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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 48 New Delhi November 19, 2016

Two Poems

Monday 21 November 2016, by Sagari Chhabra

Freedom at Stake

(for Prof Nandini Sundar)
Now it is the creed to rape women
And kill the villagers,
Make room for the new India
Steeped in himsa.
Gouge hillsides for the mining,
Clear pathways for the felling,
Make way for all the natural resources
To be stripped and shipped,
For the ‘Make in India’ story.
The tale gets more gory,
When a few academics
Go 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-cop
Whose writ runs Bastar screams,
‘They will be stoned
If they come here’;
And indeed it is he who will cast
The first stone,
For only he knows
He is not alone,
Backed by the might of the state
And the rhetoric of hate;
Absolved of any burden
In a rape and murder case,
(the witnesses retracted).
Believe me, it’s not mica or ore they extract,
But the rights, dignity and lives
Of the tribals;
And this is not abstract,
What is at stake
Is 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 days
And your mother has not eaten,
Instead she has been beaten,
Dragged and manhandled by the cops,
Possibly to hide their impotency
At finding any clues for you.
But where are you, Najeeb?
Your fellow students at JNU
Have cried hoarse
Picketing for you,
Braving the batons of the police,
Do not stay quiet, please,
Tell us, where are you, Najeeb?
I know you were ruthlessly beaten
By a section of ‘political thugs’
Who want to capture power
Within 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 silence
Confirming our worst fears,
That several million minorities
Feel unsafe,
And in the face of violence
Are 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)

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