Protest to Protect People..!

As I write this piece, my wife is off to join a protest, “For Manipur?” I ask looking up.

“No!” she says, “But against atrocities committed against all Indian women!”

I nod, and know who will be there; women from all communities, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and all those shocked and fed up with rapes and murders of women in India.

This is where we need to go in our protests! We need to cross the divide that does not allow us to talk to each other and speak on common grievances, and when we do, will realize these mutual atrocities spring from our continuous communal confrontations.

Years ago, when my daughters were in college, I would wave them goodbye from my window, and as they walked to the gate, would pray fervently they would be safe that day. This was during the decade of bomb blasts, both in the city, and in trains, which they both used to get to college. I am sure that same prayer was on the lips of millions of parents whether they belonged to the majority or minority community!

Those are the fears we need to address with each other. Fighting for your god or mine is a futile and foolish fight, because if they are gods they don’t need our puny human muscle to aid them. But dialoguing and protesting for the safety of our wives, children, our family and even ourselves makes sense doesn’t it?

The innocents are the ones who lose their lives. The warriors have arms and ammunition, but as they leave to do battle, whole villages and settlements filled with our unarmed, defenseless wives and children are either wiped out, women raped, killed or brutality inflicted.

And as we see in Manipur, when such happens on a large scale, governments are powerless!

The railway police shootout is only the beginning of innocents from either side being targeted. Do we stop traveling in trains because we fear reprisal or more such incidents, or do we make efforts to nip such barbaric behavior in the bud?  

When a warring couple goes to a marriage counsellor, what they learn first is to fight right, “Yes,” says the wise therapist, “Fights and quarrels will always be there even in a healthy marriage, but learn to place boundaries when you fight! Once you place those boundaries, you will be able to come out of that fight, quite often understanding what the other wants, not bruised, bloodied, broken and betrayed!”

Let us use the portals of Parliament, the Houses of the State to use debates that have the ability to convince. Let protests by citizens, whether belonging to any community, be on issues that affect everybody. Even if you are hurting and don’t agree fully with me, let’s start here, and see if healing begins..!

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at and can be reached at