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Mangaluru: Poison of hate in air today, but collective silence more poisonous - Harsh Mander


Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (PMD)

Mangaluru, Sep 9: Renowned human rights activist Harsh Mander on Saturday September 9 brought his 'Karwan-e-Mohabbat' to the district. The caravan was drawn to the city by Samarasa, a group of vibrant citizens who work towards the cause of communal harmony and against collective silence on communal violence, and the event was held at School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya here.

The purpose and mission of Karwan-e-Mohabbat, an initiative of 21 groups spearheaded by Harsh Mander was to make those citizens, who were made to feel second class citizens, loved, and give them a hope.

"The objective of KEM is, one, to communicate to Muslims and Christians that we stand together. And two, we must not remain silent. Silence means we accept and agree with what is happening. If we remain silent, our hands are stained with the blood of the innocent," Harsh Mander said in his address.

"There are three reasons why someone may be too frightened to speak. One, if I am actually too frightened. Two, if I don't care. And three, and most terrifying is, I carry the same sentiments of hate as the attacker, and have outsourced the violence. The third is perhaps dominant.

"The series of attacks against faith and form and creation of a sense of 'others' among minorities which puts them into a state of anxiety had to be countered. The caravan was the solution. The nationwide journey began on September 4, at Assam, and went on to Jharkhand and Karnataka. The caravan will proceed to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and will culminate on October 2 at Porbandar, Gujarat.

"Chalo Porbandar is to show that we are all one. There is a need, now, to speak of love in a time of hate. There is a need to stand together. We need to love," Harsh said.

"There's growing darkness in India and many parts of the world. There is poison in the air. Not the poison like in the Bhopal gas tragedy, but even more deadly. A poison of hate, of fear. But what's more poisonous is the collective silence of the majority," he added.

"Unfolding around us is the project to intimidate, terrify and make second class citizens of minorities, Dalits, Christians and Muslims. The instrument used to intimidate is 'lynching'. Lynching is a peculiar phenomenon. Communal violence in the past was bound by time and geography. But with lynching, a message goes out to persons of the said community that they are not safe anywhere - home, workplace, or streets. Every day, fear settles in the heart of the Muslims. Among Christians, this sense of fear is caused in a different way. Churches are destroyed, priests and nuns are beaten up. The purpose is to create a sense of fear.

"This sense of fear is not restricted to Muslims, Christians and Dalits. The target is also those who speak for them like Gauri Lankesh, those who brave every kind of intimidation," he added.

He recounted the hate attack on Junaid, in Ballabhgarh on June 24, and paralleled it with the Portland incident in the USA on May 26. "Both incidents that took place this year, involved a train as a site, and knife as an instrument for violence. In the Portland incident, victims were rescued by bystanders who belonged to the dominant community. While in Junaid's case, onlookers goaded the attackers," he noted.

"The Constitution enshrines values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. The last, as Ambedkar said, is the most important," he said.

Harsh drew a parallel between incidents of second class citizenship in the USA, with the Trump order for citizens of seven countries to prove they were above suspicion, and the growing incidents of lynching in India. And then, there's rationalisation, he said, narrating Usman's story of being lynched and how the mob rationalised their action by claiming Usman was a bad man, a criminal.

"Today is the sixth day of the caravan of love. My soul feels deeply weighed down. I have met families of victims here. They carry the heaviest burden.

"The idea of love must bind each one of us, across religion and gender. We must foster the feeling that we belong to and with each other," he said.

A victim from the district narrated his encounter with mob lynching. Family of another victim was present.

Thinker, writer, G Rajashekar spoke about the state-caused lynching and the state anti-cow slaughter law. "This government-caused lawlessness has been a problem across political parties. Justice is not served to a victim in the 2005 lynching," he said.

Sumit, an industrialist, recounted the impact of mob lynching of a young boy in the district, but from the perspective of the victim's mother and the sister.

"Samarasa was born to reinstate faith among citizens, and address the collective silence which gives strength to those perpetrating violence. We have witnessed the concept of 'mob lynching' take shape in Karnataka in the last ten years. This caused concern. Coastal Karnataka has been a laboratory for what's taking place at a national level. Some citizens wanted to form a platform whereby justice, peace and harmony were served. Samarasa was thus born. We fight for two basic values - Gandhi's peace, and Ambedkar's justice, to fight communal hatred and collective silence. There can be no peace without justice," said founder-member Samvartha Sahil.

V T Prasad, and victim of lynching Abdul Shameer were present on the dais, among others.

Comment on this article

  • anthony, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 10 2017

    God Bless Harsh and his caravan. May his message resonate across the length and breadth of our beloved country. Totally agree with him that our collective silence is more Poisonous.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Divakar, Mangalore/Muscat

    Sun, Sep 10 2017

    If at all there was any sense of fear among any community, cows wouldn’t have been stolen from cow- sheds and slaughtered. This so called “sense of fear” is nothing but a sense of loss felt by those who were addicted to being pampered by those forces who practiced vote bank politics.

    DisAgree [15] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sun, Sep 10 2017

    First time in 71 years ...

    DisAgree [9] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

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