After revising its parade route on Saturday morning, the ‘Walk for the Future’ protest march, spearheaded by Team 2020, saw the participation of about 1,000 people, including prominent artists. After the police expressed concern over traffic congestion, the organisers redrew the route map of their march from Chaityabhoomi to Carter Road, changing its starting point to Mahim Beach. Revised invites sent out by organisers on Saturday afternoon stated that “logistical and traffic issues” had caused them to shift the starting point of the parade to Mahim beach.
A member of 2020, the artist collective behind the event, said the police were concerned about the traffic. However, another member admitted that the permissions had been withdrawn by the police department at the last moment. But only a renegotiation over reducing the span of the parade led them to issue the required permissions.
Suryakant Gaikwad, Senior Police Inspector of Shivaji Park police station, said: “Due to the work of infrastructural projects, there is already a lot of traffic congestion in the adjacent lanes of Chaityabhoomi. So, we just presented them with the idea of starting their walk from somewhere else as their programme would add to the chaos. Their representatives agreed and they themselves changed the starting point.”
Around 5pm, the parade, with nearly a 1,000 participants, started towards Carter Road. There were close to 20 “tukdis (divisions)” many of who were performing multiple acts. Theatre artists such as Sanjna Kapoor, Sameera Iyengar, Atul Kumar, Astad Deboo, Sunil Shanbag, Danish Husain, Sanjukta Wagh and Sapan Saran were seen on the streets, directing their acts and managing the participants. Folk artists such Dhamma also were a part of the parade, with folk songs against caste and discrimination. The ongoing Indo-Pak tension found a fleeting mention in banners such as one that read, “War is a failure no matter who wins.”
The event, with performances, poetry, placards and moveable installations, addressed issues ranging from communal hatred, manual scavenging, farmers’ rights and caste discrimination.
The point of the parade was, however, lost on some bystanders as they watched it pass by. “My brother told me that many of the banners say ‘azaadi’. But what do they want azaadi from, is not clear to me,” said Sushmadevi Dhoke, a resident of Mahim Koliwada. Many others, however, lauded the spirit of the parade.
Near SV Road in Bandra, 32-year-old conservancy worker Mohammad Shahid, said, “We need more such juloos and morchas. Maybe if more people join in, social media picks it up, the government will pay some heed and take note of people’s voice, a show of unity is the only hope we have,” he said.
While a lot of Bandra watched from their balconies and windows, almost every building watchman along the way chose to participate in related discussions. Shelling out Rs 5 to buy the Communist Ghadar Party of India’s newsletter from a participating member of the parade, watchman Rakhware Dubey said, “It’s also as important to understand the issues being raised. So hopefully, this newsletter will educate me on the farmers’ issues being discussed.”
As the parade crossed Bandra, several local residents came out on the streets and some even joined in. Curious bystanders stayed hooked as the parade passed by. It concluded at Carter Road around 8 pm with a pledge to work towards a better future, free of hatred, and one that upholds the spirit of the Indian constitution.