'You Can Move Us, Not Our Resolve': The Temporary Residents Of Jantar Mantar

Protests on this lane have become so common that the road resembles a street market. One can find vendors selling cigarettes, caps, flags, tea and biscuits, dosa- sambhar and sometimes even Nehru jackets.

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'You Can Move Us, Not Our Resolve': The Temporary Residents Of Jantar Mantar

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The green tribunal has asked authorities to stop all protests at Delhi's iconic Jantar Mantar (File)

New Delhi:  Nestled between Ashoka Road and Tolstoy Road, Jantar Mantar Lane has been an iconic spot for agitations. It has been witness to several protests- despite overcast skies hundreds rallied here with #NotInMyName banners, Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement gained momentum and clad in green cloth with skulls of their peers, the Tamil farmers demanding loan waivers.

Protests on this lane have become so common that the road resembles a street market. One can find vendors selling cigarettes, caps, flags, tea and biscuits, dosa- sambhar and sometimes even Nehru jackets. A bench headed by Justice RS Rathore ordered the Delhi government, NDMC and the Delhi Police to "immediately stop all dharnas, assembling of people, public speeches and use of loud speakers at Jantar Mantar Road within four weeks".

After the National Green Tribunal (NGT) direction, the new place to get your voice heard is another iconic place Ramleela Grounds at Ajmeri Gate. The regulars are not happy. Ex-servicemen and their families demanding full implementation of OROP (One Rank One Pension) protesting for over 800 days question if the new venue is going to be less polluting? Lance Nayak (Retd) Pratap Singh says, "The government didn't listen to our pleas but is worried sick about the noise generated here. How will old people manage at Ramleela grounds under the scorching sun in the absence of trees. That ground is also surrounded by residential areas, what about noise there?"

For Prakash, a member of the Tamil Farmer association, Jantar Mantar has been home for eleven weeks. A make shift stage under a tent was his bed for the night, the pavement under the shade of neem trees- his resort during the day. "We neither have anything back home nor here. If our demands are met, we'd say thank you and leave. But moving to a new place, organising a place to sleep, to find food and water for the already destitute farmers is an added burden".

Most of the Tamil farmers can neither speak English nor Hindi. They claim to have chosen the Gandhian path of protest. No violence, no slogans- these farmers have brandished human skulls that they claim belong to dead farmers. Ambrose, a PhD aspirant and a farmer from Tamil Nadu has been on a silent protest. He scribbles on a slate with a chalk, "All I want is for the government to waive off our loans to avoid farmer suicides. Why not ban the noise instead of the venue? A move from here will not move my resolve- mine is a silent fight."

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