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Silence Against Complicity—Manipal’s Candlelight Vigil

Nearly six years have passed since protests and demonstrations swept the nation in the wake of the infamous rape of a young woman on a bus in Delhi. This month, India’s conscience was yet again stirred into action, demanding justice for the victims of rape in Kathua and Unnao through expressions of outrage and shock that emerged on social media as well as in the demonstrations that took place throughout the country. Performing their role as concerned citizens of the country, the students and staff of Manipal joined the rest of the nation in expressing solidarity and demanding justice by turning up in large numbers for the candlelight march organised in Manipal on 14th April 2018.

The demonstration, organised by YuvaJeevan, a Manipal-based group, started at End Point Circle at 7 PM. A signature crowd of students, staff members, and other locals gathered at the venue with heavy hearts and lit candles to march in silence. The silent demonstrators walked along a short route that took them from End Point Circle to Mandavi Emerald and back. Despite word of the event emerging on people’s radars at only about a day’s notice, the event drew over a hundred participants from across Manipal’s institutions.

“I had to be here today. Being silent just would not do anymore,” said Anmol Chordia, one among the scores of MIT students who made it for the march despite the looming end semester exams. Among the emotions that charged the atmosphere at the march was the sentiment of dissatisfaction with the establishment. “I’m tired of the way such issues are handled by our political class. I’m here because we need to demand change,” quipped Aishwarya Ava Achan, a student of the School of Life Sciences. Others believed they owed it to the Kathua victim to take a moment to mourn her death—one of the participants even took it upon herself to conduct a short prayer at the end of the march, making it a point to remind the gathering of the moral crisis the rape and the reactions to it highlighted.

Manipal’s response to the march points to admirable proactiveness among the student community here, something the organisers of the march made a point to note. “We were unsure about what the turnout would be like, but then we decided to go ahead with it anyway and began publicising it,” admitted one of the organisers. “We were very happy to see the number of people who showed up. This proves that the student community here can speak up against injustice when needed,” he added, talking about how he, as an organiser, felt about the march.

The march in Manipal, unlike the demonstrations in other parts of the country, steered clear of any political stances, with almost nobody present commenting on the alleged politics behind the crime. “Why are we not seeing this incident as a politically motivated crime and responding accordingly?” asked one of the few demonstrators who felt the need to speak upon that aspect of the matter, albeit on the condition of anonymity.

Featured Image: The Photography Club, Manipal

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