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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Not in my name: At Jantar Mantar, the loudest voices were of the ordinary citizens

At Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, schoolchildren, professionals, and foreign tourists joined the #notinmyname protest against attacks on Muslims in India. The BJP government has come under criticism for not condemning the killings taking place in the guise of cow protection.

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2017 07:22 IST
Niha Masih
Niha Masih
Hindustan Times
There were many first-time protesters at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday in support of  'Not in My Name' campaign against lynching of a Muslim teenager, Junaid, on June 22.
There were many first-time protesters at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday in support of 'Not in My Name' campaign against lynching of a Muslim teenager, Junaid, on June 22.(Ajay Aggarwal/HT Photo)

The gruesome killing of 16-year-old Junaid on a Haryana-bound train sparked off a series of Not In My Name protests in 12 cities across India. In Delhi, a few thousand braved the rain to come out to Jantar Mantar in solidarity with victims of the targeted violence.

Amid the activists and civil society organizations, the voices that stood out loudest were those of ordinary citizens who had gathered out of a sense of duty.

Pooja, a class eight student from Gole Market, and five of her friends held a painted banner with a bloodied slipper and stick. They had spent two hours this morning replicating the protest logo.

“No one has the right to kill anyone. We should not decide who eats what or wears what,” she says. Her friend, Aarti says, “By killing someone, we are taking away people’s right to equality. Today it is happening to a Muslim boy, next time it could be us.” This isn’t the first time they had come out on the streets. They had also attended the recent farmer’s protest at Jantar Mantar.

Wheelchair-bound Faisal Ashraf, 29 gave a thumbs up as he passed the girls. An NGO worker, he said he felt insecure as a Muslim man in light of the killings. “Humanity seems to have died. The brutality of Junaid’s killing would probably not even happen in a jungle. Muslims are also Indians first,” he said in anger.

As he spoke, Anushree Sengupta, a speech therapist from Vasant Kunj joined, filming a Facebook Live. She said, “Desh andhere se guzar raha hai. Government chup kara deti hai hamari awaz isliye zaroori hai ki hum chup nahi baithe. (The country is undergoing a dark phase. The government will try to silence our voices so it is important to speak up)”

Imtiaz Ahmed Khan with his daughter.
Imtiaz Ahmed Khan with his daughter.

Like her, there were many first-time protestors. Imtiaz Ahmed Khan, 31, a computer engineer, had travelled an hour and a half from Ghaziabad with his father, brother and two-and-a-half -year-old daughter, Noya. He shared his apprehension about the direction in which the country was headed.

“It started with the killing of Akhlaq and never stopped. I’m scared at the India in which my daughter is growing up. I brought her as she should also be a part of this moment,” he said.

Sara Dethier, 23, from Belgium, has been in India for 10 days but accompanied her colleagues. Citing Belgians’ own troubled relationship with its Muslim population, she said, “There are divisions against Muslims all over the world and that is wrong.” She hoped that a citizen’s protest would make the government sit up and take note.

The ruling regime has come under sharp criticism for not condemning the spate of killings that have taken place in the guise of cow protection.

First Published: Jun 28, 2017 23:52 IST