To Asghar Ali Engineer Saab, I say …


By- Ramu Ramanathan

1.
To the local astrologer, I went and asked
Junaab: yeh inquilaab kab aayega?
2.
His followers prohibited from worshiping idols
Yet his lordship prays to his fleet of Rolls Royce engines
Instead of blessing his tribe with the Ta’wil and Ta’fsir
When they crawl for the Sajda under his feet
3.
Spies, spies, they are everywhere
Imprisoning you for what you think
4.
Ali Sardar Jaffri
Khwaja Ahmed Abbas
Krishnan Chander
Others
Unlike you
All of the above, sign Madame’s letter
Instead of throwing the pen, away
5.
5-a.
You say to me
The Ganges may be Holier
But the canal
Near Maliyana and Hashimpura
Is bloodier

5-b.

The first story you told me
About the E Maidan
Where factories rioted with factories
And the brassware industry lived unhappily ever after
5-c
The second story you told me
About the constabulary
Who severed her legs
And yet, the young girl (known for her personal hygiene)
Crawled to the river in Logaingaon
To complete her daily bath
5-d
The third story you told me
About potatoes
Who were persecuted under Section 153 A
Since the innocent blood
Found beneath the soil
Improved crop cultivation
5-e
We have been notified
The 300 mini-riots in 1990
Cannot be classified as riots
It was an endeavour in communal harmony
To recycle the dead beings into medical implants
For the other
6.
Asghar Ali Engineer Saab
To you, I say
Gaali khaya
Maar khaaya
Jihaad kiya
Now let’s go to a disco
Where I know a dervish DJ
We can drink all night
Till our faith fades away …

(Dr Asghar Ali Engineer passed away on 14 May 2013)

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Ahmedabad -‘Tales of Tears’- a play on riots #Theatre


Angela shah, March 4, 2013

Saturday night I went to see a play called “Tales of Tears,” staged by a local group called “Apna Adda.” The story is about a man who is on trial for raping Muslim women during the 2002 riots in Ahmedabad. His daughter, a lawyer, is convinced it’s a case of mistaken identity and much of the play is set in the courtroom as she cross-examines state witnesses, Muslim victims, who attest crimes they say her father has committed.

tale

I won’t tell you how it ends. If you are in Ahmedabad and they have another performance, you should definitely see it. The cast performed Saturday to a packed house. Tickets were oversold. When the lights came up at the end, several people were sniffling and/or had tears in their eyes.

After the show, we had a Q-and-A with the cast, a remarkably candid discussion on the riots and why we should or should not still be discussing them. It very much felt like a reconciliation panel; the comments were sometimes raw and emotional but honest. One man got up to ask what good does essentially picking open a healed wound do? His opinion was the minority and I appreciated his willingness to, one, show up to the performance and, two, to step up and start a conversation that might be perceived as hostile by a majority of those assembled.

His comments prompted several responses along the lines of “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” – an opinion I largely agree with. Also, it seems to me that the city and its residents must come to terms with what happened in some way. Indian justice will move slowly. Perhaps very few of the victims will see their tormenters pay for their actions. But how can a city merely brush aside – whether it be in the name of progress or “moving on” or what – the idea that their neighbors, friends, even family members are capable of such terrible violence? Many of the perpetrators were not say, hardened criminals or conventional psychopaths. Yet there was something psychopathic about what these people were able to do to fellow human beings.

In the decade since, Ahmedabad has moved on by increasingly compartmentalizing itself along religious lines. Muslims live in Muslim areas and Hindus in their own for the most part. I tagged along with my cousins to see some new apartment buildings constructed to meet the high demand for middle-class housing in the city. The new neighborhoods were being constructed along communal lines; Urdu and Arabic names on the buildings meant for Muslims; Hindi or Gujarati names for those meant for Hindus. It’s not the fault of the developer. They are only providing their customers the product that they want to buy. But I found it disheartening to see.

So it was interesting to hear from the actors in this play. Most of them are in their early 20s and prior to joining the cast their memories of the riots in 2002 consisted of “5 days holiday from school and no ice cream” being available with shops closed. One of the student actresses said that just before taking on the role in which she plays a Muslim riot victim, she  decided against taking one rickshaw home one night “just because the driver was Muslim.” That was her perspective of Muslims: other is not to be trusted.

Her participation in the play, she said, helped her realize the prejudices she didn’t even know she harbored.

Among the audience, a British-Indian woman, who said she had moved back to Ahmedabad with her family a year ago, said she was shocked at the fixation of people on caste and the general derision of “other.” She said her neighbors had strongly discouraged her from hiring a maid who happened to be Muslim and that her children were constantly being asked – even by schoolmates – what their caste was. In Britain, she said, questions on castes are not raised. “They don’t even know,” she said.

(I was introduced to Apna Adda by Zahir Janmohamed, an Indian-American by way of Africa, who happened to be in Ahmedabad during the riots. He’s now living and writing part of the year in Ahmedabad, working on his book on his experiences then and the conversations he’s having with Hindus and Muslims about that event today. I read one of his columns in The Times of India and he was kind enough to respond to my Twitter message. Follow his work!)

connect with angela shah http://journeytogujarat.wordpress.com/ and twitter @angelashah

 

Poem on the diktat of #Delhi police chief #Delhigangrape #Vaw #moralpolicing


ढीली पोलीस या दिल्ली पोलीस

ढीली पोलीस का फरमान आया है ,
दिल्ली से समाचार पत्रो मे ,
वक्तव्य छपवाया है ,

अपनी बहादुरी , बोधिकता
का मिला जुला असर ,
बताया है …

दिल्ली की बिटिया रानी को ,
स्कूल , कालेज को जाने को ,
इक भयानक खोफ़ बताया है..

एक पोस्टर चिपकाया  है ,
बिटिया सीधा घर जाओ ,
ऐसा ऑर्डर लिखवाया है …

भाई! अपना पेट दुरुस्त करो ,
गाड़ी मे इज़्ज़त का ,
पेट्रोल भरो,
थोड़ा थोड़ा गश्त करो ,

ऐसा फरमान कब छपवओगे ,
ढीली पोलीस से,
दिल्ली पोलीस कब बन कर दिखाओगे ,
क्या कभी ,
with you , for you , always ,
का अनुवाद ,
सही सही समझ पाओगे ?

@राहुल योगी देवेश्वर

 

Two Muslims who took on the Azad Maidan rioters- #mustread


 

HAVE FAITH, WILL NOT FIGHT

While last Saturday’s riots stoked resentment against Muslim leaders, two members of the community taught a few others that Islam is about humanity

Jyoti Punwani , Mumbai Mirroe, August19,2012

Even as the leaders of Saturday’s rally shrug off any responsibility for the violence, two ordinary Muslims, Shadab Siddiqui and Farooq Mapkar stood up to a number of vandals in their community and took them on single-handedly and unarmed. Both say they could not watch as the youngsters sullied the name of Islam through their misconduct.
Thirty six-year-old poetess and social activist Shadab Siddiqui was on her way to work on Saturday afternoon when she saw around 40 Muslim boys with flags, travelling on the roof of the same Harbour line train as she was on.
They were all headed to the Azad Maidan rally, and were shouting religious slogans, clambering down into compartments, leaning out and clinging on to windows.
“Other commuters were not only getting annoyed with the noise they were making, but were also worried that they could lose their limbs, or even their lives,” she said. However, every time a commuter told them to get down, the commuter ended up getting shouted at.
Shadab, who works in the office of the Avami Vikas Party (recently founded by ex-ACP Shamsher Khan Pathan), had herself sent out press releases for the rally. “We made sure to describe it as a peaceful protest, but these boys were anything but quiet. It really bothered me,” she said. She immediately called an Urdu journalist and asked him to alert the police, but nothing happened.
When the train halted at Wadala, Shadab got off and requested the railway police to take action, but they said they were helpless. Then, she marched straight to the motorman who also said he didn’t dare intervene. Feeling she had had enough, Shadab jumped onto the tracks in front of the train, sat down there, and shouted that she would not move till the boys came down. If they didn’t, she told the motorman, he could start the train and run her over. “I thought that if the boys saw a Muslim standing up against them, they would be very ashamed,” she said.
It worked. And Shadab only got up when the last boy got off the roof and into the compartment.
“Earlier, I didn’t want to go to this allmale rally,” she said. “But now I was so furious that I decided I would go to Azad Maidan, get onto the stage and tell the organisers that they had failed in their responsibility to ensure a peaceful rally.”
However, when she reached CST, Shadab found vehicles burning, and volunteers asking everyone to go home. As she entered the station, she saw that a bus had been set on fire.
“Many women and children were huddled inside the police cabin on Platform 1 for a very long time. Non-Muslims kept asking me what was going on, and I felt so ashamed. If I could, I’d talk to those boys and tell them that inconveniencing others is not Islam.”
For Farooq Mapkar, a victim of the Hari Masjid firing during the 92-93 riots, it would have been easy to join the mob of youngsters he saw misbehaving with a Hindu at Wadala station on the way back from the rally. Especially since Mapkar has been fighting for 14 years to get the policeman (a Hindu) who shot him inside Hari Masjid punished. Instead, when the youngsters got on the train, Farooq reprimanded them all the way from Wadala to Mankhurd.
The youngsters shot back, saying that Hindus had killed Muslims in Assam. “That doesn’t justify your behaviour here with innocent Hindus,” Farooq told them. “I told them my story, and also that those who have helped me the most have been non-Muslims. I explained to them that their misconduct would make it very difficult for any Muslim to expect non-Muslims to help them in future.”
Farooq said he felt that his patience had paid off when the group of once-incensed youngsters turned around and apologised to him as they got off the train.

Shadab Siddiqui said she wishes she could tell the rioters that inconveniencing others is not Islam
Farooq Mapkar spent a long time convincing a group of Muslim boys that hurting innocent Hindus in Mumbai was not the answer to their problems