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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Jul 2014

Delhi up in arms

Arpita Kala and Snigdha Ahuja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 23, 2012
First Published: 17:27 IST(23/12/2012) | Last Updated: 01:33 IST(24/12/2012)

In a bid to raise their voice against the gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in the city, around 30 prominent names from the fashion fraternity took part in a silent march at India Gate on Saturday.

“The intention of this protest is not to shout. Neither is this a politically-driven protest. It is a peaceful demonstration to make Delhi a safer place for women,” said Sunil Sethi, president of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI).

The council had sent an email to all designers asking them to attend the protest. Dressed in black, carrying placards and black candles, designers such as Ritu Beri, Rohit Gandhi, Rahul Khanna, Payal Jain, Rohit Bal and Rajesh Pratap Singh and Banhi Jha, dean of National Institute of Fashion Technology, took part in the silent march.

What the silent march lacked in overt aggression, it made up for with strongly-worded placards. Carrying an ‘Are Delhi morals beneath the belt?’ poster, designer Ravi Bajaj said, “The government must take strict and quick action to punish the culprits.”

While designer Rina Dhaka pressed for swift justice, designer Gaurav Gupta, carrying a self-made banner ‘India is raped’, said, “It is shocking that the officials are silent on the issue.

Neither the prime minister nor the chief minister has come out and addressed the issue or pacified the public.” Models Amanpreet Wahi, Surelee Joseph and Krishna Somani voiced their concerns that ‘nobody is safe’ in the city.

Condemning the police action against the young protestors earlier in the day, designer Atsu Sekhose said, “The police behaviour is shameful.

The incident could have happened to anyone.” Speaking about carrying forward this initiative, designer Reynu Taandon said, “Many of us discussed how to make a difference and will propose helping with the rehabilitation of the rape victims before the FDCI board.

I also feel that there should be a department to protect women from such heinous crimes headed by strong women leaders like Kiran Bedi.”  Designers Leena Singh, Varun Bahl, Poonam Bhagat, Payal Jain, Nida Mahmood, Khushali Kumar, Nikhita Tandon, Pallavi Mohan and Joy Mitra also attended the protest. 

Straight from ground zero
I was there. At first, when I saw the massive crowds at India Gate, I was overwhelmed. It seemed more like a cricket match gathering, the age group and banners in hands.

It was only after hearing the angry slogans and protesters’ demands that the strong sense of purpose around sunk in. On reaching Raisina Hill, I could only hear voices, people from everywhere protesting and shouting for justice.

I turned back and saw people behind me in numbers that were difficult to estimate as the mass kept increasing every minute. As I made my way ahead, I was stopped by police barricades but that seemed not to deter the spirit of protesters.

I heard a guy telling his friends that he had named the 23-year-old girl Angel, as she had brought the country together for change. Meanwhile, some protesters got a bit violent and what followed was something that's hard to explain.

The police released tear gas to disperse the crowds and when that didn't work, they lathi-charged at those they could get hold of.

“Why are we being treated like terrorists when we are here to fight for justice?” shouted the girl next to me. As I walked on, the voices rang in my head, even long I after I had left ground zero.

On one hand, I was very happy to see my city coming out in concern, but on the other, I was disappointed with the final outcome of the day.
-Sahil Magoo

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