PERSPECTIVE

Monthly Archives: FEBRUARY 2020


OF CORPSES IN BHAJANPURA & FLOWING LONG GOWNS
As dead bodies fell, this was LIVE from Vijay Chowk
28.02.20 - S Pal
As dead bodies fell, this was LIVE from Vijay Chowk



LET ME START with a warning: This story contains sickening details, and you will feel like vomiting. 

It was around 10:15 Tuesday night, February 25. A full blown riot was continuing in Delhi. The Indian news television was too busy in its relentless coverage of the Trumps on their exotic India tour, but off and on, it kept cutting into its telecast to tell you what was happening in North East Delhi. But then, displaying great alacrity and news sense, it would return to the Trumps waving hands to the natives.

For the most part, dead bodies kept falling on the horizontal scroll crawling at the bottom of the television screen. 

At 10:15, when the India Today and Aaj Tak channels were flashing 13 dead and 135 injured on that bottom scroll, and the Trumps had just left India, the India Today and Aaj Tak channels immediately went in for some "LIVE" coverage, with National Affairs Editor Rahul Shrivastava managing a scoop: an interview of Aroon Purie, Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of the India Today Group.

Clearly, it could not have waited. 

When a news channel of years of experience has its Chairman and Editor-in-Chief on air, LIVE, and gets a journalist of a seniority no less than its National Affairs Editor to interview him at a time when parts of Delhi are engulfed by flames and smoke is billowing out and hospitals are struggling to cope with the injured being wheeled in and the dead body count is rising, you have to listen carefully, very very carefully.

The Editor-in-Chief had finally decided to talk. How could he remain silent after two earth shattering events? 

"President Trump was in his usual dark suit. I can't remember his tie but he was dressed like he normally is. The First Lady was in a very elegant long gown."

They were standing in the Vijay Chowk. It was an outdoor shoot. The world's media was there because a US President had come to India. It was the biggest event on the globe, if you go by the sarkari line of event projection.

And here was the Editor-in-Chief weighing in. He could not let any detail slip his notice:


"I asked from the designer, who was there with me, what's the colour of this gown. She said it's called 'light rouge’,” Aroon Purie explained.

Purie is apparently a very good observer, particularly when you consider what all he had to ignore to concentrate on what really mattered to the Chairman of a group who is also the Editor-in-Chief of multiple channels, magazines and other journalistic publications.

You might not appreciate it because you might not have covered beautiful visiting women accompanying the United States' president in the backdrop of people being hacked to death less than 20 kilometres away from Raisina Hill, but this was a pair of journalists with impeccable credentials.

"She's of course beautiful and attractive, she was also very attentive, not stiff," Aroon Purie was talking about Melania Trump, who had thought it prudent and in keeping with the highest humane traditions of not allowing riots, corpses and homes ablaze, to interrupt her visit to a Happiness Class in a Delhi school.

Purie seems to have forgotten to praise Melania for displaying such a touching sense of good guest etiquette. 

"She was very warm, went down the line greeting everyone with great warmth. She made a very good impression on people," Purie was effusive with his praise, fumbling for even more beautiful words that could go with Melania's gown, described by the India Today on its website as "bubblegum pink long gown by Carolina Herrera with a knee-high slit... adorned with flowy exaggerated sleeves, a loose silhouette and a high neck (with) the neckline featuring a long bow, which rested on her shoulders." 

All this while, hundreds of armed goons were moving in the streets of the national capital, killing people, setting fire to houses and people, stabbing, maiming people on the basis of religion but clearly, that story could not compete at prime time. This was a LIVE interview on an urgent subject. Purie was within touching distance of women accompanying a president of the United States, a President known for his extremely feminist views and a heightened sense of respect for women.

As everyone knows, it is just not possible that our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi would ever invite a world leader, no matter how powerful, who proclaims that he has been grabbing women if he liked them.

This is what Donald Trump had been caught on tape, saying about women: "You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." (You can click here to read more about Donald Trump on Tape.)

But let us not be distracted from the India Today's Editor-in-Chief's LIVE interview to the National Affairs Editor at prime time.

The scroll said "Curfew imposed in four areas." It said, "Para military forces deployed.” It added, "Delhi Ghaziabad border sealed.” It affected thousands when it flashed: "CBSE exams postponed in Delhi areas.”

But the LIVE telecast from Vijay Chowk was captivating. The National Affairs Editor asked the Editor-in-Chief about Ivanka Trump, and also reminded him that "she is very popular on social media." Clearly, you could hear Aroon Purie's heart break (or was it the sound of some people being lynched a few kilometres away?) as he rues that he could not get to speak to her.

But that is no reason to not speak in equally flamboyant terms about her.

"I couldn't get to speak to Ivanka ...she was on the sides...she was seated next to Chief Minister (Manohar Lal) Khattar (Heartbreak music please!). I would like to know what they spoke (about) because they were speaking a little bit but I did not get to meet her. But she was, of course, most elegantly dressed in a white kind of floral dress and she's extremely tall and stands out anywhere."

While we search for corroborating evidence for how Ivanka Trump stands tall anywhere at all since the reports about the intellectual prowess of the Trumps are a little mixed, you must not miss for the world for the National Affairs Editor's next query: 

"When Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi went to meet (US President Barack) Obama in the White House, we heard a lot about how he had nimbu pani and it was a fasting day. Did the Trumps really eat here?"

The rival channels were now flashing a higher death toll. You could surf all across the news channels but there was no escaping the cries of those whose loved ones had been killed by marauding mobs. 

But the Editor-in-Chief was LIVE from the Vijay Chowk:

"Well, there was a full vegetarian, non-vegetarian menu. There was lamb and there was...."
 

Do you really want the details? We had stopped listening. Sick in his stomach pit, this writer went to vomit. 

As the National Affairs Editor handed over the baton back to the studio, the anchor found that of all such stuff, the most thrilling was particularly the fact that it was Khattar who got to sit next to Ivanka Trump.
 

The two earth shattering events that we referred to earlier were: 1.) The Editor-in-Chief was in pretty close proximity to Melania Trump. 2.) The Editor-in-Chief was in fairly close proximity to Ivanka Trump.

Here is the viewing lesson: During important LIVE telecasts, you can keep glancing at the scroll on the bottom of your television screen. It is there that the dead fall and their count rises. Rest of the screen space is for stuff more important. 

As for the feeling you right now have in the pit of your stomach, we did warn you that this story was going to be sickening. Now, go and vomit. You just watched national news television.  

And learn to admire the gown, and the bravado with which the Editor-in-Chief must have asked the designer: "Excuse me, I am the Chairman of xyz, and would you be so kind as to tell me what’s the colour of Madame Melania’s gown?” (This quote is a figment of the author’s imagination, and no first hand information is available. — Editor, Punjab Today.)
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

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_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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INNER CITY STING
The Root Of Protest At Shaheen Bagh Is Rural Distress
19.02.20 - CHARU SONI
The Root Of Protest At Shaheen Bagh Is Rural Distress



"You can’t enter from here.”

"Why?”

"You can’t. This entrance is meant only for residents of Sharam Nagar.”

"Sharam Nagar?”

A new informal police code — Sharam Nagar or Shame City — has been invented for Shaheen Bagh (lit. Garden of Falcons) the site of anti-CAA, NPR, NRC protest that has galvanized the nation, sprouted multiple protest sites in various Indian states and made international headlines for its democratic spirit of resistance.

Shaheen Bagh, an irregular colony that came up on the Yamuna floodplains 15 years ago, is a stone’s throw from upscale Sarita Vihar and Jasola Vihar housing enclaves. To get there, after the shooting incident at the site during Delhi’s legislative assembly elections on 1 February 2020, you have to take the OKHLA Metro Station iron foot-over bridge. The earlier access from the major arterial road connecting Delhi with Noida has been barricaded, except for a narrow opening created for local residents and manned by policemen sitting at a table with a large register.

"All residents have to write their details, show driver’s licence, voter card or Adhaar card.”

The policeman’s tone is dismissive. The register full of notations.

The OKHLA Metro Station foot-bridge takes you over a nala to Abu Fazal Enclave and Shaheen Bagh one of the many "unauthorised” habitations of Delhi. The nala is a sewer drain that originates in Tughlaqabad and leads to STPs (sewage treatment plants) at the OKHLA headworks.

Tughlaqabad Drain (Sewer) that divides authorised colony of Jasola Vihar from unauthorised basti of Shaheen Bagh


THE TRIGGER

The protest at Shaheen Bagh was triggered by the simultaneous attack on Jamia Milia Islamia University which is situated in the same district and the Aligarh Muslim University, some 130 kilometers away. The women of Shaheen Bagh came out of their homes and sat on the road, connecting Delhi with Noida, to protest the attacks and voice their opposition to the Kala Kanoon, the day after police brutality at the two universities.

The ruling party keen to win the Delhi legislative assembly did not anticipate this development. But it did anticipate that there would be protests, which it thought it could suppress and harvest for political gain. The parallel brutal police action against protesting Muslims in Delhi’s neighbouring areas in the state of Uttar Pradesh— Bijnor, Rampur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Kanpur and so on — was to galvanize the "India” vs "Pakistan” narrative. Delhi’s majority Hindu population (80% according to 2011 census) it was hoped would see protesting Muslims, so close to Delhi, as "anti-national” or "terrorist” i.e., dangerous to their well-being. It was a Machiavellian plan and to an extent it worked. BJP got 38.5% of Delhi’s vote.
 

Jasola Vihar. To contrast with Shaheen Bagh and the nala that seperates them


BJP lost the elections because Arvind Kejrival’s AAP was able to offer the voters alternative narrative to demonizing Muslims, where, as Aditya Nigam has rightly pointed out AAP won by offering the politics of commons: "…where the battle is being fought to make education and health part of an imagined modern commons rather than utilities to be handed over to private predators.”

Throughout the BJP’s vicious campaigning, Shaheen Bagh calmly faced the vile accusations with stoic calmness and passive resistance. They did not rise to the bait. They voted for AAP candidate, Amanatullah Khan with roots in Kanpur.

THE LARGER PICTURE

The strength of Shaheen Bagh is its women. But the location of the habitation is as important. For one, it is part of Delhi and is situated close to Mathura Road (formerly the Grand Trunk Road). Two, it’s just 12 kilometers from Parliament, i.e., it exists under the nose of the ruling dispensation. Three, it is accessible by public transport, including the Metro, allowing people to gather at the site often and with ease.
 
However, the most important aspect of Shaheen Bagh core protesters are its linkages with Delhi’s neighbourhood.

Make shift library. A bus stop has been converted into a reading room named after Savitri Phule


Those living in the Shaheen Bagh are not people from Mars or Venus, Mumbai or Hyderabad, majority of them have shifted here from Delhi’s centuries old neighbourhoods, especially Uttar Pradesh. Some, but in smaller numbers, are from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and even, Bihar. Basically, if you take a pair of compasses (compass drawing tool) and place its tip on OKHLA and the pencil on Agra and draw a circle, all the places falling within it and around it, form the neighbourhood one is talking about.

THE CRUX

Prof Sarah Farooqi writing in The Caravan, has pointed out that the population of Shaheen Bagh increased exponentially after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. "Members of the Muslim community, residing until then in mixed localities began to migrate to this area for the sake of security.”

While that may be reason for some of the migration to the area, there are other factors at work that account for the motivations that spur the anti-CAA protests, especially at Shaheen Bagh.

Bilkis Begum, one of the three Dadis, that has been turned into an icon of the Shaheen Bagh protest.

 
Muslima Malik, from Shahpur near Muzaffarnagar, one of the protesters at the site from day one, says she shifted to Shaheen Bagh 15-years ago after her husband found work in the city as a petty businessman. Hailing from a farming community, Malik claims that they "sublet their land (theke par diya) and moved to the city for better opportunities.” Her eldest son aged 18 studies in a college near Nainital and family members, a brother and other relatives, continue to live in Shahpur. Another lady, Shama said she had come to take part in the protest from Meerut, 70 km away from Delhi, as she has relatives staying in Shaheen Bagh.

Though these two examples are anecdotal it would appear that many of the Shaheen Bagh and Abu Fazl Enclave residents have strong linkages with villages, qasbas and towns in Delhi’s neighbourhood. These linkages have deep roots in the changing agricultural landscape, social relations and economic structures of the regions they originate from.

Posters on the footover bridge on the site of the protest in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi. Note the poster with Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan juxtaposed with Ambedkar (to the left) and the poster of slogans made popular by Kanhaiya and having deep resonance with protesters: "Azadi from Bhedbhaw, Jativaad, Bhrashtachar, Beorzgari, Bhukmari, Pakshwad (to the right of the frame)


As Prof Farooqi noted in her article, many of the protesters are from artisan-service and labour caste groups such as carpenters, barbers, weavers and washermen.

In his incisive study of Khanpur village near Meerut, anthropologist Satendra Kumar in 2018 published "Badalta Gao, Badalta Dehat” (Changing Village, Changing Ruralscape) points to the breakdown of agrarian relations after 1995 and the changes wrought by the Panchayati Raj Act (73rd Amendment) of 1992. The most critical change of this amendment was the reservation of seats for the SC, ST and women on no less than one-third of the seats and provision of financial powers for the Panchayats. The 73rd Amendment, Kumar notes, was revolutionary for the Khanpur village, which was dominated by Jat, Gujjar and Brahman landowners, who suddenly found themselves marginalised in terms of population strength.

The loss in earnings from agriculture, subdivision of land, and the change in agrarian relations between the landowners and labouring classes and artisan caste groups, meant that more and more people turned to seek employment in other professions and often outside the village, in small towns and big cities, like Delhi, Noida and Gurugram. The 73rd Amendment, caused labourers and artisans to form a common front against the rich, upper caste and/or landowning communities. This included both Hindu and Muslim populations. In 2013, the anthropologist notes, the landowners, used the Muzafarnagar riots to boost their numbers by playing the Hindutva card at the local Panchayat elections at the Khanpur village, which they won with handsome margin.

Ambedkar poster hanging from the footover bridge at the protest site


This polarisation on grounds of religion not only alienated the Muslim but also brought Jatav, Saini, Gariyal and Dalit communities to the landowner’s side of the fence in Khanpur. In this context, the rise of the Chamar leader, Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan in Saharanpur, reflects the push back of the labouring classes and dalits against the rise of Hindutva boosted upper crust villainy in the villages and towns. His choice of aligning with Muslims and the Indian Constitution, are two major aspects of this ongoing change.

Shaheen Bagh, where Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has made an appearance, and where his and Ambedkar’s photographs occupy the pride of place, are indicative of the old rural alliances that are attempting to regroup under the umbrella of a new democratic movement, that anti-CAA, NPR and NRC have provided. This is also the reason why Kanhaiya’s chant of Azadi from bhedbhaw (caste discrimination), jatiwad (ethnic discrimination), bhrashtachar (corruption), berozgari (joblessness), bhukmari (hunger) and pakshwad (taking sides) has found a deep resonance.

"Hum Durga bhi ban sakti hai, aur Ma Kali bhi” (we can be Durga and Kali when needed) Muslima Malik tells me looking straight into my eyes from under the black burkha. I believe her, and hope this protest, takes on the juggernaut of hate, caste politics, patriarchy and obscurantism that the BJP-RSS combine is perpetuating.

But this battle is a long one. And it is one that goes far beyond the constitutional validity of an act. It’s a battle for survival, dignity, rebirth and reinvention, hopefully of a new and more just Hindustan. In the words of Rahat Indori, "Jo aaj saahibe masnad hain kal nahin honge/ Kiraaydaar hain jaati makaan thodi hai” (Those that occupy the throne today, will not be there tomorrow/ They are tenants, this land is not their private property.)
 

 

Charu Soni is a senior journalist and historian.

 

Photographs: Charu Soni

 

 


 


Watch video: 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
How to beat the censorship?
16.02.20 - Markandey Katju
How to beat the censorship?



In his YouTube interview ‘There is so much censorship’ the well known Pakistani journalist and fashion designer Mohsin Sayeed has lamented that today censorship in Pakistan is worse than in Genreal Parvez Musharraf’s time.

I have personal experience of this. Hardly any Indian newspaper publishes my articles, and no Pakistani newspaper does (earlier they used to). Probably they have been told by high ups in both countries to avoid me like the plague (since I am very critical of the BJP in India, and have called Pakistan a fake, artificial country). My views are published only in some brave portals like nayadaur.tv in Pakistan, and thewire.in, theweek.in and punjabtoday.in in India (as well as indiacanews.com in America).

However, there are ways to beat the censorship, as was done in the past, and I will mention about these here so that writers in both India and Pakistan may learn. 

The way to beat it is by writing not directly (for that will invite the censor) but indirectly, by allegories, hints, allusions and suggestions, in other words by a kind of literary guerilla warfare (in guerlla warfare one avoids a direct confrontation with a superior and more powerful enemy, but uses hit and run tactics).
 
Here are some ways in which it has been done in the past where there was no freedom of speech and expression:

(1) Much of Urdu poetry is a protest against despotism and injustice, but this is often expressed not directly but indirectly.

For instance take Faiz’ well known sher:

‘Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-naubahaar chale, chale bhi ao ki gulshan ka kaarobaar chale‘.

Now literally and ostensibly this means ‘Among the flowers the colorful breeze of the new spring is blowing. Come, so that the work of the garden can be done‘.

But this is not what the poet is really trying to convey. As explained in my article ‘Urdu Poetry’ on my blog Satyam Bruyat, Urdu poetry often has an outer, literaral, superficial meaning, and an inner, deeper, real meaning. In the above sher of Faiz, what he means by the word ‘gulshan’ is not a garden but the country.

The deeper, inner, real meaning of Faiz’ sher is this:

 "The objective conditions are ripe (for a revolution)
  Come forward patriots, the country needs you".

Obviously at the time when Faiz wrote this poem (during the martial law regime of Gen Ayub Khan, when Faiz was in jail as an accused in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case, and could have been given a death sentence) he could not write of Revolution directly, so see how beautifully, skillfully and ingeniously he conveys his message.

His poem Hum Dekhenge’ uses traditional Islamic imagery (e.g. ‘Sab but uthwaaye jaayenge) but obviously this is a subterfuge to protect himself. Faiz was a life long atheist, so obviously he is not wanting society to revert to Islamic fundamentalism, which Gen Zia was trying to do, rather it is a powerful attack on Zia’s oppressive regime.

(2) The Book of Revelations is found at the end of the New Testament in the Bible, but it is really the earliest Christian text, written probably in the 1st century A.D, when Christianity was a persecuted religion. It was dangerous then to propagate Christianity directly, so the author writes allegorically and figuratively, as if relating a dream

(3) To avoid persecution great writers have often written fiction e.g. Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ or Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ which are powerful satires on British society and the rulers. Similarly, Russian writers throughout the Czarist era when there was strict censorship wrote fiction to attack despotism and the evils in society e.g. Pushkin’s ‘Boris Godunov’ and ‘Eugene Onegin’, Gogol’s ‘Dead Souls’,  Chernyashevsky’s ‘What is to be done’, and Gorki’s ‘Mother’. ( See also my article ‘The song of the Stormy Petrel’). Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is often regarded more as a political rather than religious poem.

(4) Pamphlets or leaflets, published in some secret printing press, have often been used to attack autocracy e.g. the letters of Junius  (whose real name no one knows even now) attacking the despotic King George III.  Before the great French Revolution of 1789 many such pamphlets and leaflets attacking the feudal system in France (including some anonymous ones by great writers like Voltaire and Rousseau) were secretly published and circulated.

So people like Mohsin Sayeed should not be despondent or disheartened. They must learn the technique of literary guerilla warfare, and draw lessons and inspiration from the past.
 

 

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India.

  
 
 
Watch Video:

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Bengaluru’s one week old Shaheen Bagh
Bilal Bagh: An Appeal to Bengaluru
15.02.20 - AMANDEEP SANDHU
Bilal Bagh: An Appeal to Bengaluru



15/02/2020 
01.30 Hours
 
I have just returned from Bilal Bagh on Tannery Road in north Bengaluru. For a week now, it is here that women, supported by men, are in a sit-in protest against the NPR/NRC/CAA.

However, unlike many other protests I have gone to over the past many years, where we as protesters sense a relief from the solidarity we get with co-protesters, a sense of action through holding up banners, a sense of articulation through joint sloganeering, this time I am neither relieved nor exhausted. In fact, I am knotted up inside. My thoughts and feelings jumbled. 

03.00 Hours

I am restless, tossing and turning in bed. The images and voices from the evening are not switching off in my mind. Those women sitting stoic in their chairs, the children full of energy at even middle of the night. The speakers starting and ending with slogans. A young man carrying a carton in his arms, wading between chairs, collecting wrappers, tissues and used newspaper pages and empty bottles, making a cheerful game out of disposing dry waste to the refrain of ‘NPR bhi kachra’, ‘NRC bhi kachra’, ‘CAA bhi kachra’.

Over the past few years when I have both participated and covered a fair bit of protests I have learnt to not assume that protests are sombre, sullen affairs. When together, humans have a tendency to cast away the miasma of impending doom and seek each other out through smiles. It was on full display this evening. 

I had reached when Naseeruddin Shah, in the kids’ version ‘Film Krrish ka villain’ had just finished his brief appearance. He had saluted the women who lead these protests and read out Safdar Hashmi’s iconic poem Auratein Uthi Nahin To – What if the women do not rise?

Source: Aap ki Aawaaz

Before Naseer, the youth leader Jignesh Mewani had come on stage. Bengaluru’s favourite artist Pallavi Arun had come and spoken and sung. Yet, I was troubled. 

I do not know if it was about the fact that Bilal Bagh, structured after its more famous cousin Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, was not as big a gathering. Or was it about the simple fact that Bengaluru which has adopted me, embraced me – a migrant - over the last two decades was disproportionately represented at Bilal Bagh. I heard from organisers that they would love to see a greater presence of non-Muslims at Bilal Bagh. I agreed with them.   

Since I am the kind who writes to understand what plagues me, middle of night, I tried composing my words. I wondered if this is what the nation has come to that scores of women and tens of children are sitting up through days and nights because they are suddenly under threat of…

a) Losing what small lives they have built until now?  

b) Losing their space in society upon an adverse remark by a bureaucrat? 

c) Losing their identity and hence dignity at the hands of a state whose every other system is porous like a sieve?

Not only is NPR/NRC/CAA flawed because it is partisan in singling out Muslims but also because it is incomplete even in its definition of which are those neighbouring countries from where persecuted refugees India will accept. But all those arguments are already made.

The core of the whole argument of these draconian processes such as NPR/NRC/CAA is that we are a nation are already hard pressed for resources. Hence we need to keep ‘outsiders’ out. Outsiders are a burden on our society. Not only does this approach violate the spirit of what we consider to be our open and accepting and diverse society envisaged by the founding fathers of the nation and enshrined in the Constitution, it is also patently false. 

In India, the top 1% rich people control 73% of total wealth. Who is the government kidding by saying the illegal immigrants are stealing national resources? Have we even assessed what work do marginal economic migrants or religiously persecuted migrants do when they come into any society? 

Almost always the migrants pick up work that is shunned by the people of that society. The work that falls outside the margins of that society. For instance, a few weeks back a slum was demolished in Kariyammana Agrahara, Bangalore.  The rhetoric was ‘they are Bangladeshis’. The fact was they were mostly economic migrants from upper Karnataka and the North East. The ones from Assam had even cleared the NRC but no one heard them. Their documents were not even examined.

Now the courts have rebuked the police and the Bengaluru municipality, ordered the rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers. But what work were these migrants doing? Many were engaged in waste picking, daily labour, sundry jobs because native Kannadigas now refuse to do those jobs. It is the same pattern everywhere from nurses to software professionals. The real fight in our society should be about inequality of wealth distribution, not about migrants or ‘outsiders’.

Later in the night, theatre director Ramneek Singh and his friend Nawaz read out poems by Amir Aziz Main Inkar Karta Hoon – I Refuse and the famous Rahat Indori Kisi Ke Baap Ka Hindustan Thodi Hai – India Does Not Belong To Anyone Alone. The slogans and the chants were electric. 

Even later at night, theatre practitioner Nisha Abdulla and I were talking about what the children were deriving from seeing their mothers and fathers protest, from joining in sloganeering and theatre practitioner. Nisha said, 'Who knows, two decades later, the nation's next leader might emerge from them!'

I said, 'If there is a nation left.'

Bangaloreans, it is my request and appeal: go visit Bilal Bagh. 

In solidarity, in bonding, in affection, in love. 

If each of us goes there for one hour once, we can do wonders in how we understand ourselves. 

Please go ... Amplify Bilal Bagh’s voice. Let it ring out loud and clear.So we can ALL sleep easy.

Location: next to Masjid-E-Hazrat Bilal on Tenri Road (that is how Google Maps spells it).

Time: 24/7 Hours

Amandeep Sandhu is a Bengaluru based writer of PANJAB: Journeys Through Fault Lines

 

 
Watch video: 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT


 






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