Mumbai: Bike rally from Worli to Haji Ali in support of Hathras victim to create awareness against assault
Bike rally for Hathras tragedy sends message of awareness and demand for justice
The group was compact, but the message was powerful and direct: 'Stop rape. Justice for Manisha Walmiki'. The messages were printed in red on white T-shirts worn by bikers who took out a rally on Sunday morning to raise awareness about the Hathras assault.
The six bikers, with one pillion rider, set off from Worli late Sunday morning and rode towards Haji Ali before turning back to Chaityabhoomi, Shivaji Park, where they concluded their rally, two hours later. "We didn't carry placards or fly flags. Our T-shirts spoke eloquently. We simply rode through the course, not stopping for too long at any point or gathering anywhere, as we did not want to cause crowding and had to be mindful that Section 144 is in force," said Sharad Kohli, a Worli village local and the organiser of the event. The message was "powerful and hit home, as we got a number of thumbs up from those who saw us on the road," he added.
The event started literally from Kohli's backyard at Worli Seaface. "Each individual's safety is the responsibility of the state and the state government needs to be held accountable. It's also important that politicians who go to meet families of victims do not do so under any political party or banner and instead meet them simply as individuals. Otherwise, the issue becomes hopelessly politicised," Kohli said.
The all-male team of riders said they wanted to speak out loudly that respect for women is paramount and "to tell the people of Uttar Pradesh and the migrants who are in the city that we are with you, in support and in grief," said Kohli and another rider Hemant Patil.
Patil added, "We don't want migrants to feel alienated or even feel like outsiders who do not matter to locals. We are one, and we wanted to tie-in that sentiment along with awareness about Hathras." Patil explained that it was vital, "we set an example, and we demonstrate that every nook and cranny and gully however small must be alive to the fact that an injustice has been done and people have rights." Kohli agreed.
Rider B Tukaram Veerbhakt, a security professional and social worker, said, "This was a cry for justice. We didn't shout slogans. We did not need to. By the reaction on the roads, there was definite evidence that we had shaken up and stirred people. Some wanted to take pictures with us, as we were wearing these T-shirts. It was not just a selfie collection, but a statement that they agreed with our message."
Fellow rider Swapnil Nalawade, 30, explained, "The vroom of our bikes may have been a wake-up call for citizens, and for politicians too. We wanted to tell all the politicians that we will not remain mute spectators to such incidents or any other injustice. We will not be silent in the face of these issues or others that get buried or are deliberately pushed away, because of politicisation. People are watching and reacting."
On September 14, four upper caste men allegedly gang raped a 19 year-old Dalit woman in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh. She died after two weeks in a Delhi Hospital. The outrage and still simmering controversy over the incident has seen widespread protests across India.
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