Bengaluru citizens demand justice in Unnao, Kathua rape cases

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The Richmond Town park witnessed an unprecedented gathering of over 300 people on Sunday evening. Women, children, men, youngsters and senior citizens, most of them dressed in black, held placards and formed a silent human chain.

At Koramangala I Block junction, small groups of 10-30 people gathered. At Cambridge Layout, a dozen stood outside their homes. Curious passersby dropped their plans to join the neighbourhood vigils. This decentralised movement across the IT city was not led by an individual, political party or organisation. People, in unison, demanded justice for the Unnao and Kathua rape cases that has rattled the nation’s conscience.

“I didn’t even know how many would join me here, since the call for protest was through word-ofmouth. This solidarity is reflective of how agitated people from all walks of life feel about the two cases,” said author Milan Vohra, who was at the Richmond Town protest.

The #MyStreetMyProtest movement saw people fight against injustice, violence, patriarchy, shaming and sexist mindsets from their own respective neighbourhoods.

Hundreds of Bengalureans joined in the protests, happening simultaneously across the country, to demand justice for an 8-year-old who was gang-raped and murdered in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, and the unrelated case of a 16-year-old who was raped in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, after which her father was killed in police custody. Accused in both cases, which is currently under investigation, include politicians, police and local leaders.

Journalist Ammu Joseph, who protested from Koramangala, said that a decentralised protest enables citizens with a conscience to take the initiative to express themselves on issues they care about. “It enables everyone to take a stand, and involves more people in the conversation,” she said.

Homemaker Saima Ahmed, who protested with her daughter in Cambridge Layout, hoped this will help the next generation understand the value of civic activism in a democracy and exercise their rights.

According to Arundhati Ghosh of India Foundation for the Arts, who protested in Cooke Town, neighbourhood vigils encourage people-to-people conversations around issues. “Bengalureans will learn to organise themselves, so that tomorrow, they can get together to ensure authorities are held accountable and they take the right action.”

Source: Economic Times