Harchand Singh Longowal was a former president of Akali Dal, during the most turbulent times in Punjab’s history i.e., the insurgency of the 1980’s. The inadequate recognition of Punjab’s people language and their heritage were the prime drivers behind the insurgency. The collision course of the revolutionary Punjabi’s and the Congress government led to some bitter moments in recent Indian history. In the most troubling times of Punjab’s history, Harchand Singh Longowal would provide commendable leadership qualities to steer the movement in a peaceful manner before putting an end to the collision course with a Peace accord signed between Harchand Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi. The peace accord would, however, infuriate a few radical Sikhs who go on to kill Harchand at point blank range.
Early Days & Emergency
Harchand Singh Longowal, from a small village of Punjab, got exposed to political activism during his formative age and he eventually became an important part of the Punjabi struggle for recognition when he became the president of the Akali organisation in Sangrur district and a member of the working committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The imposition of the emergency forced the people of Punjab to rise against the suppression of civil liberties and during the struggle as the senior leaders courted arrest, Harchand Longowal rose up the ranks of Akali movement.
Unfruitful negotiations with Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi’s efforts to paint Sikhs as seditious and anti-nationals proved to be disastrous wrt the negotiations between the Akali’s and the government. Despite the malicious campaign by the government, Longowal steadied the ship by categorically stating that Sikhs as much Indians as anybody else were. The lack of fruitful negotiations would result in multiple agitations that would result in multiple arrests, burning of article 25a of the Indian constitution and civil disobedience by means of not paying the dues to the government. What followed were some of the darkest days in Indian history which started with the Indian Army’s attack on Golden Temple.
Longowal’s accord with Rajiv Gandhi and death
Rajiv Gandhi ordered the release of Akali prisoners and thereby calming things down beside Rajiv Gandhi went on to take measures that would ease the economic woes of Punjab by establishing of the rail coach factory that would employ 20,000 skilled workers. These measures follow the memorandum which Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi signed. The Punjab accord as it is called was criticized by many Sikhs terming it disgraceful. Some Sikhs chose to vent out their anger by pulling the trigger on Longowal, the individuals named Leela and Halwinder Singh went on to assassinate Longowal.
As the clock ticks and the day starts ending, the only thing on the mind of every woman is to rush home. From literally sprinting to informing of their location every minute to the family members, women do it all. All this for just one reason – it’s not safe to be outside after the sun sets. If by chance there is even a slight delay, the family also starts fretting.
Why is being outside after a certain time considered to be unsafe? Well, the answer can be found in the question itself. It is because, as it starts getting darker, lesser women step out and hence roads are perceived to be unsafe.
Volvo beautifully addressed this via a video, set at the background of a popular old Hindi song, showing three women and sending out a simple message that more the women on the streets, more safer it will become. This video struck a chord among a lot of people, especially women who could identify with it.
Volvo, in a bid to encourage women to step out and reclaim their city spaces, organised a night walk. Mumbai Night Walk which was organised by Volvo under the #MakeYourCitySafe initiative in association with CrossBow Miles invited all the women to participate in a great number.
The mood for the symbolic march, which was held on May 19, was set up right at the beginning of event with some soul-stirring music and talks by various artists who champion the cause of equal rights for women.
In the final leg of the movement, which was the midnight walk itself was joined by Srishti Bakshi, founder and campaign champion of CrossBow Miles, who also holds a unique feat of walking 3,800 km from Kanyakumari to Srinagar in 230 days for raising awareness for women empowerment through financial and digital literacy. She is of a strong opinion that small steps lead to bigger changes. Problems like misogyny and gender stereotyping cannot change overnight and only sustained efforts towards completely removing them can bring change.
Bakshi joined the enthusiastic crowd of women marchers who walked from High Street Phoenix to Mahalaxmi Racecourse. The event had performances by spoken word poet Simar Singh, singer Abhilasha Sinha, singer-songwriter Aarifah Rebello, rapper Sofia Ashraf and award-winning singer Rekha Bharadwaj. The event saw some really acclaimed personalities like Sushmita Sen and Dia Mirza in attendance too.
This is not the first time that such a night march is being organised by CrossBow Miles. Earlier too, public night walks were organised in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Gwalior and New Delhi which were attended by 200-15,000 people in each city.
The Logical Indian congratulates Volvo on the grand success of their initiative #MakeYourCitySafe. We also hope that women leave their apprehension behind and unitedly reclaim their city spaces.