“Dear Ma, I am home. You wanted me to buy new clothes in Delhi, but fate has landed me in heaven, where you don’t have marauding mobs. I am home. Yours, Junaid.” This was a letter read out by Junaid’s 22-year-old brother Mohammed Asaruddin, who called it a “letter to his mother from heaven”.
“Even I was called a terrorist in college. This issue is of identity and we have reached a point where we are having to conceal skull caps and other symbols that define Islam,” Asaruddin added addressing the crowd at Jantar Mantar.
The lynching of 15-year-old Junaid Khan in a Mathura-bound train last week triggered widespread protests across the country on Wednesday, with people taking to the streets under the common banner, ‘Not in My Name’. Hundreds of people gathered at various locations around the country to protest against the mob violence.
The protests were organised in New Delhi, Kolkata, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Patna, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram. Similar protests will also be held in London, Toronto, and Boston on June 29.
People took to the streets holding placards that read: “Break the Silence”, “No Place for Islamophobia” and “Shed Hate not Blood” among others. Protesters said that the gathering was a message that there is a need to unite for a cause.
Gurgaon-based independent filmmaker, Saba Dewan spearheaded the protests at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Her post went viral on Facebook with many responding to her rallying call. “Shouldn’t there be protests against the lynchings especially after the murder yesterday in Delhi NCR by a mob of a 16-year-old Muslim boy? If not now then when? Why wait for political formations to organize a demonstration? Why can’t all of us as citizens repulsed by the violence get together in protest at the earliest next week at Jantar Mantar under the banner – Not in my Name (sic),” she wrote in the post.
The event at Jantar Mantar was also attended by several political leaders such as Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and TS Singh Deo and Aam Aadmi Party’s Manish Sisodia and Ashutosh.
“No lynching and certainly #NotInMyName. I condemn it & request other citizens to come forward. This is not the nation we imagined,” TS Singh Deo tweeted.
AAP leader Ashutosh tweeted, “It’s time to stand up and oppose barbarism #NotInMyName”. He was also at the protest in Jantar Mantar.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia said: “I haven’t seen such insecurity across the country…I am worried about for my family, society and country…The nation’s voice must be heard.”
CPI MP D Raja also joined the protests. Speaking to indianexpress.com, he said: “Today there is a protest, it is a political initiative taken by the citizens of the country against the lynching that is going on across the country, against minorities, against Dalits, particularly in BJP-ruled states. PM Modi has not uttered a word on the ongoing lynching of Dalits and minorities in the country. Such a killing cannot happen…The Government has to defend our secular right and the constitution. Govt has completely failed…”
“This is a strong message to the Prime Minister and the government, they cannot think that this will go unchallenged.”
CPI(M) on its official Twitter handle extended its support to the campaign. “CPIM extends support to the citizens match #NotInMyName against Mob Lynchings by right-wing Hindutva forces,” it tweeted.
Former education and culture minister of Kerala, and a member of the CPM Politburo MA Baby was also present at Jantar Mantar. “They are trying to murder the idea of India. By dividing India on religious lines, they want to establish a Hindu India. That’s why they are attacking Muslims, mosques, Dalits and others. They want such sections of people to live as second rate citizens as servants of Hindus. Golwalkar has written in his book that India is for Hindus. This is a fight by the citizens of India challenging such thinking and against such ideologies. This protest that has no political backing is a manifestation of Indians ability and energy to fight against such forces,” he said speaking to indianexpress.com.