Mainstream, VOL LIV No 48 New Delhi November 19, 2016
Monday 21 November 2016, by
Freedom at Stake(for Prof Nandini Sundar)Now it is the creed to rape womenAnd kill the villagers,Make room for the new IndiaSteeped in himsa.Gouge hillsides for the mining,Clear pathways for the felling,Make way for all the natural resourcesTo be stripped and shipped,For the ‘Make in India’ story.The tale gets more gory,When a few academicsGo to record the voices of the villagers,They get implicated in a murder(it matters little that they were fifteen hundred miles away)A First Information Report is lodged,And it holds sway.Kalluri the super-copWhose writ runs Bastar screams,‘They will be stonedIf they come here’;And indeed it is he who will castThe first stone,For only he knowsHe is not alone,Backed by the might of the stateAnd the rhetoric of hate;Absolved of any burdenIn a rape and murder case,(the witnesses retracted).Believe me, it’s not mica or ore they extract,But the rights, dignity and livesOf the tribals;And this is not abstract,What is at stakeIs the very idea of India—The values of Ahimsa, Satyagraha and Freedom.
November 15, 2016
Where Are You, Najeeb?Where are you, Najeeb?It’s been 29 daysAnd your mother has not eaten,Instead she has been beaten,Dragged and manhandled by the cops,Possibly to hide their impotencyAt finding any clues for you.But where are you, Najeeb?Your fellow students at JNUHave cried hoarsePicketing for you,Braving the batons of the police,Do not stay quiet, please,Tell us, where are you, Najeeb?I know you were ruthlessly beatenBy a section of ‘political thugs’Who want to capture powerWithin the University;They hurt you,Even terrified you,After that, you did disappear,But wherever you are,Come out, Najeeb,Just appear!Or is your silenceConfirming our worst fears,That several million minoritiesFeel unsafe,And in the face of violenceAre simply silent?November 15, 2016
(Poet, playwright, filmmaker and author, Sagari Chhabra’s latest book is In Search of Freedom—Journeys through India and South-East Asia; it has been awarded the National Laadli Media Award)