Nishant Sinha and PTI
A demonstrator holds up a "Lynch Map of India" poster in New Delhi on Wednesday at the Not in My Name protest against lynchings. Picture by Prem Singh
June 28: Thousands of ordinary people across the country came out on the streets today in a citizens' protest with the clarion call of "Not in My Name" against the recent incidents of mob lynchings from Kashmir to Jharkhand to Haryana.
What was extraordinary about the protests was not their widespread nature or the number of people who attended them, but that it was a spontaneous outpouring of anger and frustration. There were homemakers, activists, celebrities, office-going folk, students and even little children - but there were no political leaders or political party banners.
A few Left party activists could be spotted among the hundreds of people who gathered at Kargil Chowk in Patna, but they did not wear their party affiliations on their sleeves.
Filmmaker Saba Dewan had started the Not in My Name campaign on Facebook after Junaid Khan, 15, was stabbed to death on the Delhi-Mathura Passenger on Thursday evening while the mob beat and knifed two of his brothers, a cousin and a friend. The boy hailed from Ballabhgarh, a Haryana town 60km south of Delhi, and was returning from the capital after Id shopping.
"In recent times a tendency has been growing in the country of identifying people from a particular religion who are then subjected to some form of violence or other," said Rupesh of the NGO Nagrik Forum, who was there at the protest in Patna. "This has been seen in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, particularly in states ruled by the BJP. Today we have gathered to protest these organised killings."
Another social activist, Alok Dhalwa, said the government at the Centre does not believe in parliamentary democracy. "These are the people who killed Mahatma Gandhi. They do not believe in secularism. They are autocrats and in this scenario nobody is secure today," Alok said.
Mona Jha, who was also there at Kargil Chowk, said: "Every person of this country has the right to live with his/her identity but what we are seeing today is people are being denied the right to live."
Walking beside her, Nivedita was more blunt: "Muslims of this country have as much right to live here as the Hindus."
The sentiment in Patna echoed at every place where the protests were held, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Allahabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow and Thiruvananthapuram. The protesters waved placards with slogans such as "Break the Silence", "No Place for Islamophobia" and "Shed Hate not Blood"; one man in Delhi was seen holding a placard with a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi embracing US President Donald Trump. The caption read: "Follow the PM, hug a beef-eater."
Junaid's family joined the protest at Jantar Mantar in the national capital. At suburban Bandra in Mumbai, those who braved the rains to join the protest included actors Shabana Azmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rajat Kapoor and Ranvir Shorey. In Calcutta, filmmaker Aparna Sen said she was protesting against "something which we do not support, and that is attacking any religious community".