‘Karwan-E-Mohabbat is a journey of shared love and solidarity from one corner of the country to another in order to foster greater understating among communities. The brains behind the ‘karwan’ is human rights activist and writer Harsh Mander, supported in equal measure by Ram Puniyani, former IIT professor and communal harmony activist, and John Dayal, a human rights activist. Recently, in Assam, we have witnessed a sharp rise in religious intolerance; this journey has started from Nagaon because in a shocking and unfortunate incident, two youths from the minority community were hacked to death here because they were alleged to be “cow thieves”. A journey to heal and create bridges is essential at this point by common citizens like you and me who have no overt political motives behind this’ said Prof Monirul Hussain, former professor, Gauhati Univeristy, setting the tone for the national journey at Mukti Jujaru Bhawan in Assam’s Nagaon district. It was an unusually warm September day but the small auditorium was packed with local citizens who had come to offer their support to the karwan.
One of the organizer’s behind the Assam leg of the journey, Hafiz Ahmed, president of Char-Chapori Sahitya Parishad, invited Ram Puniyani to light the small earthen lamp (saki) to symbolically start the month-long journey which will culminate in Porbander in Gujarat, the land of Gandhi. Harsh Mander spoke on the necessity for the national karwan, ‘Friends, we are starting a very important abhiyaan from Nagaon today and we are hopeful that the lamp lit by Ram Puniyani ji, of love and understanding, will drive away the darkness of fear and hatred that India has been engulfed in. Darkness cannot be fought with darkness, light alone is capable of giving way to light, so we hope we will be able to dispel the darkness with the light of love.’
The karwan visited the homes of the two teenagers, 17-year-old Abu Hanif and 18-year-old Riyazuddin who lost their lives to a senseless attack. It should be noted that no compensation has been provided to the bereaved families. The attackers are out on bail, a chargesheet has not been filed as of now. One only hopes that this journey will throw light on the lives of devastated families who still await justice and build bridges between them and their neighbours.