Strategic Thrust – 5: Societal Peace
1.1 Bapu Tujhe Salam Yatra:
Time 17.17 pm/ January 30th, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi, the living messenger and actor of non-violence, peace, social and communal amity, self-reliance, self-sustaining development and gender and economic equality was assassinated by a religious fanatic. Even after killing his physical body the religious, social and economic fanatics have continued their violent campaign against his life and messages. In fact, it has reached up to the level of justifying communal, economic and social divide.
On the occasion of 60th years of assassination a campaign to propagate the core message of Gandhiji was organised from his birth place at Porbandar (Gujarat) to his place of assassination at Delhi. The campaign started on 25th January 2008 and ended on his day of assassination on 30th January 2008.
A core team of fellows, PDO presidents, advisors, coordinators and associates were selected to participates in campaign. There were full time 72 campaigners out of which 28 were women. The participants assembled at Dwarka, a famous historical and holy place, for their orientation. The mode of transport was basically the train and bus. The schedule of the campaign was following-
|4)||27.01.08||Wardha & Sevagram||
24.01.08 / Orientation Camp:
The camp begins with the detailed introduction of the participants and local organiser. Mr. Mahadeo Vidrohi, an ardent Gandhian activist welcomed the guests and participants. He opined that the beginning of this march for peace and communal amity from Gujarat is a right step because, the world over state has became infamous due to recent communal carnage. He reminded that till recently the state was respected as Gandhiji’s land, which is sadly no more. Prof. D. S. Ker of Gram Vikas Trust, Dwarka gave detail information about socio-economic condition of the area and the struggle of their organisation to protect Dwarka from the cruel hand of SEZ and port promoters. Prof. Ishwarbhai Parmar told in his speech that Gandhiji never came to Dwarka which is famous as holy place of the Hindu. Once upon a time Gandhiji halted in place which was 3-4 km away from Dwarka. Many local people requested him to visit Dwarka. He firmly replied that “how I can visit to Lord Dwarka when my dearer harijans (Dalit) are not allowed”. Prof. Parmar expressed his happiness that though Gandhiji never came to Dwarka but his messengers are here to start a nationwide campaign on the occasion of 60th years of assassination of a great saint of human kind. Ms. Chandniben explained about Berdia Movement. He salted water of the sea is spreading into the area of sweet water due to mindless quarries of stone. Thus, the water scarcity and dust pollution is on rise. We have succeeded through our movement to stop few quarries.
25.01.08/ Dwarka to Porbandar:
The early morning foot-march was organised at Dwarka during which the campaigners raised the slogan of peace and amity.
The participants moved towards Porbandar by bus where they were welcomed by the local Gandhians led by Dr. (Ms.) Surekha Shah, the trustee of Kirti Mandir (the ancestral house of Gandhiji).
The participants along with hundreds of local youth and citizen took out an impressive rally in the Porbandar city. All participants were wearing Gandhi Cap which created inspiring aura. The rally converted into a prayer and public meeting at Kirti Mandir. Dr. Surekhaben, Shri Anil Bhai and Shri Arjun Bhai (local MLA) welcomed the participants by garlanding them and with memento. Dr. Surekhaben in her speech said that a spontaneous question comes in every one mind that “what Gandhiji have done today to address current mountainous problem”. She referred about many problems faced by the human beings. She also narrated the childhood life of Gandhiji in Porbandar. Mr. Kumar Kalanand Mani also addressed the gathering. He referred about re-colonisation of our country in the name of economic development. He expressed shock that the Gandhiji organised famous Dandi March to oppose imposition of tax on salt, but the government of independent India shamelessly collecting tax on salt. He reminded that 60 years before on this very day Gandhiji said that “the ministers will not run the government in independent India but its affair will be managed on advises of ideal social worker”.
The participants were shown a khadi institution and school founded by Gandhiji. The participants also visited the ancestral house of Gandhiji and Kasturbaji. The participants were also informed about on going khadi and village industries activities by some of the Gandhian organisations.
The participants moved from here to Ahmedabad by train.
January 26th is very auspicious day for the country due to accepting an independent constitution for independent India and declaration was made as a republic country on Jan. 26, 1950. Since this day is celebrated everywhere.
The participants reached Sabarmati Ashram (an abode – which was established by Gandhiji in 1918 after returning from South Africa. He lived here from 1918 to 1930. He left the Ashram in 1930 at the time of leading famous dandi-march with announcement that I will return here only after attaining freedom of the country) to attend flag hoisting ceremony, prayer meeting and meeting with various Gandhian organisations.
Mr. Kumar Kalanand Mani was the chief guest for the flag hoisting ceremony of the Ashram. He hoisted the flag at 8 am and addressed the gathering. Mr. Amrit Modi, the managing trustee of the Ashram along with hundreds of Ashram people took part in it.
A prayer meeting was organised in the main building of the Ashram which culminated into a meeting with representatives of various Gandhian organisations. Mr. Amrit Modi narrated the history of the Ashram and its contribution in the freedom struggle. He also shared information about ongoing activities of the Ashram. He informed that nearly 450 men and women from 14 states are living in the Ashram. Mr. Kumar Kalanand Mani spoke on the objective and message of this Yatra. Representative of GANATAR describe the inhuman working condition of the salt-pan farmers. She said that Gandhi used salt as effective tools of freedom of this country whereas the salt farmers are leading slavery life in independent India. Another speaker gave information about SEZ in Gujarat and increasing displacement of the adivasis.
The participants visited Gujarat Vidyapith (University) which was established by Gandhiji in 1920 to impart education of freedom.
The participants moved from here to Wardha where Gandhiji established his second Ashram from where final non-violent battle for freedom of this country was fought.
27.01.08/ Wardha/ Sevagram
The participants arrived here by train from Ahmedabad. They were welcomed at Wardha railway station by various Gandhian organisations. The participants and local supporters moved from station to Magan Sangrahalaya (a reputed Gandhian organisation) in a rally through Wardha city. The participants were welcomed at Magan Sangrahalaya by the representatives of various organisations. Ms. Vibha Gupta of Magan Sangrahalaya, Mr. Kanakmal Gandhi of Nayee Talim Samiti, Mr. Joshi of Gandhi Vichar Parishad, Mr. Sanjay Mate of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Dr. Ulhas Jajoo of Kasturba Medical College and Mr. Kumar Kalanand Mani of Peaceful Society addressed the meeting. Here, the participants saw the Khadi and village industries related work of the Magan Sangrahalaya.
Now the participants arrived at Sevagram Ashram which was established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 after the dandi march. The participants took out a rally in around the ashram and saw various constructive works of the ashram. The participants were also shown Gandhiji’s cottage which was a very motivating experience for every one. The participants took part in the evening prayer of the ashram which is based on core messages of all religions. The prayer was the biggest spiritual tool of Mahatma Gandhi of mobilising and influencing the people and giving his messages. It must be remembered that he was assassinated by a religious fanatic when he was approaching his evening prayer meeting. The Secretaries of Nayee Talim Samiti and Ashram Samiti gave detailed information about the history and their works.
28.01.08/ Sevagram to Delhi
The participants took part in the morning prayer of the Ashram 5.30 am and their after they took a rally in around Sevagram market area.
Mr. Thakur Das Bang, 98 years old a reputed Gandhian blessed the participants and said that you are carrying the unfinished task of Gandhiji. He said that the growing economic disparity, social conflicts and imposition of global policies are the great threat to the freedom.
The participants moved here to Delhi from train.
The participants of campaign for peace and amity arrived Delhi at 5.30 a.m. by the train from Sevagram. They were given warm welcome and extreme chilled weather by the Delhi Railway Trade Union on platform no. 12. The Secretary of the union addressed the participants.
The participants took out a massive rally in association with people of Sakarpur (a suburb of Delhi). It was unfortunate that local unit of the ruling party made arrangement of taking advantage of this programme whereas another political party did massive poster campaign to dilute the massage of the campaign. The campaigners held their emergency meeting during the break time of the rally and discussed the situation and decided unanimously to observe fast for self purity and as a protest to political manoeuvring. The local organisers were shocked with such spiritual decision. The campaigners agreed to participate in a public meeting which was specially organised on this occasion after getting assurance from the local organisers that no political symbol will be there. The participants broke their fast after the end of public meeting at 8.30 pm.
30. 01.08/ Delhi
On this very day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated exactly 60 years before. The participants paid visit to the Birla House where Gandhiji was assassinated. Now this house is a national monument and managed by the Government of India. The most surprising and shocking things was presence of security guards with rifle. The participants felt that this is utter disregard to the saint who worshiped peace and fearlessness during his life time. He was against of any kind of weapon for any purposes. Well, inside the campus huge arrangement on for massive evening prayer meeting to remember the messenger of the peace. The participants paid their tribute to the departed ‘Mashiha’. The participants also saw photo exhibition and room where Gandhiji was staying.
The last and final destination of this campaign was ‘Rajghat’ where the funeral of Mahatma took place. Rev. Jessie Jackson- a great anti-apartheid leader and democrat (who contested twice for the Presidential post) of theUnited States and his son Senator Jackson addressed the participants at the entrance of the Rajghat. Rev. Jackson said that “My life, my movement against racism in United States and life and work of late Martin Luther King were largely inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. This place Rajghat is a pilgrimage for all those fighting for peace, harmony and equality. I thank you all for carrying the message of Mahatma”. A set of five posters on Gandhiji was gifted to Rev. Jackson. Senator Jackson also spoke on this occasion. The participants took round of the tomb of Gandhiji and observed silence.
All religion prayer was recited in front of the tomb.
The participants came down to Gandhi Peace Foundation for concluding consultation. Every one turned this campaign as unique experience of their life and an unique opportunity of interacting with the people and activists.