Inter-faith harmony is of great importance in all parts of the world, but its importance increases further in a country like India which is home to people of so many religions and sects. Hence those who devote their life to protecting and promoting inter-faith harmony are performing a very important role for unity of our country and the peace and prosperity which comes with unity. These persons, activists and scholars deserve the thanks and gratitude of the entire nation and of all peace-loving people.

So it has been very distressing recently to read news reports and statements which inform about the harassment and implication in false charges of activists and scholars who have been devoted to inter-faith harmony, and it is sadder still to hear that some have been arrested , and that too on charges of spreading disharmony, precisely the opposite of what they have stood for all their life.

Now it is possible that someone with a motive makes false charges and the police has to take some action, but once the mistake is realized then should not authorities take prompt remedial action? After all it is not difficult to find out the truth in the case of well-known public figures, all the more so when news reports have been drawing attention to the past record of these activists relating to their dedication to peace and harmony.

All these disturbing questions come to mind in the context of the recent reported arrest of Faisal Khan, an activist who is widely known in India for his work relating to inter-faith harmony. His surprising arrest has already been condemned by several eminent persons and organizations well-known for work relating to inter-faith harmony.

I first came to know about him when I was engaged in writing and publishing a series of booklets on freedom fighters of India. In this context I had also written, with my daughter as co-author, a booklet on Badshah Khan, also known as the much-loved and respected Frontier Gandhi, as well as the great organization of selfless servers of humanity called Khudai Khidmatgars (KK) founded by him. This booklet was very well-received as there was a real need for an easy to read low-cost publication on this great freedom-fighter and close associate of Gandhiji. Soon after this booklet gained circulation, I got a phone call from a man speaking in a very gentle and courteous voice. He introduced himself as Faisal Khan and said that he was trying to revive KK and his request to me was to prepare a special, even more low-cost edition of our booklet for him so that he could distribute this among many more people. I was of course delighted to make this humble contribution. The book release function was organized by Gandhi Darshan, Delhi, a leading Gandhian organization also supported by the government and the then director of this organization, the eminent activist and writer Manimala presided. At this function several eminent Gandhians praised Faisal for his efforts.

These are the impressions of Faisal Khan I have always carried since then , which were only strengthened when here and there in newspapers and journals I kept reading about his various activities relating to inter-faith harmony in particular. So my distress on hearing of his arrest can be imagined . Also imagine my surprise when in a truly dystopian situation I read that the charges against him appeared to be the opposite of what he had been working for. But surely in such cases initial mistakes should be corrected as soon as possible.

Earlier I had read statements that attempts were being made in Delhi to implicate several eminent women and their younger colleagues in cases relating to riots, even though these women had been working for inter-faith harmony and unity. They had taken out a Mahila Ekta Yatra or women’s march for unity in difficult times to help in restoring peace and harmony. One of them had been associated with the United Nations in a senior capacity for several years. Known also as a writer and poet, her contribution to women’s empowerment and inter-faith harmony is recognized all over India as well as abroad. Other women who took part in this yatra are also known for similar deep commitments, while two of them are also  leading activists of the Right to Information movement   and  pioneers in implementing RTI in urban poor communities. It is very distressing to hear that anyone should even think of implicating such peace and harmony activists and scholars in instigation of disharmony, enmity or other similar charges.

Here I have spoken only of senior scholars and activists whom I have known in the course of my long career as a veteran journalist and author, but I have been  told in addition that  some youths and students who were arrested or  are being implicated  in various places are also firm believers in inter-faith harmony. If this is true, then these are the young men and women we need for creating national unity and peace. They should be in the forefront, not behind bars.

It will be good if such cases of people devoted to peace and harmony are quickly reviewed and the charges against them are dropped. Some eminent retired judges can also help this process by taking a look at the serious matter and offering their guidance to promote the interests of justice.

Bharat Dogra has written extensively on peace and inter-faith harmony. He is the recipient of the prestigious Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Award of Kendriya Hindi Sansthaan, given by the President of India, for his contribution to Hindi journalism.


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