THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 19 AUGUST, 2019
A Story of Compassion - When Sikhs Rescued Kashmiri Girls Stranded in Patna
Photos and Video
NEW DELHI: "We want to go back to our homes,” was the panicky call that software engineer Harminder Singh Ahluwalia received a week ago. On the other side of the phone were 32 Kashmiri girls, terrified as he recalls it, and panicking visibly after the government moves in Kashmir. And even more so after a Chief Ministers comments about the availability of Kashmiri girls.
Ahluwalia became the contact person as out of sheer humanity he posted a video urging all Kashmiris who felt unsafe in any part of India to call him, or go to the nearest gurudwara. The video went viral, generated huge response, and one was this phone call from the young girls who did not know what to do, where to go. They were all in Patna, having reached there just about five days before as part of a Skill India program for training in nursing.
Ahluwalia sent out another appeal to the Sangath for donations to buy their tickets and got immediate help from a Sikh businessman who said he should immediately purchase the tickets, and return the money when the donations trickled in. He went ahead and did just that.
One woman Ruqaiya who was handling the girls in Patna said that she had contacts in the government. And then contacted him to say that the Army would help reach the girls to their homes once they arrived in Srinagar. They were from five districts in Kashmir -- Budgam, Baramulla, Uri, Shopian and Kupwara. So Ahluwalia said that then the girls did not need to be accompanied, but that finally four Sikh volunteers had to go with them as they were scared to go with the soldiers.
The girls were escorted to Srinagar. The Army provided vehicles and along with the volunteers each girl was taken to her home, amidst joy and tears of relief. The families had not been in touch for two weeks then, and the relief was palpable.
Why did you help them? Ahluwalia did not hesitate in his response: We have seen 1984 (when the Sikhs were butchered in Delhi). We have seen the violence and how closely we were targeted. Now we see the Kashmiris being targeted after Pulwama, we cannot accept this.”
Besides, he smiled, “to help those in need is in our DNA.”
What about the charge that we see on the social media, of Sikhs supporting the Kashmiris because they are Khalistanis?
“That charge has been levelled against those who go against the interests of those in power. You are Pakistani, you are ISI, we have heard all this before and now again as well,” he said adding that this trolling did not phase him, and would not deter him from standing up for those who needed help at any point in time.