Today, on December 16, the protest group Jurrat took to the streets in memory of the horrific gang-rape that took place exactly one year ago in the capital.
'Today, take the dupatta you are made to use to hide your body and raise it high as a jhanda of protest,' actor Swara Bhaskar shouted as the protest began, raising her flag high above her head.
Shouts of 'Azaad Chalo, Bebaak Chalo' reverberated through the streets, drowning out the noises of horns and traffic that moved past as they made their way through the streets of Delhi.
Swara Bhaskar asks women to raise a 'jhaanda' in protest.
The march was tracing the Delhi Braveheart’s route -- from the Saket Mall to the Munirka bus stop to Mehrauli. They finally culminated their protest with a musical performance and a closing speech at the JNU auditorium.
The message, as said by Swara Bhaskar, of the campaign was to reclaim our right to be safe on our streets, in our city, in our country – and that’s non-negotiable.
The message of the campaign was to never forget the outrage, that feeling of violation we felt when the newspapers first reported the case.
Kartik Shastri, a dancer and budding actor, who had come from the USA to be a part of the protest, said 'It is the most important to never forget. People tend to forget. There has been a dying down of the issue among the people and the media but there is still a long fight ahead of us.'
What made the protest especially unique were the troupes of acclaimed singer-songwriters that led the crowds into rousing and empowering songs of protest.
Sona Mohapatra and Swanand Kirkire sing at the protest.
The performers included Sona Mohaptara, the singer who gave her voice to Satyamev Jayate’s anthem and many popular Bollywood tracks, and Swanand Kirkire, the acclaimed lyricist and playback singer for movies such as 3 Idiots and Lage Raho Munnabhai.
The crowds sang loud and proud along with the singers, belting out popular melodies such as Aasoon Ke Sung Na Bahoongi Sakhi and Mohapatra’s famous song Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupaiya.
What was especially interesting was the diversity of the people protesting -- from movie actors like Swara Bhaskar to women movement’s leaders from local bastis to students from JNU. They all stood together arm in arm, in remembrance and in protest.
JNU president V Lenin Kumar with fellow students at the march.
The march, all in all, tasted bittersweet, where along with the joy of music, and of standing together as one, there was also the grim reality of the cause we stood for and the long battle that lay ahead.
As Swara Bhaskar said towards the beginning of the protest, 'The fact that we have people who are here is, at some level, change enough. However, there is a very long road ahead.'