STATE TIMES NEWS BHADARWAH: More than 1,500 students on Tuesday took out a massive rally in this picturesque town of Doda district, chanting slogans for peace and unity and requesting everyone to maintain communal harmony. The army-supported ‘Unity Peace Rally’ was taken out from community hall Kotli and after passing through different localities of the town, including general bus stand, Chobia link road and Lakshmi Narayan Chowk, concluded at historical Seri Bazar. The participants took a pledge to maintain peace and communal harmony at all costs. The rally assumes significance as it came a few days after some youth of rival communities raised slogans and pelted stones at each other ahead of the second phase of polling in the district, which falls in the Udhampur parliamentary constituency on April 18. “No power can disturb peace and harmony in the Bhaderwah Valley,” read the banners carried by the students as they were joined by teachers, professors, army and senior police officers, besides civil society members from different communities. “The majority of the citizens are peace loving and do not want conflict or communal tension as peace is imperative not only for development of the area but also for our studies as well,” Shagun Manhas, a participant, said. Mohammad Altaf Nakshbandi, another participant, said communal tension often makes people forget the real issues being faced by them. “Only when we have peace in the region, we can actually move on to fight for issues that matter like better education and healthcare,” he said. Renowned educationist Arif Rana Bhadarwahi said it was heartening to see the response to the rally and thanked the army for its support to make it a success. “The real issues that people here face are inflation, poverty and social decay in this picturesque valley. Will any kind of communal flare up help that? No,” social activist Amrik Singh said, adding that the wedge between the communities would only hurt both.
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