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India: Reassert secularism on Martyrs’ Day: Activists

Wednesday 9 February 2022, by siawi3


Reassert secularism on Martyrs’ Day: Activists

Call for nationwide show of communal unity amidst growing environment of communal hate


18 Jan 2022

To address the growing communal disharmony, a people’s initiative has called upon all Indians to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom on January 30, 2022 though meetings and “Sarva Dharam Sansad” across India.

The 74th anniversary of “Bapu” will be celebrated with a reassertion of national unity, communal harmony, non-violence and peace, said organisers, who detailed day-long events on Monday.The day’s events will begin with an all-India silence of two minutes at 11AM and then at 5:17 PM – the time when the assassination occurred – to pay homage to Gandhi.

“It will be organised across the length and breadth of our country, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and from Kutch to Kohima. Let’s stand in silence in our schools, colleges, homes, offices, factories, fields, buses, trains, places of worship or wherever we may be,” said GG Parikh, one of the organisers.

From 11 AM, people will gather on a decentralised basis, and every state government will be urged to blow the siren as well. Every city and village will organise a national unity and communal harmony marches that will conclude with a ‘Sarva Dharma Sansad’ (secular religious parliament), where people from various religions will endorse the universal message of peace and love, enshrined within every religion.The Sansad will also include a ‘Sarva Dharma Prarthana’ (secular religious prayer), inspired by Gandhi’s programmes that called upon people from different faiths to come together and recite prayers, songs from all religions.

As can be inferred from the names of the events, the programmes will be carried out in answer to the growing communal fascism. Events like the Dharam Sansad in December at Haridwar and a similar event in Delhi shocked people with the open calls for communal genocide.

“The very founding principles drawn from the values and morals of our freedom movement are under continuous assault. The hateful speeches against Mahatma Gandhi and the open threat of genocide against minorities, are a cause of great concern for all Indians,” said activist Medha Patkar who is another one of the organisers.

She and others warned that the hate speeches by the right-wing communal forces polarise and divide the society, whilst isolating and terrorising minorities, women and all exploited sections of our society. These fears and concerns have also been endorsed by farmer organisations in the country, who have recently been vocal against government oppression. Concerned civil society groups and rights organisations said the communal forces both belittle the freedom struggle and insult the memory of the lakhs of martyrs. Organisers also alluded to past events where Gandhi’s effigy was shot, recorded and shared widely on social media.

“They openly insult and demean Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, who led India to freedom and sacrificed his life in the struggle against bigotry and hate. It’s time for secular democratic forces to give a fitting reply to these divisive forces,” said activist Hannan Mollah, another organiser.

For this reason, the people’s movement called upon individuals from all walks of life and social background to plan and participate in forthcoming programmes.

Others involved in the mass event across India are: Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) Secretary Teesta Setalvad, Professor Anand Kumar, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, All India Kisan Sabha President Ashok Dhawale, Safai Karamchari Andolan Founder Bezwada Wilson, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani, ANHAD Founder Shabnam Hashmi, Tushar Gandhi, Dr. Sunilam, Prafulla Samantray Arjun Dangle, Professor Ram Puniyani, Javed Anand, Kumar Prashant, Dr. Suresh Khairnar, Ram Sharan, Ram Dheeraj, Sandeep Pandey, Irfan Engineer, Martin Macwan, Qurban Ali, Pratibha Shinde, Sawai Singh, Gauhar Raza, Kavita Srivastava, Himanshu Kumar, Putul, Satya Prakash Bharat, Dev Desai, Krishnakant, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Feroze Mithiborwala, Guddi S L.


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