Coalescing for peace
Leading artists, intellectuals and representatives of several organisations participated in a Canvas for Peace on April 6 at Sundarayya Park.
Marching with canvas for peace. - Photo: Satish H
IT WAS a protest with a difference. The shamiana at the Sundarayya Park on April 6 was filled with people, banners and posters condemning the carnage in Gujarat and a canvas waiting to be painted on, while passers-by stopped to take notice of the proceedings. Artists, prominent citizens, intellectuals, representatives of grassroot organisations, NGOs, women's organisations, trade unions came on a platform - Coalition for Peace and Harmony to campaign for national unity and integration. As part of the one-day effort, a Canvas for Peace (where artists painted on a canvas), a fast, and peace march were organised to emphasise secularism and democracy. Artists expressing concern for politico-religious happenings especially at junctures where the secular fabric of the country is threatened is not new to the country. SAHMAT (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust), with support from artistes (from fine and performing arts), has been condemning violence and crusading for communal harmony since the early Nineties. Through paintings on canvas, art exhibitions, cultural performances organised by SAHMAT artistes have expressed their anguish over various issues
In Hyderabad, artists got together for a cause for the second time. The previous effort spearheaded by Laxma Goud was after the demolition of the Babri masjid. The second Canvas for Peace had 15 artists led by senior artist Surya Prakash paint their feelings on the Gujarat violence. A four-and-a-half feet canvas was filled with symbolic images reflecting the violence and advocating peace and harmony. Some of the artists who participated included, apart from Surya Prakash, Srihari Bholekar, Kavita Deuskar, Shyam Sunder, Sisir Sahana, Rajeswara Rao, Nemiraj Shetty, Lakshmi Reddy, Chippa Sudhakar, Srinivas Reddy, Rohini Reddy, Sajid bin Amar, Hamid bin Amar, Sreekanth Kurva and Zahid bin Amar.
The canvas was filled with some lines too. For instance, Hamid bin Amar wrote a couplet of Khumar in Urdu: Jalte gharon ki roshni sheharon ko jagmagachuki, Ab to khuda ke vaaste dil ke diye jalaiye. For Surya Prakash, "this was a symbolic gesture by artists to protest. As citizens they shared the concern using the paint and brush."
Several prominent citizens and representatives of various organisations reiterated the secular aspect besides condemning the Gujarat incidents. The young and the old chipped in by painting banners voicing their vociferous opinions. What was heartening was the inspiration this protest provided for an auto driver A.L. Chari passing that way. Chari brought a poem he had written on communal harmony some years ago. His reading received loud applause from the crowd.
Some resolutions were also adopted stating banning of organisations spreading hatred, implementation of NHRC and appointment of a Supreme Court judge to enquire into the Godhra incident and subsequent violence.
Summing up the day's events Suvira Jaiswal, a retired Professor of History, said that "some of us concerned citizens got together to create awareness and to request the people in authority to take action. Besides the letter to the governor, some relief work in terms of providing supplies of clothes and essential commodities through the Red Cross was also being envisaged. It was also an effort to educate people on subversion of communal values. This was to stress the preservation of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious character of the country."
This was a platform not just for the elite, but also for everyone. This kind of action should gain momentum and spread to other areas of the city as well. Even the few who participated can carry forward the message of secularism and democracy.
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