In the month of October, 1988 about five lakh farmers joined in a protest at Boat Club in New Delhi. The farmers occupied the entire stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate for a week which turned the well-mowed lawns of Rajpath into a grazing ground. The then government not only gave in to the demands of the farmers but also passed a legislation to move the protestors out of Boat Club, making Jantar Mantar an official site of protests in the city.
Welcome to Jantar Mantar.
Almost three decades after the legislation was passed Jantar Mantar has now become the go-to place for protestors.But it is much more than that; Jantar Mantar resembles a market – a market for protests.
Every morning at 9 am, people start trickling in, some have been living there since the past few years and some just come for a one day protest, their cause? Property cases, murdered kin, injustice from rape or sexual harassment, world hunger, corruption or the fight to prove that ‘I am alive’.
There are people who have forgotten what they came to Jantar Mantar for. For some, it is a place to have free and cheap food given out to protestors. For many, just a tourist destination.
Protest Street is a film and an online project that looks at the dialectics of protest with Jantar Mantar at its focus. Exploring Jantar Mantar as a space it also aims to create a dialogue about the way protests and dissent is perceived in the country.