Over 200 academicians, activists, artists and intellectuals from across the country released a statement on Monday expressing solidarity with former IAS officer and noted human rights activist. Many intellectuals, activists also did facebook lives from their respective facebook profiles/pages in solidarity with Harsh Mander.
They condemned “the manner in which Delhi Police has mentioned the name of Harsh Mander and other activists, to concoct a ‘chronology’ and create a false narrative about the Delhi riots, in the chargesheet filed by them on FIR No.- 65/2020 of 26/02/2020.”
They noted that Harsh Mander is a well-known human rights defender, a writer and a social activist. “Harsh Mander was a civil servant who resigned from his job in the wake of Gujarat violence in 2002 and came forward to work tirelessly to build bridges of love in our society. He went on to start initiatives for the under-privileged, and religious minorities among others.
He founded Aman Biradari and Karavan-E-Mohabbat. Both initiatives have contributed immensely to the betterment of Indian society. His current efforts to help the migrant workers, who had to tragically flee our cities in the wake of Corona lockdown, are commendable,” says the statement.
Here is the full text of the statement:
In the wake of the Delhi violence ( Feb. 2020), Harsh Mander had filed a petition before the Honorable Supreme Court, related to registering of FIRs against political leaders whose inflammatory speeches triggered the violence resulting in over 50 deaths.
Instead of allowing the court to consider the petition, the Solicitor General of India derailed it, and gave a twist to the episode by arguing that Mr. Mander had in fact been contemptuous of the Honorable Supreme Court, and incited violence in a speech he gave at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on December 16th 2020.
That speech, given publically, and video recorded, in fact spoke of love and constitutional rights. The chargesheet now filed by the police continues this false narrative. Under the head - Brief Facts of the Case - Chronology Of Events Leading To Riots In North-East, Delhi (Point 17. Para 4) it says : ”Mr. Harsh Mander, who visited the site on 16/12/19 and instigated the protestors to not have faith in the Supreme Court and to fight their battle on road to get justice. He, however, used a façade of peace in a part of his speech”.
There cannot be anything more ridiculous than saying Harsh Mander used a “façade of peace.” He has devoted his entire life to the cause of peace and harmony in society. The core part of his speech called for shunning violence and adopting Gandhian means of non violence in the agitation.
This is what he had said: “What will be the future of this country - you all are the youth - what sort of country do you want to leave for your kids - where will this decision happen? One, it will happen on the streets, we have come out on the streets, but even beyond the streets, there is another place where this decision will take place. Which is the place in which this fight will eventually be decided? That is in our hearts, in my heart, in your heart, we have to give a response - if they want to fill our hearts with hate, if we respond with hate, hatred will become deeper”.
“If someone is attempting to bring darkness to the country, and we also do the same in order to fight, then the darkness will only become more severe. If there is darkness, then the only way that can be fought is by lighting a lamp. And if there is a huge storm, we will light a lamp against the darkness. The only answer we have to their hate is love. They will resort to violence, they will instigate us to indulge in violence but we will never carry out any violence. You must understand that it is their plan to instigate you towards violence so that when we commit 2% violence, they respond with 100%. We have learnt from Gandhi ji how to respond to violence and injustice. We will fight with non-violence. Anyone who instigates you toward violence or hatred, they are not your friends.”
Surely this speech can go down in history as an elaboration of Gandhian principles in contemporary times. To use this speech to present Harsh Mander as someone instigating violence is utterly deplorable. It is a deliberate and motivated attempt to implicate an outstanding peace loving , Gandhi follower, an activist par excellence ,who is walking the path of non violence.
This is an attempt to target him, perhaps pull him into the police dragnet of false cases, and silence powerful and effective citizen’s voices against hate, divisiveness and for unity and compassion. We strongly condemn the motivated, compromised investigation and vilification of a person with commitment to a just society, and demand that this is stopped forthwith.