting for an entire year, I got the chance to do what I joined Jaish for.”
He exhorted the Kashmiri youth to wage jihad against India and for Islam. He asked his family, friends and relatives “to celebrate his martyrdom for Islam” the way they celebrate weddings. Abdul also urged women to wear veils and boys not to fall in love. The young terrorists are usually brainwashed in such an intense way to believe that they would go directly to heaven by their bloody sacrifice. Hence young Abdul sent the video message, “By the time this video reaches you, I will be in heaven.”
Every terrorist attack, bomb blasts and natural calamities are followed by discussions and statements in the media. Apart from condolence messages and tributes to the deceased there were heated debates about the lapses in the security and finding fault with government policies. Politicians exploit the tragedy to the maximum for their vested interest.
It was a pity that some politicians made irresponsible and insulting statements such as, “It is natural for soldiers to die at any time.” There are some who express patriotism through candle light procession with slogans of revenge against Pakistan and Islam. They also use it as an opportunity to insult those who promote pluralistic heritage of India calling them, “secularist dogs.”
Are those who shout for revenge and use abusive language less than the terrorists? Even the responsible leaders and ministers speak in terms of taking revenge for every drop of blood of soldiers. They are repeated by hundreds of people in social media and in condolence meetings. Negative energy is spread all over. None of these people will be able to go to Pakistan to express their anger.
I pray that their anger and hatred may not be expressed to innocent people in their neighborhood simply because they bear similar names and wear similar clothes as people across the border. Politicians and religious fundamentalists have created such situations in the past for their vested interest.
While reading about the bloody Pulwama attack by one young man of twenty I was reflecting about our mission of promoting value education for peace and visionary leadership of the young students. Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace was a proactive response when the country faced bloodshed, violence and hatred among two communities after the demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodya.
The purpose was to prevent hostility and violence in the country by giving peace education to young people. The young people should be saved from indoctrination and slavery of divisive forces. Whenever such terrorist attacks and violence took place in our country and other parts of the world in which young people were involved I felt the urgency of mentoring the youth to follow the way of peace and universal solidarity which can prevent disaster and violence. From the experience of working with youth of all faith over three decades I am fully convinced of the capacity and willingness of the youth to work for building a civilization of love , peace and universal solidarity.
My depressive feelings which were generated by the negative expressions of revengeful attitude from a large number of responsible people received some relief when I met Simon, a 17 year old eleventh grader from Sweden. He had come to India with his 80-year-old grandmother for a visit. While speaking to him about his studies and activities I received much positive energy. He is engaged in defending human rights of the discriminated refugees who have come to his country from different counties like Afghanistan and Syria where they faced political and religious conflicts
As the right wing groups are becoming stronger all over there are people in his country also who are not happy with the refugees coming from other countries .When Government decided to send these refugees back young Simon felt compassion to them. He with his many young friends organized demonstrations against government policy. They asked the Swedish government to permit them to stay in the country. He organized 400 students for a demonstration in the city.
Unlike in our country it was neither patronized by any political party nor backed by any senior political leader. It was an independent movement of the students. Later he organized another demonstration of a thousand people . They blocked the buses which were transporting the refugees to the border. The young people created an impact on the government and policy makers. Simon was lucky to have the support of his parents and grandparents.
While an eleventh grade dropout — Abdul of Kashmir– caused death and destruction with feelings of revenge and hatred, another eleventh grader in Sweden set example of peace, hope and universal solidarity by his proactive initiative. One was brainwashed and trained to kill with revenge and hatred, the other received training to love without discrimination and fight for those who did not belong to his religion and country. It is about training and upbringing to promote peace and compassion.
In our country how many parents would teach their children to honor children of the other faith, caste and culture? How many parents would encourage their children to get involved in social issues in support of the marginalized while they are still in school? How many our young people are trained to critically think and make right choices? How many young people who shout slogans for their political masters and fanatic god-men will ever realize how they are exploited ?
Permanent peace and universal solidarity could be achieved if we trust the youth and encourage them to take charge NOW. Young Simon had clarity and conviction about his involvement in social action when he said, “Everyone says that we are the future; but I believe that we are also the present.” In our country we underestimate young people and control them; control their actions and condition their minds.
In the past whenever a terrorist attack took place we had seen the active involvement of young people in it. Often they were misled and misused. In all such occasions I had written about the urgency of training and mentoring thousands of young students who are in our schools and colleges. I have personally shared of the possibility of working miracles with them from our successful experiments. It remained a cry in the wilderness.
Those who manage the educational institutions, with the exception of a few, never acknowledged our repeated reminders to experiment this urgent and sacred mission. Our educational institutions continue producing thousands of insensitive, selfish and ambitious young people who will shout shallow slogans of patriotism and spread negative energy through their statements in social media and personal interactions.
As commandos are required to manage extremely difficult crisis, peace commandos are urgently required to counter terrorism and fundamentalism. Young people should be taught that they do not get into heaven by killing innocent people of other faith and country. They are to be trained to believe that heaven is on earth to be experienced in life and not after death. They should be taught that the genuine worship of God is in the service to fellow human beings. Salvation is gained in this life not after death and God is present where there is love for one another.
The religious preachers and teachers in our educational institutions can’t continue committing sin by remaining complacent and indifferent. Terrorists and fundamentalists pay attention to train each young person to do maximum violence without fearing about the consequences. Peace commandos need more commitment and competence to counter the terrorism and fundamentalism. They are not born; they have to be trained from the younger days.
Parents and teachers who fail to create positive atmosphere at home and schools they fail in their duties. When they speak negative stories of violence and show hatred against people of other faith and country to their children are they not training them to be terrorists and fundamentalists? When our politicians go on making negative statements against their opponents and inflammatory speeches against another community are they not promoting terrorism? Why don’t they speak of their vision for the nation and constructive projects for the people instead of finding fault with the opponents and using abusive language against them?
Those who spread negative energy through their attitudes of hatred, revenge and prejudice are no less than the terrorists. They destroy an entire society by poisoning people in millions. Who will punish them for their crimes?
If the two neighboring countries of Europe, Germany and France, who could forget three hundred years of enmity and work together to realize the miracle of a borderless European Union why don’t India and Pakistan forget their seven decades of hostility to launch an Asian Union or SAARC for the greater prosperity and peace of these countries? We need to train citizens and leaders with broad, inclusive and lasting vision.