The Candle March
It was a sight to see: A motley group of Doonites carrying candles in their hands, singing “Ham honge kamyab, ek din…” walking along Rajpur Road, this Sunday evening. Children dressed as trees darted around, joining the chorus, in enthusiasm. Passer-bys stopped, shoppers came out of the shops and cars slowed down as people tried to catch a glimpse of this rather unique procession.
The Candle March was carried out by Citizens For Green Doon, an association of Doonites who are worried about the rapidly decreasing green cover of Dehradun. Unlike the violent agitations which are the hallmark of today’s world, the protests by Citizens For Green Doon have been Gandhian Style, from giving roses to the Mayor to sit-in’s among the trees of Parade Ground.
Participants started gathering in front of the Gandhi Park much before the anointed time of 6.30pm. As the crowd increased, so did the enthusiasm and discussions. Anku Bakshi Sharma, the Spokesperson for the group explained “People of Doon are very upset about the mindless felling of green trees all over our city. Previously they had no platform from which they could voice their feelings; we are now providing them with a forum.” Members of the group range from 14yr old school girls to retired people. “And these people are very vocal in their opposition to tree felling. Just give them a chance to speak their minds out and see” Anku adds, with a smile.
The Candle March
All the participants then assembled into two lines and lit up their candles. Singing “Hum honge kamyab” they marched towards the DM’s Camp Office in Rajpur Road.
“Dehradun is rapidly becoming a treeless city.” said Mr. Mehrab Massey, an 85yr old retired ONGC officer and an enthusiastic participant. “Somehow, it has become a fashion to equate development with cutting of trees” he added. “Delhi’s green cover is 20% and the government is planning to increase it to 30% over the next five years. Is Delhi under developed?” he asks, pointing out that Dehradun’s green cover was a meagre 4%.
Children dressed up as Trees
Demonstrators sat down in front of the Camp Office in a semi circle and members of Garhwal Sabha then performed songs against the cutting of trees; the audience joined in clapping and dancing. Mr. Arun Sharma then judged the “tree children” and gave the Best Tree Award to Prashant Shah, an 8yr old student of Riverdale School.
Holding a burning candle in his hand and watching the proceedings intently was Satish Sharma, editor of a prominent English Daily in Uttarakhand. “One of my favourite quotes, which I read years ago, on a billboard in front of FRI, is that one tree is equal to 10 sons in Indian tradition. This is the value our Society places on trees” he said.
Protesting with a Song
Prominent among the marchers were Dr Bhim Pandhi, Patron of Indian Medical Association, Mr. Alok Ulfat of Nani Duniya Theatre Group, Dr. Surya Prakash Bhatt, Secretary of Garhwal Sabha, Dr. Kuldeep Dutta, a leading Cardiologist of Dehradun, Mr Baloni President of Green Force, Mrs. Laksha Mehta an environmental activist and numerous teachers and students of Doon International School & St. Thomas College, who made it to the rally, in spite being in the thick of school exams.
The evening ended with all the participants standing up and taking a solemn pledge to protect the trees of Dehradun, at any cost.
Some of the participants after the Oath
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