A march against violence in Maharashtra

By TCN News,

In response to the increasing incidents of violence directed particularly towards marginalised groups, a yatra was undertaken by the Rahtriya Ekta Manch on June 27 and 28, 2014. Rashtriya Ekta Manch’s constituent organizations include Maulana Azad Vichar Manch, Mahila Vikas Kendra, Satyashodhak Vidyarthi Sanghatana, RPI, Sambhaji Brigade, Maratha Mahasangh and others. All India Secular Forum also joined the yatra.

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The yatra with 300 participants from all over Maharashtra, started from Kharda village in Ahmednagar and terminated at Hadapsar, Pune. The yatra meant to express the civil society’s concern at incidents of targeted violence in Maharashtra which have been on the rise especially since the coming of the new government into power. Two such recent incidents are the killing of the 17-year old Dalit boy Nitin Aage, for allegedly having a ‘love affair’ with an upper-caste Maratha girl and the murder of the Muslim youth, Mohsin Shaikh by the Hindu Rashtra Sena for merely being Muslim.

The concerned members of the civil society believe that such incidents point to the systematic targeting of vulnerable sections and that the perpetrators of such acts are being emboldened, given the silence of those in power. While Nitin Aage had to bear the brunt of being Dalit, Mohsin Shaikh, was killed for being visibly Muslim.

The yatra from Kharda (where Nitin Nage was killed) to Hadapsar (where Mohsin Shaikh was attacked and murdered), was meant to be a voice of concern and protest against such inhuman and gruesome acts directed particularly against the oppressed.

Throughout the yatra, the people sang songs, distributed pamphlets and chanted slogans to protest against these acts of violence. They garlanded the photographs of various iconic figures like Gandhi, known for his commitment to establishing peace; Ambedkar, for his struggle against caste oppression and Shivaji, for his fight for a just society and his non-partisan, non-communal approach.

Meetings were held at several villages on the way where Rashtriya Ekta Manch’s units were formed and people resolved to do all in their grasp to bring an end to violence of this nature. The yatra culminated into a huge public meeting on the final day, which was attended by around 500 people.

The most heartening and reassuring aspect of the yatra was the participation it witnessed; people from various backgrounds including Dalits, Muslims and women came in large numbers.