Ayodhya holds communal harmony convention on Martyrs’ Day

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

This past 30th January, the Martyrs’ Day when the Nation pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi, some dozens of noble souls gathered in Ayodhya from across the country to organize a convention on communal harmony – their way to pay homage to the messiah of peace who was assassinated by a Hindutva extremist on the day in 1948.

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The selection of Ayodhya for the communal harmony program reminded one the day, 44 years after Bapu’s murder, when communal harmony and peace was killed by demolishing Babri Masjid by the tribe of Godse ideology.

“This city gave a big jolt to communal harmony and fuelled communal fire in the country, so message of communal harmony should go from here, loudly,” says Arvind, an activist of Asha Parivar of noted human rights activist Sandeep Pandey.

It has never been easy for organizers that include Ayodhya ki Awaz, Asha Parivar, Vishwa Yuva Sadbhao Parishad and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to conduct such programs here in this city. This was evident from the presence of police and intelligence officers at the program at regular interval. On 6th December 2006 when they took out a padyatra from Hanuman Garhi to Kabir Math, the venue of the program in Ayodhya, they were not allowed, and some time later arrested.

On why local police do not easily allow them to hold such peaceful programs, Jugal Kishore Shastri who is leading Ayodhya ki Awaz, key organizer of the program, said: “Administration, judiciary and media are not friendly to minorities. They have bias against them. Here in Ayodhya Police have disturbed us several times. We have struggled.”

“We went to jail several times but we did not bend and the result is we are able to hold the program. First time I was sent to jail in October 1988 when I was working for peace in Ayodhya. On 6th December 1992 when I protested VHP their leaders told karsevaks to put me on fire along Muslims. I was arrested then but released. I was again arrested along with 39 social activists on 6th December 2006.”

About Ayodhya ki Awaz, he said: “We have worked on three fronts. First, to isolate the communal elements. Second, to make an environment where court verdict on Babri Masjid-Ram Janam Bhoomi issue is accepted by all. For this we tried to strengthen the secular forces. Third is to make an environment where locals – Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs, excluding VHP or any Sangh outfit and communal elements – sit together and reach a solution to the dispute unanimously.”

Many activists attending the program said police did not create any trouble when Hindutva outfits hold any program here in Ayodhya. Participants comprised both Hindus and Muslims from Ayodhya and other districts of Uttar Pradesh besides many from Rajsthan, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, MP, Mumbai, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. The first session was presided over by Badshah Khan, Faizabad secretary of Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind.

At the end of the two day program it was decided to hold several communal harmony programs across the country this year. They include a communal harmony campaign in Gujarat, a communal harmony camp in Ajmer, a communal harmony convention in Kheda district of Gujarat and a padyatar from Ayodhya to Ajmer. All these programs will be supervised by Delhi-based activist Faisal Khan.