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How All India Radio is working overtime to bring Kashmir back into India's fold

Ever since the terrorist attack on Amarnath pilgrims on July 12, All India Radio (AIR) has been running programmes for audiences in J&K, PoK and parts of Pakistan that highlight the involvement of Muslims in maintaining the shrine and running the yatra as a trust-building effort. These programmes have been broadcast in six languages — Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Gogri, Pahari and Hindi — and they attempt to showcase the anger Kashmiris felt at the terror attack.

A programme broadcast on Tuesday, a day after the attack that killed seven pilgrims, traced the origin of the cave that’s home to the shrine. ‘Putting Amarnath in Perspective’ showcased the narrative of the cave being discovered by a Muslim saint and told of how the shrine has been maintained by Muslims for years. It also said several local Muslims are actively involved in hosting pilgrims, transporting them and other yatra-related activities.

Another radio special looked at how 20,000 Muslim workers, including 7,000 owners of ponies, work on the yatra route. It also highlighted stories of locals helping and often coming to the rescue of Hindu pilgrims during accidents or bad weather in the valley, especially near the Baltal base camp.

The programmes also publicised comments by Muslims across the state condemning the attack on the Amarnath yatra and describing it as an attack on humanity.

Thousands of Muslims join the yatra every year, offering their services as workers, guides of ponies and horses carrying pilgrims as well as bearers of palanquin, said one feature. Muslim youth help older pilgrims climb the difficult Chandanwari track up to the cave on palanquins.

“In places like the valley, AIR is heard widely and in some areas it’s the only medium of listening to news. We wanted peace to prevail and check any backlash following the incident,” a senior official said.

While home minister Rajnath Singh defended the spirit of Kashmiriyat, All India Radio on Thursday talked about “rishiyat (cult of rishis)” and “Kashmiri Shaivism” that was rich in faith and spirituality and never at odds with Islam, as there were many similarities between the two. The programmes stressed the fact that Islam considered it “reprehensible” to attack people belonging to other faiths. “J&K has had several sages who have done tapasya (penance) in the hills. It has had Muslims saints who have taught lessons to the world.

The lessons are not different from each other. Anyone thinking of harming someone because his faith is different is doing grave disservice to his own religion,” was the commentary on one programme.

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