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'Pune 4 Kashmir' to bring the two cities closer

April 05, 2012 21:16 IST

The Commissioner of Srinagar Dr G M Kasba is scheduled to visit Pune to take the relationship between the two cities to the next level, reports A Ganesh Nadar

Breaking barriers, one man has reached out to a community that has been alienated through conflict and strife.

It all started when Sanjay Nahar started working among Kashmiri children when militancy in the region was at its peak. He realised that the kids would not be able to study in such an atmosphere. Since he already had his own school in Pune, he spoke to parents and encouraged them to send their children to Pune to study.

Today there are a total of 105 Kashmiri students, some studying in his school, others in college and some other working with his help in Pune. His NGO, Sarhaad, works among Kashmiri children.

Pune and Kashmir seem to have an emotional bonding.

Srinagar has been a fledging city. The municipal corporation there was started in 2003. The then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had invited the Pune mayor and corporators to visit Kashmir and make suggestions for its improvement.

Sanjay Nahaar suggested that they should cooperate in a way to benefit both cities. The mayor of Pune and his 36 corporators visited Srinagar and interacted with their counterparts.

They assured the Srinagar municipal corporation that they would help them design their drainage, water supply, roads and garbage disposal. They said they would provide all technical support.

At that time there were two Mughal garden in the country. One was in Kashmir and the other in Delhi. Pune decided to make its own Mughal garden and started planning it in 2005. It will be completed in 2012 and opened to the public. This would make it only the third one in the country.

A square in Pune called 'The Pune Kashmir Maitre Square' was named so to show the bond between the two cities. There is a hoarding at the square that shows a Maharashtrian girl with a Kashmiri girl and in the background is a Chinar and Peepul tree.

On May 20, 2012, Sarhaad will be organising the Pune festival in Kashmir.

Similarly, every year, Kashmir festival is held in Pune during December or January. Popular cultural troupes and artistes from Kashmir come to Pune to perform.

In July, 2008, the mayors and commissioners of the two cities signed an agreement of cooperation and called themselves sister cities. Lately, when Srinagar needed a garbage disposal machine they bought it through the Pune municipal corporation.

They have now invited the Commissioner of Srinagar Dr G M Kasba to visit Pune to take the relationship to the next level. Sarhaad is the coordinating agency for this cooperation.

Sanjay Nahar calls this project, 'Pune 4 Kashmir'.

A Ganesh Nadar in Pune