Being a young person today means making your voice heard. Loudly and proudly; and rightly so!
Through a microphone, shouting in a protest rally, or on long posts on Facebook, protesting voices shape our existence. But do so by taking a breath, and with caution. This applies to both protestors and the state which seeks to quell trouble.
On June 4, as Kohima witnessed another harsh response from the state apparatus to protesting students, what followed was a cascade of information and opinions from named and unnamed organizations who sought to support the All Nagaland College Student’s (ANCSU) demands.
Was there a bandh? Was there not? Is there a civil society hierarchy? What resulted was confusion in the minds of the protestors, those who sympathized with their cause, the state, the media who seek to disseminate accurate information, and the public at large.
This is indicative of how quick people are at pulling their figurative rant triggers on issues without actually getting to the facts.
Here, it should be made clear that the ANCSU’s demands are legitimate and so was their protest, as much as the state tries to cover up their horrendous handling of the situation through bureaucratic entrapments.
However, the way in which the fallout to June 4 played out over the next 24 hours was exhausting. Too many people read too much from headlines. Over the course several weeks before June 4, the media in the state, especially the print media, carried several reports on the issue. They detailed out whatever was in the public domain regarding the ANCSU demands, but only so much can fit into a headline.
Indicative of how opinions are shaped in this age of terse information, it became clear that the barrage of views on the subject, especially online, were based on just skimming through the headlines or through second hand information.
So yes, complain and harangue the government to ensure people’s rights indeed. But do so with perspective and by acknowledging the facts. What matters in protests are the issues; so go beyond individual and group egoism.
We’re allowed to rant, of course, but we can’t forget that we can actually do something to fix our problems. Or start the fixing process, however long it may be.
If those seeking to ensure people’s rights begin to pick battles among themselves, we run the risk of drowning our voice out entirely. This would no longer render protests as a bear the emblem of change.
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