June 13, 2002
An Appeal from SPRAT´ - Society For Promotion of Rational Thinking
Circulated by Aman Ekta Manch (email@example.com )
From: MH Jowher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Friends of the Ekta Manch
Greetings from Ahmedabad. Some of you will recall my having met you at the Lajpat Bhavan in April end.
For some time I have been receiving your mails. I have been wanting to write to you and present gratitude on behalf of the affected people of Gujarat. But busy as I remain for almost 18 hrs a day, doing what is Urgent at the expense of what is Important, I have been unable to tell you how encouraging it is to learn of your concerns for us.
What happened in Gujarat is mind-boggling in many ways and raises many fundamental questions about its social structures and processes. But that must wait for some other time. There is more immediate task to handle: to rehabilitate those rendered shelterless. As the monsoons set in and as the schools reopen, people must return to secure and familiar environs. Besides rebuilding broken shelters and shops we must also rebuild the broken bridges and reconstruct hope. A daunting task given the deafening silence of the corporate Gujarat.
The bloodshed has been followed with what is widely called the Cheque Violence: the maximum sustenance for the entire household goods lost is Rs. 2,500/- [with most averaging at around Rs. 500/- and some getting as less as Rs. 70/-!] and the maximum for gutted immovable property being Rs. 50,000/-[average = Rs.12,000/-]. At least two persons had heart failure leading to death upon seeing the cheque amount. At Halol camp I met an unfortunate person who has gone insane upon receiving his compensation cheque.
There are several things that need to be done. For one, we must mobilize public opinion against the barbarity and injustice, for another we need to rebuild houses and hopes. We need to secure justice so that misplaced retaliation doesn't take place. We need, too, to forgive where we can and understand that people are often products of their circumstances. But lest more of us should fall prey to the hate propaganda we must counter-educate our masses. Gujarat can well happen to India.
At SPRAT we have been doing a few things within our limited resources. But people need cement, roofing and fittings material and furniture and utensils and... Please write extensively -and widely- so that the governments, which failed to protect the lives and properties of the people, institutions and organizations are sufficiently sensitised to the enormity of the problem.
We at SPRAT are also utilizing this curse as an opportunity to usher in a progressive agenda within the Muslims of Gujarat, on the sidelines. After just concluding 10 coaching camps for a month for board examinations, we are now embarking upon setting up three library-cum-vocational training centres in Ahmedabad. Pease consider raising book donations en-masse. Besides building the libraries people would get an opportunity to show their solidarity by donating the books. The Ekta Manch can consider issuing Thank You slips for this.
Your very thought in these troubled times and amidst the pressures of our daily chore is an act of solidarity. But since so few are sensitised so much more is required of them.
On our part, me and my wife have virtually abandoned our management and IT consulting company [which at one time was valued at around a crore rupees]to plunge into SPRAT full time. And so it will be for the next 3-5 years.
I have received a great deal of consideration and understanding at Delhi. This not only comforted me but also encouraged me to do better. I shall continue to look upon you for these.
With kind regards
M H Jowher, SPRAT, [Society for the Promotion of Rational Thinking]
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