June 21: Taking a stand against rapes, sparked by the Kamduni gangrape and murder, today at 3pm, a rally started from college square to Esplanade. Around 15 thousand people rallied, accompanied by prominent figures such as Soumitra Chatterjee, Samir Aich, Ashok Mitra, Tarun Sanyal etc. Near Hind cinema, some people from Kamduni village – the place of the rape, the consequent anti-rape protests and the target of threats from none other than the chief minister herself – joined the rally, despite the atmosphere of fear in the village after the CM’s visit.
The rally was diverse in many ways. There were different slogans, posters and leaflets from different participants in the rally. While there were people who were targetting the present government alone in their slogans and posters, some others were criticizing CPIM and TMC both, and ruling parties in general. Condemnation did not stay limited to the Kamduni incident alone. There were protesters demanding justice for Tapasi Malik, Soni Sori, Manorama Thangjam as well. Sexual torture is inflicted by state apparatus as well, as the protesters raised their voices against sexual abuse in police custody and endemic rape by the army in Kashmir and Manipur. Slogans could be heard in one part of the long rally, and songs were sung in another. While a tiny minority were seen with posters about the ‘virtues’ of celibacy, there were others holding up a poster in support of lesbian/gay/bisexual/
Though the mainstream media are going to be positive in their reporting of this rally, in general they speak against the very act of rallying. So the next day when people march in a rally against corporate loot and repression by Vedanta, POSCO or Maruti Suzuki, the mainstream will be telling you how all this rallying amounts to nothing but trouble for you and the benevolent profitmaking corporations noble enough to provide jobs and commodities to you slackers (and ad revenues to them). This rally was a reminder of why we should rally. When the chief minister threatens villagers who have suffered the trauma of a rape in their village, when the state government remains apathetic to the condition of the village, when party goons hold the village in fear, then the state needs to be shown that its power is not the ultimate. A rally can intimidate state power or capital power with the show of people’s power. A rally shows that there are people who are ready to take action for a cause. A rally makes people feel empowered when they see others rallying for a cause that they share. A rally opens up the possibility of some kind of communication between people, rallying or watching. A rally may contain the message that people won’t just stop at rallying and will eventually win the rights that are being denied to them, together.
Sources for pics 1 and 2:
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