Close on the heels of the arrival of a Pakistani parliamentary delegation on a goodwill mission, a 40-member all-women team of Indian writers, intellectuals and activists plans to undertake a bus journey to Bangladesh on May 14 with an aim of putting a check on 'worsening Indo-Bangladesh relations'.
A non-government move, organised by prominent New Delhi-based NGOs Women's Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) and SANGAT, the bus would leave Kolkata for Dhaka on a week-long solidarity tour.
The co-organises include NGOs like Sanhita, Sanlaap, Swayam, Gana Unnayan Parshad and Dhaka-based 'Aine O Salish Kendra'.
Mohini Giri, Rashme Sehgal, Syeda Hameed, Bharti Ray, Kamla Bhasin are some those who will board the bus to Dhaka.
The leading Bangladeshi NGOs participating in the cross-border initiative are Women for Women, Women Studies Centre, Nari Pokhyo, Mohila Porishod, Mohila Samiti and Kormojibi Nari.
"The Peace Bus will take peace activists from all over the country to Bangladesh and facilitate dialogue between activists and writers of the two countries," Kakali Bhattacharjee of Swayam said.
The follow-up plan, she said, was to organise a similar effort from Bangladesh to India at a later date.
"A citizen's dialogue has historically proven more effective in resolving grassroots cross-border problems rather than political dialogues and so we have a lot of hope pinned on this initiative," Bhattacharjee said.
The delegation would converge in Kolkata on May 13 and reach Dhaka by bus on the evening of May 14.
"The delegation would visit the Shriti Shoudho and Ganoshashthyo Jendro in Dhaka to meet grassroots women and later hold discussion with academics, students and a cross section of women," Bhattacharjee said.
A five-day exhibition of paintings, photographs and dialogue with women writers would also be part of the peace programme.
WIPSA, a network of women promoting regional peace, had earlier organised two peace buses between Indian and Pakistan and a peace vigil at Wagah on August 14 and 15, 2002.WIPSA would soon organise a South Asian dialogue on peace between women writers, originally scheduled for March this year but deferred due to visa problems, Bhattacharjee said.