Barely a few hours after the Republic Day Parade ended, a large number of protesters gathered a few hundred metres away at Jantar Mantar demanding freedom and justice for all victims of sexual violence.

Under the aegis of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), protesters owing allegiance to organisations such as the All India Students’ Union, Swastik Mahila Samiti, Revolutionary Youth Association, NAPM and the New Socialist Initiative, gathered at Mandi House around 2 p.m., from where they took out a march to Jantar Mantar demanding justice for all victims of sexual violence.

Although the protesters carrying placards and banners welcomed the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, they questioned the sincerity of the government in implementing them. The committee, headed by the former Chief Justice, J.S. Verma, was appointed to look into various aspects of women’s safety and suggest measures to curb gender-related offences.

Demanding bekhauf azadi or freedom without fear, AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan said: “This report is a measure of the success of the ongoing movement against sexual violence, because it has redefined women’s violence from the perspective of women’s autonomy and freedom. This is precisely what the ongoing movement has been demanding, as is evident from its slogans of ‘Azaadi’ with its countless variations.”

Protesters said that the ‘Freedom Parade’ was organised on Republic Day since the republic comprises of the ‘public,’ whose role is not that of mute spectators.

“The Freedom without Fear” campaign also presented ‘Mardangi Maryada’ medals as well as ‘Laxman Rekha’ medals to people who have been making atrocious, sexist, misogynist and victim-blaming statements. These medals were presented to President Pranab Mukherjee’s son and Congress MP Abhijeet Mukherjee; Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat; self-styled spiritual leader Asaram Bapu; Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Minister Kailash Vishvavargiya; Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Azmi; Chhattisgarh Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg and Andhra Pradesh Congress unit president Botsa Satyanarayana.

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