The Article 19 of the constitution of India gives us, the citizens, a right to disagree and protest against anything that may not be acceptable. For ages, this right has reserved the essence of democracy and free speech. In fact, a 2016 report said that India’s protests rose by 55% from 2009 to 2014 with approximately 8,400 protests per year, most of them not being peaceful at all. Protests can take a violent turn quite quickly. Be it for student agenda or political propaganda, protests claim damage worth millions. However, no matter how much that might sound justified, here are a few protests that went out of hand and claimed much more than they should have. Take a look!
1. Padmavati Movie Protest
Thousands of protestors all over India gathered to appeal for a ban on a Bollywood flick Padmavati. The film narrated the story of 14th-century Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji’s attack on a Mewar Kingdom ruled by Raja Ratan Sigh (as Ratan Sen) after he was infatuated with the beauty of Queen Padmavati who self-immolated herself to remain pious.
The film Padmavati, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali with Deepika Padukone in a lead role sparked a controversy when rumors related to intimate scene between Khilji and Padmavati in a dream sequence surfaced. Mind you, the movie had still not released till then. Bhansali claimed that no such scenes were there in the film. However, the propaganda had already irked rightist Karni Sena, prince and princess of Rajasthan (Including Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur) and Rajasthani Rajput community at large.
Remembered as one of the biggest protest that happened over a Bollywood film, the protest got violent with mass mobilisation, stone pelting, buses and cinema halls burnt to ashes, violent attacks on the movie stars and associated crew along with nationwide bandh. After the supreme court upheld the release, no such speculated scenes were seen in the movie.
2. Anti-Hindi Agitation
How much can you hate a mere language? Can you hate it to the point that you can turn violent in order to refrain from its usage? If you think that’s irrational, the anti-Hindi agitation shook the nation when people in States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka launched a mass protest concerning Hindi being declared as the official language. The Tamilians oppose the idea believing that Hindi is the tool for the Aryans to infiltrate Dravidian culture.
The anger dates back to pre-independence era when the Congress formed the government in Madras Presidency under the leadership of C Rajagopalachari in 1937 and planned the imposition of Hindi on Tamilians. A massive riot broke out by a slight disruption among agitated students and members of the Congress party.
The riots were widespread throughout the state of Madras and continued throughout the next two months, marked by the acts of violence, looting, police firing and lathi charges. The Congress Government in the State of Madras had to call for the paramilitary forces to quench the agitation that caused the deaths of around 80.
3. Pro-Jallikattu Protest
India witnessed mass protest in the state of Tamil Nadu when the Supreme Court of India ordered to ban Jallikattu, traditional bull taming game that involved launching a wild bull amid a crowd of people for catching and taming. The sport was banned by the Supreme Court due to a lawsuit filed by animal right group PETA asserting that it violates the prevention of cruelty to animals act (PCA).
Not only this, several people lose their lives playing this risky sport. The first major protests took place at Chennai’s Marina Beach to lift the 2014 ban on jallikattu, which was held by various parties, coordinated largely via social media. These groups also called for the prohibition of PETA from India. The protests quickly gained momentum and spread to the entire Tamil Nadu.
Jallikattu was legalized after months of protests and trials in addition to amendments in PCA. Sadly, the wrath in favour of preserving tradition and culture preceded the atrocities on an animal.
4. Namantar Andolan
Shakespeare once said ‘What’s in a name?’ Seems like not people have read this because, India witnessed violence for requesting a change in name infamously known as Naamantar Andolan. This Dalit and Neo-Buddhist movement was to change the name of Marathwada University in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India to the University of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for 16 long years.
In order to request the University Council for the change, a march was held involving Dalit and non-Dalit students. The procession met another leader of Dalit Panther, Gangadhar Gade, who launched a tirade of abuse on a non-Dalit contingent, claiming to have the Dalits right to enjoy full credit for the changing in name. The rift was caused not so by the biases of Hindu castes and the reluctance to support the university’s renaming, but rather by Gada’s divisive and sectarian stance whose concern might also be that any alliance between Dalits and non Dalits would affect the Panthers’ strength.
The protest was successful when Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University’s compromise name was approved in 1994. The move was remarkable for the violence against Buddhists from Dalits and Navayana Buddhist.
5. Entry Of Women To Sabarimala Mala
Can a god need protection from human that he created? Can a devotee only establish his devote to god by visiting a shrine? There are a few questions that may haunt your mind when you read about this protest. Sabarimala is a temple of shasta, located at Pathanamthitta, Kerala in India. In the past women devotees of menstrual age have been refused permission to enter in this temple. The prohibition said to be due to the celibacy nature of this deity (subalterous male teenager).
A High Court judgment of Kerala legalized this interpretation and forbade women from this temple. However, on repeated review petition, the court agreed to review the case. The case attracted violent protest and even led to assaulting of women who tried to enter the temple’s sanctum sanctorum. The question here is that will load Ayyappa be happy seeing this? Does he need male protection from his female devotees; do they think that the lord will be lured to women? HE IS GOD, for god sake! But, this didn’t cross the minds of people and the case hasn’t rested yet.
We agree that it’s great to make yourself heard, but vandalizing property or tuning violent isn’t a very good way to reject any notion. As the most intelligent living species, it is important to think progressively because damages done to the society are shared by all.