By Faisal Khan*
Peace-building is a continuous process that has been done through multiple activities; one such is ‘Lynching and Nafrat Mukt Bharat Cycle Yatra’. It was started from Rajghat on the 19th of October,2019 and was concluded on the 14th of November, 2019 at Hydari Manzil, Kolkata.
This peace-building initiative was started by Khudai Khidmatgar with other progressive organizations like ICAN, SPI, Sadbhavna Sangam and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). Khudai Khidmatgar is a social movement dedicated as a whole for peace-building and communal harmony. On the 19th October, 2019 eight Khudai Khidmatgar i.e., seven cyclists and a motorcyclist began a peace-building campaign for spreading peace, love, and harmony.
Yatris/Satyagrahis of Nafrat Mukt Bharat Cycle Yatra:
- Faisal Khan (Gandhian and Convenor of Khudai Khidmatgar),
- Kartik Arora (Traveller),
- Sultan Charania (Educationist), he couldn’t complete the yatra, due to some professional engagements, so from Allahabad, he was replaced by young and energetic footballer
- Mohammad Arman,
- Mohammad Chaand Shaikh (Activist working on the rights of Slum Dwellers),
- Sardar Naresh Chandra Singh (Farmers’ Rights Activist),
- Manish Bansal (Mazdoor Union Leader),
- Adv. Mohammad Javed Malik (Human Right Activist) and
- Suyash Tripathi (Student Activist), like Sultan he couldn’t complete the yatra and was replaced by Mohammad Shoaib.
Objective: An increase in violence and intolerance in the hearts and minds of the people raised several questions that if we are working so hard for 70 years, then why there is so much chaos in the contemporary times. To find the answers, Khudai Khidmatgar realized that we should go to the people directly and interact with them.
Therefore, the objective of this cycle yatra was
- To eliminate violence and mob- lynching from India
- To connect people from the different religious groups for building inter as well as intra religious empathy.
Hence, for the fulfillment of these objectives, Khudai Khidmatgar stayed in Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras, Churches, Madrasas, Dharamshalas, etc., and had community meals in these religious institutions for living at a minimal cost.
Day One – On October 19, 2019, the cycle yatra commenced from Rajghat, New Delhi. Hundreds of progressives citizens of the country, which includes Senior Journalist and Socialist Thinker Mr. Kurbaan Ali, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Dr. Sandeep Pandey, President of SPI Shyam Gambhir, Senior Gandhian Satyapalji, Women Right Activist Ms. Sabika Abbas Naqvi and Country head of ICAN Mr. Deepak Dholakia.
The Yatris had their first Jan-Sanwad and pamphlet distribution at Ashram Chowk and left for Fortis Escorts, where some students of Jamia Millia Islamia(JMI) were waiting to welcome the Yatris. After having a short meeting with the students of JMI, the Yatra move towards Badarpur. In Badarpur, Subzi Market Association had organized a Nukkad Sabha for the Yatris.
The yatris distributed pamphlets in the market and had a one to one interaction with vegetable sellers. It was almost 4 in the evening, so we hurried for our destination for that night i.e., Prahladpur, Faridabad. Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan welcomes the yatra and introduces the yatris. Before going to sleep, yatris performed Sarv Dharam Prarthana (All religion prayer). On the first day we have covered about 57 Km starting from Rajghat, Delhi to Pralahdpur, Faridabad, Haryana.
Day Two – yatris had a schedule of riding for 70 Km so the yatris left from Faridabad early morning and reached first spot in Ballabgarh; there Pujari of Shivmandir Shri Sarveshwar Pandey ji shower his blessings to the yatra and provided prasad to the Yatris.
Also, he delivered a beautiful speech on communal harmony. Faisal Khan and Sardar Naresh Singh put their point of view on communal harmony and illustrated the object of this Yatra. After taking the prasad and blessings from the Pujari Ji, the yatra left for another meeting in Ballabgarh that was organized by ददहहडड (Daily wage) Mazdoor Sangh. Mazdoor sangh had organised a nukkad sabha. From the nukkad sabha, yatra had to reach Palwal. Here Haryana Khudai Khidmatgar leader Mursaleen Chauhan, Mohd. Tasleem Mewati and others were waiting to welcome the yatra.
On reaching the spot, yatris were garlanded and distributed 500 pamphlet in and around the meeting area. After the meeting, the Yatris went to Naqshbandiya Madarsa and had an interaction with renowned people of the city and left for night stop in Tappal. During the ride to Tappal, yatris had jansamvad and distributed a pamphlet in crowded places.
On reaching Tappal at 7 p.m. yatra had a meeting in which large number of youth had gathered to listen the yatris. In the past, Tappal was communally charged because a person raped 3-year-old girl child, this is also the reason that people showed enthusiasm to welcome the yatra which is coming with the message of communal harmony. The youth from the village are pouring so much love to the yatris that a village old man had to interfere so that the yatra can have dinner. After the dinner, the village Mukhya had decided to meet the Yatris at the chaupal and there they had decided to have a meeting in the morning.
Day Three – In the morning, there was an announcement in the village that “the Cycle Yatra is leaving our village so please come and say goodbye.” The whole village blessed the yatra and we left for Aligarh. Yatra reached Aligarh after having meetings at Jattari and Khair. On reaching Aligarh, AMU Khudai Khidmatgar unit with other local organization had organized a candle march from Shamshad Market to Habib hall.
After the march, the yatris went to Alinagar, where they had to stay for the night. Till late night the students from AMU were coming to meet the yatris and had one to one interaction with the yatris to know about their experience. Yatris were so tired but the love from the people gave them the strength to talk but after 12 a.m. Yatris requested everyone to please allow us to sleep as we have to leave early in the morning for Jalesar.
Day Four- In the morning, the yatra had its first jansamwad at Gandhi park of Aligarh city, where yatris had Sarv Dharam Prarthana followed by a meeting with the ददहहडड (Daily wage) Mazdoor Sangh and distributed approximately 500 pamphlets.
From Gandhi park, Yatra move towards Sasni where they had to address the gathering. So yatris reached Sasni after having nukkad sabhas and pamphlet distribution at Gopalpuri, Pahrianwali and Madrack. On reaching Sasni, yatra was taken to Pracheen Hanuman Chowk Mandir by Nakul Tomar. There the temple priest Shri Mata Prasadji welcomed the yatris by putting hinges.
Thereafter, yatris had meeting, kirtan and distributed pamphlets to people sitting in the temple. Entire temple was euphoric, everyone was busy talking and taking pictures with the yatris. The people present in the temple praised the yatra for its golden objectives. This interaction in the temple was momentous and after this meeting yatra left for Sadabad.
Yatris reached Saadabad, while doing public meetings and distributing pamphlet all the way. There yatris were welcomed by the students of Madrasa Khair-uloom and had dinner with them. After having a meeting with the teachers of the madrasa, yatris went to sleep.
Day Five- On the fifth day, the yatris left the Sadabad early in the morning because they have to reach Firozabad at the end of the day. Yatris had jansampark, dialogue and distributed pamphlets all the way, reached Firozabad at 4 in the evening. Various local organisation welcomed the yatra and took them to the Guru Teg Bahadur Gurudwara where they had a meeting and dinner. For that night, yatra stayed in that Gurudwara.
Day Six- the yatris left the Gurudwara in the morning and left for Shikohabad. During the ride they had an interaction with the school and college-going children. They happily received the pamphlet from the yatris. After leaving Firozabad early morning, the yatra reached Shikohabad at noon after having nukkad sabhas and pamphlet distribution all the way.
After having a small meeting at Shikohabad, Yatris ride to reach Sirsaganj where the famous businessman of the town Shri. Navdeep had organised a press meet in his hotel. In this press meet, the respectable resident of the city also participated including the Chairman of the town area Dr. Raghvendra.
During the press meet, Faisal Khan received a phone call, a male was speaking from the other side who said that I am from Hindu Sabha. He was inquiring or threatening that why the pamphlet contain the name of Gandhi and mob-lynching in it. Basically he was against the promotion of Gandhi for communal harmony because they wanted to use Gandhi just for Swachh Bharat abhiyan. Faisal Khan spoke to him for a while and disconnected the call, before the call ends that person said “I am very happy to talk to you. I will come and talk on this subject.”
After the press meet, the yatra left for Etawah where Ex. BSF Adhikari Association had welcomed the yatris. There also, the meeting was followed by the press meet. The yatris went to Railway Road Gurudwara where they had to stay. On the way to gurudwara, they distributed pamphlets in the Etawah city. In the Gurudwara after the sabha and kirtan, yatri had their dinner with the Gurudwara prabandhak committee.
Day Seven- The Yatra left Etawah to reach Auraiya. During the ride to Auraiya, yatra reached its first stop i.e., Ekdil, where the yatra had the meeting followed by the breakfast at Ram Mandir. This meeting was organised by an army man Mr. Sunil Singh. He came to his village on vacations, and most interestingly, all others who joined him to organize the meeting in Ram mandir were also serving in the Indian army.
After the meeting at Ekdil, the next stop was Barvet. Here young Samajwadi leader Asit Yadav with social activist Ramesh Raghav organized a jansamwad followed by the press meet. Importantly, Mr. Asit remain continuously in touch with the yatris and helped in organising meeting till Kanpur. After stopping at Kiratpur for nukkad sabha, yatra reached Auraiya. Here yatris stayed at a guest house owned by a friend of Asit bhai.
Day Eight- From the guest house, the yatris ride towards Akbarpur. The first stop in the morning where the jansamwad happened was Khoja-Fool. Later the yatris started to ride towards Khanqah-e-Nasiriya, Pritampur. On reaching the khanqah, the yatris were welcomed by the Gaddi-Nashin, followed by the meeting and breakfast.
In this meeting, it was decided that there will be a similar yatra against violence at regional level and a peace conference in which religious leaders of all the community will address the gathering. After having related meetings, jansamwad and pamphlet distribution at various spots yatra reached Akbarpur. People were busy celebrating Diwali even then they find time for the yatra. That night, yatra stayed at the district office of the Samajwadi party.
Day Nine- At the end of the day, yatra had to reach Kanpur. So yatra started early in the morning and reached the first stop Kisan nagar. Here the program was organized at Swami Narayan mandir by young Saint Tushar Mehta. His hospitality was tremendous and will be remembered for the whole life as told by the yatris. After riding from the swami Narayan mandir, the yatris distributed pamphlets all the way to reach Kanpur.
Interestingly, when the yatra reached Kanpur, it was a Diwali night. People came to meet the yatris on their festive days. The yatra stayed at Kanhaiya Dharamshala, Krishna Nagar where meeting and press meet was organized. Dr. Sandeep Pandey organized this meeting in the presence of Social activist Vijaya Ramchandra (Daughter of former President Shri. Venkatraman), Mahesh bhai, Achey bhai and Prof. Ramchandra (IIT Kanpur). That night’s dinner for the yatra came from the house of Madan Lal Bhatia who is a councilor of the local ward. He himself served the food to the yatris.
Day Ten- On the tenth day, the first stop was Matawa, where the yatris had jansamwad followed by breakfast. From Matawa, yatris moved towards Sarsol for a meeting. After the meeting, the yatris found Vijaya ji standing outside the meeting hall with the food for all the yatris. She came directly from Kanpur to serve food to the yatris.
This surprise gave the strength to all the yatris who are riding the bicycle since last 10 days. With this strength, Yatris started towards Mugauli, where they had to stay at Kali Mata Mandir. On reaching the Kali mata mandir, the public gathering welcomed the yatra under the leadership of Mahant Shri Mahadev Das and Raghvendra Singh. This welcome was followed by the meeting and one to one interaction.
After this meeting one retired school teacher asked the public gathering to check the Identity card of all the yatris, on hearing this the convenor of the temple Shri Raghvendra Singh replied angrily that ‘ Bharat mein kab se ghar aaye mehman ka ID card check hone laga’. After that, the school teacher felt sorry and left the meeting. This meeting was followed with dinner. When everyone was leaving, Faisal Khan and other yatris asked from the Mahant Mahadev Das ji “can we offer namaz here in the temple?”Mahant replied, “ibadat ke liye ijazat ki zarurat nahi hoti.” They went to sleep after offering the namaz in the temple.
Day Eleven – The yatra crossed the Onk, Malwa, Fatehpur and reached Khaga. We Distributed pamphlets, interacting with the people and reached Fatehpur Shri Ram Temple. The in charges and Representatives from various Social Organizations honored us. Well known Social Activist in the local area Dharmendra Singh Jan Sevak and Women Activist Sumaiyya Singh organized an interaction with the local community people also arranged food for all the yatris.
The day when we reached was the celebration day of “Bhaiyya Dhuj”, She offered Tilak and extended brotherly host to all, from the spot the yatra reached Yuv Rajeshwar Mahaveer Temple. On the way we distributed the pamphlets, organised dialogues with the people. Pujari Shailesh Ji and his sons Aditya and Anshik, provided fullest hospitality to the yatra team.
During the stay in the temple, some of our yatra team members wake up early in the morning to offer namaz. The Pujari ji in the temple provided us the tea with affection, later on when the local people, most of them were women came to temple for their daily Yoga classes, the Pujari ji introduced us to the local people and provided an opportunity to explain the intention of our yatra.
We began our yatra for 12th day to Pura Mufti, towards Murath Ganj, District Kaushambi. During noon the yatra reached Weekly Haat of Imamganj, where thousands of people gathered from neighbouring villages. The Haat association provided refreshment, by crossing Palhana and reached Pura Mufti. Dr. Salman and his team hosted the yatra, also organised public meeting.
Next day (13th) the yatra directed towards Allahabad, Swaraj Vidyapeet instituted by Azadi Bachao Andolan organised a public meeting, participated by large mass of local people. After the meeting the yatra travelled towards Handiya, on the way there was a meeting in Jhusi in the evening and reached Asvan Daudpur for the meeting and also stayed in the night.
On 14th day the yatra travelled to Jangi Ganj – Principal Vikram Tiwari and Vice-Principal Kriti Shrivastav hosted the yatra in their school. Organised 2 different meetings with the Public, and the Students and Teachers. After the meeting, the yatra reached Gopi Ganj, which is in District Bhadoi. Followed with a public meeting organized by Rashid Bhai and his team, then Mirza Murad was the next destination to us.
Lok Samithi and the team lead by Nandalal Master organized a meeting in Raaja Taalab, later in Sampooranand Hall on the same day, the meeting attended by the representatives of all the political parties, social organisations. The meeting chaired by the Block Pramukh Bansilal Ji, then the yatra stayed in Asha Social Institute.
On the 15th day we began our day with a meeting at Asha Social Institute, where Nandalal Master and Suresh Bhai organised a meeting with huge gathering. There was also a “Shanti March” organized from the Institute to Ambedhkar park, again there was a meeting which was participated by the Students, Youths, and Women.
These arrangements and the meetings organized by NAPM and Lok Samithi Organisers. From here the yatra reached Rajghat- Varanasi. various Organizations under the banner of Sanjha Manch organized a public meeting. Women, Youths, Social Activists, Gandhians, Bunkers and many more people from local areas participated. Then the yatra proceeded towards the final venue in the state of Uttar Pradesh in Chandauli with people gathering organized in the Ram Janaki Temple. We stayed here after day-long programs.
16th day was very hard for us, since our plan was supposed to travel more than 90 kilometres as to reach Sasaram in Bihar. we began early in the morning at 5 Am. On the way, a meeting organized in Khurmabad, in District Rohtash in Bihar. The meeting organized by Gandhians, other prominent personalities in the city participated. Series of programs organized in Durgoti, Mohaniya, and finally reached Sasaram late in the night and stayed in the Budh Dham.
On 17th day we began from Dehri, Dehri Bar Council, Bandhi Adhikar Parishad, organized a meeting in Kacheri Chauraha, then a public meeting and press meet organized in Hotel Rudraksha. From then the yatra reached Aurangabad where”Footpath Patri Vikretha Sangh” in Ramesh Chowk organized a huge welcome and a public meeting.
On 18th day the yatra had its first meeting in Sher Ghati- Hamzapur in District Gaya. where Jan Parishads, Youths, Gandhians participated. The next meeting at Gopalpur organized by Members of Gaya Andolan, Gandhians, Youths, and Villagers in large numbers participated. Another meeting organized by Bhoomi Sudhaar Andolan at Dhobi, lead by Karu Ji and Samajwadi Leaders.
Fourth meeting on the day organized at Bhadhia, where the Legislative Members from Rashtriya Janta Dal(RJD) Santha Devi, District Parishad Umer Khan, Samajwadi Leaders, Karu Ji, Youths and villagers participated.
19th day began from Village Bara Chatti where the huge members of Youths and women participated, this was the last meeting in Bihar.
Then the yatra proceeded towards Jharkhand on the 20th day. The first meeting began at Chauparan located in District Hazaribagh, then proceeded to Baraathi, Barkaata and reached Surekha Prakash Higher Secondary School located in Village Bahera.
On the 21st day the program began in the same school where we stayed in the night. there was a huge gathering of the students more than 2000 in number, after the presentation about the aim of our yatra, we recited the Oath to promote love, harmony and to oppose hate in any way., later on, we traveled through Bhagoda and reached Dhumri for our night stay.
On the 22nd day, due to the announcement of Babri Masjid Verdict by the Supreme Court the entire atmosphere was sensitive, even then various social Organisations under the Coordination of Gurjeet Ji organized a meeting and huge welcome in Subash Chowk, Thop Chanchi, located in the district Dhanbad. Followed with a meeting in Madarsa Jamiathul Islah at Kabir Dhih, then the yatra proceeded to Agrawal Dharmashala in Dhanbad.
On 23rd day the meeting organized at Govindpur, followed by a meeting at Gurudwara Singh sabha, the youths and social activists participated. The last meeting we organized in the state of Jharkhand was at Thaad Dhanga Jama Masjid, a large number of the public gathered and responded positively for the issues that we are organizing the cycle yatra.
After these meetings we reached Asansol, some of the socially committed youths organized a meeting with the press and the public meeting at Rahmaniya School Hall in Jahangiri Mohalla, representatives of social organizations, political parties, and youths in large number participated. Then we had our night stay in the same institute.
On the 24th day the yatra began with the interaction with the workers at Mongalpur Industrial Area. The yatra on its way towards Andhol, Durgapur, Kangsa and finally reached Maamoon International Girls School at Shyamsundarpur for the public meeting.
On 25th day first meeting at Galsi with the youth organizations and the program organized in Madrasa Arabia located at Baam. From here we reached Bardhaman and organized meetings and rally then reached Jamia Madhinathul Uloom Mimari. Interacted with the students, another meeting organized in Mimari National School Auditorium, where local MLA, representatives from all the political parties, social prganisations participated.
On the 26th day, the yatra travelled from Mimari to Murari Pukur. While departing from Mimari Lakhan Mandal and Basheer Mohammed organized a meeting followed with a rally that organized till Borough. Then the yatra reached Raja Bhagan as the entry of Kolkata city. The yatra team was honored by the representatives of social organizations in Kolkata by NAPM, Hawker Sangram Committee, Bharat Bhabna, Nadhi Bachao Committee, World Human Organisation, Nadhi Rokha Committee, and many other organizations. Then the yatra travelled across the city of Kolkata and reached Murari pukur with a public meeting near Gandhi Statue.
On the final day, on 27th day, we began our final day yatra by meeting the press people, followed with the rally in the streets of Kolkata, visited 500 year old Jain temple, on the way to reach the Hydari Manzil, Bellaghata and formally concluded the historical place with the presence of Committee members of Gandhi Bhavan.
While on the way the lunch provided by the Workers association in Bellaghata, then we proceeded towards Academy of Fine Arts- Kolkata, where the huge gathering from the civil societies organized in the evening to welcome the yatris with huge gathering and extended their support to unitedly work to make lynching and hate-free India.