Culture

Ten Acts of Defiance that Stood Out in 2016 

From prolonged, large-scale protests in Kashmir and the hill districts of Manipur to agitation by the patidars in Gujarat and students in different parts of the country,  2016 saw its fair share of mass mobilisation. But ten acts of defiance – individual and unexpected – stood out.

1. Vishwa Deepak

vishwa-deepak-v-zee-news

This young reporter quit Zee News over its blatantly biased coverage of the JNU events in February 2016 and wrote an open letter setting out his reasons.

2. Sunkanna

PhD scholar Velpula Sunkanna refused to accept his degree from the vice chancellor of Hyderabad University because of his role in Rohit Vemula’s harassment and suicide.

3. Gujarat’s Dalits

Huge gathering at the public meeting in Koth. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

Huge gathering at the public meeting in Koth. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

After the assault on Dalits involved in the work of skinning dead cattle in Una, the community in the state staged large protests.

4. The families and supporters of Kalburgi, Pansare, Dabholkar

The widows of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M.M. Kalburgi meet in Dharwar at the Kalburgi resident on August 30, 2016 before a massive march through the town to demand action against the killers of the three rationalists. Credit: Siddharth Varadarajan

The widows of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M.M. Kalburgi meet in Dharwar at the Kalburgi resident on August 30, 2016 before a massive march through the town to demand action against the killers of the three rationalists. Credit: Siddharth Varadarajan

At a huge rally in Dharwar in August, the families and supporters of the three murdered rationalists came together in a joint demand for justice.

5. Akshaya Mukul

Akshaya Mukul. Credit: Twitter

Akshaya Mukul. Credit: Twitter

The Times of India journalist refused to accept his Ramnath Goenka award Narendra Modi, saying he did not wish to appear in the same frame as someone who has contempt for independent journalism.

6. Muzaffarnagar’s riot victims 

Apna Ghar Colony decorated for the official inauguration. Credit: Jahnavi Sen

Apna Ghar Colony decorated for the official inauguration. Credit: Jahnavi Sen

Abandoned by an uncaring state, the Muslim victims of Muzaffarnagar’s 2013 communal violence resettled themselves in a new housing project with the help of civil society activists.

7. Bezwada Wilson and India’s sanitation workers

Members of Bhim Yatra in Jalandhar. Credit: Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty

Members of Bhim Yatra in Jalandhar. Credit: Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty

Bezwada Wilson who has spearheaded the campaign to liberate India’s manual scavengers, launched a 125-day yatra to draw attention to the plight of the (mostly) women workers, all Dalits, and won the Magsayasay Award for 2016.

8. Trupti Desai, Noorjehan Safia and other fighters for the rights of women in places of worship

Trupti Desai. Credit: PTI

Trupti Desai. Credit: PTI

The struggle for the equal right to worship at the Shani Singnapur and Sabarimalai temples and the Haji Ali dargah added a new dimension to the women’s movement in India.

9. Irom Sharmila 

Irom Sharmila in Imphal. Credit: Akhil Kumar

Irom Sharmila in Imphal. Credit: Akhil Kumar

Manipur’s iconic campaigner against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gave up her 16 year hunger strike to continue the struggle against the draconian law via electoral politics.

10. Arjun Gopal, Aarav Bhandari and Zoya Rao Bhasin

Pollution in Delhi after Diwalhi, 2016. Credit: PTI

Pollution in Delhi after Diwali, 2016. Credit: PTI

A petition by these toddlers about air pollution led the Supreme Court to place restrictions on the sale of fire crackers in Delhi.