India Today journalist on the disgusting turn of events during Rahul Gandhi's midnight march
While Priyanka Gandhi lost her cool, the crowd exposed the rotten mindset of the Indian society.
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On an ordinary Thursday night we would have watched the news and gone to sleep, but April 12 wasn't an ordinary night, nor were the events related to it.
Following Congress president Rahul Gandhi's call for a peaceful, midnight march on Thursday to protest against the incidents of rape in Unnao and Kathua, party workers and ordinary citizens swarmed the Rajpath. Everyone was looking visibly livid and sad.
Wearing a navy blue kurta, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was sitting in the middle as other women leaders formed a circle on the Rajpath. She looked solemn, but in control of the situation. Slowly, the crowd started swelling. A few men started pushing people around trying to get closer to her. Unable to move ahead, Priyanka halted for a bit hoping that the push won't come to shove, but it only kept getting worse.
Enthusiastic workers stormed inside the ring that she had formed. A handful of the elite SPG personnel struggled to keep the crowd at bay. Everybody wanted to take selfies and get closer to her. They started pushing everyone else around. The jostling just kept getting worse.
All of a sudden a woman worker emerged from the crowd with tears streaming down her cheeks. She looked completely flustered. Priyanka held her arm out to help the woman. When the crying didn't stop, Priyanka hugged her tight. By now, the crowd was in a state of frenzy.
Taken aback by the turn of events, Priyanka looked at the people and screamed: "Do you have any idea why you are here? What is the reason? Tell me..."
There was no reply. She asked again. Someone mumbled something, others didn't bother to say anything. By now, she was furious and started walking away. She perhaps thought that was the only way to break the commotion. But the crowd continued to run behind her, chasing her for a selfie.
She was literally sprinting till India Gate tearing through the crowd. Midway she suddenly stopped and looked back enquiring about her daughter. A few steps behind, her daughter Miraya was standing, looking completely petrified by the mob frenzy.
The mob seized this opportunity to swarm the flimsy cordon around the leader. Priyanka lost her patience. As she started walking towards India Gate, she was seen elbowing her way out of the crowd. She even jumped a barricade before reaching the Amar Jawan Jyoti.
I was just a few steps away from the action. Frankly speaking, I was worried the way things were unfolding and the treatment being meted out to all the women present there. Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee ended up with a sprained ankle. A fellow journalist told me that celebrity-poltician Nafisa Ali fell to the ground after she was pushed by an uncontrollable crowd and people almost walked over her.
Just then I saw the Congress president hurriedly walking along with his nephew, Rehan, hounded by another crowd. The crowd had gone berserk as they climbed barricades and shouted "Rahul Gandhi zindabad" in the so-called "silent march".
Alarmed and out of breath, I called out for my video journalist as Rahul Gandhi climbed and sat atop his car. Upon spotting Rahul, supporters stormed towards the car. The cacophony of the crowd made it impossible to hear anything that he was saying. As I moved towards Rahul's car to ensure that his voice reached the microphone I was holding, I found myself caught amid a crowd.
There I was in the middle of a crowd full of unruly men. I felt a bit helpless. For a moment I told myself that these men can't be molesters, especially when they have come to a march for women's safety. But soon I realised how horribly wrong I was. Someone groped me. of course, I couldn't see who it was. It was so crowded.
The sequence of events is heartbreaking. It's not about any one political party, venue, march or agitation. This incident is just one more example of what happens every time in a crowded place in our country. In that "candlelit moment", the ugly face of the perverted mind overshadowed the entire cause - the anger of the nation, the trauma of the eight-year-old girl's parents, the horror of all those little girls who are being brutalised every day in some corner of the country.
Next day, headlines screamed how "Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lost her cool during a midnight protest march". Priyanka was furious, and justifiably so.
None of us could have imagined that the night would turn out to be so disgusting.