Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi Monday urged children in Kashmir to “stay away from violence” but skirted questions on the use of pellet guns, Public Safety Act (PSA) on minors and imposition of Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state.
Speaking at a gathering of students from schools in Kashmir, Satyarthi said he would not go into what had happened in the past.
“Today I have come here to be the strongest voice for protection of the children of Kashmir,” he said. In an apparent reference to Hurriyat leaders and militants, the Indian social activist said children “should not be used for violence.”
Satyarthi, who is criss-crossing India as part of his campaign to “spread awareness about crimes against children,” said he will “knock the doors of governments in Delhi and in Srinagar and tell them to allow the children to study and rise as high as they can.”
“I will make appeals and prayers for you and need be, I will struggle too, provided you stay away from violence,” said Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for “waging a peaceful struggle to protect children from being exploited as labour.”
Satyarthi made a strong appeal that children should not be used for violence and condemned the burning of schools.
“I have one request – stay away from violence. Do not use children for violence. Do whatever you want, whichever way you want. You will face the consequences or you may gain something. However, children are for moving ahead.”
“They can achieve everything with education, he said, adding, “They are your children and our children too.”
Satyarthi said violence has not solved any issue the world over as it only perpetuated more violence. Apparently referring to burning of schools in Kashmir during last year’s agitation, Satyarthi said such incidents saddened him.
“Whenever a school is set on fire anywhere in the world, and we had many such incidents, whoever might be behind those, dreams of hundreds of students go up in flames. Their future perishes.”
“The power gained by education, from books and computers, is far more stronger than any chair one can occupy,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the society has to speak up about child abuse rather than silencing the victims due to social stigma.
“My request is to the parents to talk with their children to find out if they are suffering from any kind of abuse be it at home or schools or anywhere else,” she said.
(Picture: Kailash Satyarthi and Mehbooba Mufti at an event in Srinagar on Monday/ Zargar Zahoor)