Anger, defiance, joy at Jantar Mantar
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Anger. Defiance. Joy. All in the space of 500 metres. Two groups waved the Tricolour and wore Gandhi topis. The third sported black bands and carried "Rainbow" flags. Two of the groups had started together, and drifted apart. The third had been told that they were wrong. On Wednesday afternoon, at Jantar Mantar, they all converged so that they could be heard.
Anger. Everything about the group at the Tolstoy Marg crossing told passersby that they were different. Men and women wore colourful masks. Transgenders wore saris and bright lipstick. They danced and sang — but in anger.
As mediapersons milled around looking for reactions, they found many eager to talk. The point had to be made. "Today, the Supreme Court has not just hurt the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the country, but has hurt the right to equality in a democracy. Our point is simple. We are Indians, you and I. Why should you have the right to show your love, and I be forced to hide it?" a woman carrying a rainbow flag said.
Passersby paused and stared. They listened to discussions on how the queer movement would go forward. They would protest again, they assured each other. "This time, we will take up a spot in the middle of Jantar Mantar and not at a traffic signal like this," one organiser said. Even in protest, they were sidelined by the mainstream, again.
Defiance. Two-hundred metres ahead, the stage was large, but the number of people sitting on the carpets in front of it were not. A picture of Anna Hazare stared down from a poster in the background. On the dais, they spoke of his heroics and said they would fast with him.
"In Ralegan Siddhi, Anna is fasting for the Jan Lokpal Bill. We will fast with him and will only go away if the government listens to his demands. The youth of this country has awakened. Look at the white topis all around. The people are with us. Come join us," S S Tripathi, a supporter of Anna, said. His voice was defiant. He could see that the white topis were moving away. They did not say "I am Anna". They said "I am the Aam Aadmi." He could see where the majority of the people were going. But it didn't matter. A point was being made. Delhi may have moved on, but the "I am Anna" brigade were fighting to stay relevant.
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