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Universal Theatre marks World Non-Violence Day thru' Mahatma

→ Imam Hossain



 October 2 is observed across the world as the International Day of Non-Violence to disseminate the message of peace.


The day has been commemorating since 2007 as it is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, an eminent ideologist of subcontinent during the Indian independence movement. Through non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and became the beacon of peace throughout the universe.


To mark the International Day of Non-Violence and the 143rd birth anniversary of Gandhi, Universal Theatre staged a special show of its acclaimed production Mahatma at the Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in the city on Sunday.


Before staging of the play, a commemorative discussion on the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi was held at the same venue.


The discussion opened with the welcome speech of Azizul Parvez, president of Universal Theatre. He said, "To uphold the spirit of non-violence, we are staging today the 8th show of Mahatma, a production which highlights the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi. The play was premiered on the occasion of the South Asian Youth Peace Festival at Noakhali on December 22 in 2010."


The key speaker of the discussion was prominent theatre personality Nasiruddin Yousuff.


In his speech, Yousuff stated, "Mahatma Gandhi is a symbol of non-violence. Throughout his life, he showed people the path of peace. In a violent-prone world, Gandhi is still relevant as before. We hope through this production the people will receive the light to march on the path of peace."


Scripted and directed by Mazharul Haque Pintu, the play portrays a few incidents of religious violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the district of Noakhali in 1946.


The massacre in Noakhali in the then Bengal occurred on October 10, 1946, a year before the independence of India from the British rule. The event forced hundreds of Hindu families to move to India for safety.


In Bengal, the Muslims were in marginal majority, comprising about 54% of the total population against 44% of Hindus. However, in eastern Bengal, they enjoyed an overwhelming majority. In the district of Noakhali, the Muslims were 82% of the total population.


In 1946, the Muslim League had contested the elections on the Pakistan issue, and formed provincial government in Bengal. In August, an unprecedented rioting took place in Kolkata between the Hindus and the Muslims, following the Muslim League's call for a Direct Action Day. As the news of rioting reached Noakhali, the situation became tense.


The play showcases how a certain quarter always seeks religion as a means of personal gain. When news reaches to him, Gandhi rushes to the region. As he arrives he is greeted with horrifying scenes of atrocities where entire localities have been vandalised. Houses burnt, women raped, people slaughtered mercilessly, shops, roads, and post-offices destroyed and mass scale looting in the name of religion violence.


However, he tries his best to play a pivotal role in cooling down the situation. He tours the genocide-stricken area, and plays a lead role in calming the communal tension.


Abul Kalam Azad played Gandhi in the play. The other cast of the play were Swakat Ali Mansur, Mazharul Haque Pintu, Mohammad Kashem and Mirazul Islam, among others. 

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