I attended a gathering in Delhi yesterday. A group of concerned citizens from different walks of life had come together, ‘To stand up against brutality, To stand up against hate, To appeal for peace.’ After two people spoke about the purpose of the gathering, another two stood up and started singing a Hindi song, calling attention to grim realities like hunger and poverty. When they started with a second song, a man in the crowd stopped them and said that singing songs in such a setting is in vain. What would it achieve? What was the purpose of the gathering? What can we do during the unrest in Delhi? This gave a start to a dialogue.
A middle-aged man stood up and said he had migrated to Delhi from his home town in Gujarat when the 2002 riots broke out. The violence that erupted in Delhi was hence unbearable to him. While some misunderstood that people who were speaking up were trying to create some sort of hindrance, some countered by saying that we should make an attempt to start a dialogue. It made sense. Why did we leave the comfort of our homes to gather peacefully at a public place? If peace is our motto, why shouldn’t we attempt a dialogue? Throughout, it was clear that people were unsettled. They wanted to help people affected by the violence.
A few went on to explain the various options like lawyer’s collectives to support detainees, groups to help with medical assistance, individuals and groups that are working in violence-affected areas – most of them with non-political and philanthropic intentions. Among the gathering was a young girl who had attended around 100 odd such gatherings and protests on the streets in Delhi. She wanted to speak about things that some organisations are engaged in, like Harsh Mander’s.
She did not speak up because she had a strained voice due to harsh Delhi winters. A young guy then mentioned how some suggestions like reaching out to MLAs in Delhi is futile, as the Delhi Government does not have any power. One of his suggestions was to wait for positive approach from the courts. That thought came through in the directions given by Justice S Murlidhar.
Although I felt heavy by the angst and hopelessness displayed by the people I saw yesterday, I left the place with a sense of joy as the dialogue continued. Not all in Delhi is consumed by misguided fear and hatred. As I go to sleep tonight, I am listening to A R Rahman’s song ‘Ishwar Allah Tere Jahan Mein‘.