Numbers may have gone down, but protests at Jantar Mantar are still on; groups of people are doing different things
“Yes, they might be giving speeches. Yes, they might have banners and yes, the numbers may have dwindled, but at least they are here,” says Tarun, a working professional who has been actively taking part in the protests demanding justice for the 23-year-old gang rape victim.
The whole area of protest on Saturday is just a small street that has been cordoned off near Jantar Mantar and there are several groups of people who are doing different things. A group of sanyasi women is conducting a havan in the victim’s memory; then there is another group that has lit a really big candle in her memory and encourages others to light smaller ones around it; yet another group is making speeches, distributing pamphlets and encouraging everyone else to speak.
“I have come here everyday and have met many people and seen a certain change. On New Year’s Eve, a long human chain was formed and I realised that these people will never see a woman in distress and walk away. That is the change that this whole movement has brought about,” Tarun adds.
His sentiments are echoed by Neha, another professional he met during the protests.
“I observed a man who came on the first day screaming for death penalty for the rapists. But now he just comes here and sits quietly participating in the protest, realising that his presence is enough to keep up the movement,” she says.
The pamphlets speak of the reforms that will help bring about accountability from the police and other reforms that could help in preventing crimes by instilling fear in the minds of sexual predators. Some others distribute information about the measures a woman should take to be safe at all times. Another group distributes information about technology that can help a woman in distress and the precautions she can take to keep someone informed of her whereabouts at all times.
There are men, lots of men, really old men.
“You have to take to the streets, ensure that justice is delivered and only then go home, you cannot be passive anymore. Tomorrow it could be you… you could be the unlucky one” says a suited and wrinkled old man into a mike.
“You will have to think of something else, this Jantar Mantar sit-in does not seem to be working. These protests don’t seem to be working… people are protesting the police stand on the alert and then everyone goes home” says another old man who walks with the help of a stick.
There are some of the young who got tear-gassed and beaten with sticks. “I was there with my whole group right from the start; I believe that any noise is good noise, whatever little is being done for the victim’s justice is only because there are some people out here on the streets, if nobody had taken to the streets, there would never have been this sort of response from the police, judiciary or the hospital,” said college student Kritikka.