JNU student raps mob lynching, roots for MASUKA

‘We live in times when young, conscientious artists have to find their muse not in nature, not in love, not in God, but in the evil that surrounds us’

YouTube screenshot
YouTube screenshot

Ashutosh Sharma

“As a class twelve kid, I was attacked by a mob for trying to protect a cousin who wasn't dressed ‘appropriately’ by Guwahati standards,” Rahul Rajkhowa (22)—a resident of Assam who is pursuing post-graduation in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and a budding rapper—shared an anecdote on Facebook as he posted his new song to protest against growing number of incidents of mob lynching in the country on Wednesday.

Recalling ‘back scary memories’ against the backdrop of spiralling incidents of mob violence, Rahul goes on to add: “My father did save me but as the mob attacked a 16-year-old version of me, DY365 news channel filmed it all, and sent out a news in the evening: Young boy tries to interfere in lovers' quarrel and gets beaten up by public.”

“As the city watched footages of me being hit on the face and the neck by 28-35 year old men, I went into depression and it took me a while to recover,” his Facebook blog reads, adding that “now as I see the news about cases of mob lynching and religious violence, I find it deeply upsetting, because it’s such a primitive, low and heinous thing to do and there is no law against it yet.”

Stressing on the need for Maanav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA), he further says in his post, “I do hope MASUKA gets passed…here is my pledge, and I promise I will spread awareness through music or whatever form to the best of my abilities. We are better than this. India will change for the better.”

In the three minutes five second number, Rahul ridicules ‘killing people over meat, killing people over love, killing people in the name of honour, people taking law into their hands, people acting heartless and spewing hate based on artificial lines’. Maintaining that ‘no God ever taught to kill and hate’, he wonders if this is the country the Mahatama created.

Rahul considers his “choice of rap as a tool for social justice.” He has been inspired by rappers like Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube and Dr Dre, all of whom rapped about police brutality against African-Americans, and Kendrick Lamar. The idea of rap, he laments, has become distorted in India by the likes of Badshah and Honey Singh.

In the past also, Rahul has composed some rap songs and shared the videos on Facebook to protest against cuts in number of MPhil and PhD seats in JNU, steps that shattered the dreams of many students including him. He wasplanning to get enrolled in a research course in the varsity. He has also taken on other social and political issues such as rape jokes and fake nationalism and poured his feelings and thoughts out via rap songs.

“Rap music has evolved as a medium to express agony and a tool to generate collective hope. Rap music is essentially music against oppression and discrimination. One sound, a thousand voices,” the rapper says philosophically. And in consonance with his passionate ideas, the concluding part of Rahul’s new rap number goes like this:

First we’re humans

Then we’re Indians

There is no point in fighting over religion

This is a manmade divide

Instead to save nature

We should fight to bring in peace and love

Is it too difficult to do what is right

How long we gotta wait

Till we can put an end to this war

How long we gotta wait

Religions don’t decide who we’re

How long we gotta wait

Till we treat humans for what they’re

How long we gotta wait

Till we gotta wait no more

“How hard must it be to write poetry about fascism? Well, we live in times when young, conscientious artists have to find their muse not in nature, not in love, not in God, but in this evil that surrounds us,” student leader, Shehla Rashid wrote on her Facebook wall, sharing the video. “Here's a song of the dark times, about the dark times.”

“Your music and lyrics makes JNU teachers like me very proud to be in the same university as people like you. I hope that you will be able to come back to JNU very soon….,” Professor Ayesha Kidwai wrote in the comment box of his YouTube video.

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Published: 13 Jul 2017, 6:33 PM