Kashmiri literati attempt to bridge Valley''s Cultural Rift
7 October 2000
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Arendezvous with a purpose. After years of mutual suspicion and communication gap, dozen of Kashmiri writers, poets and academicians gather together here to talk and discuss and thus create bridges between the two communities, which have been driven apart during decade-long violence. A socio-cultural group, Lal ded foundation, was recently launched by seven kashmiri writers and poets with the aim of a cultural renaissance, especially to help revive Kashmiri''s composite cultural ethos. ''We don''t want politics. Our aim is ti initiate dialogue on an intellectual level between Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims,'' said a noted Kashmiri Broadcaster, Bashir Akhtar, President of the foundation. ''We want to speak to each other to create bridges and cement relations.'' The group organised a function to felicitate noted Kashmiri Journalist, P.N.Jalali, now a migrant in Delhi, besides releasing a book written by another noted Kashmiri writer, Motilal Saqi. Saqi, also a migrant, died in Jammu recently. And today there was a two-day All India Conference of Kashmiri Writers, Poets and Intellectuals. ''I feel overwhelmed. it is great to be with friends and colleagues after years,'' said leading dramatist and broadcaster, Pran Kishore, who flew from Mumbai to attend this conference. ''A bridge is important. Milap zaroori hai (reunion is essential). Dilo ka milap zaroori hai (reunion of hearts is needed),'' he said, adding, ''It is not possible, politically. We have strong cultural bonds and only culture, language and tradition can cement it.'' He said that he had reason to believe that the wall between the two communities will vanish oneday. ''if the Berlin will can fall, why not this barrier between us( Kashmiri muslims and pundits)?'' he said. Emigrant Kashmir pundit scholar, Pearay Hatal, expressed his happiness in speaking in kashmiri''. We don''t get an opportunity to talk in Kashmiri often,'' he said. ''I want to talk today. I want to give vent to my pent up feelings in my mother tongue.'' Though the scholar read academic papers about the problems faced by the Kashmiri language and relevance of sufi saints like Lal Ded and Sheikh Noor Din, the focal point seemed the seemed to reunion of long-lost friends, colleagues and neighbours. Prof. Shafi Shouq , head of the Kashmiri department at Kashmir University blamed the 700-yeras repression to be the main reason for the decline of Kashmiri language. '' the issue of language in Kashmir is purely a political issue. unless you accept Kashmiris as a nation, the language can never to promoted,'' he said.