New Delhi, Jul 11: ‘Not in my name’: once again, they took to the streets to protest against the Amarnath killings. The news of terrorists spraying bullets on Amarnath pilgrims has only strengthened Imad Ul Riyaz’s conviction: “we cannot let violence eat us up”.
Braving the rain and interrupted by the bumper-to-bumper traffic, some managed to make it to Jantar Mantar on Tuesday evening to protest the killing of Amarnath pilgrims.
“Ek Hindu jo Kashmir ja raha ho use bhi dahshat, ek Musalman kahin aur jaa raha ho use bhi dahshat (A Hindu on way to Kashmir is fearful, a Muslim somewhere else feels the same fear). This is a cowardly attack,” said 40-year-old, Zaheeruddin standing with a ‘Hatred will not win’ poster at Jantar Mantar. “I dream of an India where no one is insecure — day or night,” he said.
Riyaz, a Kashmiri student in Delhi, was among the many faces, young and old, at the ‘Not In My Name’ protest at Jantar Mantar here, against the killings of seven pilgrims.
“Violence will only infuse more violence. No matter which side is involved, hatred cannot be propagated. It will lead to retribution, which will result in more alienation,” Riyaz, who graduated from Delhi University’s Ramjas College, said.
Away from the politicking in the aftermath of the heinous terror attack on pilgrims, Zaheeruddin was among those who came out to mourn the dead. Five people from Gujarat and two from Maharashtra were killed when terrorists attacked a bus at Anantnag in Kashmir.
The call for the protest came from the Not in My Name campaign, which organised citizen-led protests against the spate of mob lynchings in the country. Condemning the killings unequivocally, the group posted on Facebook that they are “against political violence no matter who the perpetrator”.
Some were angry at the government for failing to protect its citizens, some were fearful of the direction in which the country was headed but most pervasive was the sense of sorrow and grief at the loss of innocent lives.
“We are a campaign of concerned citizens and we cannot spend our time reacting to what others say and how others define us. We are defining ourselves and we have been consistent in our stand and our stand is that we are against violence, we stand against hatred,” filmmaker Saba Dewan, one of the organisers, said.
Artists, activists and commentators including filmmaker Rahul Roy, Shabnam Hashmi, Gauhar Raz, Kavita Krishnan, Saba Naqvi and Tehseen Poonawala were among the prominent faces at the protest venue, in what was a rain-washed evening.
“All lives matter and dead bodies should not become part of a politics that divides people on the basis of religion.
The seven dead did not deserve to die and its is only when we stand up and demand an end to this politics of hatred that we can prevent the deaths of innocents going on a pilgrimage or returning from Eid shopping,” a statement released by the organisers said.
Film-maker Saba Dewan, one of the organisers,stated that it was the participation of the ordinary people that mattered. “We don’t respond to those with a political agenda of bigotry and hatred. We stand for secular values and justice and that is why we come out on the streets every time innocent humans are killed.”
Utkarsh Kumar, 25, and Santosh Goswami, 26, came from Noida. “Busy the, tab bhi aaye (We were busy sill we came) due to the nature of the incident. There may not be any tangible benefit of the protest but it’s a message,” said Utkarsh who runs his own business. “Liberals are not advancing left or right agenda but endorsing humanity.”
“It bothers me that the majority brands us liberals for speaking for minorities. We are against each and every killing,” said Goswami.