Westland to Publish Reconciliation Edited by Harsh Mander, Natasha Badhwar and John Dayal
On 4 September 2017, a group of volunteers led by Harsh Mander travelled across eight states of India on a journey of shared suffering, atonement and love in the Karwan e Mohabbat, or Caravan of Love. It was a call to conscience, an attempt to seek out and support families whose loved ones had become victims of hate attacks in various parts of the country.
In Assam, the group met the families of two young cousins who had been attacked and killed on suspicion of being cow thieves. In Jharkhand, they spoke to Usman Ansari, who had been beaten nearly to death by his neighbours, for allegedly killing his own cow. In Rajasthan, they were met by a belligerent mob that did not want them to revive memories of the lynching of Pehlu Khan, a cattle trader, by a cow-vigilante mob.
Wherever they travelled, the Karwan encountered grief and bewilderment. Many of the victims sought solace in the fact that a group of citizens was reaching out to them in solidarity and helping them to seek justice. But there were also several people, across the political and social spectrum, who opposed the Karwan and its mission to highlight the oppression and violence faced by minority communities, especially Muslims.
This book is part travelogue, part reportage and part testimonials from some of the travellers—concerned citizens, writers, journalists, photographers, students, lawyers—seeking to replace fear and hate with empathy and love. Put together, it makes for a searing but compassionate account of how hate violence is tearing apart communities, destroying families and, in the end, threatening the idea of India itself.
Harsh Mander is a human rights and peace worker. He is the author of Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India; Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives; Ash in the Belly: India’s Unfinished Battle against Hunger; Fatal Accidents of Birth: Stories of Suffering, Oppression and Resistance and several other books on contemporary India.
Natasha Badhwar is an independent film-maker, columnist and author of My Daughters’ Mum.
John Dayal, a human rights and political activist, is the author of Gujarat 2002: Untold Stories and A Matter of Equity: Interrogating Secularism in India. For Reasons of State: Delhi Under the Emergency (1977), which he co-wrote with Ajay Bose was relaunched in 2018 on the 42nd anniversary of the lifting of the Emergency.