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Not in my name, says Delhi as hundreds turn up at Jantar Mantar to protest lynchings

The protests had few speeches awash with poetry, songs and performances, all speaking forcefully against communalism and sectarian violence.

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2017 07:22 IST
Dhrubo Jyoti
Dhrubo Jyoti
Hindustan Times
MUslim lynching,not in my name,jantar mantar
Citizens and celebrities joined hands in support of the campaign 'Not in My Name' at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

Lalit Vishal hasn’t been to a demonstration in six years but on Wednesday evening, he braved a burst of afternoon showers to show up at a citizens protest in Jantar Mantar. The reason? The 20-year-old says he couldn’t sit at home as hate piled up in the name of Hinduism, a faith he belongs to.

“The feeling that Hindus have been cheated for so many years is being used to fan tension. There is complete abdication of responsibility by the government…not even a formal condemnation,” the Delhi University student fumed, a white poster with the words “Not in My Name” written across it dangling from his hand.

Around him, hundreds of people – from school and college students to middle-aged men with babies dangling from an arm and seasoned activists to political greenhorns – had gathered to protest against what they called a wave of hate sweeping India that has claimed mostly Muslim and Dalit lives.

Many appeared shaken by the stabbing of 16-year-old Junaid last week in a train over a seat-sharing dispute. “The incident is shocking and that’s why I am here,” said Mirza Shafkat Beig, a civil services aspirant.

The protests began at 6pm with ‘Vaishnava Jana to...’, the 15th-century hymn immortalized by Mahatma Gandhi as an anthem for secularism and non-violence. This ideology, many protesters said, had been destroyed by the current spate of violence unleashed in the name of Hindutva and cow protection.

“This isn’t the India we want to live in because we don’t see them as isolated incidents,” said lawyer Vrinda Grover. Around her, people waved the Tricolour and banners that read “not in my name” and “no more lynching” – a giant lynch map on the right side of the makeshift stage mapping every incident of lynching since 2015, when Mohammad Akhlaq was killed by his neighbours in Greater Noida’s Bisada over cow slaughter rumours.

The protests had few speeches awash with poetry, songs and performances, all speaking forcefully against communalism and sectarian violence. Away from the stage, many said what forced them out on the streets was the fear that their community could be the next target.

“There was violence earlier too but now there is fear. Today, Muslims are getting targeted, tomorrow it could be me,” said Paramjeet Bernad.

A group of schoolgirls standing nearby nodded in agreement. “We are here because innocents are getting murdered. We want this to stop,” said Kajal Satish, a Class 10 student.

For others, the Saharanpur Dalit-Thakur clashes that left two people dead was the trigger. “They have started killing people in the name of Muslim and Dalit. I have been upset since Saharanpur,” said Anand Mhatre, who described himself as a Buddhist monk and a Dalit.

First Published: Jun 28, 2017 23:45 IST