On a humid evening at Jantar Mantar, Delhi's public square of protest, hundreds of people gathered to say “Not In My Name“. The people were protesting against the lynchings and atrocities against Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection, the climate of fear across the country, and the strange silence of the government.
Filmmaker Saba Dewan, whose Facebook post set off this chain of peaceful protests in several cities in the country spoke about the need to simply express her sense of pain and empathy . “It is about time we citizens reclaim our Constitution,“ said documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy, one of the organisers of the event.
Students, lawyers, academics, journalists, activists, politicians, retired professionals, workers, common citizens--all came out to express solidarity with the victims.
The killing of 16-year-old Junaid Khan in Ballabhgarh, and the similar horror stories from Alwar, Jharkhand, Dadri, and other places have brought out even those not ordinarily used to protesting in public. “This event shows love for the nation, and is against the forces that divide us,“ said lawyer and columnist Dushyant.
There was poetry and music, from bhajans like Vaishnava Jana to Faiz's Hum Dekhenge, from Kabir's songs of sorrow to Rabbi Shergill's soothing Sufi music. Several times, organisers reminded those who raised slogans that the event was a `shok sabha', about grief and humanity rather than politics.
Politicians from many opposition parties were present, but said they came as citizens. It was a far bigger and more diverse crowd than usual.