Women’s clarion call on Kolkata streets against hatred and violence

This photograph shows an upfront shot of the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ held on April 4, 2019 – scores of women can be seen marching behind the main banner, shouting out slogans. The banner is titled ‘Women* March for Change – 4th April 2019’ and a graphic below the title shows several women participating in a protest with raised fists. The artwork style is such as to show the women possessing immense strength. The women are all dressed differently, and one of them is using a walking stick. The women outside the banner, that is, those actually participating in the march are similarly from different age groups and socio-economic backgrounds. One young woman is walking ahead of the main banner (to the right of the photograph), partially blocking the view of the banner. The participants are holding up posters and cut-outs. One of the posters, when translated from Bengali, says ‘stop intolerance and violence in the name of religion’. Most of the cut-outs show human fists with the forefinger stretched out and marked with the voting ink. The cut-outs also have single word texts like “Ganatantra” and “Democracy”. Buildings, public buses, lamp posts and a glaring summer sky form the photograph backdrop. Photo credit: Rith Das

Clickhappy! Apr '19
Rith Das captures moments from the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ on April 4, 2019

This illustration is a combination of a photograph and textual matter. The photograph is an aerial shot of the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ taken from a footbridge on one of the roads through which the march proceeded. The photograph shows hundreds of walkers stretching out into the horizon, with banners, posters and cut-outs interspersing what looks like a river of humanity. While the left half of the road is completely taken over by the procession, to their right can be seen the usual traffic on Kolkata roads. To the left of the marchers are several trees and roadside hawkers lining the pavement. The accompanying text says: “According to the organizers of the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’, in the last five years India’s feminist movements have been seriously undermined by the political leadership of the country. The socio-political environment has become one of intolerance and hatred, which has harmed many of the causes the feminist movements fight for. The very principles of democracy have been under threat by fascist forces. It is to protest such a state of affairs that numerous feminist groups from across West Bengal organized the march, calling for citizens to vote intelligently in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Groups and collectives of women with disabilities, trans women, lesbians and bisexual women were an integral part of this mammoth effort. The march started from Moulali Ramlila Maidan in Central Kolkata at 3.30 pm and ended at Shyambazar metro station in North Kolkata around 6.00 pm.” Photo credit: Rith Das


This photograph shows around a dozen trans women and other participants walking holding a banner that is titled ‘Women and Trans* Persons Walk for Change – April 4, 2019’. Below the title is a graphic that shows several women participating in a protest with raised fists. The artwork style is such as to show the women possessing immense strength. The women are all dressed differently, and one of them is using a walking stick. The left half of the banner has partially hidden text in Bengali that, when translated, seems to say ‘women and transgender persons call for a united front against intolerance and hate’. The backdrop shows a photographer standing on a vehicle and pointing his camera at the walkers following those at the forefront. Trees on either side of the road and the skyline are also part of the backdrop. Photo credit: Rith Das


This is a long shot of an elongated banner titled ‘For Diversity’ being held up by the walkers at the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ with sticks in their left hand. The banner therefore is facing the pavement to the left of the walkers – to provide a prominent view to the pedestrians. The banner text is in large bold lettering. The photograph backdrop shows the procession extending way beyond the walkers holding up the banner mentioned. It also shows considerable greenery – trees and other foliage – on either side of the road being used by the walkers, and a glaring summer sky. Photo credit: Rith Das


The focus in this photograph is on three elderly women participating in the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ held on April 4, 2019. One of them seems to be in her 50s, while the other two are likely to be in their late 60s or 70s. The women are smiling and seem to be enjoying themselves. One of them is using a walking stick; two of them are wearing caps to protect themselves from the sun. In the backdrop are more walkers, buildings to the left of the walkers, the usual clutter of street furniture on Kolkata pavements, some trees, hoardings and a partial view of the sky. Photo credit: Rith Das


This photograph contrasts with the previous one – in terms of the age profile of the participants at the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’. It shows a young woman holding a girl child in her left arm, while her right hand is raised high as she cheers and shouts out a slogan. The child, wearing an eye shade cap, looks on with fascination and seems to be holding on to a small chocolate in her left hand. There is a crowd of other participants in the march around this pair, carrying banners and shouting slogans. The backdrop shows a part of a public bus (with route number 217 displayed in a panel above the bus windscreen), an old building and some hawker stalls on the roadside. Photo credit: Rith Das


This photograph shows a number of participants at the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ smiling and walking briskly behind a large and colourful banner that has numerous thought blurbs with single word texts like “Self-Determination”, “Justice”, “Honesty”, “Independence”, “Change”, “Non-confinement”, “Self-governance”, “Liberty”, “Equity”, “Emancipation”, “Opportunity”, “Non-coercion”, “Dissent”, “Tolerance”, “Rights”, “Diversity”, “Freedom” and “Autonomy”. For each of these blurbs in English, there are blurbs in Bengali as well with the same meaning. The blurbs are in a multitude of colours that stand out on the black background of the banner. The text in the blurbs is also in a variety of colours. The participants carrying the banner are mostly women. Other walkers behind them are carrying an assortment of cut-outs and posters with messages like “The power of the people is stronger than the people in power” and “Peace”. The backdrop shows buildings and trees on both sides of the road and a glaring summer sky. Photo credit: Rith Das


This photograph shows some of the key organizers of the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’ on April 4, 2019. Most of the individuals in this group of walkers are trans persons. Trans women’s groups played a leading role in organizing the march. Some of the individuals in the picture are talking to each other; behind them are other walkers carrying banners and posters. The backdrop shows road traffic, buildings, trees, hoardings and a cloudless summer sky. Photo credit: Rith Das


This final photograph was taken somewhere towards the end point of the ‘Kolkata Women’s March’. Around 25 individuals (mostly women and some men) can be seen in the photograph standing in a semi-circle. They are carrying posters and cut-outs; some are clapping, while others are shouting out slogans. Many are in smiles; a few can be seen taking photographs using their mobile phones. One of the cut-outs in the foreground is a human fist with the forefinger stretched out – it has text that says “Freedom of speech”. The background is dominated by a hazy summer sky, a lamp post with a hoarding, some buildings barely visible in the distance, and trees lining either side of the road. Photo credit: Rith Das

Author Photo

Rith Das

Rith Das is a photography enthusiast based in Kolkata.

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