Thousands of people across the country today took to the streets in a citizens' protest named 'Not in My Name' against the recent incidents of mob killings. Holding placards that read: "Break the Silence", "No Place for Islamophobia" and "Shed Hate not Blood" among others, the protesters said they had gathered to send out a message that there is a need to unite for a cause.
At the Jantar Mantar in the national capital, among those who took part were family members of 17-year-old Junaid, who was stabbed to death on June 22 onboard a train, which he had taken with his two brothers after Eid shopping in Delhi.
A group of men allegedly hurled communal slurs and attacked them after an altercation over seats. Last night, over a 100-strong mob attacked a Muslim man on the suspicion that he had slaughtered a cow after finding the carcass of a bovine near his house in Giridih district of Jharkhand.
Brother Mohammed Asaruddin read out Junaid's "letter to his mother from heaven", at the protest, "Dear Ma, I am home. You wanted me to buy new clothes in Delhi, but fate has landed me in heaven, where you don't have marauding mobs. I am home. Yours, Junaid."
Asaruddin's voice quivered as he read out the lines in Hindi from a makeshift dais, set against the backdrop of a "lynch map of India", highlighting the places where people had been lynched in the country since 2015.
Among the protesters in Delhi were ordinary citizens, as well as leaders from the Congress, JD(U), AAP and the CPI.
Singer Rabbi Shergill was also there, and was among the performers.
The "Not In My Name" campaign began after a Facebook post by filmmaker Saba Dewan against the stabbing of Junaid. "We are outraged at the systematic violence. The state has done nothing; there has been a deafening silence from the powers that be," she said.
An ailing Girish Karnad was at the Bengaluru protest, with medical pipes attached to his nostrils. Historian Ramachandra Guha was present too.
In Mumbai, people braved rains to come out in large numbers. Actors Shabana Azmi, Konkona Sena Sharma, Rajat Kapoor and Ranvir Shorey and social media activist Arpita Chatterjee were among those who participated in the protest held at Carter Road in suburban Bandra.
Azmi said these are not isolated incidents and there is a need for a stringent law against the perpetrators.
"We are demanding a law against mob lynching," she said.
In Kolkata, among the protesters was filmmaker Aparna Sen. She said she was protesting against something which "we do not support and that is attacking any religious community". She stressed that liberal voice has to be heard. Protests were also held in cities like Allahabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Thiruvananthapuram.