Jammu & Kashmir :Confidence Building exercise

 The UT of Jammu & Kashmir  today faces a vulnerable transition, after decades of bloody  conflict fought between the government and terrorists. Kashmir peace foundation members observed that religious figures should participate and  facilitate interfaith dialogue addressing reconciliation, justice and coexistence in Jammu & Kashmir, inter community members  engaged in conversation with participants on those issues,elicited strong emotions, expressed to the meeting how powerful it was to have witnessed religious figures, revered social actors in Kashmir’s deeply faithful society, engaged across traditional religious and ethnic divides. It matters because religion holds symbolic power, despite the common ground and mutual respect between our communities .

The exchange was remarkable for its honesty. The interfaith dialogue demonstrated, the participants had found the means to speak to each other with honesty, and to respond with compassion and acknowledgement rather than defensiveness, seeking to understand the perspectives and experiences of other communities. The result was a tentative relationship of trust that the group pledged to build on, in order to identify and mobilize around issues of justice. Interfaith dialogue was  increasingly offered as a concrete means to bridge inter-communal divides, build coalitions, and challenge the social-psychological dynamics that can fuel warfare and injustice.

The participants expressed that Interfaith dialogue can be particularly a useful tool for building awareness among majority communities about the experiences and needs of minorities, and for bringing simmering tensions to the surface and addressing them in a potentially constructive manner. It can also be useful as a means to prevent conflict by strengthening relationships between communities and thereby decreasing the potential for communal divides to become fault-lines of violence,especially in places where religion is fuelling inter-communal violence and exclusion, interfaith dialogue, when strategically designed and carefully implemented, can be used alongside other peace- and justice-making techniques to challenge and transform dynamics driving injustice and conflict.

The participants  expressed Interfaith dialogue can strengthen cultural and institutional commitments to religious, ethnic, racial and communal pluralism.  Participants agreed that this chapter will seek to highlight the opportunities offered by interfaith dialogue, as well as its limits, as a means to raise awareness about minority rights and as a tool for conflict prevention .

Interfaith dialogue refers to facilitated discussions on specific topics held between members of different faith communities, with an expressed objective/ objectives. These objectives can include building mutual understanding and acceptance, correcting stereotypes, and building relationships in order to address common problems. The goal is not to convert, to assert the superiority of one faith or to conflate different religions , but to appreciate similarities and differences between religions and for participants to understand how their faith shapes their positions on particular issues. In other words, participants in these dialogues can use their religious faith and tradition not only to build relationships, but as doorways into discussions about central social and political concerns driving inter-communal conflict. The purpose is not to debate in the sense that one side seeks to ‘win’ an argument by aggressively challenging or seeking to delegitimize the viewpoint of another, but rather to interact respectfully with the purpose of hearing and understanding the other’s perspective hence finding ways forward. Effective interfaith dialogue moves participants beyond superficial levels of engagement, namely mere platitudes seeking to avoid offending anyone or a series of speeches offered, between which there is little conversation, and into a more profound interaction in which participants can honestly reflect on and struggle together over potentially sensitive and provocative issues. At this level of discussion, participants tackle not only the common views shared between the traditions of different faith .

Participants  pushed to observe how their behavior is or is not living up to their ideals,. Our religious convictions, attitudes, sensitivities and prejudices do influence to a great extent our approach to the questions of the day.’ In other words, when tapping into individuals’ religious beliefs and sentiments, peacemakers work at a level that is highly persuasive with respect to the determination of one’s behaviour and attitude as an important means to promote pluralism, and to decrease bias and bigotry that can lead to hate crimes, violence and discrimination. The participants urged more such routine conferences & webinar should take place .

The  prominent people who partcipartied in 2nd  interfaith dailouge

Mr Muzaffar Shah  chief ANC

Mr Ravinder Sharma spokes person Congress

Mr Wahid Rehman Parrey  former MLC PDP

Dr Sameer Koul spokes person  NC

Mr Y  Targami   former MLA CPI

Mr Satinder Singh   ( advocate Kashmir ) sikh minority  kashmir

Mr Ashok Bhan ( advocate supreme court )

Mr Sunil Wattal   ( IT expert )

Mr  Gopi Krishen Muju (  publisher)

Mr Desh Rattan Nigam ( RSS spoke person )

Mr Junaid Mir ( chief JKWP )

Mr Guftar Choudary ( spokes person JKGB community

(Excerpts  On 9th August 2020, evening interfaith dialogue for peace and justice took place between thinkers & political leaders of  J & K through a webinar.)

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