Caravan of Love rolls

Bengal has come under the radar of a pan-India civil society movement that seeks justice and livelihood for survivors of mass violence, lynching and other hate crimes.

By Meghdeep Bhattacharyya in Calcutta
  • Published 24.01.18
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Members of the Karwan-e-Mohabbat console a woman during their nation-wide tour

Calcutta: Bengal has come under the radar of a pan-India civil society movement that seeks justice and livelihood for survivors of mass violence, lynching and other hate crimes.

The Karwan-e-Mohabbat (Caravan of Love) will start a three-day tour of the state from Wednesday.

The first port of call of the team that includes human rights activists John Dayal and Anuradha Talwar will be Basirhat's Baduria. They will meet families affected by violence there in July last year.

On Thursday, the team will go to Syedpur in Malda's Kaliachak to meet the family of Afrajul Khan, a labourer from Malda killed in Rajasthan's Rajmasand last month. On Friday, they will meet the families of Muhammad Nasiruddin, Nasirul Haque and Mohammad Samiruddin of Chopra, lynched by a mob on suspicion of cattle theft.

Harsh Mander - a social activist and director of the Centre for Equity Studies - who spearheads the initiative for "love, atonement and solidarity" said a team comprising young artists, authors, filmmakers and storytellers would tour Bengal.

"We have seen intense and pervasive suffering and fear, arising out of hate violence. We will continue with this journey until collectively, all of us are able to bring this to an end," Mander told The Telegraph from Delhi on Tuesday.

Mander said the Karwan had found that such families required four kinds of support: legal justice, psychosocial care, access to their entitlements and other material needs to rebuild their livelihoods.

Bengal will be the ninth stop of the Karwan.

"The nation's ruling establishment, the RSS and its supporters attempt to obscure recurring patterns and the magnitude of hate violence against minorities and Dalits. The RSS parivar clings to official claims that these are stray incidents of inconsequential numbers," said Mander.

The Karwan will also attempt to assess whether the situation in Bengal which, according to Mander, has traditionally been better off in terms of post-Independence hate crimes, remains unaltered in the face of "concerted efforts" by the saffron camp.