Act of protest

Prompted by a Facebook post, groups in 12 cities plan protests against lynchings on Wednesday

A filmmaker’s call for a demonstration in Delhi against a teenager’s murder has prompted groups across India and the world to hold similar events.

On Saturday, horrified by the murder of a 15-year-old Muslim boy in a train on the outskirts of Delhi two days earlier, Gurgaon-based filmmaker Saba Dewan posted a message on Facebook calling for a protest at Delhi’s Janatar Mantar on Wednesday evening against the recent spate of lynchings of Muslims and attacks on Dalits. She decided to call the demonstration “Not in My Name”.

“We want to speak up against the recent incidents of communal or caste-based violence that have been happening in the past few years and specifically after Junaid’s lynching,” said Dewan. “We want to convey that whatever is happening in the society is not happening in our name; I do not approve of it.”

The message has rippled across India – and as far as the United Kingdom and Canada. On Wednesday, groups in at least ten other Indian cities will hold similar protests. Events are also planned in London and Toronto.

The immediate spark for the protests was the murder of Junaid on a Mathura-bound train on Thursday. He was returning to his home in Faridabad district with his brothers and two friends after some Eid shopping in Delhi. A dispute over a seat led to the boys being assaulted by a group of men who taunted them for being Muslim. Junaid and two of his companions were stabbed. The assailants flung them onto the platform at Asoti railway station. Junaid died soon after.

Series of attacks

This was the latest in a series of lynchings that started in September 2015, when an ironsmith named Mohammed Akhlaq was murdered in his home in the Uttar Pradesh area of Dadri by a mob that accused him of storing beef in his fridge.

Dewan said the repeated lynchings have left her distraught. “These attacks show that our fundamental rights are being violated and nd the state chooses to be silent,” said the filmmaker. “We need to remind the state that they are duty-bound and allowing repeated such attacks is a violation of the Constituion.”

The Delhi protest will take place at Jantar Mantar at 6 pm. Junaid’s parents have also been invited to attend the event.

Groups in at least ten other Indian cities decided to hold protests at the same time.

In Mumbai, a film writer named Arpita Chatterjee is among those who have called for a “Not In My Name” event on Carter Road in the Bandra area at 5 pm.

“I have been feeling very angry and upset with the developments in our country and when I read about the ‘Not in My Name’ protests against the lynching, but there wasn’t one in Bombay,” said Chatterjee. “I called a few friends and decided to have one in Bombay to show our solidarity to the protests. Everybody was internally seething and immediately agreed they wanted to be a part of something that would enable them to express themselves as citizens. Bombay’s middle class wants its voice to be heard. And that’s what this is about.”

In Kolkata, a protest is planned for 5 pm in the Dakhinapan premises near Madhusudan Mancha, while Hyderabad groups plan to gather at Tank Bund at 4 pm. Bangalore groups plan to protest 6 pm at the Bangalore Town Hall. Thiruvananthapuram has called for a demonstration at the Secreatariat at 5.30 pm and in Kochi, protestors plan to assembly at the Ernakulam High Court junction at 5 pm. In Patna, citizens will gather in Gandhi Maidan at 6 pm. In Lucknow, a demonstration is planned in Hazratganj’s Gandhi Park at 4.30 pm. Allahabad groups have urged protestor to gather at Subhash Chauraha, Civil Lines, at 5 pm.

In Chennai, a protest has been planned for July 1, at Valluvar Kottam in Nungambakkam.

London and Toronto

In London, an event is planned at SOAS. “Come out and speak out against right-wing organisations hell-bent on destroying the secular ethos of India,” the organisers urged.

In Toronto, a demonstration has been planned outside the Indian High Commission. “We as part of the diaspora, and as overseas citizens of India, along with our allies, say that, the violence against all minorities is abhorrent, and the state must be held accountable for the terror which has been unleashed under its rule,” said the organisers.

Dewan explained that “Not in My Name” protests started in the 1970s against the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam war. It was message from American citizens to their government declaring their opposition to their military’s invasion of Vietnam.

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