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Religious tolerance

The tragedy is further proof that the Kashmir Valley is now a changed place

Business Standard 

With reference to the report, “Terror attack on Amarnath yatra: 7 pilgrims killed, 19 injured in Anantnag” (July 11), the enormity of the carnage is yet to sink in.

The tragedy is further proof that the Kashmir Valley is now a changed place. Locals used to carry Amarnath pilgrims on their shoulders to the cave shrine. Now the pilgrims face threat to their lives from militants. Not sparing pilgrims is like not sparing patients, children and the elderly.

For all the talk of the growth of Wahabist ideology and radicalisation in the Valley, the majority of Kashmiris have been repulsed by the attack. Beefing up security helps, but that alone cannot significantly improve the security situation and ensure the safety of pilgrims.  

It is sad that syncretism is becoming a casualty of clashes along religious fault lines. The symbolism of the killings is frightening and accentuates religious fault lines. Still, we must cling to the notion of common humanity and refuse to play into the hands of militants and religious extremists.  

Some say the attack was a failure of the state machinery, but the fact is, it was something more than that — it was a failure of the imagination as well. The source of the problem resides in the fact that we often fail to imagine the lives of others, their cultures and religions and are unable to respect what is alien to our own experience.

Religious tolerance is necessary to prevent the collapse of relationships and the descent into hell. Unrest in the Valley is a reality; it has to be dealt with by addressing its root causes. The government should initiate dialogue with disaffected Kashmiris and take steps to fulfil their genuine political aspirations. It is futile to rely on the military and its harsh methods for an enduring solution.

G David Milton   Maruthancode

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First Published: Tue, July 11 2017. 22:32 IST