The Maratha community pulled off yet another peaceful protest on Wednesday, bathing south Mumbai in a sea of saffron. While the debate will continue over their demands, particularly over the burning issue of reservation, the Marathas are touting it as a victory, and rightly so. Not only did they get their demands met, but they did it without resorting to violence.
How many times have we seen Mumbai brought to its knees by other protests, as the city is gripped by uncertainty and raw fear. To win justice for one section of society, other sections should not be terrorised as buses are burnt, cabs are stoned, and local trains are brought to a standstill with mobs running amok on the tracks. Social media and WhatsApp groups contribute to the frenzy as mischief-mongers spread rumours and fan the flames.
Public transport, of course, becomes a prime target, as most protestors think it is an effective way to cut off the oxygen supply to the city and get everyone's attention. Dharnas and morchas have careened out of control, the original purpose of the protest brushed aside as fringe elements get a stranglehold on the movement.
Instead, the way to do it is like the Marathas. While theirs was a show of strength, it was done with dignity and poise. The community ensured that their message was not muddied by bloody violence. This meant that others could empathise and support the movement.
Here, we saw good preparation and discipline. Lakhs of people came together to highlight the problems they face and what solutions they want the government to implement. Without bloodshed or flames, they grabbed the attention of the people. Above all, they showed that fighting for your rights doesn't have to mean fighting your fellow citizens.
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