Hum Agar Uthe Nahin Toh: Citizens unite to demand rights and freedoms

Over 400 groups of artists, workers, activists and individuals from different backgrounds come together to form a single united front for voices of dissent.

Voices for dissent echoed from different parts of India as the ‘Hum Agar Uthe Nahin Toh’ (If We Do Not Rise) campaign came to its culmination on September 5, the third anniversary of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s assassination.

Last Saturday on August 29, over 400 women’s groups, LGBTQIA collectives and human rights organisations had given a clarion call to the people of India to raise a united voice against the attacks on dissent.

In response to this call, artists, workers, civilians have all come together to show their support, as a united front, for the freedom to express dissent.

The online gathering was first serenaded by the ‘Aaj Hum Nahi Uthey Tow’ Madhya Pradesh collective that brought together artists from varying backgrounds to sing in support of the cause.

Co-founder of Drishti Media Arts and Human rights collective Shabnam Virmani, Indian folk singer Prahlad Tipanya and vocalist Neelanjana Vashishtha sang songs in memory of the people who tried to speak truth to power. Similarly, renowned Hindi poet and journalist Rajesh Joshi and poet activist Shiv Kumar Archan presented their verses during this event.

Meanwhile Amarjit Baheti and her daughter from Aurangabad Maharashtra sang and shared a song in solidarity with dissent.

The National Network of Sex Workers hosted a live ‘Ask Us Anything’ session on Facebook where sex workers from different States talked about their condition during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as about the nature of their work. They also discussed the government’s assistance or lack thereof. Towards the conclusion, participants demanded recognition of the rights of sex workers and spoke in memory of Gauri Lankesh who also fought for the rights of transgenders and sex workers.

Women’s associations across India protested on the streets as well.

The All India Progressive Women’s Association put up posters on domestic violence and child abuse under a flyover. Among the many posters, one has the words “Remember remember 5th of September!!! Three years ago they killed Gauri Lankesh on this day.”

The Gamana Mahila Samuha in Karnataka sang songs to join their voices in the ‘Hum Agar Uthe Nahi Toh’ campaign. The participants also included children holding posters in support of the event.

Similarly, another young protester held up a placard in support of the movement in Dahod, Gujarat.

Members of the Jangal Jameen Jan Andolan in Rajasthan talked about the suppression of dissent in the country. Member Madhulika in a video said that people who voice opposing views have a right to be heard. She encouraged people to discuss government actions and listen to all sides of an argument.

Similar protests also took place in Varanasi Uttar Pradesh, Mandla Madhura Pradesh and parts of Bihar.

Individuals such as human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad also put up a video expressing the need to protect the right to dissent in the current socio-political conditions.

Even civilians circulated videos where they talked about the woes they faced due to the poor implementation of government policies.

Endorsing the campaign, ex-Supreme Court Judge P.B. Sawant issued a statement wherein he said that the Central political regime that opposes the ideals and objectives of our Constitution has multiple difficulties of the country.

“The regime has been working to build a society which is fascist, strongly capitalist and non-secular,” he said.

Regarding the issue of casteism and communalism, Sawant said that the present regime is responsible for creating friction among social groups. He said that the current system created such antagony to maintain power. He also pointed out that communalism can be sourced back to casteism and thus every person regardless of caste or religion are as much original inhabitants of India as the majority community.

“Humanism must triumph over everything else,” he said.

Commenting on the regime’s poor economic system, he concluded that it was to blame for many of the country’s problems as well because it considered the profits of the few rather than the benefit of the many for problems of pollution, corruption and criminalisation.


Hum Agar Uthe Nahi, a clarion call for Indians to show a united front




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