Critic of Indian Gov't Leading Campaign for Hindu-Muslim Amity Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

Harsh Mander - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.02.2022
Social activist Harsh Mander, a former Indian civil service officer, has long been admired among India’s opposition circles for advocating communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims. The Economist described him as the “most worthy candidate” for a Nobel Peace Prize in India last year.
Harsh Mander, a prominent critic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), a think tank which researches "the conditions for peaceful relations between states, groups and people".
While releasing the PRIO’s shortlist for the world’s top peace prize, the institute’s director Henrik Urdal lauded Mander for being “an important voice for religious tolerance and dialogue” in the country amid rising “religious extremism”.
It also praised Mander’s Karawan-e-Mohabbar (Caravan of Love) campaign, which was launched in 2017 to support victims of hate crimes, who are commonly from impoverished Muslim backgrounds.

“Under Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist administration, the situation for Muslims in India has become increasingly difficult and the country has seen numerous incidents of religiously motivated violence,” Urdal underscored during his nomination.

On its website, Karawan-e-Mohabbat describes itself as an organisation which supports “survivors” of hate crimes and injustice with “legal, social and livelihood” help.

“Everywhere we found minorities living with fear, hate and state violence, resigned to accept these as normalised elements of everyday living; and worryingly little public compassion and remorse in the majority communities,” it says.

Mandar has also been a prominent critic of the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a 2019-era legislation which seeks to fast track citizenship applications for persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Critics of the CAA, which include the opposition parties as well as India’s Muslim organisations, claim that the act could be misused to deprive Indian Muslims of their citizenship. While the charge has been denied by Prime Minister Modi and India’s home minister Amit Shah, Muslims in different parts of the country took to the streets in demanding that the law be repealed.
The protests in Delhi culminated in riots in February 2020, after supporters of the BJP accused the anti-CAA protestors of spreading misinformation. The multiple day riots in the north-eastern part of Delhi led to the deaths of 53 people, with most of them being Muslims. Mander blames the Modi government for instigating the riots.
The CAA protests largely subsided in the wake of the surfacing of the COVID pandemic in India and the declaring of lockdown in 2020.
Demonstrators shout slogans and hold placards during a protest against the Indian government's Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at Jaffrabad area in New Delhi on February 23, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.01.2021
India's Child Rights Watchdog Calls for Probe Into 'Islamist, Canadian' Links of Anti-CAA Activist
Mander is currently facing a government investigation on charges of money laundering, after India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) alleged that it couldn’t account for funds received by two of the children's homes run by Mander.
India’s financial crime investigating agency Enforcement Directorate even conducted raids at Mander’s official addresses in September last year.
Mander's nomination for the top peace prize drew a critical reaction from Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), a Hindu nationalist organisation and ideological ally of Prime Minister Modi.
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