‘A spark has been lit. #NotInMyName broke si­lence’

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - PUNJAB & HARYANA - Ri­tam Halder ri­tam.halder@hin­dus­tan­times.com n

Film­maker Saba De­wan’s Face­book post con­demn­ing the lynch­ing of a 16-year-old Mus­lim boy in Bal­lab­h­garh trig­gered a mas­sive protest across In­dia on Wed­nes­day. Thou­sands gath­ered at Delhi’s Jan­tar Man­tar brav­ing inces­sant rain to join the #NotInMyName cam­paign. In Mum­bai, Carter Road was full of celebri­ties and lo­cals who wanted the coun­try to stand united. Res­i­dents in Patna too joined the cam­paign through a silent protest at Kargil Chowk near Gandhi Maidan.

When HT spoke to her a day af­ter the protest, De­wan, an alum­nus of St Stephen’s Col­lege, said it was just the be­gin­ning and the move­ment will only grow big­ger. Here are the ex­cerpts:

What next for #NotInMyName cam­paign?

We are plan­ning to have a meet­ing in a day or two to re­flect upon how it went. We will also de­cide the fu­ture course of ac­tion. The one yes­ter­day grew out of an or­ganic process. I am very cer­tain that like me, oth­ers too feel that it has to be car­ried for­ward.

A spark has been lit. One protest, sig­nif­i­cant as it was, can’t fun­da­men­tally change any­thing though it broke the si­lence, fear. Peo­ple felt em­bold­ened to come out and hit the streets.

Who were in­volved in or­gan­is­ing the cam­paign?

When the idea was floated, I had given a call to all those in­ter­ested to come for a meet­ing. In Delhi, a core group of 15-odd peo­ple from all walks of life was formed. Later, we gave out an­other call for more peo­ple to be part of the or­gan­is­ing group and a meet­ing was called on the eve of the protest . Around 45-50 peo­ple turned up and they did ev­ery­thing. Now we all need to sit down in a cou­ple of days for an­other meet­ing to de­cide on the fu­ture course of ac­tion.

How many cities took part in the protest on Wed­nes­day?

We are still count­ing. The num­ber was 16 till Wed­nes­day night. Now I am see­ing new pic­tures from other places. From UP. There was a protest even in Varanasi where BHU stu­dents demon­strated at Assi Ghat. That is hugely sig­nif­i­cant as it is Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s con­stituency. I saw pic­tures from Patna, Dharamshala, Jaipur... all were spon­ta­neous ci­ti­zens protests. Peo­ple are tak­ing own­er­ship.

What about the one in Pak­istan?

There seems to be one hap­pen­ing in Karachi too. I read about it. The or­gan­is­ers have sent us a link to the event page. It may carry all kinds of mean­ing as it is be­ing or­gan­ised in Pak­istan.

You can’t stop peo­ple from or­gan­is­ing such an event. What they are do­ing, in Karachi, is protest­ing against vi­o­lence un­leashed on mi­nori­ties in Pak­istan and South Asia. That is ex­actly the cause we all are talk­ing about. Such protests were held even in London, Bos­ton and Toronto.


Saba De­wan at Jan­tar Man­tar on Wed­nes­day.

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