2008 PEACE PILGRIMAGE TO INDIA & PAKISTAN
Pritam & Kundan Rohila
4410 Verda Lane NE
Keizer, OR 97303, USA
Pritam and Kundan Rohila will visit India October 23 through October 31, and Pakistan November 24 through December 8, for a personal Peace Pilgrimage. They will visit Bhopal, Varanasi, Allahabad, Lucknow in India, and Karachi, Haiderabad, Sadiqabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
Currently, India and Pakistan face more threat from within their borders than from each other. Therefore, during their pilgrimage, at each place, Pritam and Kundan aim to hold conversations with the local peace and harmony activists and supporters, to solicit their views on the best ways to
1. Promote peace in our families and harmony in our neighborhoods; and
2. Help improve the effectiveness of the local peace and harmony organizations.
Pritam, 73, was born at Jagadhari, Haryana. He attended school at Jagadhari, Jamuna Nagar, and Karnal in Haryana, Kalka in Himachal Pradesh, and finally at Rupar in Punjab, where he lived from 1945-54.
After Bachelor of Teaching degree from D. M. College, Moga, in 1957, he moved to Delhi. There he pursued his studies for Master’s degree in Psychology, and Post-graduate Diploma in Educational Guidance, and worked as a secondary school teacher for the Directorate of Education, and as Research Assistant and Counselor/Lecturer for the Department of Psychological Foundations of the National Institute of Education, National Council for Educational Research and Training.
In 1967, he moved to the United States, to assist two University of Oregon professors of psychology with their crosscultural research project involving American, Indian and Dutch adolescents.
After Ph.D. in psychology in 1969, he moved to Washington State, where he worked as a clinical psychologist. In 1979, he moved back to Oregon to work as a clinical neuropsychologist. Before he retired from in 1999, he had worked in a variety of settings, including schools, mental health clinics, mental and general hospitals, prisons, and private practice. Associated with a number of U.S. and international professional organizations, he continues to be a member of the American Psychological Association.
His wife, Kundan, 67, was born and raised in Gujarat. She studied fine arts at M. S. University, Baroda. She moved to USA in 1974. Now retired, she has worked as salesperson and office manager and is a certified fork-lift operator. Also she is an excellent cook.
Since 1984, Pritam and Kundan have lived at Keizer, a small town, bordering Salem, the Capital of Oregon. They have four children and seven grandchildren, who live in Rawanda, Africa and in the U.S. states of California, North Carolina and Washington.
Pritam and Kundan love gardening and have travelled in 51 countries. From time to time, Pritam and Kundan have played a leading role in community organizations relating to arts, cultural, and women.
Pritam was deeply influenced by his personal childhood experiences relating to India’s Partition in 1947. Every night, from the roof of his home at Rupar, he saw flames and smoke rising in the neighboring villages from Muslim homes, which were being torched by some Hindu and Sikh bigots.
One morning he witnessed the area Muslim leaving their homes on foot, for a make-shift camp on the outskirts of the town. Soon hordes of local Hindus and Sikhs ransacked the Muslim homes, and made away with whatever they could carry.
A few days later, as they were walking to Sirhind to board a train to Pakistan, a mob surrounded some of them in a muddy field, and killed them.
Also from the Hindu and Sikh refugees, he heard the tragic tales of atrocities inflicted on them by some Muslims in Pakistan.
For a long time, every day, newspapers and radio related heart-rending accounts of carnage, from both sides of the Indo-Pak border. Also, for many years Urdu literature in India carried stories and poetry related to the Partition. “Us ney uska naam poochha, aur chura ghonp diya,” a piece from Saadat Hasan Manto’s Siyah Hashiye (Black Margins), still invades Pritam’s consciousness from time to time.
Destruction of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, and the unfortunate events which followed it in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, were the proverbial last straw, which moved Pritam. Together with Kundan, and some of their Indian and Pakistani friends in Portland area of Oregon, Pritam initiated efforts to found ACHA, the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (www.asiapeace.org). He served as its first President, and is its Executive Director.
ACHA is dedicated to promoting peace in South Asia and harmony among South Asians everywhere. Asiapeace is its moderated electronic discussion forums. Also ACHA offers four electronic bulletins: Kashmir News, and Peace and Harmony News from India Pakistan every day; Peace and Harmony News from South Asia every week; and ACHA Peace Bulletin every month. Through them ACHA reaches roughly 2,500 individuals and groups, spread across five continents.
For the last few years, ACHA has been spearheading a campaign to promote peace between India and Pakistan (www.indiapakistanpeace.org). The campaign urges people to organize India-Pakistan Peace Day everywhere, any day between Pakistan Independence on August 14 and the International Day of Peace on September 21.
“Peace in My Family, Harmony in My Neighborhood,” is the theme for this year’s India-Pakistan Peace Day celebrations. The following Pledge of Peace & Harmony is the core feature of the celebrations:
I pledge –
I will not use my hands or my words to harm anyone;
I will treat my sisters and daughters with at least as much love and respect as I treat my brothers and sons; and
I will treat all my neighbors as deserving of my respect, regardless of their class, caste, sect or religion.
Also a Virtual Memorial for the Victims of India’s Partition in 1947 has been set up at http://noosphere.typepad.com/virtual_memorial/ Last year’s Petition of Apology to the victims of Partition is also open for signatures and comments at www.indiapakistanpeace.org
In 2004-05, Pritam and Kundan were members of a Peace and Goodwill Mission to India and Pakistan. Twenty-three non-resident Indians and Pakistanis from Canada, U.K., and USA visited Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Amritsar, Srinagar, Delhi and Mumbai. They interacted with university students, media persons, bar associations, women and labor leaders, politicians, chambers of commerce and government officials, including Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.
Monday, September 22, 2008
2008 PEACE PILGRIMAGE TO INDIA & PAKISTAN