The All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation organised a meeting in Chandigarh on Sunday, 18 Feb 2018 to pay tributes to noted Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir.
Noted academics and writers shared personal memories of Asma, who passed away on February 11 in Lahore, Pakistan. The speakers recalled how Asma Jahangir fought relentlessly for human rights, women rights and for rights of minorities in Pakistan throughout her life and never feared taking on even the mightiest.
“She started early, and fought for every cause worth fighting for”, said senior journalist Nirupama Subramanian. “She began her crusade at a young age during the military regime of Gen. Zia ul Haq, remembered as the darkest period of Pakistani history that also severely affected women’s rights. Asma’s main fight was against the military’s interference in politics”.
For her struggles, Asma’s detractors branded as an enemy agent, said Subramanian. “The real tribute to Asma Jahangir will be to learn to fight like her”.
Prof. Chaman Lal, ex-president Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association, said that Asma had many firsts to her credit, always taking people along with her. Together with other notables, she formed Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and was its first Secretary General. She formed a free legal aid organisation for the first time in Pakistan with other women lawyers, which also ran the women’s shelter Dastak. He said that Asma Jahangir was remembered as the “Lioness of Punjab”.
General Secretary AIPSO Roshan Lal Moudgil said that she relentlessly fought for human rights and women rights for 46 years against all odds. Harchand Singh Batth, Vice President AIPSO, shared his experiences on his visit to Pakistan.
Chanchal Manohar Singh, Secretary Indo Pak Peace Society, recollected his visit to Lahore for Asma Jahangir’s son’s wedding a couple of years ago, remembering how she came personally to Wagah border to receive her guests from India. He showed a shawl that she gifted each of them.
Veteran member of the College Teachers Union and Marxist activist Prof. H. S. Mehta chaired the meeting. Other speakers included Prof. R. N. Sharma, Rajiv Godara, Indu Dhawan,and Jassi Sangha, all of whom remembered Asma Jahangir with affection and respect.
— aka with inputs from Neel Kamal, TOI.