"Change happens only if you believe it will"
By Team DraftCraft

"Change happens only if you believe it will," said DraftCraft founder, solicitor and film-maker Gajanan Khergamker at 'See Change' a segment of DraftCraft's reality films at a film festival hosted by Nirma University's Institute of Law, VIBES'17 on February 4th 2017. The Institute was screening 'The Right To Walk' a docu-film produced by DraftCraft showcasing the need that triggered a colossal move to reclaim the public's Right To Walk as a prerequisite to their Right To Life as ensured by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The 13-minute film was screened at the University's Smart Class and viewed by students, primarily those studying law. Once the film was over, an interactive question and answer segment was held to initiate students, the "future of our legal system", into the "processes that moved the nation ahead," according to Nirma University's Institute of Law's Final Year student and fest organiser Shobhit Shukla.
"In Karnataka," questioned a student, "the 'public's Right to Walk is being conveniently misinterpreted and used to evict hawkers from public space. Is that right? And, how can we ensure that the Right to Walk campaign is not misused to suit vested interests?" To this, Mr Khergamker maintained that, "all laws are misused by those with vested interests. Just so that there is no misuse, we can't stop enacting laws? On the issue of misuse and moves to deprive the weak, we should cross the bridge when we come to it. There are provisions in the law to help the marginalised. And, if there is an excess of sorts, it's on the part of the opposition, the media, whistle-blowers, legal activists and public-spirited individuals to step in and stop it."
Another student suggested that, "In Gangtok, a predominantly planned city, there are spaces earmarked for walkers only and there are pedestrian railings to facilitate it. Issues of overcrowding and chaos happen owing to lack of planning." This, offered Mr Khergamker, could not be attributed to all 'planned' cities as most 'planned' cities do not offer space for futuristic changes. "Most planned cities, unlike their natural counterparts, are infused with rules and regulations which do not take into account natural changes or those triggered by futuristic needs. And, then, they collapse," he said.
"In Uttar Pradesh," offered Shobhit Shukla drawing parallels with the reality film, "a lot of roads were thrown open to cyclists as there are large numbers of cyclists in the state. This threw pedestrian movement completely out of gear, with most walkers at risk of being hurt by oncoming cyclists."

About 'The Right To Walk'

DraftCraft's 'Right To Walk' was an initiative, to free the Gateway of India zone of barricades and traffic irregularities.After six years of arbitrary barricading in and around the heritage site, following the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai that left the zone garrisoned beyond recognition, the authorities have now planned to rid the Gateway of India of the ugly fencing and barricades. This follows a fervent advocacy drive undertaken to help the common man reclaim the ‘Right to Walk’.
The city’s prized tourist attraction, the Gateway of India, has witnessed two devastating terrorist attacks. Back in August 2003, a taxi bomb claimed eight lives and then in November 2008, terrorists stormed the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower killing 31 people in a three-day siege. In August 2005, a Manipuri, Ngakuimi Raleng and friend Leishichon Shaiza were stabbed at the Gateway of India in front of several bystanders. These incidents formed the basis, however debatable, for the spurt in security in and around the zone. Similar occurrences at other terror-hit spots in the city haven’t fetched such heightened security bringing in the element of arbitrariness in police action. Sadly, under the guise of security, the common man’s Right to Walk too was quashed over the years.
Now, on an experimental basis, one lane of the road between Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Radio Club will be opened up as a pedestrian path in the days to follow. After an evaluation of the response, a final call will be taken. Incidentally, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee which had also opposed the proposal to fence the monument has welcomed the new idea.
Locals are more than exhilarated with the decision and, rightly so too. Over the years, it has become impossible to walk around the Gateway of India. Barricades are put to every possible use in the stretch. Right from ‘creating footpaths for pedestrian movement’ to ‘forming a divider’ to bifurcate the road and control vehicular flow, the use of barricades is arbitrary and quite excessive. Worse still is the high-handed behaviour of the police authorities in the vicinity who behave like a law unto themselves.
In the absence of any proper laid-down rules for parking or movement, it’s a virtual free for all at the Gateway of India. A security vehicle stands parked for good opposite the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower bang on a footpath ‘meant for pedestrians’ and a ‘pigeon feeding zone’ created with barricades keeps the very humans who feed the pigeons, out of the way.
The creation and control of barricaded zones has been left entirely to the discretion of the police and continues to bewilder the common man who has little option but to walk around in circles at Mumbai’s most prized tourist zone.

About DraftCraft
DraftCraft is an international media-legal think-tank focussing on Law and Policy, International Relations, Intelligence, Indigenous Rights and Culture. It has been founded by Gajanan Khergamker - an independent editor, solicitor and film-maker with over thirty years of experience. It is headquartered in SoBo in Colaba, Mumbai. Through a network of initiatives, campaigns and programmes, DraftCraft generates intelligence and examines media and law extensively. To analyse legal processes and initiate structures to uphold the spirit of the law and the intention of the legislature, DraftCraft documents fact; conducts research, enhances legal processes and educates masses and the authorities through talks, shows, workshops, lectures and seminars. Over the last decade and half, the think-tank has initiated several campaigns in public interest and concluded them successfully.
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