The Facebook generation – that’s what we are called. It used to sound cool. Now it sounds cynical. We express our happiness on it, our frustrations on it, our sadness on it and more sadly our anger on it. We even get arrested for it. But that’s all we were capable of. We did not know what it was to take to the streets, to suffer body blows, to stand up for a cause we believed in by standing by it in the face of peer pressure. We were ridiculed for it. Pontificating from the air-conditioned comforts of television studios and editorial desks people called us arm-chair critics. Some of us even agreed with that. We were taken aback by the growing indifference to the world around us. Yes, we went for candle light marches and Anna took us for a ride. But then those were just style statements. When it really mattered, we will buckled down because we did not like to get our hands dirty.
And then it all changed. Thousands of young people decided enough was enough. They took to the streets, and no ordinary ones at that. They were lathi charged. No one was spared. A picture is worth a thousand words and there were thousands of them - of a policeman clamping his foot down on a protestor, of policemen hounding individuals in packs, of women getting hit on the head and being shoved around and of men receiving multiple blows despite not retaliating to any of them. Not for the first time, many of us sitting at home felt the anger. But for the first time we felt ashamed, at sitting at home and not being on the roads. Because, they were us. And then we felt the connection that the angered youth of a nation should feel. For every blow dealt on the “Street of Victory”, the hurt was universal. They were taking the blows for us. And then when no one expected us to come back and fight another day, we did. To take more blows. To take a stand.
And then, the political elements stepped in. Ruckus was created. What was earlier a protest now turned into violence. An officer in uniform died of injuries. To the media which has so far dealt only in global statements, this was turning into a gruesome reality. This was civil unrest. They were no longer the sole guardians of the nation’s conscience. The people, yes we the people, had decided to wrest back what was rightfully ours.
The machinery kicked in. Protests at what costs, screamed the ‘liberal’ media. The tables were turned. Is the life of the constable of any less value than those who have fallen victims to rape, they asked? We all knew the answer. Did the government? Ministers were given the chance at spin doctoring. They only managed to incite more anger. The Prime Minister made a speech, but not a statement.
“Lumpen elements” became the problem, because everything else was “theek hai”. Metro stations were closed because the police could no longer handle a protest. The silent protestor was beaten up because the government’s lost its voice.
We were the problem, because when everything around us was wrong, we could never be right.