How many voices make a protest?
Even one is enough.
Those passing by Bharat Bhavan, the Indian centre for arts in central London on Monday, would have witnessed an unusual sight. Dressed in a salwar kameez, her head covered, a middle-aged bespectacled woman stood poised to protest – all alone.
A square placard in her hand bore an image of Tabrez Ansari, the 22-year-old who died after being assaulted by a mob on suspicion of theft in Jharkhand. “Please stop mob lynching in India,” she said, as the camera panned to her. “Please stop it!”
Her voice cracks a little.
“Muslims are 30 crore in India – if you don’t stop then India will become Bosnia and Chechniya,” she warned, citing the social unrest that several European countries have seen over the past five years.
The woman’s impassioned plea against mob violence was posted online by London-based orthopaedician N Irfan, who tweeted, “Hats off to this lady who had so much guts to protest alone in central London against mob lynchings.”
Within hours the video attracted praise for the woman’s courage.
In India, over one lakh people from the Muslim community came out onto the roads of Malegaon in Maharashtra to protest against lynchings in India. The rally, which culminated at Malegaon’s Shahidon ki Yaadgaar or martyrs’ memorial – where seven freedom fighters were hanged by the British in 1922 – saw fiery speeches and a demand that the government make a national anti-lynching law.
Malegaon politician Mufti Mohammed Ismail Qasmi evoked the words of the poet Fayaz as he said, “Aaj agar nishane mein hum hain, toh doosre logon ko khush nahi hona chahiye [If today we are being targeted others should not be happy about it],” reported The Indian Express.
A similar protest against lynchings in Jharkhand turned violent in Agra’s Sadar Bhatti area on Monday, leading to stone-pelting.