Ignoring Hardliners, J&K Students Join Debate On Gandhian Philosophy
2 October 2007
Srinagar: Despite criticism by hard-line separatists Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani and Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi, thousands of school and college students attended the concluding function of the State-wide debate on the 'Gandhian philosophy of truth and non-violence and its relevance in the 21st century' held here on Tuesday. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad gave away prizes to the best student-speakers. He administered a nine-point Gandhian pledge to Ministers, legislators, prominent citizens and students. The winners In all, eight school and 11 college students reached the final round. The first prize of Rs. 1 lakh was won by Sophia Sharma of Girls Higher Secondary School, Shastri Nagar, Jammu, in the school category, and Touseef Yusuf of S.P. College, Srinagar in the college category. The second prize of Rs. 50,000 went to Kudsia Khan of Girls Higher Secondary School, Surankote, Poonch, and Aamira Wali of Government Degree College for Women, Baramulla. The third prize of Rs. 25,000 each was given to four students - two each in the school and college categories. Mr. Azad said the people of Kashmir always upheld secularism and believed in the philosophy of non-violence. Sixty years ago when the entire sub-continent was engulfed in communal violence, Kashmir alone remained untouched by the frenzy. Not a single member of the majority community here harmed his non- Muslim brethren, making Gandhiji to state that amid darkness all round he saw a ray of light in Kashmir. Secular ethos The Chief Minister said the enthusiastic participation by 51,000 students in the debate on Gandhian philosophy showed that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, importantly the younger generation, were deeply rooted in secular ethos and the ray of light seen by Gandhiji was still glowing here. The Dukhtaran chief Asiya Andrabi had appealed to parents not to send their children for the competition, and Mr. Geelani called it 'interference' in religious matters by 'thrusting a particular philosophy on Kashmiri Muslims.'