#Hokkolorob Favorite 


Sep 15 2015


Calcutta, India, The Internet

Hok Kolorob. Let there be noise.
It was perhaps these two words of protest that eventually led to the arrest of two engineering students for allegedly molesting a fellow student at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University last month.
Conjured up in a moment of desperation, the defining slogan of the protests in West Bengal’s capital city—and beyond—shook the state government, galvanized disparate student groups and convinced thousands to march down the heart of Kolkata demanding justice.
Hok Kolorob on the streets—and #Hokkolorob on the Internet—effectively held together a student movement that began on a college campus, unravelled online and then returned offline as the crowds swelled on Kolkata streets.

It all began at some point in the 150-odd hours that students of Jadavpur University sat protesting, starting 10 September, singing songs and chanting slogans deriding the administration of one of eastern India’s elite higher education institutions. The university authorities, the protestors contended, hadn’t responded adequately to a complaint of molestation by a woman student.
Amid music and poetry of the initial protest, Hok Kolorob—a term co-opted from an eponymous song by Bangladeshi musician Shayan Chowdhury Arnob—unwittingly emerged as a slogan. “We refrained from using any violent slogans,” a student added. “We wanted to make some noise, let the people know.”
But violence arrived in Jadavpur in the early hours of 17 September, as police (and goons, allegedly) entered the university campus, where protesters had locked in vice chancellor Abhijit Chakraborty and some other members of the administration. Students were beaten and dragged, women groped and molested and a handful arrested as the police assaulted the guitar and violin wielding protestors.
Then, #HokKolorob, which had till then primarily been used to tag posts by the small group of protestors, went viral.
On Twitter, #Hokkolorob emerged abruptly sometime between 17 and 18 September, reaching its peak around 21 September, the day after the massive protest march. On Facebook, too, the hashtag began appearing en masse after the night of police brutality on 17 September.
And the online conversation was often punctuated with powerful visuals—both videos and photographs—that Jadavpur students and alumni curated, thereby inadvertently widening the appeal of the movement to a wider student body on social media. “Revolution happens through meme,” said Arka Alam, a former Jadavpur student who attended and chronicled the protests.
“Social media can’t replace revolution, but it can mobilise people,” said Das, arguing that by allowing space for individual stories to reach more people, it also lends movements a certain authenticity.

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