Issue :   
August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.          August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Rulers behind riots !

Humra Quraishi

If a major communal flare-up could be prevented last month by combined efforts of the police and community leaders and the administration, in the Hauz Qazi locality of Old Delhi, then these queries hit: why is rioting not prevented by the administration in other sensitive locales of the country? Why is rioting ‘allowed’ to take place and then made to continue, till hundreds are rendered homeless and limbless? Why are hundreds of innocent men and women and children from the socially- economically marginalized sections targeted ever so brutally as rioting continues under the watchful eyes of the police, who stand there as mute spectators or even play a partisan role?
It’s obvious that if political and administrative rulers want then the riots can be prevented and stopped. In the case of Hauz Qazi it got apparent that Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP government in Delhi genuinely wanted the communal surcharge to be contained as swiftly and prudently as possible. And so sanity cum calm cum peace prevailed in t h a t locality.
B u t , sadly, in a m a j o r i t y of cases in the other towns and cities of t h e c o u n t r y the rioting continues, t i l l hundreds and thousands were left dead or severely affected...perhaps for generations to come.

In fact, if one were to study the riots and rioting patterns in the country, the one big factor that hits almost immediately is this -the direct or indirect role played by the political rulers.

In this context, Iqbal Ansari edited volume –‘Communal Riots - The state and law in India’- is of immense significance. It carries reports by IPS officers :Padam Rosha , KF Rustamji, CV Narasimhan ,VN Rai . Also by civil servant, NC Saxena. And also by the well - known names of the judiciary: Justice Hosbet Suresh , Justice VR Krishna Iyer ,VM Tarkunde. And also by academics of the calibre of Professor Mushirul Hasan and several others…

Space constraints will not permit me to quote from these very detailed reports contained in this volume. If any planner or ruler genuinely wants to study the destructive forces behind rioting in this country, then this volume holds out much in terms of the ground realities.

A case for correct voices

I had first heard Dr Shah Alam Khan on the small screen. As far as I can recollect, it was a panel discussion on NDTV on controversies around the hip replacement implants imported by a leading medical company. And he was giving his expert opinion. After all, he is a Professor of Orthopaedics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS, New Delhi)...

But before I move further, I must offload that what I liked about his arguments was his sheer confidence; that certain firm-ness and grit in his voice came through ,as he was speaking out in that discussion. He came across much more than a medical man; more of a passionate activist who dared to talk aloud, irrespective of the aftermath.

Months after this programme was telecast, came in a surprise of sorts, as there came in Dr Shah Alam Khan’s novel – Man With The White Beard. A strong hard hitting work (Nah, can’t say of pure fiction!). And after that I kept track of his writings in the various national dailies and online platforms, where he has been writing; focusing on the political degeneration and all the mess that invariably comes along with that.

In fact, this latest book from him – ‘Announcing The Monster’ - ( Aakar) carries his features and essays. And each one of his essays focuses on the political build- ups and the offshoots spreading around.

Though I am tempted to quote rather extensively from several of his hard hitting essays, space constraints will come in way, so its best if I quote on the very crucial ‘why’ he decided to unleash words, such an array of strong sentiments.
“ The Marxist theorist, Rosa Luxemburg, had once said that those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Nothing can be closer to the truth, particularly in societies which ‘normalize’ chains, instead of neutralizing them. It is thus essential to make the correct noises at the correct time and if need be all the time...
In my opinion, one of the best ways to create noises is through the written word. When all is said and done, words will survive to tell the story of our times. The rough jangle of chains which Rosa Luxemburg mentioned, can reach the ears of history through words and hence it is essential that we etch our times on paper."

Budding poet, painter

Seher Hashmi Raza Shabnam Hashmi and Gauhar Raza’s daughter Seher is going strong …holding her solo exhibition at the New Delhi situated Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, with her this particular verse in the backdrop-
“Colouring the wounds
I paint so that I don’t end up
painting my/
Hands with blood/,
That time remember,
The cut I made,
When I was so low,
I cut with a paper cutter,
To punish my body for being
a mess,
For feeling the worst,
Without any reason,
For having ups and downs,
And not knowing how to
Than harming myself,
So now what I do,
Is just paint colours,
Sometimes bright,
Sometimes dull,
I make sure I take it all out
on the paper,
And not myself.”

Yes, Seher’s this verse stands out in the invite, together with this backdrop - “Seher used to paint as a small child but when she entered school and was asked to fill colours in different geometrical shapes instead of painting freely she suddenly lost all interest and totally quit painting.

It is much later that, dealing with an internal turmoil that was occupying her young mind and heart that Seher started painting again. For a long time it was just a diversion which helped her overcome deep depression but over the last year with determination to fight depression, assisted by psychiatrists , counsellors and her family painting has again become a serious engagement for Seher …Painting has a soothing effect on her nerves and has helped her heal and overcome a difficult phase.

With determination and grit, Seher is sure to achieve much – as a poet and painter.