For how long can one keep quiet watching the atrocities around us? There comes a point where we have to speak up. Artists from across the country have come together to speak up ‘against hate’ and for ‘democracy’. In Delhi, they will be performing at Red Fort on March 2 and 3.
“This is a platform for a lot of artists who are coming together against hate. We see that the climate of hatred is destroying our heritage, our plurality and our diversity. Violence has been unleashed against certain sections of our society and that has pained us. The attacks against artists, filmmakers, journalists, writers, educational institutions continue unabated,” says Saba Dewan, one of the organisers of the “Artists Unite” programme. She was also one of the organisers of ‘Not in my name’ protest.
During the two days, there will be free performances in many cities of the country including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Pune and Kolkata. In Delhi, Shubha Mudgal, Astad Deboo, Aditi Mangaldas, Askari Naqvi, Delhi Sultanate and Begum X, among others will be performing.
“If we don’t protest now, then when,” is Dewan’s question. Citing a latest example, Dewan said a play ‘Eidgah Ke Jinnat’ on Kashmir, directed by Abhishek Majumdar in Jaipur at Jawahar Kala Kendra was cancelled on Wednesday. “A group of right-wing supporters created a ruckus and the play had to be stopped. This is a highly acclaimed play, which takes a humanist stand and has been performed several earlier too. This is an attack on the freedom of expression,” points out Dewan.
“We have reached a stage where assaults and attacks on different sections of the society have been normalised. This is not how a democracy must function,” says Dewan and goes on to add that the entire programme is funded by the artists community. There is also an attempt to crowdfund online for a few artists who don’t have the means to travel.
“If we don’t unite - perhaps we won’t be able to argue, disagree, push the limits and ask the big questions. We’ll just have to agree with you-know-who and you-know-what. Or get jailed. Or shot. Or banned. Or beaten,” says author Arundhati Roy in a video supporting the movement.
In their declaration, the artists state that “Never before has hate been directed with such calculated intent against Muslims, Christians, Adivasis, Dalits, women, trans people, people in conflict areas and even children. The right to life, the right to love, food choices, cultural expression, language and histories are all under assault by this politics, which is at war with the people of India and their diverse cultures.”
They have appealed to the democratic, secular political parties to think anew of a politics rooted in economic and social justice; ecological and environmental sustainability; plurality and diversity; decentralisation and devolution of power; ethics, love, compassion, tolerance and the rule of law.