"Reconciliation: Karwan-e-Mohabbat's Journey of Solidarity through a Wounded India" | Finding light in times of darkness

In this journey, we are reminded of the dwindling conscience of our society, where hate triumphs love at the slightest provocation of difference, writes Sayantan Ghosh.

Price:   399 |  8 Sep 2018 2:26 PM GMT  |  Sayantan Ghosh

Finding light in times of darkness

“I just want to know how my son died,” the old man wept. The reason for his son’s death – lynching – a most heinous hate crime that has mushroomed perilously in India in the last few years. In September 2017, a group of volunteers and human right activists travelled across eight states of India to locate and support the families’ of hate attack victims.

Reconciliation: Karwan-e-Mohabbat's Journey of Solidarity through a Wounded India, edited by human rights worker Harsh Mander, filmmaker-writer Natasha Badhwar and activist-author John Dayal discusses this phenomenon of lynching through four parts, The Journey, Reflections, Karwan Travellers and the last chapter titled, Harsh Mander.

While the first chapter describes the situation across various places, the second chapter dwells specifically on individual incidents. The third chapter then discusses the travelling group and, in the last chapter, Harsh Mander elaborates his personal trysts through this difficult journey.

The editors described this book as a part travelogue, part reportage and part testimonial from travellers – concerned citizens, writers, journalists, photographers, students, lawyers – seeking to replace fear and hate with empathy and love. Put together, it makes for a searing but compassionate account of how hate violence is tearing apart communities, destroying families and, in the end, threatening the very idea of India.

The book directs a strong message against hate crimes pervading civil society. Such brutal crimes have been on the rise over the past decade – a glaring example is communal lynching, of an angry mob deciding to take law into its own hands. The victims are trapped in a web of preconceived prejudices against their community, caste or race.

The authors, remembering the experiences they shared upon meeting the families of victims, describe the devastation, the ruptures, the shattered households and, the very struggle for existence. “We encountered widows, mothers, fathers, and children, numbed with incomprehension at loathing and violence that had been snatched from them their loved ones,” write the authors.

The authors have also delved into the lives of families after their dearest has been lynched – an often ignored aspect. After the death of victims, their respective families are due to receive compensations while the police are expected to arrest the culprits. But, in reality, the situation is quite different. Several family members are in jail as the accused and alleged culprits rein a free-hand.

Muslims, Christians and Dalit minorities no longer live simply in the fear of humiliation and isolation (practices they are by now somewhat habituated with), but also of the persisting danger of imminent violence, of being vulnerable to attack anywhere — on a busy road, in a bus or train, in a marketplace, even in the cocoon of their homes.

India boasts of its diversity. But, the authors, shedding light on the irony, write about how we leave no stone unturned to distinguish individuals based on caste, religion, or even their food habits. The book questions ideas of brotherhood and aphorisms such as ‘love thy neighbour’ – all of which seem to be practised rather selectively – as long as a person does not look different or practice a faith different from our own.

Share it