[The article was originally written on the night of 22nd December 2012 after days long protests against the gang rape & brutal assault of a physiotherapy student in a moving bus. The Indian Government mercilessly passed orders of retaliation and the protesters were canned, manhandled and severely beaten. The victim succumbed to her injuries on 29th December 2012 in Singapore.]
From Facebook statutes, group posts, pages, black dot display images to shared pictures of castration, debates and discussions. Last two weeks of December 2012 were all about these in New Delhi. This is nothing new for Delhi. Where the Mayans thought of fooling us with the so called dooms day alert, they must not have thought that the entire humanity will be doomed by the end of December 2012. For me Christmas 2012 won’t be merrier and New Year’s Eve won’t be happy. What I saw today, takes all good feelings away from my system like the dementors in Harry Potter. That was fantasy fiction, this was the reality.
I woke up today morning with a feeling that every woman activist shares in common. The feeling of anticipation and hope that the unanswered questions in my mind will be answered hopefully. My mother, on the other hand, was feeling disturbed and wasn’t sure whether I should join the protest or not. It made me wonder about the people’s mindsets in this country. She thought it to be just another protest where people will shout all day, go back home update their Twitter and Facebook about what happened. True! That’s exactly what is happening. She tried her best to stop me by justifying her point. I tried my best to avoid those emotional dialogues. I got ready, stuffed a little food in my tummy and left for the protest with my brother. The protest was scheduled to begin from 9 am at the India Gate. In the back of my mind I had no frame of reference to follow. I didn’t know the dos and don’ts that one has to follow in a protest. I wonder anyone will follow anything in a protest that comprises of hot-blooded emotional Indians. This was my first time and I was prepared for the worse as well. I knew I could be hurt, I knew I have to raise my voice. Not only for the girl who was brutalized by those animals in human form but for all the girls/women/kids who went through such brutality and inhumane behaviour from men who can’t control their testosterone levels. We avoided taking a bus because the traffic levels were expected to be at its peak today. We decided to take a metro to Central Secretariat subway station.
Delhi Metro is a funny place. You have all sorts of people travelling together. There were three boys standing right behind me. I opened the charts that I had prepared and was discussing with my brother about it. I noticed there keen interest to look towards us and when they had enough of the stalking, their discussions started. One should notice how loud people automatically become when it comes to commenting or advising on issues. What I heard was ‘Sab drame hain’ (Everything is foolish), ‘Hum toh bas maje lene jaa rahe hain’ (We are going just for the fun of it) and YES, I noticed their eye balls scanning my expressions! I don’t understand why Jesus allows such people to live! Anyway, that’s a headache he has voluntarily taken!!
My brother noticed the discussion was directional and he moved towards them in anger. I stopped him from acting heroic and spoiling the whole environment we had created in our minds since morning. “Douche Bags!” That’s what he said. We left for India Gate and as soon as we reached, we saw the crowd diverting their protests from the actual venue to Rashtrapati Bhawan. Rashtrapati?? Husband of the country?? Bitch Please!!
Crowds were in huge numbers. They were forced to stop at the barricades where all the policemen were positioned. The look on their faces was amazing. All of them trolled!! Media was at its best. From standing at weird places to shouting at the cameramen to get the best footage possible. I left my brother and went straight to the spot near the barricade standing with my poster held up high. Photographers, cameramen, journalists and all the frustrated youth of the state were gathered near the President’s House! All chanting one slogan- “We Want Justice”. A DTC bus was stopped and asked to be vacated. Posters were pasted on the windows and people stood on the roof demanding Justice, demanding solution. Student Unions were standing in groups. No one knew each other but all were united. The faces had a determination and a wild vibe of madness could be felt from each individual. There were few who came just to witness the drama and I don’t want to comment on that. That’s the choice they take. I was their standing with all anticipation for good and bad. Good, that perhaps I will go back with my answer and bad, that this crowd can go mad at any given moment and the Government will not think twice before taking action against such unlawfulness. Speaker systems will never work when most needed in this country. Half of the time was wasted in setting up the speakers so that the union head could address the crowd. I wonder how speakers work at their best during election campaigns, weddings, religion conversion and gyaan guru’s campaign and all that is nonsense. Somehow, this girl stands on the roof of the bus with all the cameras, ears and eye balls glued to her waiting for her to say something that might comfort the frustrated mass. She asked the crowd to wait for 15 minutes as the talks were on and the best line was when she announced the breaking of the barricade if there is no response from the bureaucrats. Peace conferences happen in duration of weeks with scope of more discussion and today I saw this lady asking for answer in 15 minutes time. Strange! Nevertheless, all WE wanted was one answer from the other side. An apt and correct decision or judgement.
The 15 minutes time break turned out to an unsuccessful expectation. In spite of answers, what I see coming towards us is a truck which gushed out water at us. That disrupted the crowd. Their objective was definitely accomplished but no one moved away from the barricades. They all stopped at a safe distance and amazingly as soon as I did a middle finger salute to this cowardly action I see the whole crowd already sporting it. The slogans increased, the spirit increased and the abuses increased even more. The water spraying effect died down with slogans like ‘Save Water, Save Life that ways atleast’. After few minutes what I hear was explosion of tear gas bombs. Right next to where I was standing. The crowd moved backwards with each sound of the bomb. I saw a man profusely bleeding and crying without a sound from his mouth. I could see his tears trickling down and I stood their numb looking at the bleeding man. People were shouting for help for that man. I stood their seeing him being carried and taken into an ambulance to be treated. I turn around and see the crowd retaliating the bomb explosion. My brother drags me away from the scenario. We narrowly escaped two explosions.
We arrived at a safe distance from the explosions and water cannons. I saw the whole scenario in front of my eyes. I didn’t felt fear. I didn’t feel afraid of being hurt with the explosions and the lathi charge which was expected as I saw CRPF forces being called in at the spot where the crowd was gathered. I wanted to participate. I wanted a solution. My thought process was not fixed to just one thing i.e. Hang The Rapist. Hanging that asshole won’t solve the purpose. He has already secured a place in hell if you believe in the concept of hell and heaven and if you don’t then it’s quite simple. He will witness a hell on Earth itself. These gruesome acts have been happening since years. Not a single day has passed by when I have felt safe while traveling during evening and night time. I think twice before deciding to have a walk on the road just opposite to my house. Parents in this country have such saturated frame of mind when it comes to choosing professions for their children. Firstly, they shouldn’t be the ones deciding the career for their kids. They can discuss, they can assist but the decision lies in the hands of the child. Secondly, even if they do decide it always is a teaching profession or a job wherein his or her daughter could reach home by 6. Life begins in daylight whether its college or job or school and it ends as soon as the sun sets for women in cities like Delhi. With what surety can a woman feel safe even in broad daylight? I don’t.
I felt helpless. I couldn’t do anything. Pelting stones, breaking the barricade, abusing the government won’t solve the purpose. With this sort of behaviour, all I could get was release of frustration. That’s it! In spite of that I felt my inner peace lost somewhere in the mist of confusions. I still feel incomplete after shouting so much this morning. I am left with no solution to the root cause of the issue. Where are we heading to with this?
[The victim is dead, the culprits are in the police custody and the politicians are busy calming the citizens, fearing a fresh round of protests against the government. I have no faith in the government, I have no faith in the justice system as well. I have faith in myself and I will try my level best to change things around me. I will not feel scared to slap an eve-teaser whenever I see one. I will not feel scared to file a complaint against anyone who tries to harass/embarrass me, my friends or relatives. At last, I will not feel scared to live my life to its full potential, come what may.]