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Communal Harmony Yatra concludes in Delhi

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New Delhi: The fourth Harmony Yatra from Ayodhya to Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin concluded here on 17 October with a conference on communal harmony and brotherhood at Gandhi Peace Foundation. It was addressed by important speakers including well-known intellectual Asghar Ali Engineer and leader of the Yatra Yugal Kishor Shastri of Ayodhya.
Zafarul-Islam Khan, editor of The Milli Gazette and one of the organizers of the yatra said that this yatra to knit the people together comes at a time when another yatra is on to sow seeds of schism and communal disharmony for political gains.

Yugal Kishor Shastri said that he brings from Ayodhya the message of Sanjhi Virasat, the shared culture, of this country. He said Ayodhya belongs to Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs just as it belongs to the Hindus. This is why it never experienced communal violence. Whatever violence has been seen there was the handiwork of people who came from outside for political gains and overwhelmed its peace-loving population.

Muhammad Ahmad, National Secretary of  Jamaat-e Islami Hind, said that some forces are bent to divide this country and its people. They use the politics of riots to convey a message: vote for us if you want to live in peace.

Saroj Khan Chowdhury, president of Jaipur-based Centre for Human Rights and Social Welfare said that the blasts of Ajmer and Jaipur and the firing at Gopalgarh show that a lot of work is needed to spread peace and harmony in the country.

The keynote speech was delivered by well-known intellectual Asghar Ali Engineer who said that open dialogue is needed so that all issues are known and discussed. He said some people say that religion is the root of all problems but this is not borne out by the lessons of history. He mentioned the two world wars fought in the twentieth century which resulted in killings of dozens of millions of people in each of these two wars and both were fought for nationalist reasons and over sharing the colonial loot. He said wars are fought to exploit us and for the benefit of some small groups of people, not for the whole country.  He said Islam is based on peace and its very name means peace and even one of the names of Allah is “Salam” i.e., peace.  He said the temple politics of Ayodhya is not to add another “Ram Temple” in a town where 17 temples claiming to be Ram Temples already exist.

The yatra had arrived in Delhi on 15 October. Members of the yatra and people who joined it locally paid tributes to the soul of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and prayed for the peace and harmony in the country. Thereafter, a conference on communal harmony and brotherhood was held at the BN Pandey Hall at Gandhi Samriti & Darshan Samiti at Rajghat in which leaders of the yatra, led by Yugal Kishor Shastri, put across their views on ways and means to promote communal harmony. Speakers included Asghar Ali Engineer and Lalit Kumar, Secretary, National Foundation for Communal Harmony, Haneef Shastri, Zafarul-Islam Khan, Mazhar Hussain, Saroj Khan Choudhry, Deepak Singh and Muhammad Afzal. They stressed on the dire need for communal harmony and knitting together people of India in an atmosphere of love and harmony which will be conducive for development and progress of the country.

Therefater, a press meet was held at the Tagore hall of Gandhi Samriti & Darshan Samiti. It was covered by a number of journalists from print and electronic media. Participants in the yatra spoke on its theme and answered mediamen’s questions. In the evening a sufi qawwali programme was held in honour of the yatra participants at Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah in Nizamuddin.

The aim of the yatra is to disseminate the Sanjhi Virasat (shared culture) which is the hallmark of Ayodhya where five religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism) have their roots and which is called “Khurd Mecca” (Small Makkah) for the graves of prophets and sufi saints it embraces. The purpose of the yatra is to popularize and propagate this message all over the country. The purpose of the yatra is to abolish fascism, communalism and untouchability and to promote peace, unity and brotherhood among the people and in society.

The yatra is led by Ayodhya’s famous mahant and tireless worker for communal harmony Yugal Kishor Shastri who last year took out a similar yatra among various communities from Ayodhya to Sewagram in Wardha.

The yatra started at Ayodhya on 11th October with a number of programmes and went to Faizabad where too it held a number of programmess of mass contact. It reached Lucknow on 12th October, Sitapur on 13th October, Shahjahanpur on 15th October, spent the night at Moradabad and arrived at Delhi in the morning of 16th October. The yatra covered a distance of 490 kms by land.

 About 20 persons from various parts of the country are accompanying Yugal Kishor Shastri in this mass contact movement which involves conferences, street and press meets and contacting people, especially youth, along the route.
Organizations taking part in this yatra are Communalism Combat (Teesta Sitalvad), Viswa Yuva Sadbhavana Parishad (Seshnath Dubey), Asha Parivar (Sandeep Pandey), Ayodhya ki Awaz (Yugal Kishor Saran Shastri), Milli Gazette (Zafarul-Islam Khan), Sarvdharam Sadbhav Kendra Trust (Zafar Saifullah), Confederation of Voluntary Association-COVA (Mazher Hussain), Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Mohammad Ahmad), Rastriya Yuva Sangathan (Kumar Prashant), Centre for Study of Society and Secularism - CSSS (Asghar Ali Engineer) and Centre for Human Rights and Social Welfare (Saroj Khan) etc.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2011 on page no. 12

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