Naye Saal Mein Azaadi – Freedom from Fear in the New Year
[ Click to play above Youtube video of young women and men, led by Com.Lokesh (‘Lucky’) of Stree Mukti Sangathan (Women’s Liberation Organization) articulate their desires on the ‘Take Back the Night’ night walk and street party from Anupam PVR Complex to the road outside Select City Walk in Saket, New Delhi on the night of the last night of 2012 and into the early hours of 2013. ]
Delhi took back the night as we moved into the new year. Took it back from fear, from patriarchy, from misogyny and a stupid state. They said it loud and clear. This is what I remember, roughly in this order.
Hum har jagah lengey Azaadi.
Dilli mein lengey Azaadi.
Hum Kya Chahtey – Azaadi
Raat mein bhi Azaadi. Din mein bhi Azaadi.
Moral Policing se Azaadi. Pehnave ki Azaadi. ‘Denting-Painting’ ki Azaadi.
Pyaar karne ki Azaadi. Dosti ki Azaadi.
Shadi karne ki Azaadi. Na karne ki Azaadi.
Baap se bhi Azaadi aur Khap se bhi Azaadi.
Bhai se bhi Azaadi. Husband se bhi Azaadi aur Boyfriend se bhi Azaadi.
Is culture se bhi Azaadi. Is rape culture se Azaadi.
In fabtiyon se Azaadi. In gaaliyon se Azaadi.
Manuvad se Azaadi. Dharmon se bhi Azaadi. Bhartiya Sanskrit se Azaadi.
Dafter mein bhi Azaadi. College mein bhi Azaadi.
Kaam karne ki Azaadi. Padhne-Likhney ki Azaadi. Masti karne ki Azaadi.
Nadiya ghumney ki Azaadi. Paharon mein bhi Azaadi.
Is Desh mein chahtey Azaadi. Is Duniya mein bhi Azaadi.
Dilli mein chahtey Azaadi. Chhattisgarh mein Azaadi. North-East mein Azaadi.
Kashmir mein mangey Azaadi. Shopian mein Azaadi.
Soni Sori ki Azaadi. Manorama ki Azaadi
Jeet ke lengey Azaadi. Pyar se lengey Azaadi.
Hum le-ke rahengey Azaadi.
Naye Saal mein Azaadi. Kal se lengey Azaadi. Abh se lengey Azaadi.
Yuan Hinsa ke Khilaaf Awaaz Do !
Hum Ek Hain.
Several things had happened and were happening, through out the day and the evening. Ayan a young boy I met in JNU with his father, said ‘its crazy, strangers are talking to strangers as if they were friends’. Small temporary shrines were created for the Unknown Citizen. Here are some images from Munirka Bus Stand, where she boarded that fateful bus earlier this month.
[ Candles lit by commuters at Munirka Bus Stop. ]
Here is a shrine in a temporary shrine in a colony park in bordering Shahpur Jat and Panchsheel Enclave.
[ Temporary Shrine in Shahpur Jat DDA Park ]
Earlier in the day. Students and young people gathered in groups in different places. A planned gathering at Central Park, Connaught Place moved to Jantar Mantar because the students (mainly from AISA, were told that no one can enter Central Park on a Monday. Here is a photograph of the students opposite an entrance to Connaught Place Central Park (on the Palika Bazar side) before they left to walk towards Jantar Mantar.
[ The banner (in Hindi) says something like this – ‘It is time for you to come out from dark rooms, behind locked doors, on to the streets, to the marches, to where the war is raging’ ]
In the evening, two nearly simultaneous gatherings (from around 10 pm onwards) were planned. Both were very well attended. The JNU Students Union, and other bodies in JNU (JNUTA, GSCASH) announced a memorial meeting in a commons / park adjoining Munirka, opposite the Main JNU gate. Here, there were at least two thousand students, teachers, residents of nearby neighbourhoods and many individuals from elsewhere. Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain did a ‘Dastangoi’ performance – Dastan-e-Sedition.
[ Dastangoi Performance at Munirka-JNU memorial meeting. ]
[ Temporary Shrine on the path leading to the Munirka-JNU memorial meeting. ]
The Citizens Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) – a collective of several autonomous feminist’ groups in Delhi (Jagori, Saheli, Nirantar, Stree Mukti Sangathan) and a wide spectrum of political activists (from the New Socialist Initiative and other organizations) and many individuals had given a call for a ‘Take Back the Night’ gathering at the Anupam PVR Complex. About six to seven hundred people assembled there at around 10:30 at night to speak, sing songs and to walk through Saket on to the Press Enclave road towards Select City Walk opposite Khriki village. This mobile gathering stayed together for around three hours, right into the early hours of new year. Here is what a young twelve year old girl, Prachi, speaking just before the gathering started to walk.
[ Prachi takes back the night at Anupam PVR, Saket ]
Then the gathering began to move through Saket.
[ Citizens’ Collective Against Sexuak Assault, walking through Saket. ]
Finally, after the meeting was over, and the new year had just begun, many groups of friends, and strangers who had become friends, remained standing, chatting, oblivious of the cold.
Boys from Khirki village had joined in by the . They posed for each other with signs against sexual violence.It was time to sing other kinds of songs, songs of warmth, desire, imagination, love and in memory of the unknown citizen, who had made us all come out to celebrate the new year in an unprecedented way.
[ Priya sings ‘Summertime’ and then Koruna, Priya and others sing ‘Imagine’ ]
Then, they sang about crazy hearts, dreaming crazy dreams.
[ Deepti, Lokesh, Koruna, Priya, Vasundhara, Rakhi, Tara and other friends singing ‘Bawra Man Dekhne Chala Ek Sapna’ (‘this crazy heart out to see crazy dreams’) on the street outside Select City Walk in Saket, opposite Khirki village around 1:30 in the morning of The First of January, 2013. After the ‘Take Back the Night’ March.]
Then, the fog grew thick. Everyone made their way home. To talk, sleep, listen, sing, remember, share intimacies, mourn, celebrate and build a new city.
Happy New Year, Delhi.
[ Boys from Khirki Village pose for a cell-phone group portrait with a sign that says ‘Say No To Sexual Violence’ ]