Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


On the 19th of June 2019, India’s 17th parliament was sworn in by the speaker of the Lok Sabha. Muslims and Dalit leaders who took the oath were taunted incessantly by members of the ruling BJP in a naked act of intimidation. Troubled times could not have been announced more presciently.


A day before, on June 18, a 24 year old youth named Shams Tabrez Ansari was lynched by a mob in Jharkhand who repeatedly asked him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” as they beat him with sticks till he died. Several incidents have been reported across the plain, of youths being beaten up and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram.” The belligerent accosting of minorities correlates to an increased incidence of gender and caste violence across North and East India, as empowered hooligans wreak violence across society.


On the 20th of June, Sanjiv Bhatt, a courageous police officer from Gujarat cadre who had charged then chief minister Narendra Modi of direct complicity in the 2002 massacres of Gujarat was sentenced to life in prison by a session court on the basis of a 28 year old sham case of custodial death. Bhatt is the first police officer in Gujarat to have been sentenced to life imprisonment.


The landslide victory of the BJP at the hustings in the May 2019 polls is a catastrophe that is only beginning to unfold. One recalls the transmutation of the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich in 1930s Germany, and the script in India carries a chillingly similar after-echo.


It is time for the forces of secularism, socialism, liberalism, democratic rights, civil liberties and fundamental human dignity to raise a common banner against the forces that threaten not just the nation but vulnerable communities across the globe. By way of defiant optimism of the will in the face of dark times, we recall the ringing words of Faiz:


Aaj Baazar Mein Paa-Bajaulaan Chalo


Chashm-e nam, jaan-e shoreeda kaafi nahin

Tohmat-e ishq-posheeda kaafi nahiin

Aaj baazar mein paa-bajaulaan chalo


Dast-Afshan chalo, mast-o raqsaan chalo

Khaak bar-sar chalo, khoon ba-damaa chalo

Raah takta hai sab shahr-e janaan chalo

Aaj baazar mein paa-bajaulaan chalo


Haakim-e shahr bhi, majmaa-e aam bhi

Teer-e ilzaam bhi, sang-e dushnaam bhi

Subh-e nashaad bhi, roz-e nakaam bhi

Aaj baazar mein paa-bajaulaan chalo


In ka dum-saaz apne siva kaun hai?

Shahr-e jaanan mein ab baa-safaa kaun hai?

Dast-e qaatil ke shaayaan raha kaun hai?

Rakht-e-dil baandh lo, dil figaaro chalo

Phir hameen qatl ho aayen yaaro chalo.

Aaj baazar mein paa-bajaulaan chalo


Come In Shackles to the Marketplace


The teary eye is not enough

Nor is the accusation of concealed love

Come in shackles to the marketplace


With hands held high, swaying and dancing, walk

Walk with sand in your hair and blood on your shirtfront

The city of our beloved beckons, come

Come in shackles to the marketplace


The ruler of the city awaits, as does the multitude

The arrow of slander and the stone of invective awaits too

The forlorn morning too, and the unfulfilled day

Come in shackles to the marketplace


Who is their champion save us?

In the city of our beloved, is there anyone left pure?

Who is ready for the executioner’s sword?

Pack up your hearts’ belongings, o broken-hearted ones

Let it be us again who is murdered, friends


Come in shackles to the marketplace.

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