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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Gandhi grandson apologizes for Gujarat 

By Mohammed Ayub Khan

Toronto: Addressing a packed large banquet hall mixed with audience of Canadians, Americans, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits and Christians, Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, apologized on behalf of his people (Hindus) for Gujarat Genocide. "I am ashamed of what I saw and heard and I profoundly offer my sincere apologies to all of you on behalf of my people." Gandhi's remark came on September 25, 2004, at the banquet during the 14th annual convention of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI). 

Gandhi later reiterated his commitment to work for Hindu-Muslim amity through non violent means. 

Arun Gandhi Speaking at AFMI's 14th Annual Convention in Toronto
Arun Gandhi Speaking at AFMI's 14th Annual Convention in Toronto

Gandhi also received the pride of India award from AFMI. The earlier recipients of the award include VP Singh, Dilip Kumar, IK Gujaral, Deve Gowda, Kuldip Nayar, N. Ram, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Bedi, Ram Vilas Paswan, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Naushad, Prof. Obaid Siddiqui, Shankar Singh Vaghela, A. R. Kidwai, and others.

Gandhi in his acceptance speech elaborated on his days with his grandfather. "He taught me that non violence is a way of life. It is not the absence of violence; rather it is a way of life that impacts all aspects of one’s life." 

Gandhi's comments about Gujarat genocide came after he watched portions of a lengthy documentary known as the Final Solution filmed by Rakesh Sharma. The three hour long documentary is based on actual footage of the genocide and interviews with the survivors and some perpetrators. 

Documentary moved Gandhi so much that one could see tears in his eyes. When he began his speech, his voice was emotional and disturbed with what he had seen in the documentary and he offered what the entire BJP, VHP or other similar organizations have failed to offer ever since the genocide was conducted in 2002.

Arun Gandhi receives “Pride of India” award from AFMI

Arun Gandhi receives “Pride of India” award from AFMI

Gandhi said that only through non violence people can realize the dignity and humanity of others and work for creating a better world where people are not judged on the basis of their identity but on the basis of their humanity.

Gandhi admonished the audience against indulging in passive violence. He said that passiveness is the beginning of physical violence. He suggested that the root cause of violence should be addressed to in schools and academic institutions. Anger is the root cause of all violence and without teaching ways and means to channelize the energy of anger positively, we will not be able to contain violence, he said. He said that courses teaching methodology to contain violence should be taught at the grassroot levels from elementary school to higher grades.

Gandhi said he himself is a victim of racial violence in South Africa. Apparently, Gujarat genocide was overwhelming for him and all others who witnessed the documentary. A Canadian member of Parliament, Mrs. Carolyn Parrish was so shocked and moved by the documentary that she could not hold her tears.

"I am saddened to see the level of carnage. It is sad to see that Muslims of India have been going through what the Palestinians have already been through under Israeli occupation.Gandhi's words stunned the audience and he received the standing ovation for his courageous remarks.

It was also apparent that Gandhi intends to devote his life to working for creating better understanding between Muslims and Hindus and people of other faith. He came to USA in 1991 and established a peace mission known as M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, in Memphis, TN, USA.

"Only when we build relationship on strong moral principles with non violence as a guiding principle, can we demonstrate our humanity and commitment to peace", he said.

Commenting on Gandhi's remarks most participants said that he was brave and courageous in saying what he said.

AFMI USA may be contacted at afmi11@aol.com 

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