Farmers’ protest and the irony of celebrating Human Rights Day in our country

On this Human Rights Day, the very irony hits hard. Where are the rights of the hapless human being? Aren’t even basic rights getting snatched and trampled upon by the government of the day?

Farmers’ protest and the irony of celebrating Human Rights Day in our country

Humra Quraishi

On this Human Rights Day, the very irony hits hard. Where are the rights of the hapless human being? Aren’t even basic rights getting snatched and trampled upon by the government of the day? Aren’t they getting so very ruthlessly crushed by a system that cares little for our survival and more for those bogus facades and fanfare?

In fact, I feel very worried about our farmers and their families. I feel very fearful of the aftermath they could face for standing up, asking for their rights, raising pertinent queries and not giving in to any of the government dictates.

I recall that exactly a year back when the anti- CAA protestors were out there at Shaheen Bagh, raising pertinent queries, one didn’t quite realize the way they would get hounded by the State machinery and the agencies. In fact, to this day all those who took part in the anti- CAA protests are being hounded, in one way or the other. Students and activists and anybody who dared the government during that time was arrested. Worse was to follow, in the pogrom took place in North East Delhi earlier this year, even the victims were declared culprits! So much so that a doctor- Dr M A Anwar of the Al - Hind hospital - who saved and treated hundreds of the injured in that rioting, found his name in the long list of those charge- sheeted!

Mind you, that hounding of people continues to this day. Recently published ground reports state that many Muslim men are fleeing from the bastis of North -East Delhi because the police are arresting even the innocent.

In fact, I’m reminded of the similar pattern in the Kashmir Valley, where hundreds of families are rendered ‘fatherless’, as men are picked up by the police and the agencies, thereafter never to be found. Only their names are to be found in the list of those missing’! In all probability they couldn’t take the strain of the interrogation tactics and succumbed yet their deaths, nay killings and murders, are kept far away from public domain! In fact, there are over 10,000 missing men in Kashmir Valley and nobody knows their whereabouts! Mothers and fathers who formed the APDP - Association of Parents of Disappeared persons – which is said to be one of the largest such associations in this part of the world, sit awaiting for the return of their sons…though most are aware of the futility of that wait.

Getting back to New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and the rest of the northern states, there seems a rather clear and distinct pattern to the hounding of men from the minority community. It started off with cow lynching, closure of slaughter houses and even road side biryani stalls, special police squads to nab the ‘Romeos’-- more so if those happened to be Muslim looking men dating non – Muslim women, random arrests of all those raising their voice against the CAA – NRC …now , of course, the new tyrannical order of the day against Love Jihad!

On this Human Rights Day I wish to ask the rulers of the day this vital basic question- where are my human rights if I cannot even cry out and aloud for my existence in my own country!

Are we going to be made to sit so very scared and fearful of the cops that it will be very difficult if not impossible for hundreds amongst us to even plead for our rights to survive?

I have been reciting these lines of Devi Prasad Mishra ( translated from Hindi ) tucked in the pages of ‘Kavita 93 ’ ( Virgo Publications)

“Remains of me/

Here I was born/

On this stone/

On a face like/

My own face/

I put my face and /

Wept for days/

Here I sat holding my head/

And there flowed my blood/

Somewhere here/

On this part of the earth/

I was threatened to vacate the earth/

And here perhaps

In the neighbourhood of me/

Are traceable/

Remains of me.”

And before this Human Rights Day fades into yet another dismal day, I’m reading verse after verse of our revolutionary poets from ‘Anthems of Resistance’ ( India Ink / Roli Books ) where two brothers, Ali Husain Mir and Raza Mir, have focused on the powerful verse of the progressive poets of the years gone by… Today their verse ought to be rendered in support of our farmers!

Interestingly, poet after poet of that bygone era urged and pleaded and persuaded the masses to speak up, to speak out about the heady sentiments relaying that ongoing pain and hurt and sorrow.

I have been reading and re-reading the best of Kaifi Azmi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi, Josh Malihabadi, Ali Sardar Jafri … tucked in the pages of this wonderful volume -

This verse of Kaifi Azmi

“How long will I live this oppressed death -like existence

The times are about to change

My blood boils, my brow is sweaty,

My pulse pounds, my chest is fiery

Roar O Revolution, for I am ready.”

And these lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz-

“Not enough to shed tears, to suffer anguish

Not enough to nurse love in secret

Today, walk in the public square fettered in chains.”

And this verse of Sahir Ludhianvi-

“That morning, when the veil of night will slip away from the head of these dark centuries

When the clouds of suffering melt, when the wine- glass of happiness sparkles

When the sky dances joyously and the earth sings songs of delight

Surely, that morning will dawn someday.”

Also, this verse of Sahir Ludhianvi

“Before your body and tongue die

Speak, for truth still lives

Speak up, say that which you must.”

Or as Faiz Ahmad Faiz says in his poem Bol (Speak)

“Speak, for your lips are still free/

speak, for your tongue is still yours

your body, though frail is still yours

speak, for life is still yours

look, in the blacksmith’s workshop

the flames are hot, the steel is red

the mouths of the locks are beginning to open

the links of the chains are coming undone

speak, for the little time you have is enough”

Faiz does not leave at that, but furthers; with more absolutely emotion laden lines -

“So what if my pen has been snatched away from me

I have dipped my fingers in the blood of my heart

So what if my mouth has been sealed; I have turned

Every link of my chain into a speaking tongue.”

These powerful lines of Ahmed Rahi -

“Our lives were spent in despair; hope had begun to stir in our hearts

We thought our destiny would change, but alas, we were deceived.”

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