12/12/2008, 00.00
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Mumbai: thousands form human chain for peace

by Nirmala Carvalho
More than a hundred organisations as well as professionals, students and ordinary citizens protest against violence peacefully and in silence. Activists promote long-term initiatives to defeat hatred. A Catholic priest launches message of “peace, love and unity.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Thousands of citizens formed a human chain across Mumbai from 12 noon to 12.15 pm today to protest against the attacks that hit the city last 26 November and against the growing violence in the country.

Over 100 organisations, including trade unions, student organisations and peace activists, mahila mandals (Women's Associations) as well as minority and human rights groups, formed a human chain long 120 kilometres from Vasai-Virar, north of Mumbai, to the city’s southern tip.

Nariman House, where six members of the city’s Jewish community were murdered, including the chief rabbi, the Taj Mahal Palace, the Tower Hotel and the Oberoi Trident Hotel were among the locations along the chain.

Hand in hand, participants reiterated the need to break down social and cultural barriers as well as ethnic and linguistic divisions, calling on political leaders and administrators to improve governance.

“People react to crises in two ways. There are knee-jerk reactions and long-term strategies. The human chain is part of a long-term initiative to fight terrorism and establish peace,” said Shanti Patel, a veteran freedom fighter and trade union leader.

“We are one,” said Fr Savio Fernandes, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Bombay who spoke to AsiaNews. “We will not allow any terrorist or any Machiavellian politician to divide us or instil hatred in our hearts just because we belong to another religion or region.”

“I want to join my fellow Indians in sending a message of peace, love and unity to all.  I also want to send a strong message to the terrorists around the world and terror groups like the Lakshar-e-Taiba or the Saffron Brigade that we will not allow them to divide us and weaken us,” he said.

The human chain also included many students. Sophhiya Carvalho, a student from St Joseph’s Convent Bandra who spoke to AsiaNews, said: “Terrorism is plaguing our society. It has undermined peace and trust between communities. Hundreds of people have been killed or injured in the recent bomb blasts. Terrorism has to stop. We love our country and our city. We, who are the future generation, must work for peace and rebuild the nation.”

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”