Jan. - March 2006 
Year 12    No.114

Cover Story

The Media: Harbinger of good news

Kashi shows the way

At the Dashaswamedh ghat in Varanasi, Ganga jal in their hands, Swami Agnivesh, Javed Akhtar (Muslims for Secular Democracy), Teesta Setalvad, representatives of Aligarh Muslim University students’ union and social activists from Varanasi vow to fight terrorism
March 12, 2006

VARANASI: For the third day in succession, Varanasi’s streets echoed with voices and demonstrations for peace and harmony while sympathy was offered to the tragic victims of the bomb blasts of March 7. A number of social organisations have staged demonstrations condemning the March 7 blasts and on Sunday, March 12, the local unit of the Seva Dal organised a unique march in which lyricist, Javed Akhtar (Muslims for Secular Democracy), social activist, Swami Agnivesh and human rights activist, Teesta Setalvad, participated. Among the other participants were Father Valson Thampu and an active group of the Aligarh Muslim University students’ union. An enthusiastic band of the local Seva Dal, including Pramod Pandey, had organised the day’s programme.

Paying their respects at the railway union hall to mark the deaths that took place as a result of the blasts at the railway station, the peace activists marched from the BHU gate to Rajendra Prasad ghat. They also visited the Sankat Mochan temple and offered their darshans there. Culminating in an oath taken with the holy Ganga jal in hand at the famed Rajendra Prasad ghat on the banks of the Ganges, the participants swore to battle the forces of terror, the politics of hatred and violence and devote their energies in this direction.

The atmosphere in Varanasi following the bomb blasts last week has been kept calm entirely due to the tireless efforts of local residents who refused to be drawn into a cycle of suspicion, panic, hatred and fear.

"Kashi se ham kuch dene nahin, yahan se kuch lene aaye hai… yeh mahanagari se to insaan moksha lene aate hai (We haven’t come here to give Kashi something, we have come to take something of Kashi away with us… after all, it is in this great city that humans seek liberation)," said an emotional Javed Akhtar who spoke equally vociferously against the politics of terror, hate and fundamentalism. Lashing out at terrorists for resorting to such crimes, Akhtar said, "Jo mujh ko zinda jala rahe hain woh bekhabar hain ki dheere dheere meri zanjeer bhi pighal rahi hai (Those who burn me alive are unaware that bit by bit my shackles are melting too)."

Swami Agnivesh spoke vociferously against oppression and fear. Hafiz Gandhi, vice-president of the AMU students union, avowed that it was the duty of Aligarh and Benaras to stand by each other in this moment of great tragedy and that the students of AMU would always do so.

"Benaras has shown India and the world that even at moments of tragedy we can and must draw on our centuries-old lived experience of inter-community negotiation and maintain peace," said Teesta Setalvad while saluting Mahant Veer Bhadra Mishra for staunchly preventing this tragedy from being misused for political ends. "Mahantsaheb ka hamara pranam hai jinhone is mauke par shanti, sabr aur aman ka desh ko paigaam diya hai (We salute the mahantsaheb for his countrywide message of peace and tolerance at this critical time)."

(Courtesy: Sabrang Alternative News Service (SANN).)

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