The Year of the Woman Protester

Social Commentary

The Year of the Woman Protester

Illustration: Akshita Monga/ Arré


t’s the middle of the day and Ritika is standing outside the Arts Faculty in Delhi University’s North Campus, yelling her guts out for “Azaadi”. There are nearly 40 police personnel and a police-authorised cameraperson recording her movements for evidence should things go south. She has a petite frame, is barely five feet, and if she were to break the proverbial glass ceiling, she would require many shoulders to stand on. Fortunately, she has help.

The walls outside Arts Faculty are adorned with posters announcing, “Safety without autonomy is injurious to health,” and “Sasta chatravaas dena hoga”. These are posters that the members of Pinjra Tod collective have spent days in the lawns of Central Secretariat making. At the protest meeting, Ritika walks through the crowd to read a letter she wrote to her parents, after DU sent a letter home saying she was a part of a terrorist organisation. She’s a second-year student from Bhambhla, the same place in Himachal Pradesh as Kangana Ranaut. “Admin humse darti hai, parents ko letter likhti hai,” she chants, and the crowd chants back with her.