Even as an ecumenical coalition marched for peace, a terrorist attack resulted in the death of some 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir, according to Fides News Agency.
“As our journey of peace, harmony, and fraternity began, about forty Indian soldiers were martyred in Kashmir. The intent of terrorists is to destabilize the context and relations between India and Pakistan, but also our current government is called to a greater commitment to peace. It is time to respect the human rights of workers, peasants, tribal Dalits, minorities, and women so that we can all walk on the path of peace, fraternity and protect our constitution and democracy. This is the mission of the Indian government.”
This is according to Anoop Shramik, human rights activist, and organizer of the demonstration and march for peace launched on February 13 from Lumbini (Nepal), which will end in Magahar in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. The journey of peace wants to highlight “harmony in diversity” and preserve the traditional pluralism of Indian culture. Lumbini (starting point) is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha, while in Magahar (point of arrival) Kabir Das, the great Indian poet of “composite culture”, died. The five-day march, entitled “From Buddha to Kabir”, intends to reflect on the necessary harmony among the different communities, cultures, and religions present in India and put the accent on the Indian legacy of love and respect for others.
About 300 people from different religions, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims working for peace have joined the demonstration that will end with a cultural evening on February 17 at the University of Gorakhpur, in the north-eastern region of Uttar Pradesh.
During the journey, the “Prerna Manch”, a theater group of the Vishwa Jyoti Communications, in the Congregation of the Indian Mission Society in Varanasi, performs theatrical dramas and street performances focusing on the theme of social and religious harmony and respect for others. The group sings hymns on unity, peace, and love, thus leading the procession of peace.
“Siddhartha Gautama Buddha is a symbol of peace, compassion, and non-violence, and Kabir is synonym of a composite and plural culture”, says Father Anand Mathew, director of Vishwa Jyoti Communications, one of the organizers of the march which includes Vinod Mall, current general director of the police in Gujarat, committed to peace, pluralism and non-violence. Father Mathew, an Indian Mission Society member states that “it is a Christian duty to spread the message of peace and love.”
Vishwa Jyoti Communications is a group that has been carrying out similar peace events since 2005, when it led a six-month pilgrimage through 45 districts of Uttar Pradesh, spreading a message of peace, love of neighbor, respect for people of all faiths, peoples, and cultures.
Father Mathew and the Vishwa Jyoti Communications group carry out a service dedicated to promoting inter-religious harmony through dialogue with people. The best aspect of this dialogue is that it takes place in people’s daily lives, with the active involvement of committed people of all castes and religions.