Leading up to the planned demonstration of 12 April, in Bangalore, there was a week-long campaign demanding, "No to war". In spite of the apparent ‘conquest’ of Baghdad, the action was quite successful in terms of reaching a broad layer of people.
Members and supporters of New Socialist Alternative (CWI in India) took to the streets in three different suburbs to campaign for the rally planned for the Saturday. We distributed the 2,000 leaflets which we were allotted by the campaign and had lots of discussions with people.
We sang a new protest song we have composed about the scenes of Basra, based on the war photos, and calling for the trial of Bush and Blair for war crimes. It was generally well received and was commented on by many, who said it had a good explanation of the events around the war.
Sometimes, though, the reaction of people was hostile. There were some genuinely ignorant middle class people who did not agree with us. But there were also some real right-wingers who accosted us with questions like: "Why don’t you protest when Hindus die in Kashmir?" "Why are you worried about a Muslim country?" "How does it matter to us what happens in Iraq?" etc.
More than 1,000 people marched with banners on the demonstration on Saturday. However the larger expected numbers did not turn out. As the new CWI statement on the war explained, the anger about the war itself is on the ebb. Also, rain was threatening to pour down!
For the rally on Saturday, we produced a 5-page pamphlet on the situation, using the CWI statement ’Triumph of the Empire’. We sold 50 copies in English to the youth who came to the rally. Now we are thinking of translating it into the local language – Kannada – and organising a public meeting on the issue to capitalise on the still remaining anti-war feeling and the anti-imperialist mood.