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Home > Election > Report

Mahatma's granddaughter calls for peace in Gujarat

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Ahmedabad | December 04, 2002 01:31 IST

The granddaughter of the Mahatma, Ela Gandhi, who is a member of the South African parliament, appealed for peace in Gujarat on Tuesday.

Ela, who represents the African National Congress and is a well-known human rights activist, was in Ahmedabad for a day.

"If we don't follow the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi at this stage, we won't see our second generation living peacefully ever. If we don't act now, our grandchildren won't have any future," she told rediff.com

Asked if she planned to campaign against the Narendra Modi government, she said, "Frankly speaking I am settled for quite long in South Africa. And I don't know much about Indian politics. I am not against any person or any party. All I am saying is that we need peace in the Gujarat."

When pointed out that she was associating herself with organisations that were against the Bharatiya Janata Party and Modi, she said, "I am a South African national and I don't want to get into party politics of India. I get very little news from India and I haven't heard enough of what Modi has said. And moreover, I never condemn an individual but I condemn his deeds. So all I am saying is that we need peace in Gujarat and all over the world."

Giving the example of Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, Ela said, "He showed the way to South Africans in a peaceful manner. And now South Africa is taking the initiative to spread peace across other countries in Africa. So things can change peacefully in world.

"Violence will never stop violence, but only encourage more violence. So it is our duty as citizens of the world to call for peace," she said.

If people want to change a politician, they can go out and vote, but they should not attack members of other communities, she added.

Earlier, Ela held a joint press conference with singer Shubha Mudgal and actor Farooq Shaikh who had come to Ahmedabad to promote a festival.

The festival had been organised under the auspices of Aman Biradari [peace community], which comprises over 500 artistes, organisations and individuals from all over the country.

The hosting committee of the festival included Kumudini Lakhia, Haku Shah, Mallika Sarabhai, Rajesh Mehta, Piyush Desai, Harsh Mander, Romila Thapar and Mahashweta Devi.

Father Cedric Prakash, Director, Prashant, a human rights group, said, "When France was in danger of being taken over by the rightist government of Le Pen, Frenchmen came out openly and voted against him. So, in the same way, we want people of Gujarat to come out in the open and vote against Modi."

Asked if he supported the Congress, Father Prakash said, "Let me make it clear that this is not a Congress party function. I, as an individual, feel that I should stand up to injustice in the society. So I am doing what I feel is right.

"The majority of the people in Gujarat are frightened. And unfortunately there are not many charismatic people left in India who can lead people to the right path."

Shabnam Hashmi, another activist said, "We are not supporting the Congress, but right now we want the BJP out. There are many people in the Congress who are communal and we know that fact. And you come after December 15 [when the results are declared] and we will start opposing the Congress too."

"The reality is that there is water shortage in Gujarat. There is a drought. Thousands of people don't have water to drink. When this reality is diverted to other issues I, as an Indian citizen, have the right to inform people about right and wrong," added Father Prakash.


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