“Alone I started towards the destination (but)
People kept joining and it turned into a caravan!”
These unforgettable lines by the famous Urdu poet Majrooh Sultanpuri hold so true for people like the Indian filmmaker Saba Dewan and her #NotInMyName campaign. It began as an idea when Dewan, visibly upset about the lynching of 16-year-old Junaid in the month of June in India, expressed it in a moving Facebook post. The idea soon spread like wildfire and thousands of posts started mirroring and echoing the idea of opposing the growing violence in the country.
Dewan, like millions of other peace-loving Indians across the world, was shocked by the mob lynching of a teenager on a crowded local train by cow vigilantes, who accused the boy, returning with his brothers after Eid-shopping, of being a beef-eater, anti-national, and Pakistani. Saba wrote in her first Facebook post, “Shouldn’t there be protests against the lynchings especially after the murder yesterday in Delhi NCR by a mob of a 16-year-old Muslim boy? If not now then when? Why wait for political formations to organize a demonstration? Why can’t all of us as citizens repulsed by the violence get together in protest at the earliest next week at Jantar Mantar under the banner – Not in my Name”
Dewan’s call was not in vain – people started signing up, not only from Delhi but also from various parts of the country. Very soon, people from other countries joined in too. Huge protests against the mass lynching of Dalits and Muslims took place in innumerable cities of India as well as in London, Toronto, Boston, and Karachi.
The apathy of those in the highest echelons of power became clear when, despite protests, the main suspect in Junaid Khan’s murder was granted bail. They took little notice of the family of Junaid, which is facing untold economic hardship because all the family members have lost their jobs in the last two months. Nevertheless, the sunny side of the story is that the protests have not subsided. Recently, a rally against the ongoing attacks on minorities by the Hindutva brigade was organized in solidarity with #NotInMyName in BC, Canada and the welcoming response it received was heartwarming indeed. It was the first protest rally organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) in Surrey.
Despite the marked absence of all the elected officials and Indo-Canadian MPs and MLAs who had been invited to take part in the rally, activists from various backgrounds gathered in good numbers near Surrey City Hall and raised slogans against violence as they marched to the nearby Sky Train Station. The rally attracted many dignitaries like Chinmoy Banerjee, leader of South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), the editor of People’s Voice, Kimball Cariou, veteran columnist, Rajinder Pandher, Sunil Kumar from Sikh Nation, Buddhist and Ambedkarite activist Param Kainth. Among the participants and speakers were also members of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians as well as Amrit Diwana who is a progressive poet, Fraser Valley Peace Council leader, Nazir Rizvi, a visiting UK Professor, Fahima Mehmood Patel, and Indian Rationalist activist, Avtar Gill.
The protests against violence are not going to subside anytime soon, it seems. The success of the demonstration has encouraged the organizers to call a bigger demonstration on August 27. The show of solidarity is only growing bigger and stronger with time. We hope it will be able to expose and discredit those who are spreading hatred and violence in the name of God.