Citizens from all faiths and all walks of life responded to calls to come out on the streets to protest against and demand justice for the victims of gang rape and murder in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir and gang rape in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.
Bengaluru saw protests in several corners of the city, as citizens held local protests in their respective areas. National Herald covered the protest at Richard’s Park in Pulikeshi Nagar. At first about 50 people gathered at the park by 5 pm, holding a variety of home-made posters seeking justice for the victims.
A 29-year-old parent at the protest told NH that he had come because he was so shaken by the details of what had been done to the 8-year-old child at Kathua that he was still finding it difficult to process. He blamed the easy availability of "graphically violent pornography" online for increased rapes in India. He said he brought his son to the protest because he “did not want to shield him from the reality”. He added that the governments must educate the younger ones.
Another 68-year-old protestor present with her two daughters blamed the current central government. “The bestiality that we are seeing under this current government has never been seen under any other government before.” When asked why she felt this way, she said, “It is frightening to see what depths people will go to when they feel the administration is on their side.”
Curious motorists, even BMTC buses slowed down to take a look at the protestors and the posters. Soon the crowd started swelling and went beyond the confines of Richard’s Park, and reached till the Hennur Main Road, where it merged with another citizen’s protest in Davis Road locality. By now, the numbers of protestors were well over 500. Slogans of ‘Nyaya beku!” (“We want justice”) rent the air. What was striking was that it was a purely citizens’ protest. When a party worker tried to join the protest and began shouting slogans against political opponents, he was made to leave.
More such protests were held all over Bengaluru. Watch a video of one such protest below:
Hundreds of protestors also came out to protest at the Carter Road Amphitheatre in Mumbai’s north-western suburb of Bandra on Sunday. A 35-year-old woman, who works as a special educator, came to attend the protest. She said, “I’m here to demand safety for women and children. And for prevention of such crimes.” A 38-year old man who works as a Creative Director said, “Things have really been pushed too far and it’s time for everyone to be out on the streets. The fact that something this horrifying has taken place has given everyone common ground to come out in solidarity.”
A 30-year-old woman at Carter Road targeted her anger at the BJP. “I can only hope that the protest will make a difference. The mindset needs to change. The government needs to change. We can’t have the BJP in power anymore.” Another protestor felt that it was not merely for the government but also society to reflect. “This is not just about law and order. This is a collapse of our society. The perpetrators had the same social upbringing, the same education as most of us. We are clearly going wrong somewhere. We need to look at more than just a law for rape perpetrators,” she said.
Not just activists, but people from all walks of life—including students, homemakers and senior citizens—turned up at Parliament Street, New Delhi on Sunday evening for the ‘Not In My Name’ protest against the rapes in Kathua and Unnao. The protest in Delhi slammed the BJP. The protest message sent out on social media stated that two ministers in the J&K cabinet had “joined the purveyors of hatred to defend the rapists and murderers. In so doing, they are endorsing the communal agenda behind the crime. We demand an explanation from the ruling party in India why these ministers have not been expelled from the BJP.”
Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover told National Herald, “The system is not functional. The people of India are much more forward thinking than those in Parliament. The people in Parliament know that we the people don’t get angry always, we get angry sometimes. So they get away. We need to be angry all the time. We want to ask what is your Defence budget and what is your budget for women and children? The threat to women and children and from inside the country, and not from outside. It doesn’t matter how many fighter jets you buy.” Grover also said, “Don’t fall in the trap of demanding death penalty. The problem in this country is [poor] conviction rates.”
There were Class XI students who had travelled to Delhi from Aligarh to join the protest. One of them, Kanupriya, told NH, “In a country where people of a specific religion are raped in the name nationalism, patriotism, what are we saying?”
Saba Dewan, one of the organisers, said, “We did not vote a party to power so that they can support rapes and rapists. This is not a government for the people.”