Stand up and people will join you

2 12 2008

Shibu Thomas I TNN

December 20: IIT-Bombay students will organise a free rock concert and dedicate it to terror victims. Finnish band Ensiferum will perform on Day One of Mood Indigo on the Powai campus

Mumbai: “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore,’’ filmmaker Suparn Verma (33), wrote in his blog post on Saturday morning , the day NSG commandos ended the 60-hour standoff with terrorists.
Verma ended his blog saying he will maintain a vigil outside Taj Mahal hotel at 6 pm on on December 3. Within an hour, a reader put in a comment saying he will join him.
A trickle of messages soon became a roaring stream as forums and communities cropped up on social networking sites and text messages were sent thick and fast asking people to gather for the candlelight march on Wednesday outside Mumbai’s iconic hotel.
“Something just snapped in me,’’ says Verma, adding that he is no torch-bearing activist but is just venting his frustration with the political class. “We all talk about doing something. Maybe it’s time you stand up and people will join you.’’
Similar feelings motivated Bandra resident and freelance visual jockey Satyan Bajaj (25) to create a community for a march at the amphitheatre on Carter Road. “We are tried of
communal and vote bank politics and want peace,’’ says Bajaj. More than a 100 people turned up on Monday evening to light candles.
With hardly any experience of staging events of this magnitude, the organisers are relying on tools they and their audiences are familiar with—social networking sites, websites and mobile text messages.
One click of the forward button and information passes on to scores of inboxes. “We don’t have the financial resources to print pamphlets, book venues or put out advertisements. Networking sites are common platforms that help garner support,’’ says Verma.

Youths, angry with the political class irrespective of their affiliations, have declared it a “leaderless movement’’. And the internet has emerged as a rallying point to connect likeminded youngsters. Some 500-odd members of Facebook have confirmed that they will participate in Wednesday’s walk.
Seven Bungalows resident Francis D’Costa, a brand consultant, plans to go with his entire office for the 3/12 walk.
“Not voting, armchair activism and being cynical will not help if all we do is blame the system,’’ says D’Costa. “I pay my taxes without fail and I have the right as a citizen of this country to walk on Cola
ba Causeway fearlessly, not thinking that a gun-toting terrorist may be lurking around,’’ adds D’Costa, who has forwarded the message to all contacts on his cellphone.
Another community on the walk created by Urvashi Poddar talks about the prevailing anger. “If the terrorists think their doings have caused trauma, then they are right… but this act has also caused something in all of us today that will change things forever—no one has ever been this angry before. Never before has there been such an opportunity to unite, to gather, to protest, to cry out and to retaliate,’’ it says.
While ideas ranging from a civil disobedience movement to refusal to pay taxes and demands of statehood for Mumbai and withdrawal of security to politicians are doing the rounds, the organisers are hoping this rage does not remain the “flavour of the week”.
For now, the intention is to make a statement. “Our leaders only understand politics of vote bank,’’ says Verma. “They have to see us and recognise that there is this large mass of people that wants answers and is demanding accountability.’’

MAKING A STATEMENT

December 3: Walk for peace outside Taj Mahal hotel at 6 pm

December 4: St Xavier’s College will hold a memorial prayer service at 5.30 pm to pay respect to those who lost their lives

December 6: Loksatta movement will feature a peaceful march demanding reforms at 3 pm, Gateway of India

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