Kochi

An activist fervently hopes for communal harmony

Sherif Alisar drove his motorcycle blindfolded in Mattancherry, appealing for communal harmony in the immediate aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Sherif Alisar drove his motorcycle blindfolded in Mattancherry, appealing for communal harmony in the immediate aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.  

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Sherif Alisar, an avid biker and magician, has always been in the forefront of peace campaigns

Twenty-seven years after he rode his motorcycle blindfolded along the narrow alleys of Mattancherry, appealing for communal harmony and peace in the immediate aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, 63-year-old Sherif Alisar hopes that he would not be called up for a similar campaign at his advanced age.

As the nation gears up for the much awaited Supreme Court verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, Mr. Alisar, a public activist and magician rolled into one, straight from his Friday afternoon prayers, recollected the communal mayhem that prevailed in his neighbourhood, forcing him into such a campaign.

“There was literally no untoward incident in Mattancherry or West Kochi area on the day when the Masjid was demolished. In fact, there was a campaign attended by cultural leaders, including singer K.J. Yesudas, in front of Kokers at Fort Kochi for communal harmony,” recalled Mr. Alisar who participated in the campaign as a 36-year-old.

But in the evening, there was a public announcement from an autorickshaw calling for a bandh the next day in protest against the vandalisation of the Masjid. If he is to be believed, no one had a clue as to who was behind the call, but he would like to call them incendiary forces out to fan communal passions with devious interests.

The next morning, a mob supporting the bandh vandalised a paint shop at Panayappilly and then had a clash with another group opposed to the violent enforcement of the bandh. “A protest rally ensued in which a couple of shops at Kayikka Junction on Puthiya Road in Mattancherry were ransacked, bringing the police in its wake. Two lives were lost in police firing to quell the violence though I still believe that the firing was uncalled for,” observed Mr. Alisar.

Things were brought under control following a peace rally organised the next day on the initiative of CPI(M) leader T.M. Muhammed and Congress’ P.M. Sayeed, reminisced Mr. Alisar, who did his own peace campaign the day after. He had resorted to similar blindfolded motorcycle rides later as well and not just in his place alone. And, every time it was for the cause of communal harmony. “Since then, there have been no communal discords in Mattancherry, and the impending Ayodhya verdict will not change it. Our children and their generations will be the foot soldiers ensuring that peaceful coexistence,” Mr. Alisar signed off.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 8:24:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/an-activist-fervently-hopes-for-communal-harmony/article29926685.ece

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