Till a few days back, Neha Sethi was your average 18-year-old, who thought Facebook was cool for catching up with friends and classmates. But when her friend Antara Telang (18) lost her right leg after a tree branch fell on it, Sethi and her friends realised Facebook can also be a powerful tool of protest.
They are now launching a Facebook campaign to protest the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC’s) negligence in not trimming the tree branch.
The collegians said they want to create public awareness and “wake the BMC up”. “We’ll create a Facebook page and have an online campaign to let people know about the injustice Telang suffered. We hope to reach out and get more people involved in the campaign,” said Jonathan Martin (18), an FYBA student at St Xavier’s who has known Telang for three years.
The campaigners will also dash off protest letters and emails to the municipal commissioner and other senior officials. “At least that should spur them into taking concrete steps to ensure that this is the last such accident in Mumbai,” said Sadia Zafar (18), Antara’s classmate. “No BMC official even had the courtesy of calling on Telang and apologising.”
Jyotsna Gupta (20), a TYBA student at St Xavier’s, said: “Although I did not know Telang personally, the incident made me fear something as simple as walking on the road. I will support the movement.” Added Karunesh Talwar (18), an FYBA student at Mithibai college: “The BMC doesn’t care about what happens to the people. But they ought to know that such incidents won’t be taken lightly by us. We intend to make those responsible take action. Though I do not know Telang personally, it’s important to support such causes as it could happen to anyone tomorrow.”
Telang is happy her friends are launching the campaign. “I don’t want anyone else to suffer like I did. I am glad my friends are taking up this issue.”
The students also plan to canvass college campuses by publishing articles in their monthly college newsletter, of which Telang is an editor.
“It is shocking how such accidents are always described by the BMC as ‘freak’ ones. Someone has to speak up against this callousness,” said Sethi. “Antara was very excited about the upcoming inter-collegiate festival ‘Malhar’; she was part of its organising group. Now, she’ll can only attend it for a while.”
Additional municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburbs) Aseem Gupta said: “It was a very unfortunate incident. We’ll conduct an inquiry immediately to ascertain why it occurred.”