Shehla Rashid singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. People sporting gulaal on their cheeks to underscore their opposition to violence at protests. Blowing soap bubbles in the air and saying ‘Let’s chill out’. And placards referencing memes to make their point. Amidst the usual slogans of ‘ABVP, Go Back’ and ‘Hum kya chahte, Azaadi’, were some refreshing examples of protest through ingenuity and humour at the anti-ABVP march in the capital on Saturday.
The ABVP protest on 2 March called itself a march to ‘Save DU from anti-nationals.’ In response to their charge, AISA’s Shehla Rashid used John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to question the ABVP’s brand of nationalism.
‘Imagine’ by John Lennon “Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion, too Imagine all the people Living life in peace...”
MPhil student of DU’s English Department Why are they creating a fight? We are here to protest against violence. We want the ABVP to join us as well. Blowing soap bubbles is our way of symbolically recognising the importance of free speech. My professor was injured in the Ramjas violence. So please, can we all just chill out and put an end to this?
Protester sporting gulaal on her cheeksWhen they pelt stones and throw glass bottles and shoes at us, this is our reply to them. Because we want dialogue, a peaceful discourse. You will never see us with eggs. You will see us with colours and bubbles. And our words.
Over the past fortnight, the Ramjas saga has witnessed one march after another. And more often than not, it’s the same old slogans and the same old lines on placards. So it’s refreshing to see posters with wit and wordplay once in a while.
The intended message is no laughing matter though. Says Akshay Shetty, one of the protesters with the ‘Yeh Bik Gayi Hai Gormint’ poster:
Our fight is not just against the ABVP, it is against this government which cannot tolerate any kind of dissent against it. I believe that one day, we shall overcome this and reclaim our universities and campuses.