Days after a rally in support of JNU in the capital, retired soldiers led a counter-rally on Sunday, christened ‘March for Unity’, to protest alleged anti-national slogans raised on the varsity campus earlier this month.
Thousands of people took part in the march between Raj Ghat and Parliament Street, raising slogans such as “Bharat Mata ka apmaan nahi sahega Hindustan (India will not tolerate insult of Bharat Mata)” and ‘Jo janani ka apmaan kare, doob mare, woh doob mare (Those insulting the motherland should drown)”.
“We decided to come together under the banner ‘People for Nation’ to pursue the positive narrative of ‘Bharat jodo’ (unite India) to counter the ‘Bharat todo (break India)’ narrative,” Major General Dhruv Katoch (retired), convenor of the programme, said. He said Indians must ‘make in India’, as PM Narendra Modi says, and not “break it”.
As the protest rally culminated near Jantar Mantar, Major General Raj Malhotra (retired) said, “We fought and died for Kashmir and now you say it is your freedom to say Kashmir is not India’s?” He also asked the youth to be aware of the fact that terrorism starts with instilling indoctrinated ideas, and not by taking to arms.
“I have seen people dying for integrity of the nation and I won’t allow a group of posh students sitting in their comfort zones talking about breaking the country,” Captain Alok Bansal (retired) said. He said events like this affect the morale of soldiers.
Folk singer Malini Awasthi, organisations such as Group of Intellectuals and Academicians, Dharam Rakshak Shree Dara Sena, Nationalists Front of Specially Abled also extended support.
Katoch said, “We are not against JNU but against anti-national slogans raised on the campus.” The organisers said the response was unprecedented and showed people’s support for the cause. The BJP and its students’ wing, ABVP, are believed to have mobilised crowd for the rally.
Supporters of the march also took to social media, with ‘#MarchForUnity’ trending on Twitter almost all through the day. Among its supporters was former IPS officer and Gujarat DIG D G Vanzara, who tweeted, “Indians shud stop National Self-Condemnation under d pretext of Freedom of Expression & join #MarchForUnity to uphold dignity of d country.”