Citizenship Amendment Act protest (Photo Credit: File Image)
Several activists and artistes on Wednesday recited poems, sang songs and performed plays to express their solidarity with people protesting against the amended citizenship law. They had gathered at the Constitution Club of India under the aegis of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT).
Sohail Hashmi, brother of Safdar Hashmi, said on January 1, 1989 Safdar was fatally attacked during a theatre performance by a troupe in Sahibabad. “Every year we mark this day, to underscore the democratic and inclusive secular values, with songs, poems, theatre and other artistic expressions, for which SAHMAT was founded in February 1989,” he said.
“What is happening in the country today, whether the Citizenship (Amendment) Law or CAA being foisted upon people or the situation in Kashmir with the abrogation of Article 370 before that or the situation of tribals, and people are not even allowed to protest. Our democratic values are under threat,” Hashmi alleged.
He said the event seeks to lend “creative support” to people who are “bravely opposing” the CAA and other “anti-constitutional decisions” of the government. Theatre and film personality M K Raina, former bureaucrat Harsh Mander, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Jayati Ghosh, among others, attended the event. Many people also sported badges which said ‘No CAA, No NPR—Kagaz Nahin Dikhaienge’ (will not show any papers).
Raina praised the youths who have turned out in large numbers to protest against the CAA from Guwahati to Delhi. “The youths have shown the way and inspired us. Especially the Shaheen Bagh protests have been persistent and unrelenting, a civil disobedience. These protests have awakened a new political consciousness among the citizens,” he told PTI.
He also spoke about the situation in Kashmir and alleged the internet shutdown in Kashmir is an “act of suppression”. “But you cannot muzzle a person’s mind. A body can be incarcerated, but not the spirit,” he said. Broadband internet service was restored in government-run hospitals and SMS facility on all mobile phones from Tuesday midnight in Kashmir, after over four-and-a-half months of suspension.
Internet services, landline and mobile phones were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on August 4, a day before the Centre’s announcement to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate it into Union territories.
Vedi Sinha, a 26-year-old Delhi University graduate, along with her twin sister Pakhi Sinha and another artiste Ujjwal Raj Sen of ‘Aahwan’ group sang songs of dissent drawn from the works of legendary poet Faiz Ahamd Faiz like ‘Hum Dekhenge’.
“This was our first performance with SAHMAT, but we have been performing for the cause at other places. We also took part in anti-CAA protests at Jantar Mantar. My performance is a storytelling, so I sing with an underlining story, always. We want to tell people that love and amity is the answer and people must refuse the divisive politics,” Vedi Sinha said.
An exhibition depicting various protests, including the recent anti-CAA agitations, was put up at the venue. “So quite a lot of those protests over these issues are reflected in the exhibitions here. We are putting across the voice of the artistes who stand united and subsequently defend the unity of this country,” he said.