Yugal Kishor Shastri has been undertaking annual peace yatras on foot for three years from the holy city of Ayodhya to Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi to promote communal harmony. And his resolve to portray the true character of Ayodhya before the people and spread the message that the country belongs to every Indian has only grown with every passing year.
“India is a nation of all religions and Ayodhya belongs to everyone no matter what his religion,” said Shastri here on Sunday after he successfully completed his fourth yatra along with a group of about 20 people from all over India. After reaching the Capital, the group first decided to pay respect at the Gandhi Memorial at Rajghat. The idea behind is to promote peace, unity and brotherhood in addition to working against fascism, communalism and untouchability. Along the way, participants of the yatra held seminars, talks and conferences in towns and villages they passed through to spread their message. The yatra this year started from Ayodhya on October 11 and passed via Faizabad, Lucknow, Sitapur, Shahjahanpur and Moradabad before reaching the Capital on Sunday.
“Ayodhya is a cultural hub that belongs to all religions; it is a holy place for Hindus, it is home to Sufi Bazaars, there is a Hanuman Mandir that has been gifted by a Muslim, there is a Ram Mandir made by Muslim people, but in the face of politics all this is forgotten for community votes,” said Asghar Ali Engineer, who as secretary of the National Foundation for Communal Harmony has been supporting Shastri.
“We have been living together in peace for several centuries. In times when people think of us as orthodox we were broad-minded enough to accept the diversity of other religions and cultures but in this supposedly modern age there is the narrow-minded hatred that is being infested by politicians,” he said, adding that the Indian tradition prescribed that a man be good to his neighbour.
“In the land where Gandhi, Buddha and Mahavir were born, this sort of hatred towards other religions is unseemly and not in keeping with our culture. I appeal to all my Hindu, Muslim and Sikh brothers and sisters to treat each others how a neighbour in India should be treated.”
A conference will be held at the Gandhi Peace Foundation at on Monday morning to mark the conclusion of the yatra.