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PIPFPD Press Release: Condemning the attack by Shiv Sena on Pakistani and Indian artists and demanding action against open threats to peace activists

5 February 2014

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PRESS RELEASE

Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace Democracy (PIPFPD), India

February 5, 2014

Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD), India chapter strongly condemns the dastardly attack on Pakistani and Indian artists at the Mumbai Press Club on Tuesday, February 4, 2014. The gathering included members of Mumbai Press Club, senior journalists and members of PIPFPD and other citizens, was facilitated by Jatin Desai, Secretary, PIPFPD, India. The programme included a performance by the artists, a sharing and discussion with journalists and the announcement of a joint India- Pakistan band. The Mekaal Hasan Band from Pakistan is a well known Sufi rock music band. This is the first initiative of its kind and aims to create positive interaction between the musicians of both India and Pakistan and strengthening peaceful ties between the two countries.

Around 35 Shiv Sena activists barged into the Press Club shouting provocative slogans. They were holding placards and Shiv Sena’s flags. Timely intervention by the police ensured that no one was seriously physically hurt. Shiv Sena goons also destroyed a back drop of the Mekaal Hasan Band and threw around furniture. The police have arrested 20 Shiv Sainiks including three women.

This attack clearly indicates that such events promoting peace and camaraderie between people are not going to be accepted by these fascist forces. It demonstrates that it was not an attack on one odd event, but an attack on the values of peace and harmony, an attack on secular, progressive activists and organisations and against the very freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.

PIPFPD strongly condemns the threats issued against the Secretary of the Forum, Jatin Desai and the other organisers of the event, by Shiv Sena’s leadership. A political party making statements that they will continue to not just attack such initiatives but also people behind them is shocking, disgraceful and highly objectionable. It speaks volumes of the outfit’s audacity and disregard for the constitution of the country and the fundamental rights of Indian citizens.

It must be noted that with General Elections 2014 round the corner, regionalist outfits like the Shiv Sena that promote jingoistic nationalism seem to have nothing else to rake up communal tension. The government, media and citizens of this country must take note of the need of such outfits to drum up anti-Pakistani sentiments on the eve of elections, to cater to their vote bank politics. This polarisation of society has been the very foundation of Shiv Sena and other such groups.

Upholding values of regional co-operation, peace between India and Pakistan and development of the people of the region, the PIPFPD has been an active political platform of thousands of citizens of India and Pakistan for the last 20 years since its formation in 1994. We believe in promoting dialogue between people and enhancing the cultural and other exchanges between citizens of both countries to facilitate long-standing peace in South Asia.

We call upon the Government of Maharashtra and the Government of India to take stringent legal action against the perpetrators, their outfit and make sure that such incidents and attacks are prevented in future. We request the national political leadership and parties to take note of the incident and condemn the actions of Shiv Sena.

We call upon progressive people and organisations in the country to come out in open to secure the lives, freedoms and rights of organisations and individuals who have been working for peace, secularism and democracy in India and the subcontinent.

Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal & Asha Hans
Co-Chairpersons, PIPFPD India Chapter
For Further Details Contact: 09582862682