I made my way to Jantar Mantar on Wednesday evening filled with anger and frustration, equipped with two marker pens and a mobile phone. I reached the venue twenty minutes early and gravitated towards a familiar face, a friend in the crowd. In front of me was the stage with a big black backdrop adorned with the now familiar poster, flanked by two huge maps of lynching spots across the country; a very stark visual.
Soon more people started trickling in, and by 6 pm, there was activity on the stage. The proceedings for the evening had started by 6:15 pm. A protest meeting that starts on time?! Much wow was already being felt.
The tone of the evening was set with a live performance of ‘Vaishnava janato’. A feeling of peace immediately engulfed me. Since that moment, I only felt hope. I could sense a similar sentiment from so many people around me. Many journalists were there, few friends had turned up too, and of course, being a Delhi protest, one bumped into quite a few acquaintances as well. But the most heartening fact was that there were thousands of unknown faces. Sure, it wasn’t an unending sea of people, but neither was it a flop show as some journalists are claiming it to be.
Instead of turning this into a long report, I’ll leave you with an anecdote.
After spending enough time circulating through the protest, my friend Vani and I decided that we’ll put to use the chart paper she brought along. I was certain that I wanted to represent the foundation of our Constitution… JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY and FRATERNITY. Vani suggested the design and we got down to the business of making it over a parked car. As I was holding up the freshly-made banner, a Muslim man (a complete stranger to me) came by, gave a hard look at it, and volunteered to hold it along with me. Soon, a tall Sikh man who was standing nearby stepped up, and held the another end of the banner. I half-joked, that all we need is a Christian now, to complete the picture. Lo, behold… the woman next to us overheard it and said she’s Christian. We smiled at this wonderful coincidence. This is the spirit of India; four strangers with four different religious backgrounds, coming together to uphold the values of our Constitution.
P.S: the Sikh gentleman( I don’t know his name), told me he worked in a pharma company, and came to the venue straight from office. I’m pretty sure the other two companions were ordinary citizens too, not journalists.
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