Khush: What do you have to say about government authorities there and what kind of help would you expect for your NGO from gov / non – gov organizations and civilians of the area?
Adhik Kadam : – National issue of 3 nations – India, Pakistan China. United Nations is also continuously watching what is happening here. It is having its own stand in national / international level. 1cr 40 lakh people are staying in J&K State. It’s our responsibility to serve them. After all administration of that region is under government of India. Yes they are fighting with Indian government and establishment. I do not want to get into political discussion. As an establishment of J and K, they are not working properly for the locals. Almost every area needs improvement.
E.g. In Maharashtra – has emergency ICU service 108 to get ambulance. This type of system is absolutely missing in this state. J&K has only 2 ambulances – 1 for CM of J&K and one is government convoy. Nothing for people. If central govt. is sending money then where is it? Why is it not used for people? All medical facilities are like sea. May be there are lots of loop holes. This is responsibility for govt. to give people get right kind of services. Because this not done right people like me have to be here or else I have no role here.
Khush: You being a Hindu how do you feel? Not that it really matters being a person you really are.
Adhik Kadam: When there is mob mentality carrying some grudges, it can turn into anything. Kashmiri and its were thrown out of the valley. Conflict between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pundits exists now but earlier they lived like a family. Few people bring politics and created this fight or else they were together since years. Now they are 60 +. Few years they will be nowhere in or outside Kashmir. People who live here are Muslims and their children are Muslims. Kids of Kashmiri Pundits growing up outside Kashmir don’t have any emotional bond with Kashmir. They just know they were thrown out. So people who are connected with heart are not there. Hence its matter of concern. I am working with both communities. Initially they asked me to get out. They did not trust a non-Muslim. Still many helped me. Last 22 yrs. I never purchased food. This 100% Muslim community gave me food. Same in Jammu I am working for Hindu community. Developing that trust I had to go through all the fire (Fatwas, religious fatwas, etc. don’t give food / space to sleep because he is non-Muslim). But now they know my work has nothing to do with religion. I am here to help them irrespective. Now they have seen me work every single day. Now bond is based on trust and hence love is automatically flourishing. That’s why I can work for kids and girls. I am a Hindu staying with Muslim girls taking care of them. This is something very different. For Kashmiris I am Indian. Now I feel like I am on spiritual journey.
Khush : Would you like to share one bad and one good experience:
Adhik Kadam: In 1997 we worked with lot of NON Profit organizations. 4-5 districts. It was intensive research program. Me and my sister we were here. We did survey for UNICF funded research. We were in Kargil war for 6 months working. 26,000 families were migrated. School s were setup in camps for 5-6 months. All voluntarily. Same thing done for UNICEF. Met anti- Hindu leaders 20-30 times a day. We understood that we are in the areas where these things are bound to happen. One day we worked till 6:45 pm and we decided to come back to town. It was kind of getting dark. Some people came close and we realized they were holding AK 47. We were scared. Bharati was with me on bike. I told today is our last day. I was numb. They understood I am not stopping. 4 in front and 4 in back held my bike. Vehicle stopped without break even when accelerator was completely on. One Militant hit AK -47 in my knee. I was in complete shock. Bharati was afraid. “Bhai sahib we are from Bombay and we are here only for children.” Someone came and started talking in English. He asked everyone to get calm. He asked where from Bombay. She said we are actually from Pune but mentioned Bombay thinking you would not know about Pune. Militant got livid and asked why did you lie? He then asked about few places in Pune. Then we came to know that he had been to Pune by train in 1997 to take admission in MBBS. He got information that his brother got killed in cross firing that’s why he came back to Kupfara. Then he went for training and became militant. “I understand why you are here”, said the militant “We know what you are doing we are just doing this to protect ourselves. No Muslim will hurt you here ever. App Khuda ka kaam kar rahe ho.” Then they then helped me start the bike and let us go!! “This was my 1st encounter with 13 militants. After that moment my fear crossed fearlessness. And later even fearlessness wasn’t there.
Khush: So you are still a Hindu though?
Ahik Kadam: I am still not with any religion. I am Hindu. Working for all non-Hindu girls. I am not converted. Now you can’t say I am one or other. In Himalaya I am connected to Buddhism, Islam, Hindus, and Christians. I am well connected with them who are coming and meditating there. One of the masters told me – When a drop of water coming from cloud reached earth, it’s basically ultimate journey is ocean. Since we are going to ocean why not give some water to others on the way. This is what we all have to do. I am going towards my God/ my ocean and I am giving / doing whatever I can. This water is for all for humans / animas/ nature (no Hindu or Muslim here). Mother Nature come in you and you keep giving on spiritual path. Religion is just a tool to understand one part of life. I’m so lucky I am working in this area.
Now we are building homes or all kids. We have to go beyond our own borders. If I think Hindu/ Muslim we can’t do anything. We experience marriage function and death at LOC. Pakistani village and Indian village both celebrate happy and painful moments together till now. So I figured there is no border actually. In Poona I thought different, but here people are connected with land/ language/ functions. I don’t feel there is any Pakistan or India. Hearts of people are completely borderless. Though there is a border still they celebrate everything without crossing borders and across River “Kishanganga ” in (also called “Neelam in Pakistan”).
Khush: Future personal plans and future plans for NGO?
Adhik Kadam: I have no personal plans. We are building permanent homes in Jammu and Kashmir. Even if I am not alive the structure shall be there for next 50 or more years to benefit future generations. We also run ambulances for critical care service. Currently 9 ambulances are working. We are looking for more such ambulances for community and so we can save more people. We need all kinds of financial support. Lots of times volunteer support is needed as well. If nothing prayers are needed. They have been instrumental in protecting us all in all dire situations.