Numbers does matter when it comes to protests but the definition of the word ‘protest’ ( a formal and solemn declaration of objection) makes me say that single individual protesting may not matter much to the success of the cause but it does give the strength and feeling of contentment to the protester.
I have been receiving emails and SMs for quite a few days regarding a protest being arranged at Lahore Press Club. The place, indeed is a sensitive one and a protest over there needs good planning, coordination and a huge crowd. The person organizing this (one of my friends) was trying to come up with a good plan but it was quite obvious that results were not there. I, being at work, paced up my work to get free ASAP, NO NO ! Not to join the protest which was planned at 5:00 PM, but to watch the second-half of thrilling Indo-Pak ODI game. Enjoying the sensational match, Lays and Coke, I thought of going over the place and see whats going on. The clock struck 5:00 and I got a phone call from the organizer to reach the place. I left, missing the interesting match was very tough though, with a couple of colleagues. What happened next ….
A few students/profession als (alumni of FAST / LUMS / UET working at places around Davis road) gathered at Lahore Press Club. Before the crowd started to grow, police was already there. When we, the protesters were just 5-10, they were already 15-20 in number, some in police uniform and some in plain clothes. As the number of protesters grew to around 20 or a bit more when the people passing by also joined us (or just stayed there to watch the ‘drama’) the police started getting a bit violent. They started to push every individual to move and started asking them where are you from and noting down the details? Obviously none told them the correct information. The crowd was thus easily dispersed by the police.
The organizer, an alumni wof UET, Software Engineer at Techlogix (a highly renowned Software House of Pakistan), son of an ex-PMLN-MNA, managed to enter into the Press Club where various channels recorded his interview. Later when he came out , the police surrounded him (thinking of him as the one organizing this activity) and asked him details about this ‘protest’. It was quite obvious to see the stress on the faces of policemen who were afraid to see this small crowd. They were continuously calling someone and letting them know of whats happening. They carried on updating someone on the phone that now this and this number of guys from FAST/LUMS/UET are here.
I can recall how helpless we were when the cops came to us, when we were just standing in a group of 5 and said, “chalain jain yahan se, dekhain hum aram se bat kar rahay hain, foran chalay jain, warna hume baray sakht order hain, hum to wakeelon ko nahe chor rahay, tum log chalay jao, warna aik he hal hay (pointing his danda at the van), chalo shabash jao”
Later, I was interviewed by GEO/ARY/AAJ when they recorded videos at the gate of press club. I was happy to hear their first question asked by the media guys , “You are from LUMS or FAST?” , expecting us to be representing student body.