Amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan, an 80-member delegation is marching for peace between two countries as part of the Aaghaz-e-Dosti Yatra, which began on August 12 and will culminate at the Wagah border with lighting of candles on the night of August 14.
Organisers of the yatra, which was brainchild of journalist and writer Kuldeep Nayar and organised by him for 23 years during his lifetime, said that they had been getting huge response from people during their various stops from Delhi on the way to Amritsar. The yatra started after paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat on Monday and was expected to reach Amritsar on Tuesday night. This is the first yartra after Nayar’s death last year.
Ravi Nitesh, member, organising committee, Aaghaz-e-Dosti Yatra – 2019, said, “The 80 member delegation of peace marchers has been gathered from different regions of India and belong to different walks of life. It started its journey from Delhi to Wagah Border with a message of peace and brotherhood on the occasion of independence days of both countries.”
He added, “This peace march is to remember and offer a tribute to freedom fighters who fought for independence and attained martyrdom. The march, initiated by Aaghaz-e-Dosti and Nirmala Deshpande Sansthan along with many other organisations, has an objective of spreading the message of peace and brotherhood among people across all regions, religions and beyond boundaries. Participants intend to visit the Wagah border at midnight of 14-15 August with candles in their hands as a sign of hope.”
As part of the yatra, public meetings were held at around a dozen stops in which involved local activists, school students, and common people.
“There is tension on the border due to Kashmir issue. But we have been getting huge response from the public. Sentiment on ground is different from social media where people have been trolling each other and spreading hate. On ground, people are coming to greet us. We are encouraged by the response. We have plans to light candles at Indo-Pak border on the midnight of August 14 and 15. We hope security forces will allow us this peace gesture like last year,” said Ravi, adding that this year, the yatra is dedicated to Shri Guru Nanak Dev on his 550th anniversary.