Faiz and Pudukone on trial in India

As protests in India against NRC and CAA spread across India, people with conscience have been rallying to support the communities affected by the new law, mainly Muslims. The protests have been joined by civil society, youth, academia, Muslim women, Dalits, Adivasies, some opposition parties and lately Bollywood.

The campaign and narrative against NRC and CAA has many shades and colours, targeting the RSS’ saffron agenda and supporting Indian constitution. As normal in such protests, the sloganeering and ‘virodh’ has taken help from flamboyant and legendary poets, especially from the left and progressives.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz was a natural choice; how could the crowd miss his zealous poems of hope and revolt. No wonder ‘Ham Dekhein Gay’ became an instant hit and spread like wild fire across India. From the libraries of prestigious universities like JNU and IIT Kanpur to footpaths of Red Fort and from the thatch huts of Chattisgarh to Abaaya clad muslim women squatting in Shaheen Bagh for the last four weeks, ‘Hum Dekhien Gay’ is resonating like an orchestra of hope. Faiz’s famous poem has kicked up a storm in India and RSS ideologues and leaders have described it as anti-Hindu. This growing poison in Indian society and absurd logic of RSS is putting Faiz Ahmed Faiz on trial. As reported by Huffington Post on 2nd Jan, IIT-Kanpur has formed a committee to inquire into a complaint against the recitation of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s noted poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ on campus by students to express solidarity with their peers at Jamia Milia Islamia, the institute’s Deputy Director Manindra Agarwal said.

An IIT-K student sang the poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by Faiz, an eminent poet, against which a complaint was filed by Dr Vashimant Sharma, a temporary faculty member, and about 16 others including faculty members and students. The written complaint filed by them with the IIT Director states that the poem had some wordings that could hurt the sentiments of Hindus, Agarwal said.A committee of six members was established, to investigate the matter. Some students have been questioned, while the others will be questioned after they return to the institution after the holidays. The objection seems to be on two of the verses where Faiz says, “Jab Arze Khuda Ka Kabbay say sab but uthwaay jainge”. Renowned poet and Bollywood song writer Javed Akhtar said that describing Faiz’s poem as anti-Hindu was absurd and funny. But he had to painstakingly appear in many interviews and blogs to try convince the RSS bhakts that Faiz was a leftist and revolutionary poet, who fought against dictatorship in Pakistan and the poem had a context and metaphor to express his feelings and emotions.

Similar effort was made by Barkha Dutt in her interview with Faiz’s grandson Dr Ali Madeeh Hashmi,where the Indian audience was communicated about Faiz’s universal appeal and his efforts for peace and fight against dictatorship. Barkha Dutt acknowledged that it was almost embarrassing to say that Faiz was in middle of an absolutely bizarre controversy in India.

Meanwhile some celebrities and opinion makers and intellectuals in India have taken the bold step of talking truth to power; Deepika Pudokone is one such celebrity from Bollywood who joined the JNU protestors few days back and displayed a rare show of solidarity with them. This is contrast to the macho Khans of Bollywood, who have been hiding in their mansions and chateaus, and have kept mum on plight of Muslim community.

Deepika Padukone attended a protest meeting at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) to express solidarity with students who had been injured in violence unleashed by a masked mob on Sunday. Many have blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad(ABVP), for planning the violence.

Incidently, Pudokone’s film Chhapaak has been released on which is based on a story of acid attack survivor women. The RSS bhakts and Godi media went on a rampage against Deepika Pudukon and launched a social media campaign to boycott Chappaak and labeled her as part of Tukray Tukray Gang(a gang working to break up India into pieces).

As per Scroll.in, Padukone’s gesture irked some people, who took to social media to make #BoycottChhapaak one of the top trends on Twitter. Padukone’s Chhapaak, which was released on Friday, has been inspired by the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Aggarwal, who was attacked by 32-year-old Naeem Khan in 2005.

Why has RSS launched an assault on reason and logic through an absurd charade against Faiz and Deepika Pudokone?

This is a million dollar question.

In our opinion, RSS is following the Nazi agenda of Golwalkar, Hedgewar and Savarkar and they cannot tolerate dissent and difference of opinion. For them Faiz is not a liberal poet but someone related to Pakistan; and word Pakistan is the very antithesis of India and it must be discarded, irrespective of the context. RSS leadership also feels that the fiery poetry of Faiz is so powerful and appealing that its message would spread like wild fire and rollback the RSS narrative in India.

So, best way to defeat a strong narrative is to make it controversial on communal lines and it appears that this strategy is being applied.

Unfortunately the state apparatus dealing with law and order in India including police, the judiciary or even the army has become cummunalised. Lt Gen(Retired) Zameer Uddin Shah has been the VC of Aligarh Muslim University from 2012 to 2017. His recent piece in Scroll.in magazine suggests that BJP and RSS have communalized entire India.

In a recent interview with a news channel on the role of the police in dealing with the agitations by students of Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, Gen Zameer emphasised that the police treated these two institutions “with a jaundiced eye”. He pointed out that the guardians of the law had become totally communalised and the treatment meted to the students was brutal and unwarranted. I saw a different attitude, a very passive one, of the police in Sunday’s student violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University. This false sense of propriety was actuated by the sloganeering of right-wing agitators shouting militant slogans in support of the police and baying for the blood of “desh drohis” or traitors.

To conclude, the RSS ideology has now penetrated every nook and corner of India, the BJP is intoxicated and emboldened by the majoritarianism, which propelled her to unprecedented power in past two elections, and India is gradually but surely descending into perpetual chaos.

The writer is a freelance columnists. Email: yalla_umar@yahoo.com

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