“If you change nothing, nothing will change.”
This was the motive and objective of Chandigarh’s crowd that gathered in large numbers to take the Bekhauf Aazadi March forward. It was at 10pm in the night where the usually quiet Rose Garden had picked up a voice as about 400 people had assembled. The recent incident of stalking involving an IAS officer’s daughter Varnika Kundu had hurt the sentiments of people, and very so rightly. And, hence they decided to go this late in the night to spread the message that women in Chandigarh are Bekhauf and will continue to fight for their rights. Led by social activist Amy Singh, this march started from the Rose Garden bus stop and continued till Government Arts College, Sector 10. Many social activists, housewives, senior citizens and college students including men were present throughout the march. The notable thing here was the timing and the route of the march, which was the notorious ‘Geri’ route where men are often found harassing women.
One of the organizers, Dr. Deepti, a social activist, asserted that she was very concerned about the state of women in the country and was confident that this event will ignite the fire that will go a long way. What was interesting to note was that a lot of teenagers and school children also came to participate in the march and show their support for Varnika Kundu. “If today we don’t speak up, tomorrow it could be us”, commented a school girl. Some of the senior citizens were so appalled that they found no difference between their college days and present days. “It’s funny that India has reached Mars but its women cannot reach their home safely”, quipped a lady. One of the women even questioned the role of mothers of men who take pride and pleasure in harassing women.
Though, it is often observed that not all protests and marches influence the government the way the Nirbhaya case did but people here were optimistic about this march. The chants of “Auraten uthi nahi to zulm badhta jayega” reflected on the collective responsibility of women towards their gender.
The Chandigarh incident has once again accentuated the fact that women are not safe anywhere in India. Why do women have to think twice before exercising their right to liberty? Till when we will treat women as second class citizens? It is true nothing will change over a night, but sitting idle won’t help either. The Bekhauf Azaadi March is a step in the right direction and will definitely help in changing the stagnant mindset of the society.
About the Author:
Still trying to understand myself. Love to share philosophy. Accidental writer. Believe in winning hearts. If I call you my friend, I mean it. Can play the guitar after a few drinks!
About the Photographer:
Sahil Dhiman (PGGC 11)