Kolkata, Oct 12 (IANS) An organisation working towards enhanced cooperation in South Asia Sunday called for better people-to-people contact to strengthen relationships in the world’s least integrated region.
Bangladesh Bharat Pakistan People’s Forum (BBPPF) has organised a three-day South Asia People’s Conference beginning Oct 16 to mark the centenary celebrations of the provisional government-in-exile established by Indian Nationalists in Afghanistan during World War I.
“Regional integration does not happen with a few handshakes between presidents and prime ministers. It happens when people across the borders see each others as friends and not as enemies,” BBPPF convener Manik Samajdar said here.
The Oct 16 conference will witness the participation of more than 200 pro-democracy and anti-fundamentalist organisations from South Asia.
Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind led by Siddiqullah Chowdhury and the Centre for Peace and Progress in Kolkata led by O.P. Shah have joined BBPPF in organising this conference.
Samajdar also called for celebrating the legacy of anti-colonial solidarity to iron out differences that have been increasingly getting wider among the neighbouring countries.
“At a time when South Asia appears ever more divided and heading for conflicts within nations and between them, it is legacy of the anti-colonial solidarity that can bring the people of South Asia together. If people don’t come together, governments can’t,” said Samajdar.
Besides organising a similar conference in Kathmandu later this year, the Forum has plans to hold Kabul-to-Moirang (Manipur) and Kathmandu-to-Kolkata cycle rallies in 2015 in an effort to again bring together a region that was once united in the struggle against colonialism.
Established Dec 1, 1915 by Muslim Indian nationalists, the purpose of the Provisional Government of India was to enroll support from both the Afghan Emir, as well as Tsarist (and later Bolshevik) Russia, China and Japan for the Indian Freedom Movement.
Later, on Oct 21, 1943, Bose established the ‘Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind’, an Indian provisional government in Singapore with support from Japan.