It will take "couple of generations" to address the evils of "hatred" and "partition of hearts" in India, said human rights activist Harsh Mander in Delhi on Friday.
Speaking at the launch of a book, "Reconciliation: Karwan-e-Mohabbat's Journey of Solidarity through a Wounded India", edited by filmmaker-writer Natasha Badhwar, activist-author John Dayal and Mander himself, he asserted that "India has never been as divided since Partition and that our Muslim brothers and sisters have not been as isolated and as abandoned as they are today".
"I will be very happy if the people will come together and change the government in 2019... but political battle is a very small part of what we are dealing with here... the partition of our hearts.
"Yes, it will create a little more space for us to do what we do. However, even if we put ourselves to it, it will take couple of generations before we are able to address what we are up against... to address where this hatred came from and how we can fight it." the former IAS officer said here on Friday.
On September 4, 2017, as part of an initiative called "Karwan e Mohabat" (Caravan of Love), a group of volunteers led by Mander travelled across eight states of India with people who had been targets of hate attacks such as lynchings, attacks on Dalits and targeted shooting by police, among others.
The book, which is part travelogue, part reportage and part testimonials from some of the travellers -- writers, journalists, photographers, students, lawyers.
"The silence around it (hate attacks) be it in newspapers, television debates is deafening... every generation asks their parents, 'how did you remain silent' 'why did you remain silent' and one thing they (parents) always said was 'we did not know'. Here, one thing we had to do was to tell the story.
"At least that alibi is no longer available to us that we did not know. We are telling you and we will keep telling you till your conscious aches unbearably," said Mander, adding that the book sheds light on just first month of the travel.
The group has made 21 similar journeys in the last 12 months with a resolve to continue undertaking such journeys, at least one a month.
Several cases of lynching and mob violence have been reported from across the country in the recent past.
On July 17, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra termed incidents of mob-lynching in India as "horrendous acts of mobocracy" and directed Parliament to draft new legislation to effectively deal with the incidents across the country.
Also attending the event, activist Farah Naqvi called 'Karwan E Mohabbat' a "unique form of protest" and a creative response to defeat the "media black outs".
"Karwan has come up with no listed demands. It is a unique form of protest, its only aim is to reach out, touch and heal. Its aim is not even primarily justice, it has a different, an ethical, a moral, which is conscious... and to try and defeat media black out -- which did happen with this Karwan -- by coming up with this book. This is the kind of creative response we need to come up with when media silences us," she added.
In the introduction of the book, the author writes: "We were reliably informed that all big newspapers and television channels had been advised to blank out news of the Karwan. No everyone compiled with these pressures".
Published by Westland Books, the 171-page "Reconciliation: Karwan-e-Mohabbat's Journey of Solidarity through a Wounded India" is priced at Rs 399.