Delhi’s Parliament street on Tuesday witnessed hundreds coming together to mark their solidarity with Yuva Hunkar rally. Scores of activists, students, and media personnel gathered in what can be called as a protest against the increasing incidents of oppression of Dalits and minorities.
The event was organised in the backdrop of the recent Dalit-Maratha violence in Maharashtra on the eve of the 200th anniversary of Koregaon Bhima battle. Dalit activist and newly elected Gujarat MLA Mevani was the most important speaker at the event. JNU student leaders like Shehla Rashid, Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar and other prominent personalities like lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Swami Agnivesh also participated in the protest.
Here are the key takeaways from the event:
Confusion over the venue of the rally:
After the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in October, last year banned all sorts of protests at Jantar Mantar, it was earlier reported that the organisers might not go ahead with the rally. Delhi Police last night tweeted about not granting permission citing the NGT order.
However, it was later found that the rally was being held at Parliament street which is adjacent to the Jantar Mantar road.
Shehla Rashid also had to put up clarifications:
Organisers of tomorrow’s #YuvaRally met high ranking officers in the Delhi Police for the second time this week (just now), and Police again gave a clear go ahead, like before. Now the question is, why was media running fake news of cancellation all day? Oh, wait!
— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) January 8, 2018
2. Jignesh Mevani – The man of the moment
While the event saw the participation of several student leaders and activists, it was the MLA from Vadgam in Gujarat who was the man of the moment. When Mevani arrived at the venue, he was mobbed by both public, as well as the media, clearly depicting that they were just waiting for him. In a powerful speech, the Dalit leader took a direct potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked what he would choose between Manusmriti and India’s Constitution. His speech also included questions on issues ranging from land rights of Adivasis and unemployment to cow vigilantism, love jihad and ghar wapsi.
“I am a sewing machine man. I have come to stitch people together,” he said, in a message of unity.
3. All voices for Bhim Army
Even though he wasn’t present at the venue, Bhim Army founder and Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad’s influence was significant. Hundreds of his supporters had gathered at the venue and were demanding his release from prison. Chandrashekhar, a lawyer by profession, started the Bhim Army Ekta Mission in 2015 for the empowerment of Dalits. However, in November last year, he was jailed and booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) by the Uttar Pradesh government in response to the Thakur-Dalit clash in Saharanpur.
4. Bad day for Republic TV
It was just not the right day for some sections of the media (read Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV). The speakers including the likes of student leaders such as Shehla Rashid, Mohit Pandey and Umar Khalid continuously talked about the ‘nationalistic’ TV channel’s biased coverage. Some of the supporters also booed out a Republic TV supporter from the venue. And of course, the channel hit back by calling the event a ‘flop show’.
Here is how they hit back:
— Republic (@republic) January 9, 2018
5. Only a media spectacle?
Even though the event was organised in the heart of the national capital and the entire media fraternity were on their toes, Yuva Hunkar rally didn’t see the participation of ‘general public’. Apart from the usual left-leaning student leaders and activists as well as some pro-Dalit and minority groups, the average Delhiite chose to stay away. The rally was aimed to target the common student, the farmer, the labourer and the unemployed youth but the turnout wasn’t convincing. The lack of satisfactory participation gave ammunition to all the right-wing supporters on social media who called it a ‘flop show’. But was the event just a media spectacle or something much more substantial for the politics of the marginalised? Only time will tell.
(Feature image source: Indian Express)