Buddhists, Muslims Break Ice

February 14th 2006

By Aarti Tikoo Singh
Leh, 15 February 2006 (The Times of India) - Jak Nyan Jik Zing, Jak Zang Jik Thun (On a bad day we fight, on good days, we meet) is an old Ladakhi adage.  On the eve of Valentine's Day, two communities are bringing back love to the rarefied Himalayan air.

After days of tension, Buddhists and Muslims met in Leh and broke the ice.  They shook hands, embraced each other and walked hand-in-hand as strong northern sunrays melted the snow that cloaked Ladakh for last three days.

The initiative for the peace procession came from both the communities.  The biggest binding factor in this initiative was a written appeal sent across by Buddhist-Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, expressing anguish over communal violence in Ladakh.

Kashmir divisional commissioner Basharat Dar read out the Dalai Lama's appeal. 'Both communities should understand that their religious sentiments could be misused by anti-religious elements,' the appeal said.

The conference cheered at the appeal and instantly, Ladakh Muslim Association chief Shafi Lassu responded: 'We will take this as an order and not merely an appeal because we see His Highness Dalai Lama as not only a religious leader but as a messenger of peace.'

The two communities had been at loggerheads after Muslims in the Buddhist-dominated Bodh Kharboo village found torn pages of Koran scattered at a local mosque.  Agitated Muslims throughout Ladakh targeted Buddhists and attacked their holy places.  Buddhists retaliated.

On Monday, leaders of both communities pledged to restore peace.  Muslim leader Abbas Abidi said, 'We believe we all are shepherds and have to look after our own flock.  We'll ensure there are no attacks on Buddhists.' Buddhists spiritual leader Tagfdan Rinpoche said the centuries-old communal harmony would be maintained.

Members of the two communities first went to the local mosque and then to the monastery for undoing the wrong.  It was decided to constitute district level committees comprising one member each from Buddhist, Shias, Sunnis, Christians and Gompa (monastery) association to avoid frictions.

All the participants later held a peace procession, went to the mosque and monastery together.

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