On stage, concern over lynchings and a desperate appeal for action

Rao’s performance followed a string of others on stage, which began with filmmaker Saba Dewan’s speech, who pointed to the “lack of action” from the government and the “complete deafening silence”.

Written by Sowmiya Ashok | New Delhi | Published:June 29, 2017 5:06 am

“IN THE name of a cow, my cow, you strike a knife through me. And in the name of Make In India, you make me run, snatch food from my mouth, chase me out of my home…” It took theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao a couple of hours on Wednesday morning to put together a performance that would run a full 20 minutes. She would gulp down two bottles of water and have glucose biscuits when it was all over, close to 8 pm that evening. Her performance would come to an end minutes before the skies opened up over the hundreds, who had gathered for the ‘Not In My Name’ protest at Jantar Mantar.

Rao had to incorporate the “immediacy of it all”, she later told The Indian Express. “Performances are usually reflective, but with this one, I had to address the here and now. I was writing a piece that was marking things as they are happening,” she said. “When I was writing this piece, I got a WhatsApp text that there had been one more lynching in Jharkhand.”

Rao’s performance followed a string of others on stage, which began with filmmaker Saba Dewan’s speech, who pointed to the “lack of action” from the government and the “complete deafening silence”. “The turnout was wonderful and reaffirmed our faith in the values of secularism,” Dewan told The Indian Express after the event.

“There were spontaneous gatherings across the country too, which reflects on how many people were outraged by what happened.”

It was Dewan’s social media post that saw people band together as volunteers to organise the event. “It really grew organically into a citizen’s movement,” said Leki Thungon, a volunteer. “It came full circle when someone invited Saba to attend an event she helped put together.”

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