A long run for peace and humanity
Sufiya, a long-distance runner from Delhi, reached Burdwan on Friday morning, running through the Golden Quadrilateral highway network to spread the message of amity and fraternity as part of her mission titled HOPE (humanity, oneness, peace and equality).
The ultrarunner — an athlete who runs footraces longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195km — and her husband Vikash do not use their last names to shed religious and caste-based identities. At Burdwan, Sufiya received a warm welcome at a gurdwara.
Sufiya holds the Guinness World Record for the “fastest journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on foot by a female”, which she set on July 21 after completing the journey in 87 days, two hours and 17 minutes.
Sufiya started her HOPE journey on February 8 from New Delhi with the target of running 6,000km through Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai in 150 days. “My goal is to send a message of humanity, oneness, peace and equality at a time there are divisive attempts to drive a wedge between people on religious lines. The prevalent situation has prompted this run,” she said.
“I humbly request people not to be gullible, not to believe in divisive propaganda, especially the sort circulated on social media,” she added.
Sufiya and Vikash had been in the civil aviation industry, working for a decade with Air India before quitting their jobs last year to start promoting communal harmony. “We don’t believe in divisions. We don’t even use our last names. We want to do our bit to help the idea of India, its secular ideals,” said Vikash, accompanying his wife on the journey.
On Friday morning, Sufiya was received by a group of youths and invited to a gurdwara, where she was felicitated. The gurdwara authorities welcomed her and wished her success.
“While divisive politics and activities to promote hatred are rampant across the country, including our national capital, this lady is trying to drive home a very different message. It is heartening to see,” said Mahender Singh Saluja, president of the Burdwan Gurdwara Committee.
After the felicitation, when Sufiya was asked whether she faced any trouble on her way, she said: “People have welcomed me wherever I have been so far.”
“I am really happy to be doing this,” she added.