AHMEDABAD, May 14: Rights groups and celebrities have come together to combat growing religious violence in India, which was rocked by bloody riots in Gujarat state last year, an activist said on Wednesday.

The new movement, called Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), will on Thursday begin 10-day workshops to discuss ways to tackle communalism across the country, beginning with Gujarat.

Filmmakers, actors, artists, journalists and several non-government organizations have joined ANHAD, which will spread awareness against communalism.

“We will create a secular force which will go from village to village to every home and wipe out the communal hatred being spread by the fundamentalist forces,” said activist Shabnam Hashmi.

Workshops in six Gujarat districts are the first step in that direction.

“The workshop is not for the non-initiated, it will be attended by social workers, educationalists, lawyers and others, who were involved in relief and rehabilitation of the riot victims,” said activist K. Stalin.

“Secularism has to be brought into the mainstream. Once these activists are trained, they will become the facilitators, who will pass on the message to masses,” said Mr Stalin.

He said there was a need for active resistance to attacks by fundamentalist groups, whose trained cadre were capable of disrupting huge meetings.

“We will discuss ways to resist such attacks through non-violent means, which could be cordoning, lying down or any other way without compromising with our principles.”

The organization plans to spread the message through street theatre, cultural performances and social mobilisation. —AFP

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