Hashtag! A New Version of Protest in the Country

This blog is inscribed Gaureesa Joshi.

Protest is a very powerful kind of vox populi. Every person has immunity to express their feelings. According to the law in the famous case of

Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India,1 Justice Bhagwati said,

“If democracy means the government of the people by the people, it is obvious that every citizen must be entitled to participate in the democratic process and to enable him to intelligently exercise his rights of making a choice, free & general discussion of public matters is essential.”

In simple words, every citizen has a right to perform or engage in protest. Law lays its support to peaceful protest. The purpose of a protest, of any cause, is to eradicate injustice, making their opinions heard, influence the governments to make up to their demands or conclusively, shout out for a change.

Though in this dynamic world, the change of opinion is present. Seems the integrity and dignity of the concept of protest are vanishing.

This written piece marks the stark reality of today’s protest span.

The state allows everyone the immunity under Article 19(1) (a)i. Even though the word everyone includes those people who though know about their immunity yet forget about the limitations Law surrounds in the form of “reasonable restrictions”3These restrictions are all about preventing from causing harm to sovereignty and integrity of the nation, which should be the principal agenda of every State and its citizens.

There stands a new version of protest which includes the following elements-

“Bheed Zaroori Hai!”

A new mindset revolving around protest is that any current picture depicts is the negation of the sole purpose of the protest and filling up empty minds for showing pseudo-unity. Flashing that yes! We are together with 50% standing with empty minds. Many protesters were often questioned by media about the agenda they are fighting for. And as an answer, they get their blank faces in front of the camera. Another refined answer to the same question is just simple as adding salt to a dessert, as they just babble out their inner fantasy to be on a Philo Taylor Farnsworth’s invention aka television. This somehow neglects the sole agenda. The standard call for the fight will ultimately demolish.

“Hashtag(#) Lagana Mat Bhulna”

To every protest there lies the main ingredient, a Hashtag. No doubt, today social media plays a significant role in society, but it often turns the thing controversial, messy, and doubtful as no emotions are displayed. In my opinion, such protest which uses the elements of social media in a way to write stringent euphemism, inauthentic accusation, expression against the social peace, blasphemies all connected with a small hashtag, diminishes the impact of a protest and creates aggression or conflict between the opinions. This element is just a diversion from the path to achieve justice and lie on the trending social media attention with gossips. The law prohibits such indecency and wishes to maintain its propriety.

“Latthi, Patthar Rakkha Hai Na?”- The Heartless Damage to Public Property

Here we come to another main component. For a State, maintenance of Law and Order is an important factor. The law strictly prohibits violence. Nobody is allowed to vandalize or mishandle public property. Some of the major protests like the Nirbhaya protest 2012, the Pro-Jalikattu Protest, Tamil Nadu 2017, FTII Agitation 2015, and the recent protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and many more caused severe damage to the public property. The anger towards the crime or injustice was justifiable but the method of expression was equally unacceptable. According to the Supreme Court of India,

Those who destroy public property hold people to ransom and disturb the law and order situation during violent agitations should bear serious implications with jail terms and exemplary fines. The leaders or office bearers must be liable to present themselves for questioning at a police station within 24 hours. On failing to attend the questioning without giving any satisfactory reason, they will be proceeded against as a suspect first and absconder later.

 The thought that causing damage will draw more attention of the authorities to meet up to their demands is completely vacuous.

The Attitude Of, “Chhodo Kal Ki Baat Hai”

A day of candle march, a day of chanting hefty slogans, a day of protest, a day of posting ‘R.I.P.’, a day of #want justice, is just A DAY of 24 hours of bringing the idea of change. The story of next day is just as ordinary as breathing; everything dissipated adding up to a line, “bhai, kal kuch hua tha kya?”. Appalling rape cases, brutal murders and other horrific crimes that shake that society from the root, but posting ‘#RIP’ and forgetting it the next moment is cool!

What Actually A Protest Is!

A peaceful protest is an assembly of people, which is done for expressing dissent and demand for amendments. The public stand at the very crucial position. They have the power to criticize the authority, ask for a change. The state is in short works for them; hence vox populi plays an extremely important role in reformation. After the tyrant era, Public interest is the traditional source of a change. Yes, they hold the authority to oppose every command but the element of peace, balancing law and order, maintaining decency, high aspirations towards the change which is ultimately for the public good, all these are de rigueur. One should maintain the integrity and maintain the glory of the Nation.

We need a change in this misconduct, a change in the government workings.

Be the change that we wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

[i]       1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621.

[i]       Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.

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