Most Indian cities, north to south, east to west, have a major protest ground, a venue marked for people to congregate, when they are not pleased with something and have a point to make. We, in Hyderabad, have many reasons to feel grateful towards the lineage of our Nizams, for airports and railway stations, museums and hospitals, schools and colleges, historic monuments and water storage, the Tank Bund. But to expect the lineage of monarchs to have also created a protest ground does seem unfair.
The coastal cities have a natural advantage with the seashore serving a great place for a multitude to converge, and hold a collective march or sit-in for their cause. We have to live with our smaller diverse points . The universities and colleges are used by the students for their causes, and when the calling is historic, for larger causes like when they joined in the separate statehood movement.
Parks serve as protest points, for organised groups of 10 or more trade unions and political parties, as do some arcs of the Tank Bund and Necklace Road. Therefore, we often use roads, marching to the Assembly, or to the Secretariat. However, a walk march by design is short and not sustained.
When our city’s stirred populace gathers with its candles, or placards, or microphones, we disperse fast because we have no place to make our point without logistics breaking the resolve sooner than our hearts would give in. Our city has everything, except a gathering spaces, where we can converge to raise our voice and speak up. Now, here is a demand worth fighting for.
TAILPIECE: The protests in Delhi, understandably, are epic – from the Ramlila Maidan to the marches to Parliament. Our own city has had to mostly choose between parts of Necklace Road to Indira Park, NTR Ghat to Sundaraiah Vingyan Kendram. It’s time we built a new-age protest ground, marked with its hi-tech signature, but easy access to chai and biryani nearby.
— Sriram Karri
(Sriram Karri is author of the bestselling novel, Autobiography of a Mad Nation. He writes for international media such as The New York Times and BBC besides organising debates at Hyd Park)