The following is excerpts from an interview with Vishwanath Karad of the World Peace Centre. Karad launched a peace initiative to restore houses of worship that were destroyed in communal violence in his village as well as a conference discussing communal harmony.
What inspired you to bring the Hindu and Muslim villagers together to reconstruct a temple and masjid that had been destroyed by fanatics?
The Rameshwar village is my birthplace and I always wanted to do something for my village, which has witnessed Hindu-Muslim riots in the past. The Ram Mandir, which is almost 300 years old, was destroyed by some anti-Hindus and the stones of this temple were later used for the construction of the Jama Masjid. This religious structure was destroyed by some anti-Muslims 63 years ago. This again triggered violence among people and the temple and mosque continued to remain in a state of ruin. Around 10 years ago, I had tried to rebuild these structures, but this was seen as an attempt to enter politics and I was forced to give up my humanitarian act. There is a history to it. Now, after many years, the idea appealed to the villagers and they decided to join hands in our initiative to reconstruct the temple and the mosque.
Is there a larger message in this historic achievement at your village?
Hindu-Muslim conflict has a long history in India, but we need to do something and this has to end somewhere. The reconstruction of the temple and mosque is an apt example of communal harmony and can serve national interest. On our part, we decided to commemorate this achievement by organising a national conference on the vital topic of communal harmony.
Read more: Communal Harmony