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A Pune-based NGO is Assuring Kashmiris in the City of Their Safety

“We have always found Pune, and Maharashtra in general, a safe place for Kashmiris,” said a student member of Sarhad.

In the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack where 40 CRPF jawans were killed in a suicide bombing, the air across the nation is tense. News reports of Kashmiris being harassed and hounded across the nation are frighteningly plentiful. Naturally, Kashmiris outside the state have been living in justified fear. But all isn’t dark for the people of thee state. In Pune, “Sarhad”, an NGO founded by Sanjay Nahar, has been successfully trying to convince Kashmiri students against returning back to the Valley in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

According to an Indian Express report, members of the NGO said they had managed to persuade some fellow Kashmiris, who had arrived in the city recently and were anxious after some recent reports, to stay back. At a press conference on February 18, Javed Wani, a student of Poona College who work with Sarhad said, “We have always found Pune, and Maharashtra in general, a safe place for Kashmiris. However, after the terror attack and some reports about Kashmiri students being threatened in Dehradun and Indore, there was growing fear, particularly among Kashmiri students who are new to Pune. We not only convinced them about their safety in the city but made them cancel their reservations (to go elsewhere).”

The Express report mentions that Pune has a sizable Kashmiri population. Around 1,500 Kashmiri Muslim families and 1,000 Kashmiri Pandit families reside in Pune. Some 300 to 500 Kashmiri students study in the city at present and.

Business Administration student Owais Wani said at the conference that he had been staying in Pune for over five years now and did not feel like returning to Kashmir. He added, “Pune Police, too, has ensured that we feel safe here. Parents now prefer to get their children admitted to colleges in Pune over colleges in Delhi or Dehradun, although they are closer to home.”

The student group said that the ongoing problems in their state were a political matter. “For several decades, the problem of Jammu and Kashmir has not been well understood by several governments that ruled at the Centre. It is a complete political failure,” said a student. Addressing the Pulwama incident, Wani said, “Humanity is the biggest religion and killings are unjustifiable. Fight of any kind is no solution to the problem.”

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