Karwan-e-Mohabbat: Healing wounded souls of India

Harsh Mander says, there is fear instilled among minority community especially among Muslims and Dalits, and majority's silence on hate crimes is frightening

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Kolkata: Hate crimes, riots and caste atrocities is not a new thing in India, however, in the last three years, the rate of such crimes has been on the rise. From Jharkhand to Rajasthan, and even Delhi, people have witnessed a rise in the number of people being beaten to death over rumor of beef consumption, cow smuggling for slaughter, and cow skinning.

However, the latest addition to these hate crimes is the fact that in most cases police remains as mute spectators, while the government denies the occurrence of such crimes, as the police gives  clean chit to the accused.

Concerned about the issue of hate crimes becoming a norm in India, many individuals have come forward to erase the divide.

Amidst all, one unique initiative is that of former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and activist Harsh Mander, which has the likes of John Dayal on board for a journey called Karwan-e-Mohabbat or the Caravan of Love. Flagged of from Assam on September 4, it will be travelling to eight Indian states – Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Odissa.

 

The motive is simple – make the victims feel, they are not alone, provide them legal aid call upon people from the majority community and motivate them enough to not remain a mute spectator to hate crimes.

In his own words, Mander describes two-day stay of Karwan-e-Mohabbat in Rajasthan, which was a challenging one, as Hindu outfits had opposed Karwan’s visit to the site where dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched, “On our first day in Rajasthan, the Karwan was greeted in Behror, where Pehlu Khan had been lynched, with stones and footwear. The second day, in Ajmer, we were pelted instead with rose petals, as we marched for peace and love on a busy street with hundreds, singing and shouting slogans of the unity of people of all faith, and against hate. We were all overwhelmed with the numbers of people who joined the aman rally.”

He added, “We were greeted first by the local gurudwara. Several Christian priests and nuns also joined in. As we walked, ordinary people, who has gathered on both sides of the road threw flowers on us. Some even chanted – aman, aman, aman, aman.The rally ended resoundingly at the entrance of the historical Khwaja Moinuddin Chishthi Dargah, where we were greeted by the entire senior trustees of the Dargah. Rose petals fell from above, as they spoke about the importance of love and compassion, and how fitting that a Karwan of love should come to the shrine of a sufi saint who epitomised love and believed in the equality of all human beings.”

The journey has entered into its last phase and is currently in Gujarat, where it will conclude on October 2.

On being asked, how his experience had been far, Mander told eNewsroom, “There is very great sense of fear among the Muslims and Dalit community of India. Not much is being done, either by the police or the government to eradicate their fear.”

“One of the prime motives of our journey was also to tell the majority community that they can’t remain silent to incidents when people belonging to the minority community are attacked. But they are still silent and its frightening,” he added.

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