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Fundamentalist forces rankled by Faisal Khan's effort to 'rekindle' peace, tolerance

Counterview Desk

Sharply criticising the arrest of Khudai Khidmatgar leader Faisal Khan, a Gandhian, for offering namaz in a Mathura temple compound, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India’s premier civil rights network, has said, “Prison is not the place for messengers of love and brotherhood.”
Condemning “the persecution of those promoting peace”, and calling for freeing Faisal Khan even as taking back “malicious and ill-motivated” FIR against him, NAPM said, in a statement, he and his organization is based on the “ideals espoused by Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan when he founded the Khudai Khidmatgars”, who are known to have provided “the antidote to the venom spewed by those who think that religious fundamentalism is the only way to practice faith.”

Text:

A founding member of Khudai Khidmatgar, Faisal Khan was arrested on November 2 evening from their communal harmony centre, ‘Sabka Ghar’ in Delhi and taken to Uttar Pradesh, by the UP police. Along with Faisal Khan, three other members of the organization, Chand Mohammed, Alok Ratan, and Nilesh Gupta have been charged u/s 153(A), 295 and 505 of the IPC in an FIR filed for offering namaz in the Nand Baba temple in Mathura on October 29, 2020, for taking photos and for sharing the photos on social media.
On October 29, Faisal Khan posted this update on this Facebook account, “Yatra Completed # Braj 84 Kos Parikrama – a yatra from October 26 to 29 for religious harmony, love, kindness and tolerance. The yatra ended at Nand Baba Temple in the village Nand near Mathura. A journey full of love and brotherhood through the Braj has come to an end.”
Regular updates in both messages and photos were being posted on the Khudai Khidmatgar Facebook page and on WhatsApp groups during the yatra – from paying their respects in various temples, to receiving welcomes from everyone around, to blessings from priests and saints, to sometimes being gifted the ramnavmi gamcha/a sacred scarf!
Rekindling the messages of love and brotherhood epitomized in the stories of Braj, the yatra was an attempt to bring together people of various faiths and spread the messages of religious harmony, tolerance and love. On the fourth day, i.e. October 29, the yatra ended in the Nand Baba temple. A message posted from the yatra said, “After going to the temple and paying respects, it was the time for namaz. They sought permission and offered their namaz there itself.” The message was yet another example of the congeniality and harmony between different religions we find among the common people across the country.
Khudai Khidmatgar regularly organizes yatra to spread the messages of unity, peace, love, tolerance, communal harmony and mutual trust and familiarity between people of various faiths. Khudai Khidmatgar members go and meet with the priests and saints of all faiths. Quite a few saints and ascetics come to the ‘Sabka Ghar’ situated in Jamia Nagar where the Khudai Khidmatgar live and work from. Sabka Ghar has been the fountain head for messages of unity, peace and fraternity for many youths and their organizations belonging to different religions.
People with deep knowledge and understanding of the various issues facing various communities across the country come to and share their knowledge and insights with those in and around Sabka Ghar. During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, the Khudai Khidmatgar in Sabka Ghar as well as around the country, stepped up to the task of helping the most vulnerable get food and rations in many states. 
They have helped people during the Assam floods. Faisal Khan, being the convenor of the Khudai Khidmatgar, has been an able and effective co-ordinator for all its activities. Faisal is also a respected and loved member of the NAPM national convenors group. 
The charges filed against Faisal Khan and others have been a direct result of their peaceful work and messages of love, tolerance and unity
The charges filed against these youth leaders are unbecoming and ironical. The motivated and malicious tilt given by certain elements in society today and a slice of the mainstream media is vigorously condemned. Despite all this, just as he was being arrested, Faisal Khan said, “If anyone is hurt by our words or actions, we apologize and would like to clarify that there was no ill-intentions behind them”.
We believe that the charges filed against these youth leaders has been a direct result of their peaceful work and messages of love, tolerance and unity. There are multiple instances where voices calling for peace, love and tolerance – core values enshrined in our constitution – are being targeted with an intention to create or deepen rifts within Indian society. 
The ideals espoused by Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan when he founded the Khudai Khidmatgars provide the antidote to the venom spewed by those who think that religious fundamentalism is the only way to practice their faith.
Certain elements within society, supported by the state are working to increase religious divide and animosity. The messages of the Khudai Khidmatgar youth are like bandages on an injured constitution. Yatra such as the one undertaken by the Khudai Khidmatgar, bring out in the open the centrality of peace, love, and tolerance as the core values of the common people, even those who go to a temple, or mosque, or gurdwara or church.
Fundamentalist forces are rankled by such efforts to increase peace and tolerance. Such bridges, and those who build such bridges, soon become the target of attacks by fundamentalist elements. False accusations and support from an indifferent State are being attempted to be used to silence voices of peace, love and tolerance. 
The forces that have been brewing discontent and fueling enmity among different religions in society are today spewing their venom through a section of mainstream media and on social media through their troll army and are targeting Khudai Khidmatgar there as well.
National Alliance of People’s Movements believes that the FIR lodged against Faisal Khan and his compatriots is false and ill intentioned. We demand that the FIR be quashed and Faisal Khan be released immediately with an appropriate recognition and respect for his efforts.
  • We hope that the judiciary shall dismiss all the false charges filed against the 4 members of Khudai Khidmatgar.
  • We appeal to the civil society to defeat fundamentalist forces and stand with those speaking truth and spreading messages of peace, love and tolerance. 
  • We stand in solidarity with Faisal Khan, Chand Mohammed, Alok Ratan and Nilesh Gupta. 
  • We stand united against persecution! We stand united for peace! 
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