Varanasi, 12 August, 2014: Heads of various religious faiths, prominent social activists and professionals have called upon the government not to commercialise River Ganga and leave it to flow uninterrupted.
Addressing the maiden Banaras Convention on Saturday here organized by Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)[i] in alliance with Bana Rahe Banaras and Bunkar Dastkar Adhikar Manch (BDAM), the Hindu seer Dwarikapeetha Shankaracharyas[ii]’ representative Swami Avmukteshvaranand underscored the need for preserving the purity of River Ganga intact.
“Let Gangaji remain as mother, not as source of revenue”, the Hindu seer said indirectly disapproving the government’s move to commercialise the largest river of the country. “Let more water flow in Gangaji but not money”, he added opposing the move by the government to construct check dams over River Gangaji.
Shahar-e-Mufti Maulana Batin Nomani quoted Quran saying that discrimination based on wealth or caste is unjustified. “Saint Kabeer has taught us inculcate human values. We all must take note of this lesson”, the Maulana emphasised.
Speaking on the occasion Father Gabriel (Director of Diocese, Varanasi) called upon to maintain peace and tranquillity like past year. ”We must feel peace from within. If there is war going on within you, that would naturally be reflected in outside world“, he said philosophy.
Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Kirti Ratan underscores the need for keeping the values, for which Vanarasi is famous, intact. “this city is not known for its building but for its pristine value systems” he reiterated.
Corroborating the views of the seer, Maulana Harun Rashid Mufti said the present scenario of Ganga would not allow to be disturbed. “Every religion have reposed faith in Ganga. This city can never be same without Ganga. You find so many mosques on its banks. Muslims read Namaz on the rivers side. We all will work for Ganga’s purity”, he remarked adding that river Ganga is a symbol of Hindu Muslim unity.
Magsaysay awardees Rajendra Singh vehemently opposed the union governments plan to launch water transport in Ganga River. The government has a made a budgetary provision of Rs 4600 cores to develops water transport in the sacred river by running huge mechanized boats carrying 450 Tons of cargo. By implementing this plan of action, the government is out to pollute the already polluted Ganga River. This will also hampers free flow of clean water in the river.
Congress legislator from Kolasla Mr. Ajay Rai, Varanasi made it clear that under no circumstances mother Ganga would be allowed to go down as a playground of corporate bigwigs. “Banaras is the heart of the country cultural diversity time has ticked away. Myriad changes follow but the holy city of Banaras remains the same with its cultural mooring kept intact. No one would be allowed to tinker with the cities values and rich tradition” he retreated.
Prof. Deepak Malik supported Mr. Rai’s statement saying that some people without understanding the pulse of Banaras a trying to interfere with the city in the name of modernization and development.
Kicking of the debate PVCHR Executive Director Lenin Raghuvanshi highlighted the basic objective of convention. “Time has come to accept and practice inclusive and pluralistic culture across the globe. Varanasi – the epicentre of such culture, should take the lead to spread the massage beyond India”
Among others Dr. Mohammad Arif, Bindu Singh, Vallabhachary Pandey spoke on the occasion. Muniza Rafique Khan welcomes the guests while PVCHR founder and trustee Shruti Nagvanshi[iii] gave vote of thanks. Vyomesh Shukla[iv] and Ateek Ansari moderated on the occasion.
To commemorate August Kranti Day[v], BANARAS SAMMELAN (Banaras Convention) was observed on August 09, 2014 at the Moolgadi Kabir Math[vi], Kabir Chaura, Varanasi, India.
The religious leaders jointly released report of “Kashi Kumbh” to save river Gangaji. Also a book title “a guideline for Communal Harmony” in hindi was unveiled.
On the sideline of historical event, Swami Avmukteshvaranand honoured Jan Mitra Award to Ms. Teesta Setalvad[vii], a veteran social activist, Dr. Tir Vijay Singh, a veteran journalist and Senior Editor of Hindustan and Mr. Nageshwar Patnaik, a veteran journalist for their incredible contribution and commitment & another hand ‘PVCHR Ambassador’ to Pandit Vikash Maharaj[viii], Sarod Maestro and Mr. Prabhash Maharaj, Tabla Maestro as a legendary musicians to protect and assert pluralism and inclusiveness around the world.
The one day programme took off with the classical music by Maharaj trio Pt Vikash Maharaj[ix] (renowned Sarod player) and Pt Prabhash Maharaj (Tabla player), Abhishek Mahraj (Sitarist) of Varanasi Gharana. A group of singer lead by Ashish Mishra performed on the message of Kabir (kabeer vani). A theatre play “Ganga or Gangi by Prerana Kala Manch[x] was staged. A documentary film “Muzaffarnagar riots” by Gopal Menon[xi] was also Screened. The program proceeded with Pad Yatra (Kabir Yatra) from Kabir Chaura Math to Chandra Shekhar Azad[xii]Park, Lahurabeer, Varanasi. More than 2000 people from various district participated in the programme and Benaras Declaration[xiii] announced on occasion.
Earlier Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranav Mukharji, Ex- Secretary General, United Nation Mr. Kofi Annan, Indian Bharatanatyam dancer, Ms. Pratibha Prahlad, Chairperson, Indo- German Society of Remscheid Ms. Helma Ritscher, Mr. Mike Ghos[xiv] from America, Director, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Mr. Sujoy Joshi, Kanak Mani from Nepal and Director, Navsadhana father V. Sebastian, BHU Vice Chancellor Prof. Lal Ji Singh sent massages to wish the programme a grand success.
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