‘Not in My Name is a movement to claim political citizenship’
Rahul Roy, a filmmaker who has travelled across the globe to various documentary film festivals and has won several prestigious awards, is one of the most prominent leaders heading the Not in My Name campaign that caught the country’s imagination towards the end of June as a faceless movement that united people from diverse backgrounds against the atrocities being committed against minorities and Dalits. After the success of the first series of protests, the question that was asked the most was what’s next. Roy speaks to Hardnews and discusses the road ahead for the movement.
What according to you were the reasons for the large turnout at the first series of the Not in My Name protests? What does it mean?
According to our reading, in the absence of any organised opposition to the rampant Hindutva-sponsored violence, large sections of Indians were finding it difficult to vent their feelings and disagreement with what was happening in parts of the country. The campaign provided an opportunity for people from Arariya in Bihar to Ajmer in Rajasthan to not only come out on the streets but also showed the way in which citizens could organise and register their protest on their own without any organisational backing. Also, an important feature to be noted is that the June 28 protest broke the silence and dejection and sparked an immense amount of writing in the mainstream and social media on the politics of terror unleashed by the Hindutva forces and the condition of minorities and Dalits in the country.
After the first wave of protests, how are you keeping the movement alive? With these local level meetings, do you think people who otherwise weren't a part of the first gathering will join the movement?
Organisers of Not in My Name protests in different towns and cities have been in conversation and we have decided to continue the protests through several kinds of actions. The immediate call is to observe August 27 as the day against hatred. In Delhi, the plan is to hold over 100 actions across the city. The idea is to reach neighbourhoods and people's homes. OnJune 28, thousands gathered at Jantar Mantar and on August 27, the campaign will reach many more thousands across the city and spread the campaign’s messages against hatred. Many more citizens from diverse backgrounds will have the opportunity to be part of the protest on August 27.
The main critique of the 'Not in My Name' protest march was that it only catered to a specific class of the Left-liberals. How would you respond to this allegation?
For us, there is no need to respond to allegations. As the campaign name suggests, Not in My Name is an affirmation that I don't agree and I am not a part of this. Through this campaign, one can raise their voice against hatred and violence and demand protection as it is the administration’s duty to safeguard people and the fundamental rights of the Constitution, rather than entering in arguments and ad hominems (an argument that is directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining). People who organised protests in Araria, Bhopal, Pune, Bahraich cannot be awarded labels. Not in My Name is a citizen’s protest march and it encourages everyone to come out on streets and speak out loud. The Not in My Name protest that was organised in Delhi and several other cities across the country on June 28 against incidents of lynching of Muslims and Dalits garnered support from thousands through various media platforms. The citizens heaved a sigh of relief seeing a number of fellow citizens come out on the streets, stake their claim to the Indian Constitution and speak out against terrorising of minorities and Dalits.
We invite everyone to organise and protest, as long as they come without a political party or organisational banners and logos. We are not into political rhetoric. The times that we live in are too critical to argue. We have to find ways to work together and through differences and that is what we are trying to do.
How do you think we, as citizens, can slowly move forward and take a stand against the growing incidents of mob violence and lynching?
Politics in this country has somehow become synonymous with what political parties do. This campaign shows that we can step out of that box and claim a political citizenship that has a say on the situation in the country. The idea, as well as the politics of citizenship, is critical at this juncture in the country because that is the only way to counter the mobilisation that is happening on religious and other lines. It is neither religion nor caste that binds this nation, it is the idea of secular citizenship and their rights as enshrined in the Constitution that enables India to survive and if we do not strengthen it and fight for it today, we may lose all the gains that the freedom struggle granted to us through the Constitution.