To mark 10 years of its formation, Act Now for Harmony And Democracy (ANHAD), a socio-cultural organisation formed after the Gujarat riots, is hosting a two-day national convention in the Capital beginning April 17.

According to ANHAD founder Shabnam Hashmi, the convention will see experts from political, social and cultural fields discussing the use of terror against the minority communities across the country.

“There will be a discussion on communalisation of public and private spaces, cultural and educational institutions. We will come out with strategies to counter communal forces. Of course, there will be discussion on the situation in Gujarat after the riots. But, there are other cases from different parts of the country which point to the growth of intolerance.”

As an activist, Ms. Hashmi says she wants all the progressive forces to combat the onslaught of communalism. “We have to come out with strategies because we do not want communal forces to capture power in the next generation elections.”

Experts from different fields will examine the recent cases of communal violence and give recommendations to the government as well as civil society at the convention titled “Descent into Fascism: How Do We Stop It?”.

A special panel of academicians, jurists and activists who have expertise on the subject of terror as an instrument to demonise the minority communities will present an overview of the situation in the country.

On the first day, noted activist Aruna Roy will chair a session on “Voices from the Ground: An Overview of the Situation from different States”, while Ram Puniyani will chair a session titled “Terror a Tool to Demonise Minorities and Sangh Terror Network”.

On the second and concluding day, Colin Gonsalves, a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, will chair a session on “Communalisation of Public and Private Spaces, Cultural, Educational Institutions and Media, Globalisation and Communalism.”

Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt will chair a session on “Political Response to Growing Communalism”. Other speakers in this session are Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI national secretary D. Raja, Congress leader Digvijay Singh and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ramvilas Pawan.

The seventh session titled “Way Forward and Recommendations” will be chaired by ANHAD founder Prof. K.N. Panikkar. Speakers will include Syeda Hameed, Harsh Mander and Seema Mustafa.

Cultural show

Apart from the discussions, there will also be a cultural extravaganza in which the country’s diversity will be celebrated with an evening of poetry, music and dance.

A cultural group from Jammu and Kashmir will present two Kashmiri folk music and dance forms -- Chakri and Rouf.

Artiste Avni Sethi and Sufi musician Dhruv Sangari will present “Dialogues across time” – a collaborative dance and music recital narrating the stories of poets and thinkers speaking to each other through the ages.