ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
-A A +A

Protest Diaries: Not in My Name, Break the Silence and More

A Live Compilation of Citizen Voices against Lynching

Here is a compilation of brief statements, videos, and photos from different locations from citizens who attended the protests in different locations against the hate politics around beef. They tell us why they felt it was important to protest against targeted mob violence, and of their own experience in their respective cities and towns which compel them to protest. [Last update: Mumbai 3 July 2017]

" A democracy can handle truant rulers. But a silent citizenry is its death."

“At one shot we have shown that you can’t determine the character of a mobilisation”

 


Valluvar Kottam, Chennai, Image Credit: Prem Kumar Sachidanandam

The simmering anger against the incidents of violence against Muslims and Dalits boiled over when a Facebook post from a filmmaker about Junaid Khan’s “unseen” public lynching became a rallying point for a spontaneous citizens’ protest that spread across cities in India on 28 June 2017. Over the last few months, we have been forced to recognise that mass lynching is now a recurrent mode of majoritarian violence against marginalised peoples. 

We have recognised that a lynching is not just murder, it requires, rather demands an audience. There has been a pattern to the public lynching of Muslims in the last three years—a rumour, often planted, linking them to cattle slaughter, the presence of a large group of people, the trails of photos or videos which record the violence, the eventual silence of “witnesses,” official denial topped with calculated insensitivity, and the slow response of the police.

Needless to say, this happens alongside the state and its officials periodically delivering inflammatory speeches on cow slaughter and against minorities.

Even as more and more people sought to participate in the Jantar Mantar protest, different citizens’ groups across cities and towns started organising their protest meetings. On 28 June, thousands attended protest meetings in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Lucknow, Patna, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jaipur, Gaya, Faridabad, Allahabad, and other locations. Some of these were silent protests where protestors wore black bands with placards, while some had performances, and some had speeches. On 29 June, there was a protest meeting in Pune. On 1 July in Chennai and 3rd July saw a massive turnout for protest rally in Mumbai.


Carter Road, Mumbai, 28 June, Image Credit: Shivani Bhasin

Here are a few brief statements, videos, and photos from citizens who attended the protests in different locations. They tell us why they felt it was important to protest against targeted mob violence, and of their own experience in their respective cities and towns which compel them to protest. 

 

#Nafrat Ke Khilaf, Insaniyat Ki Awaaz

Protest March in Dadar West, 4 pm, 3 July 2017

Sent by: Nishta Jain


Chaityabhoomi, Mumbai, 3 July

Thousands walked from Kotwal Udyan to Chaityabhoomi in Dadar West, as many citizens, organisations, and Dalit and left political parties came together under one banner of “Nafrat Ke Khilaf, Insaniyat Ki Awaaz.”  The march began and ended with poetry recitation and songs. One saw leaders like Prakash Ambedkar, artists like Dan Husain and writers like Rahman Abbas and Dorab Farooqui. Film-maker and activist Anand Patwardhan, film-maker Dibakar Banerji, photographer Chirodeep Chawdhary, feminist activists Hasina Khan, Chayanika Shah and Nandita Shah were also present. There were school and college students, professors and teachers, lawyers—people from all walks of life.

Personally, for me and for thousands of others in India and abroad, young Junaid’s brutal murder on a train was a breaking point. Junaid was just a regular young man returning home from Eid shopping with his friends. He had been warned by his parents to not take the train because the incessant beef lynchings all over the country had instilled fear in their minds. And, as it turned out, his parents’ fears were proved right. Junaid’s killing sends a message across the country that Muslims are not safe in public spaces, that they can be killed on any pretext: the way they dress, how they look, and what they eat. When parents of a certain community have to tell their children not to travel on public transport because they can be lynched, then our nation is in deep trouble.


Chaityabhoomi, Mumbai, 3 July

One does not know how long it will take to provide an antidote to the hatred that has been injected in our society, and how long it will take to heal. It is not just about the attacks on the Muslim community, the targets could be from the Dalit community, or an African national, or a Bangladeshi migrant woman suspected of theft. We have been witnessing the impunity with which mobs get together and lynch their targets, leading to a complete breakdown of law and order in our society. The government is not lax or inefficient; it is wilfully silent and quietly watching as the country tears itself apart. It can only gain from this situation. 

However, I have not lost faith in the Indian people. I am sure there are millions who are concerned about what is happening, but they dare not speak out or they do not know how to speak out. Many of them are poor, and the current economic policies are further impoverishing them. They have no time to come out for protest marches, but they are feeling the brunt of this hate. 

We have no choice but to keep on fighting, resisting, and protesting in the hope that others will join too. Today, I saw many people at the rally, whom I know and who are otherwise cynical about protests, but who feel that India is perched at a very dangerous point. I saw several spectators join the rally. We have to be positive and keep on making our voices heard.

 

 

 

#BreakTheSilence - Chennai

Valluvar Kottam, 11 am to 1 pm, 1 July 2017
Sent by: Nityanand Jayaraman for Citizens for Peace, Justice and Dignity.


Valluvar Kottam, Chennai, Image Credit: Prem Kumar Sachidanandam

The day began with a bang, when Chennai broke the silence in style. Valluvar Kottam, a monument commemorating the Tamil poet-saint Thiruvalluvar, formed the backdrop for our protest. No speeches. No eminent personalities gracing the stage. Music, slogans, poetry readings, and three short statements only. There were no organisational affiliations on display, no leaders, no followers, and no political parties. The initiative was organised under the banner of Citizens for Peace, Justice and Dignity. And that is what we were: citizens gathered as people who were deeply troubled with the culture of hate being seeded by the ruling dispensation.

We opted to demonstrate with a call to #BreakTheSilence not because we felt #NotInMyName is a losing proposition, but because we felt that the silence of the rulers was being made possible only by the silence of the citizens. A democracy can handle truant rulers. But a silent citizenry is its death. We cannot afford to remain silent. Not now, not ever. There were those who wished to break the silence with placards that said #NotInMyName, and then there were still others from Chennai's vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community who declared that there was "NO Saffron in My Rainbow."

We are sorry we couldn't join the rest of India on 28 June. The Chennai Police is a curious lot. They believe that law and order is best maintained by forcing people to stay at home. Chennai Police takes five days to process applications for "spontaneous demonstrations." And then, they give you the permission with a page full of conditions to hold a demonstration in some well-hidden corner of town. Every inch of democratic space and time needs to be fought for. The conditions required the demonstration to begin at 11 am and to end by 12 noon; one hour is not enough to even read out the entire list of people attacked and killed in the last three years.

We kicked off to an auspicious and resounding start at around 11 am to the beat of the parai drums. Parai is made by stretching cow-hide over a wooden ring usually of a neem tree. It is said that the sound of the parai can even wake the dead. The thought of using an instrument made of cow-hide to wake the gau-goondas in the government somehow seemed like the right thing to do.

By 11:45 am, 15 minutes before we were required to finish, people were overflowing the roadside space given to us, and spilling on to the sidewalk, the nearby park and the thoroughfare. The media reported that there were between 600 and 750 people at peak time. The road was barricaded. The show went on till 1 pm.

Chennai's youth were visible both in numbers and on stage. But it was not just the youth. In attendance was 90-year-old S P Ambrose, formerly of the Indian Administrative Service, who had made it to the “poratta pandal” (the protest camp) despite his frail health. Ambrose was one of 65 retired civil servants who wrote a hard-hitting letter against the growing authoritarianism, majoritarianism and hypernationalism in India.

He was received with thunderous applause even as Vasanthi Devi, former vice chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, and public figure, summarised the contents of the letter in Tamil for the audience. Meanwhile, another well-known Chennai elder and former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi was spotted standing quietly on the side lines as the tent was overflowing with people.


Valluvar Kottam, Chennai, Image Credit: Prem Kumar Sachidanandam

The day's programme was anything but a Tamil-only affair. While Monali Bala, a Chennai-ite of Bengali descent, sang Kavi Bharati's song in Tamil, Vedanth Bharadwaj—a well-known singer— belted out Faiz Ahmed Faiz's "Hum Dekhenge" in Urdu. Slogans were raised in Hindi too just to make sure that you-know-who gets the message. "It is not that we don't know Hindi in Tamil Nadu. We just refuse to speak if we are forced to," one student shared with a smile.

The high point of the protest was undisputedly the energetic slogan shouting by students from various Chennai colleges.   Like the Azadi slogan from Jawaharlal Nehru University—its cadence travelling across linguistic barriers—Chennai's Tamil slogans too conveyed an energy and a determination that was palpable.

 

A selection of the slogans:

மாட்டின் பெயரில் படுகொலையை (Lynchings in the name of the cow)

கண்டித்து போராட்டம் (This protest is to condemn them)

மத்திய அரசே, மத்திய அரசே (Hear us, Modi Government, Central Government)

மாட்டின் பெயரில் மக்களை (In the name of the cow)

கொன்று குவிப்பதை நிறுத்திவிடு (Stop killing people)

யாரடா தீவிரவாதி; யாரடா தேசத்திரோகி

((Who are you calling a terrorist? Who are you calling a traitor?)

RSS-தான் தீவிரவாதி; RSS-தான் தேசத்திரோகி

(RSS is the terrorist. RSS is the traitor)

இது மக்களுக்கான ஆட்சியா? மனுதர்ம ஆட்சியா?

(Is this a People's Rule? Or is it a Rule of Manudharma?)

விடமாட்டோம், விடமாட்டோம் (We won't allow; we won't allow)

பார்ப்பனியத்தை காலுண்ட (Brahmanism to take root)

விடமாட்டோம் விடமாட்டோம் (We won't allow; we won't allow)

உண்பது எங்கள் உரிமை (What we eat is our choice)
உண்பது எங்கள் உரிமை (What we eat is our choice)

மாட்டு கரி எனக்கு; மாட்டு மூத்திரம் உனக்கு (Beef dishes for us; Cow urine for you)

திமிறி எழுவோம் மக்களே (In anger, let's rise up people)

திருப்பி அடிப்போம் மக்களே (Let's retaliate, O people)

மத்திய அரசே மோடி அரசே (Hear us, Modi Government, Central Government)
நீ அடித்தால் அடி வாங்கி கொள்ள, (Beware. We won't take your beatings lying down)
இது குஜராத் அல்ல தமிழ்நாடு (This is Tamil Nadu, not Gujarat)

உன் பருப்பு இங்கே வேகாது (Your dal will not cook here; Your tricks will not work here)

பெரியார் பிறந்த மண்ணிலே (In the soil, where Periyar was born)
BJP-க்கு இடம் இல்லை (There is no room for BJP)

நெஞ்சை நிமிர்ந்து; வீர நடை போட்டு (With head held high; with a courageous gait)
கையை உயர்த்தி; கத்தி சொல்லு (With our hands raised high; we shout loud and clear)
நா இந்தியன் டா (That I'm an Indian-da)
நாங்க இந்தியன் டா (That we're Indian-da)

 

#NotInMyName - Bengaluru

Town Hall, Bengaluru 4:30 pm to 7 pm, 28 June 2017

By: Citizens from Bengaluru

Stardust at the Town Hall, Bengaluru

A protest conceived and executed in three days seems right out of a movie. And yet there we were—over 500 people—with posters and placards in Kannada, English, Hindi, Tamil and Bangla, those who chose to stand together to protest against the recent attacks and lynchings of Muslims and Dalits happening across the country in the name of “cow protection.” Bangaloreans, with citizens from across 13 other cities stood side by side chanting “Not In My Name,” “Say No to Violence.” 


Town Hall, Bengaluru

While there were some organised groups from colleges and other institutions, most people at the venue, who were asserting their right to a safe and secure country for those citizens who are facing the onslaught of Hindutva, were a part of the general public. Mothers with children, friends and neighbours, professors with students and whole families were seen together, standing, sitting, and holding their banners saying “Stop the Killing” held high over their heads. There were artistes, information technology professionals, scholars and playmakers too who stood and lent voice to the protest.

There were many media persons, with cameras and microphones. What was quite amazing was that when media persons approached just about any protestor without warning, they stepped forward and responded fluently and fearlessly about why they were there. Neither the microphones nor the cameras intimidated anyone from expressing their anger and sorrow. There were many police vans (we counted four at least), and men and women officers in uniform stood by watching us through these hours.

Around 6 pm, it began raining—the posters bled colour, the thin paper on which many were written wilted. Some protestors covered their heads with kerchiefs and dupattas, and some wise Bangaloreans took out their umbrellas, for they knew that rain or shine, what needs to be done, needs to be done. No one left. The rain stopped at some point and the crowd burst out with “gundagardi nahi chalegi—yeh desh hum sab ka hai” (thuggery will not be tolerated—this country belongs to all of us).

When the Bengaluru protest was being organised, there was divided opinion about whether it would be a silent protest or would we sing and read poetry. No decision was arrived at, and we felt that since this was a coalition of many citizens, it would be left to those attending to choose how they wanted to express their presence. While many wore black, mourning the dead silently, others sang songs and raised slogans of unity.

Around 7 pm, the police asked us to vacate the premises since there was a function of the film fraternity that was to take place at the Town Hall, and it seemed from the cut-outs that some stars were to land up as well. But, for the people of Bengaluru, who stood there in resistance and in friendship, we were made of stardust today, as Rohith Vemula had plaintively said in his final note to us. And as one poster today said, “There are no Gods worth killing for; There is only us, to live for.”

 

 

#NotInMyName - Hyderabad

28 June 2017, 6 pm, Tank Bund Side Walk 

By: Citizens from Hyderabad


Tank Bund, Hyderabad

On most days during the monsoons, it rains in the evenings in Hyderabad. On 28 June too, when the “Not in My Name” protest was to be held, a light drizzle began by about 4 pm. Despite the drizzle, people began assembling slowly at a central point on the three-kilometre Tank Bund road that is adorned with the statues of Telugu greats. The police contingent too arrived in three buses and several cars, having also seen the event on Facebook.

The protesters had decided to gather on the sidewalk of the historic Tank Bund road that connects the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, abutting the Hussain Sagar lake. A Facebook announcement was made and the idea caught on within hours with responses pouring in. It was decided that it would be a silent protest and people were expected to participate as individuals and not with organisational affiliations or identities. When the venue of the Not in My Name protest was being decided, there was uncertainty about where protesters could gather.

As soon as the first few protesters arrived for the protest with some 50 banners, the police promptly took away the banners. According to them, Tank Bund was not a designated area of protest and that we cannot display posters and banners there.

This is significant, because the government of Telangana had recently closed down the protest venue, Dharna Chowk, and has a more or less perpetual Section 144 (unlawful assembly) in operation in the centre of the city.

Soon a large contingent of cameramen and reporters from the print and electronic media arrived. The group of protestors also began to swell steadily, and most carried their own banners and posters. The police did not take their posters away, perhaps because the media was present in large numbers, though they did keep telling everyone not to display posters.

Many hundreds of individuals from various walks of life participated: activists working with children, software professionals, lawyers, employees, professors from universities, students, rights activists, some non-resident Indians on holiday in India, and people who did not know each other but were deeply alarmed about the way minorities, Dalits and those who speak up for Constitutional values are being targeted with impunity.

The participants spoke of the centuries-long syncretic culture that Hyderabad city represents and its wilful destruction through various means by communal forces and those who are pushing for globalisation through erasure of the art, architecture, and cultural wealth of the city. They were alarmed that the attacks are becoming more widespread, vicious and murderous, with little or no legal consequences for the perpetrators.

Hyderabad city has had a long history of resistance to communal and caste discrimination. Be it Rohith Vemula’s suicide or the illegal incarceration of Muslim youth after the Mecca Masjid blasts, the city frequently has witnessed state-endorsed violence with impunity. The Not in My Name protest brought together all those who love the city of Hyderabad and are willing to fight to preserve its multiculturalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NotInMyName - Delhi

28 June 2017, 6 pm, Jantar Mantar

Video sent by: Aman Roy

 

 

By: Citizens from Delhi

 


Jantar Mantar, Delhi, Image Credit: Adithyan

 

There was a desperate need for protest action in Delhi, not only because of its proximity to the law-makers but also because many incidents of mob violence and killings have occurred in and around the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). In this context, when the call for a protest gathering was given on social media, people readily joined in to collectively express their anger, sorrow and frustration.

#NotInMyName was initially a Facebook event for the protest planned at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, against the spree of mob lynchings, which most recently took the life of 16-year-old Junaid. This call on social media by two individuals, film-makers Saba Dewan and Rahul Roy, went viral and similar protest gatherings took places in several cities in India and abroad. 

The make-shift stage for the #NotInMyName event in Jantar Mantar had its backdrop decorated with two huge maps of India, which were marked by the incidents of beef-related mob lynchings. The crowd had started to swell much before 6 pm, when the programme was to begin.

Prominent activists, academicians, political leaders, students, and all kinds of people were present in the gathering. Different placards with various slogans—against mob lynching and emphasising communal harmony—were seen with the protestors. Speeches were made and artists performed on the stage, while the protestors got involved by clapping and cheering the performers and holding their placards high.

That these protests had a serious impact is obvious not only because of the spontaneous mobilisation, but also by the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence the next day on the issue. Modi’s statement that “killing in the name of cow is not acceptable” might not please those who gathered in different cities yesterday demanding justice for the people killed and concrete steps to prevent such barbarism in future, but the fact that the Prime Minister had to sit up and take notice of the protests and break his silence is indeed a step forward.

 


Jantar Mantar, Delhi, Image Credit: Adithyan

Lynch mobs have been moving around with impunity on the pretext of cow protection and targeting Muslims across the country. This spree of lynchings began with the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, when a mob accused him of cow slaughter and attacked him, and his family. The leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party, including elected members of Parliament, had come out in open support of the accused. Following Akhlaq’s murder, similar incidents were reported in other regions of the country, but no legal action was taken against the murderers masquerading as cow vigilantes.

The stabbing of Junaid and his brother, however, shows that this menace has gone beyond the lumpenism of cow vigilantes when random people travelling on a train are ready to kill someone in cold blood, just because the person is a Muslim. Such Islamophobia and blatant display of ruthless, mindless hatred and violence is an attack on not only an entire community, but also on all peace-loving, secular-minded people of this country. It is all the more disturbing that these gory incidents were not being challenged beyond the usual press statements by the political parties in the opposition.

The protest in Delhi and across the country has certainly managed to break the deafening silence around the horrific acts of mob lynching. But, this small step must pave the way for a more coordinated, planned, and pro-active mobilisation. Only mass mobilisation on the streets will put pressure on the government to shun its arrogance, complacence and complicity, and will also push the political opposition to play its role more effectively.

 

#NotInMyName - Patna

28 June 2017, 6 pm, Kargil Chowk, Gandhi Maidan

By: Citizens from Patna


Gandhi Maidan, Patna

We have become fanatics first and humans later. Religion became such a strong dividing factor in 1947 that our country was split into two inhuman parts. We had heard innumerable stories of how a Muslim family saved their Hindu neighbours and vice versa. All this goes on to show that somewhere, we are still humans. But, evidence also shows that we are fickle-minded. A politician brainwashes us in the name of religion and we circle around him like rats around the Pied Piper.

We forget that the so-called leaders are doing this for their gain. We fail to see that. We fail to become reasonable human beings capable of using common sense.

The “Not In My Name” protest drew responses from all sections of the society. The protest was a silent one and no slogans were raised. However, each participant had a placard with slogans. There was a performance by IPTA highlighting the current scenario. 

#NotInMyName - Chandigarh

28 June 2017, 6 pm Sector 17

By: Citizens from Chandigarh


Chandigarh, Image Credit: Sameer Singh

 

The protest was called by poet and activist Amy Singh in solidarity with the original campaign called at Jantar Mantar by some film-makers. Many teachers, advocates, poets, artists and fellow Chandigarhians gathered with their slogans, banners, music and poetry to condemn and protest the mob killings and to make a point that the hatred being unleashed is “Not In My Name.” 

 


Chandigarh, Image Credit:Sameer Singh

Professor Manjeet, from Panjab University’s sociology department was one of the speakers. Amandeep from Lokayat, Satwinder from Students For Society, and Vijay Kumar from the All India Students’ Association were the other speakers. Amy Singh, Gurpreet Doni, Indu Dhawan, and Jeet Jagjeet shared their songs and poems. Despite the rain, a fair number of people joined the protest and made it a success.


Chandigarh, Image Credit: Sameer Singh

 

#NotInMyName - Lucknow

28 June 2017, 4.30 pm, Gandhi Park

By: Citizens from Lucknow


Gandhi Park, Image Credit: Arundathi Dhuru

As part of the several citizens’ silent protests (#NotInMyName) being organised in different parts of the country against the targeted lynching of Muslims, citizens in Lucknow also came together on 28 June 2017 at the Gandhi Pratima, the General Post Office. The silent protest by citizenry was to condemn the targeted lynching of Muslims, the latest being of 16-year-old Junaid on 23 June 2017 in the Delhi National Capital Region on a suburban train.

We, as the citizens in Lucknow, stand with the family of Junaid and pray for his brother who has been stabbed and is in serious condition.

We demand a high-level probe and immediate arrests of all those guilty.

We demand a ban on cow-vigilante outfits whose sole aim is to terrorise and extort money.

We are extremely worried about the silence of the state, political parties and the general public around the series of violent incidents of hate crimes. We demand strict action to be taken by the state against hate crimes.

We also demand that upholding the Constitution, the state should take purposive action to promote peace and communal harmony, which has been the ethos of India.

Junaid was killed in public view inside a train where ordinary people were travelling to their respective destinations. Junaid and his three brothers were returning after shopping for Eid. The attackers were calling them “beef eaters” and taunted them for their appearance. The attack happened mainly due to their “Muslim” appearance.

What is shocking is the involvement of ordinary people in this incident. It was also learnt from newspaper reports that the CCTV recordings at the railway station have been tampered with, and that there is much silence about the incident with hardly anyone coming forward to talk about what happened on that fateful day.

 

 

#NotInMyName - Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Government Secretariat, 5:30 pm, 28 June 2017

By: G Arunima for Citizens Protest


Trivandrum, Image Credit: Anu Arunima

The protest in Trivandrum on 28 June 2017, under the banner "Not in My Name," brought together activists, academics, poets, lawyers, students and many others. More than 200 people gathered outside the Thiruvananthapuram Secretariat, many having travelled long distances (from Thrissur and Kottayam) to be a part of the protest.

People registered their protest by reading poems, singing songs of resistance and hope (amongst many others, “We Shall Overcome,” in English and in Hindi), and raising slogans. Everyone gathered there—young and old, friend and stranger—felt the need to express their anger and anguish about the frightening growth of Hindutva fascism in India. Poems by Savithri Rajeevan, Ayyappa Panikkar, Bicchu Thirumala, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and others poets that were read there expressed the need to imagine a different society, without hatred, injustice, and the ugliness of bigotry.

A friend read out the heart-breaking letter that Junaid's father sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him why he did not have the basic humanity in him to respond to his son's cruel murder.


Trivandrum, Image Credit: Anu Arunima

Everyone gathered there felt that we needed to come together at a time like this, and fight the forces of communal and caste hatred and endemic misogyny that are destroying India. The protestors reaffirmed the right of every citizen to not merely profess their religious beliefs, but also the right to freedom of expression, to dietary practices, to their professions, and most of all, to the freedom of whom to love or marry. They condemned the targeted attacks and lynching of Muslims on the grounds of "cow worship and protection," and pledged to fight for a country that gives equality and justice to all.

 

#NotInMyName - Kolkata

Dakshinapan Shopping Complex, 5 pm 28 June 2017.                                                                                                            

By: Patrick Sanjiv Lal Ghose, Kolkata


Kolkata

Urban citizens in India are not unaware of the potent political and social situation in which they live. Differing and shared viewpoints arising from each one’s understanding lead to a dynamic environment. As long as such a situation does not harm, does not resort to violence and extreme force, where understanding comes out of peaceful dialogue and conflict resolution rather than contention, India will continue to be a secular, democratic, socialist republic. A large and expanding section of the citizenry has taken it upon themselves to violently and forcibly uphold their homogeneous version of faith, nationalism and governance, even encouraged by the silence of the powers that be. Hence, another section, not that small, and growing as well, came together in common cause to protest against such imposed values, morals, and the all too real sense of subjugation.

On 28 June, concerned citizens came together spontaneously in 12 cities across the nation and the world to protest against the killings of Muslims and Dalits. In Kolkata, merely through shared social media messages, around 2,000 citizens of Kolkata became a community on the steps of the popular Dakshinapan Shopping Complex in south Kolkata for a few hours.

Most of us are quite aware that black-band protest gatherings, candlelight marches, and change.org petitions are not effective. At the same time, most of us are not revolutionaries who can take up arms for the cause, or devote all our time and energy to fight protracted legal and political battles attempting to right wrongs. An occasion such as this allowed ordinary citizens to show they cared, that they were sensitive to what is happening around us, things we do not support, and do not in any way condone.


Patrick Sanjiv Lal Ghose, Kolkata

It is meaningless to list, but enough to say that the city’s better-known personalities present also protested and shared the same concerns, extending their moral support to the common citizen. The gathering consisted of the old and the young. From what I witnessed, they cut across all strata of society: students, retired elders, working people, artists and writers, the elite, and the average dada and didi. Songs were sung, poetry was read, impassioned speeches and commitments were made to a continuing just and non-violent struggle for returning to constitutional assurances and expectations.

In such trying times, #NotInMyName commenced as an urban movement that is expected to gain momentum in the coming days. The other section of citizens who are primarily responsible for causing this concern and protest, could disparage it, dismiss, and even retaliate to it, since the protest is by “leftist-liberals,” “libtards,” “sickularists,” “anti-nationals,” and what have you. The fact is, the concern and protest is genuine, expressed by ordinary human beings with no axe to grind against each other, who are being forced into corners and being compelled to take sides. They know that this is being done at their expense by the devious machinations of ulterior political motives and that it is not acceptable, not to be tolerated at any cost. It cannot be allowed to happen in my name.

 

#NotInMyName - Mumbai

Carter Road, 6 pm, 28 June 2017.

Text and video credit: Satyen K Bordoloi

It was not a good Mumbai day. When it was raining heavily through the day, it seemed that the #NotInMyName protest that was to be held in the evening would not get much support. However, despite the heavy rains that continued to keep lashing through the evening, around 500 Mumbaikars came out to say no to lynching and political antipathy to the rule of law in the name of cow-protection. They demanded justice and promised that this was just the start. 

 

#NotInMyName - Pune

Protest Rally from Ambedkar statue to Gandhi statue in Pune Railway Station area, from 6:30 pm to 8 pm, 29 June 2017.

By: Citizens from Pune


 Pune, Image Credit: Lokayat

When 16-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death on a Mathura-bound train, in Pune it brought back memories of the murder of techie Mohsin Shaikh, who was killed under similar circumstances in a city suburb on 2 June 2014, for sporting a beard, a skullcap and a Pathani suit. Junaid and his brothers, who were returning after shopping for Eid, too were taunted for their appearance and called “beef eaters” by a lynch mob.

The deep pain and anguish caused by such incidents of targeted violence against Muslims and Dalits, and the cold-blooded murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare or M M Kalburgi in broad daylight were revisited on the evening of 29 June 2017, when a crowd of nearly 1,000 citizens, students, activists and artistes in Pune came together for a protest rally that commenced at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Statue near the old district collectorate, and concluded at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi within the premises of Pune Railway Station.

Organised by Lokayat, a group of social activists based in the city, the silent rally of spirited marchers wearing black or sporting a black band was led from the front by veteran socialist Bhai Vaidya and Hamal Panchayat leader Baba Adhav, Rajya Sabha member Anu Aga, and film and theatre personalities Amol Palekar, Sandhya Gokhale and Atul Pethe. The activists distributed pamphlets among the hordes of curious onlookers gathering on the footpaths despite the skies opening up, seeking their participation to end the rising communal hatred and incidents of violence against minorities.

The participants carried placards declaring “Mere Naam Par Nahi Dharmavad” and warning the powers that be that “Normalisation of violence was worse than violence.” “If not now, when? If not us, who?” said the placard worn by Palekar.

Adhav, while addressing the crowds, called on them to unite to “take on those who are trying to destroy the secular fabric of the country.” A 35-year-old information technology professional from the minority community, who was at the rally, said: “What is happening in the country is not just a threat to my community, but a threat to humanity. We need to unite as human beings, and as Indians.”

For ordinary Puneites, it was a reminder that the long-drawn-out fight for equality and justice must go on. Ever since Dabholkar was murdered in the city while on his morning walk at Omkareshwar bridge on 20 August 2013, socially conscious citizens have been gathering on the 20th of each month on the bridge to let the state know that dissent cannot be suppressed easily.

Junaid Khan’s death, another instance of the recurrent mode of majoritarian violence against marginalised peoples in the name of cow protection, saw Pune protest once again the government’s arrogance, complacency, and complicity in such inhuman acts.

 

 

 


Sector 17, Chandigarh. Image Credit: Sameer Singh

[We will be updating the list as we get details about the protests in other cities]

Updated On : 5th Jul, 2017

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top