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In Pictures: How A Student Movement From India Gained Solidarity Across The World #Hokkolorob

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By Durjoy Choudhary:

It’s been almost 3 weeks since the police brutally attacked peacefully protesting students at Jadavpur University. A lot has transpired since.

The Vice Chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti, who was the interim VC before the incident, has now been made the permanent VC. A new grievance committee to investigate the molestation was set up. Sadly, it had neither a human rights activist nor a retired judge on the panel as per the Vishaka guidelines. The father of the girl has publicly voiced the fact that he does not condone or support the movement.

To say the movement has failed, however, would not only being smugly superficial but also stupid. The students of the University have decided to take the fight to the new VC-  the very same who unleashed the state police on them, and there is a chance that trouble might brew up after the University officially reopens post vacation.

That being said, students from all over the world have protested in the past two weeks. From Alipur in Kolkata to Ann Arbor in Michigan, din of clamour knew no boundaries.

Here are a few pictures, capturing the very essence of Hokkolorob, that travelled the world.

Pic: Fraction of one lah people on the September 20 rally in Kolkata
Pic: Tai to boli comrade, ghore tolo barricade(Translation: That’s why I say comrade, let’s set up a barricade)
Pic: Chandannagar, in solidarity
Pic: Birbhum raises it voice in support of Jadavpur University
Pic: Pune is with you JU
Pic: IIT Kharagpur expresses solidarity with JU
Pic: Support from Silchar. Hokkolorob
Pic: A student at a protest at the University of Hyderabad
Pic: Effigy burning at TISS, Hyderabad
Pic: TISS Guwahati. Hokkolorob
Pic: Aunpam Chatterjee/Sreyashi Choudhary. Bangalore turned out in large numbers to express solidarity with JU students.
Pic: IIT Madras protest march, in solidarity with Jadavpur University
Pic: Support from across the border from Bangladesh.
Pic: the French in solidarity with JU
Pic: Marburg, Germany condemns the brutal police/state machinery action on the students of JU
Pic: the sounds of Hokkolorob cross the Atlantic to Ann Arbor, University of Michigan
Pic: University of Iowa. In solidarity.
Pic: Closer home,. The engineers from Salt Lake express their support
Pic: Jadavpur University Teacher’s Association(JUTA) at a sit-in demonstration, protesting against the police action on student and demanding the Vice Chancellor’s removal, leading And teaching, as always, how it should be done.

In conclusion, the movement may seem to have lost most of its steam from the outside, but on the inside, the students are still angry. The decision to make the Vice Chancellor permanent is being deemed as a challenge to the movement – one which the students seem to accept with resilience.

Seldom in recent history has a non partisan movement spread so far and wide, in a short span of time, demanding for the most basic of human rights- Freedom. To express and not be exploited, to be heard and not be ruthlessly trampled on, to fight for what’s right and persevere for a just cause.

This is how history gets created. We lived it.

Photo-story compiled by Nishant Chhinkwani

HokKolorob (literal meaning — let the sounds ring!) is no longer confined to the 2006 album of Ornob. It has stretched out to millions of wavelengths across the world, but slightly in a different context. In the wake of the democratic student’s movement of Jadavpur University in 2014 that rose out of the basic demands of security of women and the freedom of individuals inside the campus premises, which later took a much larger picture in the political scenario of West Bengal, or Kolkata to be specific, the couple of words “HokKolorob” dropped the insignificant space that divides them, only to be tagged by the significant hash to reach out to thousands, if not millions through the social networking media. So how effective was this #hokkolorob? Well, the world has seen big socio-political movements that were built with the help of these hashtags, all across the human virtual existence, through the media of social-networks — be it “Occupy Wall Street” in 2011 or “Turkey” or “Egypt” in 2013 or Kolkata in 2014. And we have strong evidence to back that off — the hundred thousand people, mainly students, who marched the streets of Kolkata on the 20th of September, 2014, protesting against the brutal atrocities of the Kolkata Police and the ruling government of West Bengal on the early hours of the 17th of September, 2014 inside the Jadavpur University.

20th of September, 2014 will stay in the memories of both the students of Jadavpur University, as well as the ruling party of the West Bengal government, for very different reasons though, for a very long time. For the students of Jadavpur University and the whole students’ community of West Bengal, it was a small victory against the system that they are fighting against. And for the ruling party of the West Bengal government, the rally or the “micchil” of the hundred thousand students, was the first of its kind since their clean sweep victory in the Legislative Assembly polls in 2011, where so many people raised their voices against the injustices of the system. The “micchil”, with all its enormity and its lack of political colour, or should I say non-partisan approach, to march the streets where the opposition, in any form, is not at all tolerated, was actually a strong move towards a more democratic expression of thoughts and speech. It was as if things were just about to turn — to roar that “Change is inevitable”.

I was a part of the rally, just like the rest of the hundred thousand, who participated to become a part of a historical march, not only because the police marched inside the JU campus and beat up a hundred students; not only because a girl was dragged by the hair, inside the boys’ hostel and molested by a dozen frustrated students; not only because the Vice Chancellor chose to save the boys instead of setting up a neutral unbiased committee; not only because the Education Minister threatened to unleash a counter movement by the students’ front of the ruling party; not only because our honourable Chief Minister had labelled the police atrocities on the wee hours of the 17th of September, 2014 as a “Chotto Ghotona” (insignificant issue); but because the anger had been tamed for long against the ruling government’s atrocities and injustices in the name of ‘development’. The massive rally, which was composed mainly of the students’ community of Kolkata, was bound to be driven by the burst of the strong adrenaline that was bottled up inside each of the hundred thousand for the last quarter of a decade, due to all the “Chotto Ghotonas” (insignificant issues) that had been happening all across the state. And for a rally so huge, it is impossible to have the same slogans at all points. As a matter of fact, on trying to deliver certain slogans, it was almost impossible to get the same response as not everyone was accustomed with the slogans, except for one. Each of the students’ community that came from the various schools, colleges, universities and research institutes were habituated with different slogans that were popular in their own circuit. But now, there was only one slogan that unified all of the hundred thousand, one slogan that got the same response from each of the groups, one slogan that roared in unison to reach the all-important seat of power across the Hooghly river, and that too because of the inclusion of the small hashtag and the lack of the dividing space of Ornob’s 2006’s album.The hashtag that brought all of the democratic students’ community across the world, through the social networking sites, to support a movement that grew out of a “Chotto Ghotona” (insignificant issue) in Kolkata. The hashtag that gave rise to the slogan that promisesto roar every time injustice is served by the system — “Hok, Hok, Hokkolorob” #hokkolorob

Durjoy Choudhary is a singer songwriter, who is finishing up his M.Phil in Linguistics at Jadavpur University. In addition, he also teaches Jazz and Blues history in Centre of Studies in African Literature and Culture, JU.

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