Noted peace activist and journalist Balraj Puri was on Saturday conferred the 14th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration here.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi presented the award to Mr. Puri at the function that was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mr. Puri has been a freedom fighter, journalist and human rights activist. He has written many books and articles on Jammu and Kashmir and the problems the State faces.

Congratulating Mr. Puri, Manmohan Singh said his “knowledge about Jammu and Kashmir is unmatched. Indeed I have learned a great deal about the State from Balraj Puri.”

Mr. Puri's Kashmir: Towards Insurgency is a primer for those interested in understanding the cause for the troubles in the State.

He was key in reconciling many of the differences between then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and late chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. He also mediated the famous 1975 Abdullah-Indira accord.

Mr. Puri was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2005 for his contribution in the field of literature and education.

Mr. Puri participated in the Quit India movement when he was 14. He organised student movements in Jammu in 1946 and later founded the Peace Volunteer Corps in 1947 to work for preventing communal riots at the time of partition.

Mr. Puri has spent over 60 years in building peace in Jammu and Kashmir. But his work was not confined to the State only. His interventions in Punjab and in certain volatile parts of Uttar Pradesh have helped defuse charged communal situations and paved the way for a dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution.

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