VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES:
GANDHIAN UPVAS ENDS AFTER 72 HOURS AT RAJGHAT
WITH CITIZENS’ PLEDGE AGAINST VIOLENCE
New Delhi: “The 72 hour fast is yet another initiative against the forces of fascism and communalism. This Upvas is our way of expressing our anger against the Sangh Parivar groups, which are spearheading the hate campaign against minorities”, said Vimalbhai during the public meeting on the concluding day of the Upvas in front of Rajghat. He added that none should misunderstand Upvas as a mild and non-effective way of protest. He also said that the Upvas is only one of the first in a series of public action that the organising groups were planning.
The otherwise non-descript road opposite Raj Ghat was covered with several colourful banners calling for peace and justice to the victims of communal violence, as the three-day fast against atrocities on minorities in Orissa and elsewhere, ended today. The fast was led by Gandhian activist Vimalbhai.
Several others including journalists Sagari Chhabra, Suhas Borkar, activists like Rajendra Ravi, Ch. S. A. Azad, Vijayan MJ, Madhuresh Kumar, Vasundhara Jairath, Jibin R, Bipin Rai, Fr. Paulose, Nandini, Sunita, students from Vidyajyothi, etc joined in solidarity with the UPVAS by undertaking day long fast on the last day. Last day speakers included Ms. Roma (Kaimur Dalit Adivasi Mahila Union, UP), Com. PK Sahi (CPI-ML), Smt.Veena (Gandhi Sannidhi), Shri. Bhupender Singh Rawat (Jan Sangharsh Vahini). Shri Subhendu Ghosh (Pratidhvani) sang several songs and bhajans of Sahir Ludhianvi and Kabir.
Earlier, the 72 hour fast was started by children and dalit women from Gandhi Samadhi. It commenced in the presence of Planning Commission member Dr. Syeda Hameed, former MP Kuldip Nayyar, peace activist Kamla Basin and Sheeba George, Kusum Shah (Secretary Gandhi Hindustani Sahitya Sabha) and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan among others.
The fast concluded when Ms. Roma and Sister Shalini gave fruit juice to Vimalbhai who successfully completed 72 hours of Upvas. The organisers declared the end of this phase of public action against communalism with the collective pledge that was taken by all; to fight communalism and communal forces.
The fast was organised as part of different activities to express solidarity with the victims and to demand justice. The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a network of over 150 people’s movements across the country, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and Matu Jan Sanghtan organised the three day event, which included a public meeting on communalism and musical performances by activist groups and Gandhians. Sunday witnessed a children’s painting programme on communalism that was organised as part of the three-day event.
“This Upvas goes a long way in Delhi civil society’s response to the forces of communalism”, stated Smt. Nandini (Coordinator, JAGORI women’s resource centre). “Presence of children at the Upvas has been the most inspiring part of this public action against communalism. It is indeed a great realisation that children and youth participated in this three day event wholeheartedly, strengthening our vision for a peaceful India” added Shri. Rajendra Ravi (Convener, NAPM). An exhibition on ‘Fight against Communalism in India’ was organised at the venue by ANHAD, JAGORI and SANGAT.
Background – The ongoing orchestrated attack on minorities by the Sangh Parivar led communal forces in Orissa, Karnataka and other parts of India is a matter of deep concern for our entire society and polity. The violence has claimed several lives, hundreds have been wounded and women have been raped by organised gangs led by fundamentalist groups. Minority religious institutions have been destroyed or damaged in several states. Muslims and Christians have borne the brunt of the recent attacks. Refugees in shelter homes in Orissa are being forced to convert to Hinduism if they want to return back to their homes. Muslims are being labelled as ‘anti-national’.
The failure of the state (both at the UPA government level and state governments – mostly BJP ruled) to use constitutional provisions to protect minorities and arrest the guilty is a matter of deep shame. This crisis raises several questions about Indian democracy. Why is the state consistently failing to act against Hindutva forces? Why are all citizens not being treated equally? Do citizens have the right to choose and practice a religion of their choice? Unfortunately communal forces are driving the agenda and deciding the answer to these questions.
Madhuresh (9818905316), Vasundhara Jairath (9953034105) & Jibin (26680914/883)
On Behalf of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements and Delhi Solidarity Group
Some Photographs from the Upvas sthal:
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