Communal Harmony Yatra to conclude in Delhi
The Second Communal Harmony Yatra from Ayodhya to Hazrat
Nizamuddin is reaching Delhi tomorrow morning, Sunday, 16 October
covering a distance of 490 kms by land. The yatra is led by Ayodhya’s famous
mahant Yugal Kishor Shastri who last year took out »
Much hullabaloo was made of Anna
Hazare’s fast against anti corruption, so was about Narender
Modi’s fast for communal harmony. LK Advani yatra too has
attracted a great deal of attention, has anyone heard about the
communal harmony Yatra (travel) that concluded in New Delhi on
October 16, 2011. I guess very few.
It’s unfortunate that such meaningful and positive development in
the country is not being reported by the media which in turn
prefers to feed the staple of news that may loosely called
Its long well established that Indian media is bourgeoisie in
character but now what is becoming apparent is the total lack of
moral and ethical values in media representation. If this gradual
decline goes unabated the designers of national character may be
guilty of acts beyond our comprehension.
Leaving this thought for an introspection, let me talk about this
secular yatra that began from the pious town of Ayodhya on October
11 and concluded at the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin in New Delhi
on October 16.
This was the fourth edition of this yatra and persons from various
parts of the country led this march to the national capital
cherishing the ideal of peaceful existence. Whether these people
were successful in their mission is difficult to profess, but the
fact remains that they strived to bridging the communal divide in
our country, is laudable indeed.
The yatra was led by Ayodhya’s famous mahant of Ayodhya Yugal
Kishor Shastri who has been tirelessly working for communal
harmony in India. Last year, he took out a similar yatra among
various communities from Ayodhya to Sewagram in Wardha.
I had the privilege of interviewing Mr Shastri at an interfaith
conference in New Delhi last year where he narrated to me how he
sheltered the fleeing Muslims being chased by the Hindutva goons
during the demolition of Babari mosque in Ayodhya on December 6,
1992. “I have buried many Muslim bodies with my own hand in that
communal madness,” said the inconcipious mahant, in a whispering
tone. He brings out a magazine Ayodhya ki Awaz to promote the
values of peace and harmony.
Talking to Yugal Kishor Shastri, I wondered, how some swamy's and
mahant's become national figures and amass huge wealth and
followers in this country, while those who are genuinely godly
persons, remain a naked fakir like Mr Shastri. Again, I leave this
thought left for self introspection.
The communal harmony yatra started from Ayodhya on 11th October,
2011. It went to Faizabad and from there reached Lucknow on 12th
October, Sitapur on October 13, Shahjahanpur on October 15, spent
the night at Moradabad and arrived at Delhi in the morning of
October 16, covering a distance of 490 kilometres by road.
There were twenty members in this yartra and number of programmes
of mass contact were organized all along the travel route. It
included conferences, street plays and press meets and contacting
people, especially the youth.
The aim of the yatra was to propagate the idea of shared culture
heritage among different communities. It was to tell that the
shared history of living together among different communities is
of much longer then the momentary phases of conflict and
The starting point of the yatra was the temple town of Ayodhya,
where the Hindu- Muslim conflict over a disputed mosque has sown
the seeds of communal hatred in the country. The place was chosen
because it was Ayodhya where five religions; Hinduism, Jainism,
Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism have their roots and all existed side
The city once was an oasis of communal coexistence and there was
perfect harmony among the communities living there. The raking up
the issue of Ramjanamboohmi was a deliberate attempt to destroy
this plural culture of Ayodhya and making that as a symbol, it has
rattled the secular character of the country.
Even more than twenty years to that event, the seeds of hatred
that has sown around this mosque/temple controversy, has poisoned
the relationship among the communities so much so that it is hard
break free from that cluttered mindset.
The yatra was taken out to combat such preachers of hate and to
propagate the idea of shared cultural history. The purpose of the
yatra was to resist the forces of fascism, communalism and
untouchability. It was to promote idea of peace, unity and
All along during the yatra, programmes of mass contact were held
where it was stressed that the country is in the dire need of
communal harmony. Th development and progress of the country is
only possible when an atmosphere of love and harmony is created
and this could be done by knitting the people together.
The yatra concluded at the hospice of Hazrat Nizamuddin, a
towering sufi saint of India, whose most popular phrase was “ do
not give me scissor because it cuts, give me needle because it
The members of the yatra later paid tribute to the soul of Mahatma
Gandhi at the Rajghat in New Delhi. The prayed for the communal
peace and harmony in the country at the monument of the father of
the nation, who fell to the bullets of lunatic Hindu chauvinist.
A conference on communal harmony was organized at the Gandhi
Samriti at Rajghat where most of the speakers stressed on ways and
means to promote communal harmony in India. Some prominent
speakers were; Asghar Ali Engineer, Lalit Kumar, Haneef Shastri,
Zafarul-Islam Khan, Mazher Hussain, Saroj Khan Choudhry, Deepak
Singh and Muhammad Afzal.
Communalism Combat (Teesta Sitalvad), Viswa Yuva Sadbhavana
Parishad (Seshnath Dubey), Asha Parivar ( Sandeep Pandey), Ayodhya
ki Awaz (Yugal Kishor Saran Shastri), Milli Gazzete (Zafarul Islam
Khan), Sarvdharam Sadbhav Kendra Trust (Zafar Saifullah),
Confederation of Voluntary Association-Cova (Mazher Hussain),
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Mohammad Ahmad), Rashtriya Yuva Sangathan
(Kumar Prashant), Centre for study of Society and Secularism-CCSS
(Asghar Ali Engineer) and Centre for Human Rights and Social
Welfare (Saroj Khan Choudhry) were some of the prominent
organizations associated with this yatra.
India is perhaps the only country in the world where there is mix
of several religious identities existing side by side. There is a
general desire among various communities to lead a life of
peaceful coexistence eve though attempts have been made regular
intervals to break this blissful peace. The resilience of the
Indian society has always discarded such narrow outlook and have
cherished the ideal that all religion have equal place and their
followers must live in perfect harmony.
It wont be out of context to say that in our country there exists
two diametrically opposite forces at work. One, those who are
working to destroying the communal amity and the other, working
relentlessly to bridge the communal.
The communal harmony yatra was an attempt to isolate the preachers
of hate and to promote the idea to live in peace. It was also an
effort to initiate the process of interfaith dialogue to resolve
all the outstanding issues in a peaceful manner.
One has to salute those people who have taken such an initiative,
and it would be a service to the nation to highlight such a noble
cause. One wish that more and more people join in such initiative
and this humble beginning may become a movement soon.
Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at