“We are living under fear, it is not a nice feeling. It is not the country we knew,” said a protester.

Chennai Breaks the Silence Citizens protest against lynching in solidarity with Not in My Name
news Break The Silence Saturday, July 01, 2017 - 17:41
Written by  Pheba Mathew

Very little was spoken. But the slogans which hollered through Valluvar Kottam in Chennai, the songs which were sung, the drum beats of passion, the poems which were recited and the strong words on posters and banners sent a clear message to the Union Government – people will not remain silent against the communal violence in the country, and it cannot happen in their name.

A gathering of about 500 people, Chennai witnessed on Saturday three hours of passionate protests against the recent public lynching of a Muslim youngster in UP, and several other violent attacks against people from disadvantaged or minority communities in the past few months. ‘Break The Silence’ was organized in solidarity with the ‘Not In My Name’ protests held in several cities across the country, including Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Thiruvanthapuram.

Shouting slogans against the RSS, BJP and the Union Government, reciting poems on democracy and violence, dancing to songs on humanity, the mood at ‘Break the Silence’ was one of anger and defiance.

Students from different colleges, activists, musicians, senior citizens and members of different communities and civil society groups gathered to show their solidarity to the oppressed communities.

“I’m extremely disturbed by the violence that is happening in the country and I feel sad. It is violence against the society, we need more voices against such incidents. This situation is very scary and I will be petrified to be a Muslim in such a situation. Like in British Raj, they used ‘Divide and Rule’, now they are causing division in the country by cultivating hatred. The majority need to be more sensitive,” said Arun, a teacher who attended the protest.

Another protester said that it has become important to speak up against violence. “We are living under fear, it is not a nice feeling. It is not the country we knew,” she said.

“Mob lynching is not a recent development,” said Mohammad Mustafa, State President of Campus Front of India, one of the organizations participating in the event. (CFI is the student wing of the PFI or the Popular Front of India). “Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi got to power, most of the minorities are being attacked in the name of cow. We will retaliate and not tolerate this. We have connected to different states and carried out these protests in different places,” he said.

Speaking to The News Minute, Bader Sayeed, former MLA and a lawyer, who was also a part of the protest, said, “I am a part of any event where I need to stand up and say that what is happening is miserable. The Constitution is being undermined and every citizen is unsafe, I am a part of this for every human being who is under threat. I appreciate what Prime Minister Modi has said recently but such mentions should be made more often, he should speak about it on ‘Maan ki Baat’ also. Let him walk the talk.”

On Friday, PM Modi said during a speech that killing people in the name of protecting cows in not acceptable.

Sayed added that the state governments should take strict legal action against the people who are part of such violent acts.

The demands of the protesters were mainly that the governments in power unequivocally condemn those who indulge in vigilante acts of violence and lynching, and that all acts of vigilante violence be subject to due legal and punitive action. “The politics of hatred that makes possible such acts of murder and the intolerance that guides such politics must be identified and confronted in a democratic manner,” another protester said.