[ Rama Shankar Yadav ‘Vidrohi’, was a familiar figure for students, especially in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. He was a friend, a companion, a comrade, a mentor. Though rusticated many years ago from JNU, where he had been a student, for his participation in a protest, he had never left the campus of JNU, and had become, over the years, a beloved feature of campus life. His visceral poetry, often heard at protest gatherings, was passed from person to person by word of mouth. A few days ago, he died while marching with his beloved student friends in a protest against cuts in education in Delhi. Pallavi Paul, a filmmaker and artists, who made short films featuring Vidrohi, remembers him in this tribute..]
Yesterday, as I was looking out a window of an old house in Ballygunge, Kolkata- my phone buzzed. I ignored it. I was in the middle of telling a friend how happy I was to be away from Delhi for sometime. How the sights and smells of a different city were rejuvenating. The feeling of not having a ‘special connection’ with anyone or anything here felt liberating.
Much later, I opened the message from my friend Uday. ‘Vidrohiji passed away’, he wrote. Just three words. In our conversations with him, Vidrohiji had often spoken about his death. We had revisited the scenario over and over again. Like a dream or a film – it had a grand setting. He had told us “Now that you are recording me, i know that i will say goodbye in the most glorious way possible. Very few people can say that about their death, while they are still alive.” On another day he had said to us, “As my fame has increased, so have the dangers. Now what i need is guarantee. Your records are guarantee against that largest threat of being killed. I say to my enemies, that if you want to kill me – then shoot me in the eyes. Because i will keep staring back at you till my last breath. Your records will help me stare back at them even after I am gone. “
The endless violence that has always been part of Dalit life is now acquiring new dimensions as Dalits refuse to carry out upper caste diktat and confront aggressive upper castes emboldened by the Hindutva brigade.
As we commemorate another Republic Day, We The People proclaim that the parade of the powerful at Rajpath does not represent us. We The People, Reclaim our Republic.
As members of the LGBT community, women, workers, sex workers, students, teachers, activists, persons with disabilities, health rights activists, Dalits, indigenous people, farmers, those affected by unconstitutional military rule, we are united not as “minorities” or “others,” but as the people. We invoke the promises of the Constitution of India in our name. Our struggle will continue until all arms of the state are unwavering in their constitutional promises towards the marginalized in our society, rather than only representing the powerful.
The Supreme Court has struck down the Delhi High Court decision decriminalizing gay sex in what might go down as the most retrograde judgement in India’s history. While the details of the Court’s reasoning are still not available, we can perhaps easily imagine what they might be. This is time of civil disobedience. Time for protest.
Assemble at Jantar Mantar at 4.30 pm, today 11 December to announce to the world that ‘We Are All Queer’. To announce that this is not a struggle of just the ‘gay-lesbian community’ but a struggle for our most fundamental rights and cherished values.
A five year old girl is now in a critical condition in a Delhi hospital after being brutalized and raped by a neighbour. The Delhi police, which has dealt with the situation with its characteristic incompetence, first refused to file an FIR when her parents went to the police station, and then, tried to bribe the girls parents with two thousand rupees so as to ‘hush them up’. Subsequently,a young woman who tried to protest against the behaviour of the police at the Dayanand Hospital were the girl was initially taken for treatment was slapped by a policeman, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, in full public view. His actions have been recorded on video. It is believed that the policemen who tried to bribe the victim’s parents and the policeman who slapped the young woman have been suspended.
But can the suspension of a few individuals address what is obviously a deep rooted culture of misogyny and class prejudice (what else is it but class prejudice – would a policeman in a thana, say in an affluent South Delhi colony be able to offer two thousand rupees as ‘hush money’ to parents of an assaulted child with the same ease with which they could in Gandhi Nagar in East Delhi) within the Delhi Police? Is more severe and strict action that goes right to the top and to the source, not necessary in order to send a signal that this kind of behaviour within the police force cannot be tolerated? Must Delhi’s police commissioner not be compelled to resign, for his abysmal failure in terms of dealing with sexism and for failing to address the contempt for citizens who are not affluent that is now clearly endemic to the Delhi Police’s work culture?
She was sitting among a group of young men and women at Jantar Mantar, shouting “Hang those bastards.” When the slogan lost its effectiveness, it turned to “We want Justice,” “Inquilab Zindabad,” and then “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Borrowed and heard slogans, but they came from a very real place. “I work in Saket but live in Dwarka.” That is a long distance to travel especially at night. She nodded. “I don’t like it when my parents tell me to come home early just because other people are at fault,” she said anger rising in her voice. She didn’t know any of the people in the group she was sitting with. “We just met here. I had come with a friend who I can’t locate at the moment.” Continue reading The things you learn at a protest: Aakshi Magazine→
[ B&W pictures, courtesy Chandan Gomes. Colour pictures and cell phone video footage, courtesy, Bonojit Husain, New Socialist Initiative ]
Dear young women and men of Delhi,
I am writing to you again because I have been listening to you. This is a strange time, when everybody is talking, and everybody is listening, and the unknown citizen, who could have been any one of you, has transformed us all.
I was with you last night, from five thirty in the evening to around nine at night, while we walked together from the Vishwavidyalaya (University) Metro Station to Vijay Nagar, Kamla Nagar and the North Campus of Delhi University. There were around twelve hundred of you. Several of you held candles. You made yourselves into a moving blur of light. As the shopkeepers of Vijay Nagar, as the rent collecting aunties of paying guest accommodations, as the men and boys and girls and women on the streets and in the verandahs looked at you in wonder, you looked back at them, many of you smiled and waved. I could see some people in the crowd lip-synch with your Hallabols.
[ video of the night march near Delhi University ]