Since last week concerned citizens, students, women, children, senior citizens gathered around India gate and then decided to move towards Rashtrapati Bhavan to voice their anger, concern, hurt, indignation and outrage at the horrific incident that occurred a few days ago and at the increased insecurity for women in the city. They wanted to be heard. They wanted to be reassured. They wanted harsher laws for crime against women. They wanted to share their angst with those they elected. And that is why they approached the hallowed gates of our first citizen and meet him. After some persuasion a small group was allowed to meet one of the President's men. They were informed of the protocol regulations and told to seek an appointment. My question is why could the President not meet these kids! Was the situation not important enough to break protocol. It was not. The letter the kids wrote hurriedly and with hope; it must be still lying on some table along the protocol journey.
The crowd were swelling and the mood angry. Kids are kids and the young are known to be in a hurry. They are not like our antediluvian politicians. They fretted and got restless. They pushed and shoved like the young do. A simple meeting would have calmed things down. But instead they got hit by water canons in the cold, had tear gas lobbed at them in scores and even got lathi charged - a preferred show of power of our cops - and pushed back. No one came to meet them or talk to them. Their anger rose and more water and tears were sent their way. And as the news spread on Live TV, angered people joined the groundswell and sadly many lumpen elements. The mood got angry.
It was a spontaneous crowd, the kind one has never seen. It was not a protest organised by a political party where people are paid to come. Here every single protesters felt the anger and the hurt. It was perhaps for the first time that we saw true democracy where the electors wanted answers. No one in power recognised this reality. Had they done so, the events that ensued.
In the late evening the Home Minister finally address a press conference. We were subjected to believe it or not praise for the police! Praise for those who had earlier used water cannons and tear gas shells! Then we were given the vapid platitudes we normally get when any aberrations occur: setting up for commissions, empty promises and more of the same. And that is not all: we were told that the minister himself and his second in command had 3 daughters and thus felt the pain and anguish of us all. Who are you kidding. First of all nothing would ever happen to YOUR daughters as they come under the hallowed and super protected category of VIPs. And had it ever happened, god forbid as this should never happen to any one, the rapists would have been killed in a convenient encounter. We were also introduced to a new concept, one that is unacceptable: the gradation of rape. There are rapes, rare rapes and rarest of the rare rapes. Believe me Mr Minister every rape is and should be considered rarest of the rare as it is the most cowardly, heinous, ugly, disgusting, despicable crime.
The day ended. The protesters were angry, the authorities felt smug.
What the young were looking for was their statesmen and leaders. For the first time young Indians - students, professionals - concerned parents, and simple citizens had come out on the streets to express their anger and hurt. For years we have born stoically all the aberrations thrust upon us. We have turned a blind eye to issues like gross corruption, poor governance and arrogant behaviour. We have waited as patiently as we could to see laws enacted and waited helplessly to see them implemented. We have paid our taxes and have reconciled ourselves to poor amenities. We even performed our civic duty by voting every time we had to.
Saturday the 22nd of December 2012 was a red letter day for us, simple Indians. It was the day we wanted to see our Leaders and share our pain. It was a day when we still believed in them. It was a day that comes just once. Our leaders did not see the writing on the wall. How wonderful it would have been if our First Citizen broke protocol and accepted to meet a few young Indians. How healing it would have been if our CM had come and sat with the young protesters. How uplifting it would have been if one of the younger politicians has broken all rules and come and met the very people who make them leaders. Then all the ugly incidents that ensued would not have happened.
One may wonder why this rape incident struck such a chord in the hearts of so many when so many rapes and other aberration occur. It was probably the straw that breaks the camel's back. The story of the young woman so brutally raped was the catalyst that made us scream ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
The next day genuine protesters were back. Some had even spent the night despite the cold. But the police swung into action and pushed everyone out of India Gate and surrounding areas. However how far can you push people. They had to be let in. Protests continued. Against the rapists but also against the cop's behaviour. Sadly lumpen elements joined the show and very ugly scenes ensued. The brutality of the police was shocking: women, young students, senior citizens - no one was spared. It was vicious, barbaric, more so as the main issue that was being addressed was the safety of women. Need I say more.
The next day the entire India Gate area was shit to Indians. Even morning walkers were not allowed in. An alternate place has been given and young people are still protesting. But there are less people. I guess many parents must have not allowed their girls to join in after the terrible events of the previous day.
The Home Minister spoke again. According to him every demand has been acceded to. I guess he is in sync with the powers that be: commission set, empty promises spouted. He also insulted our intelligence by trying to make us believe that the unruly happenings were politically instigated. A terrible sense of deja vu! He has missed the point though as this time we are protesting against this very attitude. When asked by a reporter why no one from the government did not go and meet the young people on the first day he was horrified: how can they come and meet us. It has to be the other way! He missed the point again: this is the attitude we are protesting against: the VIP culture, the disconnect between those we elected and us. We were also subjected to more platitudes. The Congress President and the heir in waiting missed a golden opportunity to reach out to the very people who could have made all the difference in 2014. Now it is too late. Nothing you door say can make us forget the terrible images of December 23rd 2012.
And finally when the Prime Minister did finally condescende to speak to the nation, a blooper
or Freudian slip said it all. It was all a show.
We need statesmen and leaders. Till then nothing is theek hai!