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  • India's rich history of people's protests

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Independence Day 2022: Protests that shaped & shook the nation | India@75

Indians have raised their voice against curtailment of rights to cutting of forests to violence against women to fulfilling of aspirations of ethnic, linguisitic and religious groups

"अगर सड़कें खामोश हो जाएं, तो संसद आवारा हो जाएगी"

(If streets fall silent, Parliament will go astray)

-- Ram Manohar Lohia

The Republic of India is a story of protests and people's movement.

Of people rising against the power for their rights, for causes and against discrimination.

From freedom movement to the farmers' protest, India has a rich history of people's protests that have made or tried to make a real difference...

Indians have risen against curtailment of rights to cutting of forests to violence against women to fulfilling of aspirations of ethnic, linguisitic and religious groups.

Long before the ongoing trend of dubbing protests as international conspiracy... there have been glorious people's movements that we need to take a relook at in the 75th year of Independence.

There were a series of language protests after the independence which led to the creation of states on linguistic lines, those were about the aspirations of people to get their due representation and identity in the India story.

1973 saw the famous and poignant Chipko Movement, led by environment activist Sunderlal Bahuguna. Based on Gandhian principles, the Chipko Movement saw people protesting against deforestation by hugging trees to stop them from being cut.

1975 to 1977, India rose against tyranny as one after Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency. The common desire to preserve democracy blurred political, religious and geographical boundaries as India fought back its way to democracy.

In 1980, when the government decided to replace the natural sal forest with highly valued teak, the tribals of Bihar came out in strong numbers to protest against this decision. Having started in Bihar, the movement spread to other states like Odisha and Jharkhand too.

The early 80s also saw a movement against undocumented immigrants in Assam. It was a revolution of the indigenous people of the state to protect their rights, their homeland against the alleged illegal migrants who were penetrating into the state for years.

Narmada Bachao Aandolan that started in 1985 was to protest against a large number of dams being contrasted near Narmada river. It brought a large number of adivasis, farmers, environmentalists, and human rights activists together.

When anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare began a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on April 5, 2011, the whole nation came together and stood by him. The movement against corruption proved to be the main cause for the downfall of the Congress-led UP.

One of the most important protest in independent India was the Nirbhaya movement, led by youngsters in 2012 after the brutal gangrape and murder of a young girl in Delhi. After the incident, thousands of people came out on streets to protest in several parts of the country. Responding to the protests, the government at the centre and various states announced several steps to ensure the safety of women.

Late 2019 and early 2020 saw one-of-its-kind protest by citizens against the controversial CAA and NRC. Shaheen Bagh, a secluded Delhi Muslim ghetto, became a global talking point as women from the area sat on road for three months. It was the first such protest led by Muslim women against perceived injustice.

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