What happened at Jantar Mantar today

Shehla Rashid

Here’s why I protested

Afzal Guru was hanged today. Days after Narendra Modi managed to “enchant” students at SRCC, Delhi. I woke up to this horrible news and felt really low. I wanted to talk to someone, express my grievances, express my sadness. With the murderers of thousands of innocent Kashmiris roaming around freely, I felt enraged as a Kashmiri. Afzal Guru was hanged for political gains alone, not because the Congress loves the Nation a lot. Yes, the Parliament attack was an attack on the Indian nation. So was the cold-blooded murder of Jaleel Andrabi– an attack on Kashmiri nationalism. When they raped the women at Kunan Poshpora, they raped a nation. The cover-up that was given to the murderers of Jaleel Andrabi, Asiya and Neelofar was an attack on our dignity. When the government of India refused to give sanction to prosecute the perpetrators of Pathribal fake encounter, our dignity was lost forever. So was our faith in the Indian judicial system. Two men implicated in Lajpat Nagar blasts were acquitted of all charges after more than a decade of detention and after two years of being on death row!

The murderers of Graham Staines, who along with his two little kids was burnt to death, were not awarded death penalty as the court refused to term it rarest of rare! The perpetrator of 1984 riots, Sajjan Kumar is still free. Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi were given a life sentence and not death as they were not directly involved. So, why Afzal Guru? Was it the symbolism of the attack? Was the Nation and the very idea of it not attacked when Muslims were brutally murdered and raped in Gujarat? Was the symbolism of that attack any less? There are apprehensions that his trial was not fair. Even his death sentence was not carried out in a fair manner. His last wish was to meet his family. But his family was informed through speed post. They could not even see his body as he was buried in Tihar Jail!

What happened at Jantar Mantar

A dispersed bunch of people gathered at Jantar Mantar today to express their sadness. To our left were Bajrang Dal goons with saffron colored scarves and tilaks (vermillion) on their foreheads. Initially we did not even have placards. Then some activists brought in the placards and the media immediately got enthusiastic about our protest. They finally got something colorful to show on TV. The police followed, with lathis and elaborate riot control tools. No sooner had the media and the police arrived, the Bajrang Dal goons started attacking us. Initially the police tried to push them back. But finally the goons were let loose on us. One of the goons jumped into the space between the cameras and us and started abusing us. We were still calm. He then tore off the posters. We didn’t react. When he finally attacked one of us physically, a brawl erupted.
We were pushed away. Then the police stopped intervening. We were getting pushed further and further towards the left. The goons kept attacking us, we didn’t hit back. We were only protecting ourselves. I was holding a placard that said, Afzal Guru was not given a fair trial. One of the goons jumped at me and tore off my poster. I just said, ‘bastard’ quietly and didn’t hit him in the balls.

We gathered again. But we were getting pushed to the wall. Quite literally. We were squeezed between a wall and the cameras and the goons who were attacking us over and over again. Two young Kashmiri boys, realising their helplessness, broke down. I, in a moment of rage, went berserk and started screaming at the top of my voice against the police. I think that moment was when the riot police tore off our posters. I screamed, “Sir yeh bomb nahi hai, poster hai” (Sir, this is a poster not a bomb), “Sir, aap hamein kyun rok rahe ho, in ko kyun nahi rok rahe” (Sir, why are you stopping us, and not them?). They were probably shocked by my screams for a while. They said, “dekhiye aap yeh sab nahi karo” (See, please don’t do all this), I screamed again, “Sir kya nahi karein, hum ne kiya kya hai, hamara toh peaceful protest bhi aapko terrorism lag raha hai aur jo hamein peet rahe hain un ka kya” (Sir, what is it that you want us to stop doing? Our peaceful protest looks like terrorism to you and what about the people who are beating us up?).

After a while, mud was thrown at us. Before I realised, I was being taken away by female cops. No, I wasn’t courting arrest. I just wanted a space to express my feelings. I have protested at Jantar Mantar before. For causes other than Kashmir. Since this time it was Kashmir, I was a terrorist by default who had to be detained. I kept asking them why they are detaining us rather than controlling and detaining those goons. I was put in a van along with one other JNU student. I was released after being detained for a while. I narrated the whole incident to Vrinda Grover, Gautam Navlakha, among others and told them that there might be others who were detained. While I was talking to him, another goon stealthily came up and smeared mud on Gautam Navlakha’s face.

Yes, they blackened his face. I realised that I was released only because the police brought in a huge bus in which they started taking protesters away. The police van in which I was detained did not seem enough. A boy who voluntarily sat in the van was asked to get down. I was released after a while. I did not court arrest. I came away because it is important to narrate the story as Indian media might not show what happened.

Picture Courtesy : Tehelka | Gautam Navlakha, with his face blackened by a miscreant. I’m farther behind in the picture, wincing.
They won’t tell you how the Delhi police protected goons in saffron and detained us instead. They won’t tell you that the police tore off our posters and asked us to stop! They won’t tell you all this. Many protesters have been arrested and lodged at Mandir Marg police station. On my way back, I saw many police barricades enroute Jantar Mantar with cops who were on the look out for Kashmiri-looking-men-and-women, potential protesters and I did spot a few of them heading in auto rickshaws toward Jantar Mantar, their eyes eager and their faces betraying a helpless look.

More Sources:

Mainstream media have started taking note of the issue. Will keep updating news and other sources here

The Hindu : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/afzal-guru-hanging-voice-of-affirmation-across-political-spectrum/article4397059.ece

Dainik Bhaskar : http://www.bhaskar.com/article/c-99-131730-NOR.html?seq=2&OTS

Video of protest : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=115670631947437 (No clue why the URL says ‘photo’)

Tehelka Photo Album : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151414460534061&set=a.10151414453009061.502596.374918609060&type=1&theater

Courtesy: Shehla  Rashid Online

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8 Comments on “What happened at Jantar Mantar today”

  1. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=115670631947437जिस मुल्क की राजधानी में विरोध की आज़ादी की हिफाजत ना की जा सके वो दुनिया में सबसे बड़ा लोकतंत्र बनकर आतंक के खिलाफ लड़ रहा है या आतंक को राजकीय सरपरस्ती देने में ही अमेरिका जैसा है.मिस्टर प्रेजिडेंट आपकी जवाबदेही आज़ाद लोकतंत्र की बिना पर तय हुई है. अंध-राष्ट्रवाद के सुर साधते वामपंथियों को भी जनवाद व इन्कलाब की abcd को भी तज देना कौन सी सत्ता किसकी सत्ता की मजबूरी है?
    लेकिन मार्क्स-लेनिन को सिर्फ मजदूरों-मजलूमों की सत्ता चाहिए, और यही तो आज़ादी की लड़ाईयों का सबसे चहेता अरमान रहा है…

  2. nice comment serves you right…..mud pack on the face is good for the skin. Ayurveda treatment with mud and gobar (Cow dung) for terror sympathizers is nice idea that should have been tried…

  3. kitni sharm ki baat hai,ki ek atankvaadi ke liye sympthy???
    Kya aapne kashmir me protest kiya tha us terrorist ke ghar ke bahar,jb usne desh ke khilaf jang chhedi thi???

  4. देश के खिलाफ़ जंग का मतलब लोगों की #आज़ादी छीन लेने जैसा है । कश्मीर की मसर्रत कायम रखने की शर्त गुलामी तो नहीं । शेहला की इबारत देश से तो वास्ता रखती है, गैर-जम्हूरी हुक्मरानों से नहीं ।
    #मुजफ्फरनगर ('14 ही नहीं '94 भी), #हाशिमपुरा, '८४ पर कौन देशभक्त चुप है !

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