The Delhi University Students for Peace under their new avatar People for Peace, are all set for their third cycle march calling for a South Asian Union
In 2013, a group of students in India embarked on an ambitious journey with a powerful message. Calling themselves “Delhi University Students for Peace” they were joined by colleagues from other colleges and universities like Jamia Milia and JNU. The students called their journey “We Love Our Neighbour Pakistan”.
They started in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, the southern-most tip of the Indian peninsula, on June 1. Cycling a distance of 3,800 km they reached Wagah border on August 15.
They received “overwhelming support” along the way, gathering thousands of signatures endorsing their peace campaign.
In Vadodra six senior citizens joined them, including two septugenarians. Cycling over 70 km a day, the group traveled through Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana to reach Delhi.
Major political figures along the way extended support, including Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat. In New Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dixit organised a welcome reception for them at her residence.
However, they did not have visas to cross into Pakistan and the permission they had been hoping would arrive at the last minute did not materialize.
The following year, calling for the South Asian nations to come together in a South Asian Union along the lines of European Union, they made a shorter journey, starting from Delhi in early August. The veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar flagged them off and met them again when they reached Wagah border on Aug 13. There, they participated in a joint celebration of India and Pakistan Independence Days, an annual people-to-people tradition that started a couple of years after the Kargil war.
This time the cyclists are embarking on their third ‘journey for peace’ under the banner of People for Peace, their new avatar — “to make it broader”, explains group convener Praveen Singh. The 25 peace ambassadors will start from India Gate at on January 1, 2016 at 12 noon and end at Amritsar.
The aim is still the same: to urge Pakistan and India to resolve all differences through dialogue.
The group draws attention to the huge amount of tax money spent on defense of “to purchase massive weapons from Europe” that itself stays weapons free.
They are calling for the countries of South Asia to come together along the lines of the European Union.
“India and Pakistan have to play a major role to achieve the goal Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam (the whole world is a family),” says Praveen Singh.
He also invokes the Biblical saying “Love thy neighbour”. This includes next-door neighbours, adjoining villages, communities with different belief systems.
The march aims to sensitize people to avoid violence and communalism, says Singh.
“Your hatred towards a section of people should not induce you to bring them injustice,” he adds, quoting from the Quran.
— Beena Sarwar