Peace Action in Delhi Violence Affected Areas
Delhi Violence claimed more than 50 lives. Hindus and Muslims both faced wrath of extremists of both sides. Fuelled by many objectionable statements and gripped under politics of left and right, secular and communal and even patriotic and seditious, this violence brought a clear fact that no hands are sane and every political group and individual seeking opportunity. This has also brought an ugly fact that even the capital city of world’s largest democracy is unsafe and sitting at the ignition point of communal conflict in this 21st century of science on the land that is famous for its glorious history of tolerance, co-existence, love, fraternity and spirituality.
Incidentally, this is 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi, the ‘Father of Nation’ for India who has been widely recognized and followed across the world for his fearless leadership to promote peace and non-violence. It is a history that when India was getting its Independence in 1947 and almost all political leaders were gathering in New Delhi to witness the historic moment, Gandhi was in Noakhali (now in Bangladesh) to work on communal harmony as the place was witnessing Hindu-Muslim riots. Such actions always made Gandhi an extra-ordinary leader among many of his contemporaries and even prior and after him. In the similar way, when in 1969, Government was observing centenary year of Gandhi, a Hindu-Muslim conflict in Ahemdabad, Gujrat pulled Socialist Jayprakash Narayan and Gandhian Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan to sit on fast in Gandhian style against the communal violence and brought ‘Insani-Biradari’ in light.
Now, when Delhi’s Jafrabad, Maujpur, Khajuri Khas and other areas of North East Delhi affected by communal violence, civil society were the first to respond, primarily through providing relief materials and human rights groups with their fact finding reports through talks with local people. But Gandhi’s mission was still incomplete till peace marches jointly by Hindus-Muslims both started in area. First such effort was done locally by people in few streets and later a group of peace activists comprising organisations like National Youth Project (NYP), Integrated Volunteers Network (IVN), Diversified Intervention of Youth Awareness (DIYA), Global Youth Peace Committee (GYPC), Milestone and others started doing that.
With comprehensive meetings at Gandhi Samadhi Rajghat and other public places and institutions, group started with brainstorming and found that in addition to its own relief works, it will try to support other relief works and most importantly will spread message for peace among people through joint marches by Hindus and Muslims.
With the inspiration of Gandhi and Dr. S. N. Subbarao (A veteran Gandhian activist in his 90’s known as The Living Gandhi) and with the experience of volunteering, activists of IVN, NYP and DIYA alongwith local youths (many among whom were already members of NYP, a trust founded by Dr. Subbarao that works with youth camps since last many years and has trained many thousands youth in peace, diversity and harmony and integration), people started with concept of peace marches with ordinary banners scribed with peace slogans like ‘Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai- Aapas me sab bhai bhai’ (Eng: Be it Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Christian, All are like brothers) and ‘Nafrat chhodo-Dil Jodo- Bharat Jodo’ (Reject the Hatred, Join the Hearts-Unite India).
Despite information to local administration in advance, police teams first stopped the march and were not ready to allow it saying no such march were allowed yet, but with the team members convincing powers and assurance that local people are with them and they were already in coordination with local administration for sending relief, police teams communicated among themselves and allowed it for first stretch from Seelampur to Maujpur Chowk , approx. 2.5-3 km distance where 20 of us marched with slogans for peace. We crossed over few thousand people and many among them were seem hopeful from their eyes. Few even joined hands to greet, few old aged waved hands as their blessings and this is how Volunteers for Peace moved.
Many more stretches covered in these everyday peace walks in affected areas. After this, few other groups also led peace marches in these areas and probably police and local administration cooperated with them for the reason that their ground impact are effective. One such organization named Khudai Khidmatgar Hind led by its co-founder Anjum Amir Khan alongwith Gandhi Peace Foundation, Sarv Seva Sangh, Harijan Sevak Sangh, Nirmala Deshpande Sansthan and others were completely involved with providing relief materials to affected families. They also had held a public gathering at Jantar-Mantar Delhi in solidarity and for appeal for peace.
With these efforts, it seems that dedication of people like Dr. Subbarao who spent all his life to train youths for peace, diversity and national integration on the path of Gandhi is still valuable and a secret treasure for our society. These Gandhian-Socialist way are befitting alternative to gun-policy of violent ideologies and actions and these are the only path to ensure National Integration.
(Writer is a Petroleum Engineer, Youth activist and follower of Gandhian-Socialist ideology.)