Organizations experience backlash of political criticism

Allison Rosewicz

It is an ancient principle that peace does not happen without struggle.

Both the Confederation of Voluntary Associations and the Coalition for Peace and Harmony say in general, the public response to their efforts has been positive. But each has also experienced some form of backlash or criticism.

Azghar said COVA faces problems with the right wing political parties, some of which have been violent. He said some COVA officers have had to flee for their lives.

“In the communities we work in, unfortunately the political parties against us have legislative members in the area,” said Ali Azghar, Executive Secretary of COVA. “They try to make sure we don’t get support.”

But, he said, these ploys by the political parties in opposition to COVA usually fail because people at the grassroots level see the positive work COVA performs. He said outsiders, however, are often influenced by the propaganda.

Manatosh Mandal, Secretary General of CPH, said the CPH sometimes gets very harsh letters. For example, when the Coalition helped the victims of Gujarat, the group received many letters questioning why it had not come to the aid of Hindu victims of violence in Kashmir and Bangladesh.

The CPH responded by saying that yes, the Hindus had been oppressed in those areas, but that did not mean the Muslim victims in Gujarat should not be helped. Subsequently, the Coalition organized a lecture about Kashmir.

“We are for protection of minorities, no matter who they are,” Mandal said.

Despite any hardships COVA or the CPH face, they press on, citing the importance of communal harmony to India’s future.

“The essence of India is its plural culture,” Mandal said. “Partition of 1947 has not undone it and cannot change this fundamental character of Indian polity. The demographic distribution of population can never allow India to be anything but a plural entity. The option is whether communities will exist peacefully or violently.”