When Malala Yousafzai was shot in her head by the Taliban, several people protested and demonstrated on the streets in Pakistan opposing the violent act. Even more people protested all over India after the Delhi gang rape incident. Their protests did prioritize the matters and made sure some actions were taken to take care of the happenings. In Nepal, ‘Occupy Baluwatar’ is the latest development in terms of civilized protests. Though they force the ones in charge to take necessary actions to address the situations immediately, protesting every time is not the solution for everything that happens.
Protests and strikes are nothing new in Nepal. We’ve seen terrible vandalism and protests leaving so many protesters and police injured. Tear gas, lathi, dirty water and everything possible were used to contain the crowd. And recently ‘Occupy Baluwatar’ has been in every paper for almost every day in the front page demanding justice for the needy. And, one day, the security forces indiscriminately attacked the peaceful protestors, even not sparing the disabled.
A recent revelation in a popular daily brought out how Chhori Maya Maharjan, a woman missing for so many months, is still untraced. Her daughters and relatives have been protesting silently since police stopped looking for her and the home minister kept mum all the time. Despite the daily protests in police stations and other places, Chhori Maya Maharjan has not been found and no justice is given to Sita Rai. Their families blame the police and the government for their lack of initiatives and concern.
Talking of silent protests, we could go back to Mahatma Gandhi and his fight for independence where Indians protested silently to let the British out of their country or to Occupy Wall Street; perhaps what led to Occupy Baluwatar; where silent protesters acted on consensus-based decisions made in general assemblies, which emphasized direct action over petitioning authorities for redress. In these instances, silent protests worked most probably because they involved the first world. In our part of the world, silent protests go unnoticed and taken for granted just like in the case of Chhori Maya Maharjan.
What is the use of protests that do no good to anyone? Malala Yousafzai cannot walk freely in Pakistan ever again because of the fatwa on her head. She could be shot again without any repentance. The Delhi victim will never return. Occupy Baluwatar spokespeople do talk about some developments in regards to cases of Sita Rai, however, nothing credible has been talked about. The Indian perpetrators have not heard of a verdict as yet. The Maoists-led government of Nepal took immediate action against Padam Kunwar, who slapped the party chairman and, in return, was not only brutally thrashed but also jailed for a few weeks. However, the government stayed mute when it came to the civilized protests such as ‘Occupy Baluwatar’.
Despite the fact that these protests brought limelight into the cases and acted as eye openers to the general public, the government still turns a blind eye and deaf ear to them. The government is all talks and little work! The rulers were prompt to thrashing the journalists and threatening their lives in Dailekh resulting in the displacement of these journalists just to show their muscles, but they seem to be indifferent when it comes to real concerns put up in peaceful ways.
However, the ruling class needs to understand that the movements led by Gandhi or Mandela took time to materialize and bear the results but in the end they were successful to get what the people initially wanted. We live in the 21st century and things are much different than decades back. We live in the world of media and social networking, and sooner than later movements like ‘Occupy Baluwatar’ will bear the results. The rulers need to be intelligent and pragmatic to pay proper attention to such protests. If not, no matter what rhetoric they present, all will collapse like a deck of cards.