It was the damned night of 16December, when the story of the 23 year-old medical student’s rape shocked the nations. A week after that, the capital erupted in an unprecedented protest by students and NGOs at the VIP security area of Rasina Hill.
For me, it would have been yet another candlelight march, if I had not seen the students angry with the level of unsympathetic attitude the government and the police had. I walked in to join the movement/protest on Sunday (23 December) hoping on hope that this doesn’t turn out to be yet another piece of sympathetic fireworks sponsored by political groups and activists. Quite fortunately, it wasn’t.
I fought my skeptical Indian residing within me and decided to take a walk from India Gate to Rasina Hill. The scenes and the voices kept changing. India Gate was filled with protestors who were on the grounds, shouting slogans, making speeches of how the society too has to change. One such speech won my interest. With a mic in hand, a lady pierced the crowd’s psyche with her eyes and voice and said, “There are men here to protest, and then there are men here to just please their eyes… Rules and laws can be framed, but how can you change the mentality of the society which thinks its okay to call a girl a maal, item, totta, with great body assets, or of those who are fine calling each other Mother Fuckers and Sister Fuckers… even though, these very people are the first to stand in ques when their sister ties Rakhi…”
The anger and her words did bring some heads bow down in shame, while there were some who could still lie to their conscience and clap. I decided to move further ahead. Then I spotted several small groups who too were demanding the same things but still decided to form another small group… perhaps, they thought their voices might be over-shadowed in a larger group, perhaps their limelight might be snatched. Nevertheless, I didn’t doubt their intentions.
I decided to walk straight to the group that was at the Rasina Hill. In between, I saw few (perhaps, in double digits) trying their hooliganism take advantage of the situation. They snatched the barricades and enjoyed a ride on them. There were also sporadic and lone stone-pelters, who were time and again being stopped by the sane and peaceful protestors. Several times, I felt the police was about to charge, but these very peaceful and legitimate protestors calmed the situation. There were also few FACEBOOK protestors who had come to earn a good profile pic. Later, one of them dared and asked his friend to click a picture as the lathicharge was initiated.
The police had a conscious strategy in their minds as they slowly started moving to create a U formation covering the Rasina Hill protestors. The idea was not to deter only the hooligans, but push them to India Gate (where peaceful protest was being held). In minutes, we saw the police cracking down, on everyone including children, women, old. Ten steps ahead of me, an uncle fell and two girls and a guy rushed to help him. Five policeman surrounded them and started beating them till the uncle couldn’t move; perhaps fearing that he will be killed too.
A family of three – husband, wife and her 12 year-old child too ran for safety but couldn’t run fast as the RAF got better of them. The child was snatched from the mother and beaten in front of her. I resisted, and a policeman charged towards me. He was in his late forties (and not part of those who beat the child) as he rushed towards me with a lathi, I told him not to hit us as we are protesting peacefully. He asked me to leave immediately and I started walking. Just as then, a couple of policeman charged and hit me, while this old policeman tried to stop them. I saw the real Goondas of the country; one wearing the uniform and who had the license.
I will never be able to erase this image from my memory. This is the India we have built over the years… an India that we were time and again told to be proud of… In my last 24 years, I have never felt ashamed to be part of this democracy… today, my head hangs in shame. The tyranny of the police and the government had won.
- Arrogance vs angst: a blog by a protester at Raisina Hill (ndtv.com)
- Delhi gangrape: violence at India Gate, police chief says ‘public sentiments … (hindustantimes.com)
- Delhi gangrape: violence at Raisina Hills; PM appeals for calm, assures safety to women (hindustantimes.com)
- Delhi Police fire tear gas and fire water cannon at peaceful protestors – The Independent (independent.co.uk)
- Student protestor’s blog: It is time for the government to come to us (ndtv.com)