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Need seen to form mohalla panels to prevent communal clashes, says Teesta Setalvad

Teesta Setalvad says country threatened by forces fostering fear, festering hatred and attacking reason

October 25, 2017 01:03 am | Updated 08:30 am IST - MANGALURU

Karnataka , Mangaluru : 24/10/2017 : Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist, speaking during the Decennial College Day celebration of St Aloysius Institute of Education, in Mangaluru on 24/10/2017. PHOTO : H S MANJUNATH

Karnataka , Mangaluru : 24/10/2017 : Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist, speaking during the Decennial College Day celebration of St Aloysius Institute of Education, in Mangaluru on 24/10/2017. PHOTO : H S MANJUNATH

Activist Teesta Setalvad said here on Tuesday that there is a need to re-visit the Bhiwandi experiment of forming mohalla committees to prevent communal clashes especially during the election time.

Speaking at the decennial college day celebration at St. Aloysius High School, she said that when the then Bombay was burning in communal clashes in 1992-93, its neighbouring Bhiwandi once known for communal clashes was calm. It was owing to forming mohalla committees by a police official named Suresh Khopade involving all community members. The committee members were in touch with police and administration on daily basis to prevent clashes. Whenever rumour mongering started and whenever the build up of conflict began the committee members came together and put “moral weight and pressure” on police and administration to observe peace and rule of law. It was especially so during the election time. She suggested that the same experiment should be emulated in other places.

She said, “It is my humble experience that today the administration and police are buckling under those pressure of a negative kind that are trying to break down the rule of law. Peace warriors like you and me, who might not want this hatred, have been numbed into silence.”

The Padma Shri recipient activist said overwhelming good people who remain silent should speak against injustice, violence, and whenever indignity being propagated. “Speak out peacefully against them,” she said. Referring to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh she said that it showed that forces which killed Mahatma Gandhi were still active. She said that now the country is threatened by forces that are fostering fear, festering hatred and attacking reason. “They do not want us to question the structures of inequity and injustice and they want us to believe that questioning the regime in power is disloyal to the nation.”

She suggested teachers to teach values of Constitution to students.

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