When Congress leaders donned black clothes to rise in protest against darkness shrouding our democracy
Images of the treatment meted out to those who dared to fulfil their democratic duty by asking questions from the ruling regime reflected a gloomy shadow of anti-democratic forces
“We are witnessing death of Democracy… It is only in our memory now,” said former Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the beginning of a press conference on Friday before the party launched a countrywide agitation against the Modi govt on issues such as price rise, unemployment, GST on essential food items, etc.
Later, when Congress workers came out on the streets for the protest march, most of the party leaders, workers, MPs, party officials, etc. joined it wearing black clothes. As has become a trend in the last few years, police force was used to stop and suppress this protest. Several leaders, activists and workers of the Congress were taken into custody.
After the 'Shahi' instruction given to the Delhi Police that works under the Union Home Ministry, images of the treatment meted out to those who dared to fulfil their democratic duty by asking questions from the ruling regime reflected a gloomy shadow of anti-democracy memories from across the world engulfing our country. It reminds one of these lines by the renowned Hindi writer Jaishankar Prasad: “the dense agony that was/ is overshadowing mind as a memory”.
In the democratic psyche of this wonderful country, all those intense memories of the freedom struggle, in which the freedom of expression and the tradition of peaceful dissent were important components, have now turned into intense pain and fear. This fear and anguish have further been darkened with instances of the military crushing freedom of expression in neighboring countries and the dark shadow of three decades of suppression of expression in Europe.
At a time when the government is hell-bent upon ‘blacking out’ the opposition inside the Parliament, the constitutional powers outside the Parliament and lapdog media on the streets, it becomes imperative to change the method of protests. It was probably with this thought that Congress leaders chose to wear black clothes during the march on Friday.
Black is a color that is not partial to anyone. It is believed that the black color absorbs all the negativity of the environment and the light of truth shines forth and as it is, “truth can’t be barricaded.” It is due to this quality of the black color that honorable judges and lawyers wear only the black robe.
The significance of black color is also presented by Kali, the goddess of power herself. Out of the nine forms of Maa Durga, the seventh form is that of Goddess Kalratri, whom we worship as Maa Kali. Her power can be gauged from the fact that all the Gods bow to Her with folded hands.
The famous socialist Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia had once said, 'the day the roads become silent, the Parliament will become a vagabond...' In such a situation, coming out on the streets to protest in black to break the silence of the streets, to shake the inertia of the public consciousness, which has become numb by the constant violation of democratic norms and to make the anti-people regime listen to the voice of the people -- it all simply boils down to the observance of democratic responsibilities as per the Constitution.
And this is not the first time when the agitators or the people observing hunger strike have protested by wearing black clothes. Whenever theater artists come on stage to protest the evils of society or the anti-people acts of the government, they often wear black clothes. Tying a black band as a symbol of protest is an old practice.
On Friday, Congress invoking people’s power in black clothes once again brought forth the important issues of price rise and unemployment, the issues which the present regime has been turning its back on.