Issue :   
Happy Dussehra and Diwali to all Readers.          October 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Where are the poets who
cried through their verse !

Humra Quraishi

Journalist Pawan Jaiswal The manner in which the Uttar Pradesh based scribe, Pawan Jaiswal, is getting harassed to the extent of getting booked by the Uttar Pradesh government, for exposing the roti – namak midday ‘meal’ served to school kids in a Mirzapur district school, is provoking one to quip – Is it time we get back to the Avadh Punch days?
Well… well, the Avadh Punch, came into circulation in the Avadh belt during the Raj days , when the then British rulers booked all those Indians who dared to write against their misdeeds, against their atrocities , against their governing tactics!

It’s then that a group of poets, writers , activists and artists came up with this novel idea to expose the British masters through verse or subtle prose - where all possible basic facts were relayed and yet the lampooning not too very direct!

Founded and edited by Munshi Sajjad Hussain, this satirical Urdu weekly was published from Lucknow, from 1877 to 1936 . Said to be modelled on the London based weekly magazine - The Punch ( from which it probably derived its name too ), some of its contributors included the then who’s who in the literary world Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar, Akbar Allahabadi...

I got to read details of this weekly in Professor Mushirul Hasan’s volume -The Avadh Punch: Wit and Humour in Colonial North India (Niyogi Books) where he writes that so heady was the outcome and response of the Avadh Punch that within a short span 70 Punches were published in several cities of this country… Well, now that journalists, writers, authors and activists are facing the risk of getting hounded, for baring the stark ground realities , isn’t it the time that more and more forums and platforms come up , so that the vital truth isn’t crushed. For it that happens, then what’s left!

Going through the literature of the decades past by, I am sitting wondering where are the rebel poets whose verse dripped with intense passion and raw emotions …those poets of yesteryears seemed to have dipped each one of their words in their own blood and sweat.

Whilst on poets, I must write that historical texts and literature on the Kashmir region carry verse after verse of the poets and poetesses who held sway in that region…through their verse they had reached out to the masses. What if those poets were alive and around, wouldn’t they have cried out through their verse?

Why silence the liberal voice ?

And as the news had come in of the house arrest of the TDP chief and former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, it seems more than apparent that the establishment is trying to silence any dissenting voice .After all, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP ) chief and his son, Nara Lokesh, were all set to come out of their home at Undavalli in Amaravati, to head towards Guntur to lead the ‘Chalo Atamakur’ rally to protest against the State’s “atrocities” on the TDP party workers …Its then , at the very start to the rally, the police did not allow Naidu and his son to even come out of their home …put them under house arrest.

Correct me if I’m wrong but in those earlier years when democracy was still somewhat intact, we were free to raise slogans and also to deliver passionately rebellious speeches and to bare out our anger and disgust in that non - violent way… Today that seems getting more than sabotaged. The manner in which house arrests are getting enforced, goes on to relay the very hopelessness. To put it mildly, its getting absolutely shocking to see how many amongst us are forced to sit all quiet and shut. Under house arrest!

If we were to take the case of Kashmir, it seems more than shocking to see the political class - the political leaders of the Valley - put under house arrest, if not formally arrested and imprisoned.

Needless to say that the ongoing ‘house arrest’ orders of the political who’s who, comes across as unsettling …a grim situation where daughters have to move courts to seek permission to meet their mothers, when ageing house-arrested fathers sit awaiting to get news of their house- arrested sons, when ailing leaders like M.Y. Tarigami are allowed to be off the house arrest situation and get flown for treatment to AIIMS (New Delhi ) only after the intervention and orders of the Courts.

M.Y. Tarigami I have met M.Y. Tarigami of the CPI ( M) on two occasions and was left impressed with his views and opinions …put forth mildly and without a trace of political aggression or arrogance. The first time I had met this veteran leader was in 2006 , when I was in Srinagar to attend a conference on the ‘Indian Federalism at work’ …he had invited some of us to his Gupkar road home for breakfast.
I recall asking him that what could be some viable solution to the turmoil and tension in the Kashmir region. He said that there ought to be opening of the borders for the travel and visits of the Kashmiris from the ‘Indian side of Kashmir’ to the ‘Pakistan side of Kashmir’ …he had detailed that when buses can ply from here to there, why can’t human beings walk across from this side of Kashmir to that side of Kashmir (POK ) to meet their relatives ?...

According to Tarigami, that would not just help lessen the tension in the area but also bring to the fore the ground realities on the other side , which he’d said were tougher and bleaker - “ I’m told that the realities that side are tougher than witnessed on our side of Kashmir …Those who have travelled to PoK have got back recounting many more horrifying situations and rights violations than what is witnessed in Srinagar and in the surrounding areas.”

I had met him the second time in the summer of 2015, when a media meet was held in Srinagar. This time he had again spoken of the merits vis-a-vis to the opening of the borders …he had also spoken of the ongoing grave situation and the human tragedies taking place in the Kashmir Valley and the urgent need for a political dialogue to take off for a lasting political settlement.

Tarigami is one of those leaders who talks with great restrain and responsibility. Yet without mincing words or sentiments, he manages to put across his views …

Tell me, why should liberal and progressive leaders like Tarigami be made to keep shut! Why can’t they be allowed to speak out…They speak of the ground realities and assert their views in that non - violent way.


Faiz Ahmad Faiz:
“Somewhere near the pillow,
the night’s fading away,
Or is it the candle melting?
Something is burning within me –
Is that your memory, or my
life seeking to depart.”