Background: After the ABVP goons attacked FTII students on 21 Aug 2013 we decided to hold a protest rally on the 26th of August. By then we had managed to grab the attention of the nation with the help of media and social media. We were gathering support for the protest march from various organizations and parties. A lot of meetings took place in the Institute with regard to the nature structure and texture of the protest. There were voices of dissent from within who did not agree with getting on the streets. Confusions. Questions. Every voice had to be heard and every matter had to be discussed. Majority had to be convinced.
As we were gathering all the courage, strength and energy, while addressing all of the confusion and questions, for the 26th, we were told that we do not have the police permission for the protest. Lot had to be discussed in the GBM on the 25th night. There were already lot of questions and confusions again. Finally, after long debates and discussions, it was decided that we will go ahead with the protest march without police permission even when told by the police that it would be at our own risk. The decision was taken based on majority with some doubts still lingering in the air.
Lead to the moment: As decided we all gathered at the wisdom tree on the 26th. A riot van was standing outside the gate and a team of police was all set for the action. Inside at the wisdom tree we all gathered. The GenSec called for a minute’s silence in memory of Narendra Dabholkar following which he threw open the option of either having the protest march on some other day with proper police permission, or just have a protest meeting at the gate and not march till Omkareshwari bridge as decided or just go ahead with the march as a protest against not just the attack but also as a protest against the denied permission. The options were given to the students and the final decision had to be taken.
There was silence for a moment and suddenly a voice was heard- “Can I say something?” It was the Director of the Institute. He slowly came forward and in a patronizing tone said, “If you go ahead with the protest without permission you will also be breaking the law like the ones who attacked you did. I understand your anger but we should not let ourselves be led by emotions. Let us act rational. Let us be guided by reason. We are responsible citizens and we consider ourselves artists. We should behave in a responsible and respectable manner. Finally the decision is yours all I request is to take the decision not emotionally but based on reason.”
There was a strange silence now. Perplexity was breathing heavily in that silence. Suddenly a major chunk of students started having second thoughts about marching. All the efforts to unite and agitate was about to dilute because of the Director’s deceiving speech in a patronizing tone. One more moment of silence and people, one by one, would disperse, it appeared.
The moment: It is at that moment Kislay, who was standing next to me, came front and started addressing all of us. “I completely agree with the Director,” he began which took me by surprise. But then he continued to say, “Yes our decisions should be based on reason. But I don’t understand why it is always believed that to be emotional is to do something and to be rational is to not do certain things. We have decided to go ahead with the march and we have reasoned it out well. We have discussed and debated it for long. Our decision is not based on emotion but reason. We use our reasoning power to do things and not to not do things.”
Those words made sense to many who started having second thoughts after the Director’s speech. Without giving any space for second thoughts from now Shukla Jee cried the slogan, “Aawaaz do…” and only few voices came rising, “hum ek hai.” Shukla Jee called again, “Aawaaz do…” and this time more voices came rising, “hum ek hai..” and Shukla Jee called again, “Aawaaz do…” and all students in one voice said, “Hum ek hai…”
Now there was nothing to stop. GenSec immediately announced the route for the march and the plan and in no time the march began from the wisdom tree with the slogan, “Lado Padaayi Karney Ko, Pado Samaaj Badalney Ko.” [Fight for your rights to study and study to fight for your rights]
For over an hour at the main gate we sang revolutionary songs: “ley mashaaley chal padey hai…“, “ka se kabootar kha se khargosh badey aa sey aazaad…” “hum hongay kamyaab ek din…” “mashaaley lekar chalna jab tak raat baaki hai…” and while singing we lived every word of the song. There also was our own alteration of the slogan “Ho Chi Minh, We Shall Fight We Shall Win,” as “Eisenstein Pudovkin, We Shall Fight We Shall Win,” with which over two hundred people marched till Omkareshwari bridge.
Personal note: That was the day when I realized: sweat smells sweet.