Edit/Op-Ed

Celebrating Harmony and Peace

Ram Puniyani

Communal violence is the sad reality of South Asian states. India in particular has been witnessing this violence more so after the coming of British. British in pursuance of their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’, introduced communal historiography and sections of population who wanted to preserve their feudal privileges, picked up this version of History and used religion as a cover for their politics. Both Hindu and Muslim communalism, in a way played a supplementary role to the British policy of divide and rule. The communal violence, which has been stalking the streets of India is due to numerous factors and is causing immense suffering to the society. Many a social group and many an individuals are doing their bit to ensure that the flames of communal violence are doused and amity prevails in the society.

In this light, it was heartening to note the observance of ‘Peace and Harmony’ day, on the anniversary of Vasant–Rajab on 1st July in Ahmadabad. Vasant Rao Hegiste and Rajab Ali Lakhani were two friends who were working for the amity in the society. In the communal conflagration which broke out in Ahmadabad in the wake of post partition tragedy, both of them went in the city to restore peace and amity. The crowd, maddened by the feeling of hate, killed them. The day of their martyrdom is being celebrated in Gujarat by various groups. One recalls there have been many outstanding individuals, thinkers, social activists who have sacrificed their lives on the altar of communal peace. The name of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi comes to one’s mind for his selfless work in the Kanpur violence of 1931. For Gandhi, father of the nation, the Hindu Muslim amity was on the top of agenda and when whole nation was celebrating the release from the clutches of colonial powers he was doing his best in the riot ravaged Noakhali and other places. His efforts were superhuman, as he did not care for his safety, what was paramount for him was as to how to restore the sanity amongst the violent mobs. It is because of this that Lord Mountbatten the last Viceroy of British Empire and First Governor General of Independent India called him as the ‘one man army’.

One is sure there must be various glorious examples of such superhuman efforts in our community, who need to be remembered with respect. One needs to learn a lot from their values while celebrating their anniversaries. It is all the more important in today’s India as communal violence is, unfortunately marching with relentless speed, changing it’s form and nature constantly. One has seen that since the decade of 1980s the violence in many a north Indian cities, Meerut, Malyana, Bhagalpur and Delhi was in a way revival of this horrendous phenomenon in the Independent India. The massacre in Nellie and Delhi were too dangerous in their extent and damage to human lives. Further down the Mumbai violence of 1992-93 gave us a warning signal that things are worsening on the front of intercommunity relations. This was followed by targeting another minority, the Christians, and brutal murder of Pastor Stains and later the Kandhmal violence came as yet another eye opener for us.

The root cause of the communal violence is the politics in the name of religion. In this the political, social, economic agenda of vested interests are presented in the language of religion. Unfortunately in India this phenomenon is running parallel to the process of global aims of Imperial powers that in pursuit of their control over oil wells have promoted fundamentalism and terrorism in the name of religion. The Imperial power has also demonized one of the major religious communities of the World. This present era has been the one where the deeper process of ‘alliance of civilizations’ has been undermined and the flagship of the vested interests has been the thesis of’ ‘Clash of civilizations’, which is a falsification of the reality of the human history. One knows that human society has progressed due to alliance of diverse civilizations and cultures. While the rulers and affluent have been fighting for increasing their power and wealth, the average people of the world have been allying, intermixing with each other leading to high degree of synthesis in all aspects of human culture, be it food habits, clothing, language, literature, architecture, or be

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