Today as more and more persons and groups express solidarity with the protesting wrestlers in their demand for action against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, there’s that ray of hope that this collective outcry would hold out
Next time you hear political rulers talk of development, make sure to tell them that there can’t be any talk of development if women and the young feel unsafe and all their pleas go about unheard.
Yes, I’m talking of this particular case, where several of the who’s who in the world of wrestling have been staging a sit-in at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar since April 23. They have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh, yet he sits up there.
Though nothing really shocks one in these times we are destined to be surviving in, but what hits is this: Why is this particular politician getting this level of protection though he is accused of a very serious crime – that of sexual harassment? Why does this government of the day talk about welfare when it can’t protect the dignity of women and children? Why are these top wrestlers who have slogged for years, bringing glory to this country, are being treated with this level of insensitivity?
Another dark reality that hits is this: If the country’s top wrestlers and their cries for justice can go unheard, then one can well imagine the fate of the ordinary citizens. In fact, many victims of rioting keep shut for the sake of their survival. In many cases, the victims do know their molesters and rapists but do not name them as fear looms large. Yes, fear of the aftermath if they come up with the names of their tormentors. Gujarat-based Bilkis Bano dared to name her rapists and murderers of her young child during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, and see her plight. Whilst her tormentors and rapists are roaming about freely after their release from the prison cells, she and the surviving members of her family are living in severe fear, amidst apprehensions and insecurities.
Perhaps, the only way out is for a collective cry to come up. Today as more and more persons and groups express solidarity with the country’s top wrestlers in their demand for action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, there’s that ray of hope that this collective cry would hold out.
Many more citizens ought to come forward. This brings me to write that it’s about time that writers-poets-artists should come together on a common platform. Maybe, just maybe, the destructive forces stand countered to a certain extent with a strong progressive writers movement, spreading out from Kashmir to Kerala. After all, the Progressive Writers Movement of the 1930s wasn’t confined to any particular language or locale. Its strength lay in its broad base amongst writers and poets of Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Bangla …with the very first session of the PWM chaired by Munshi Premchand. Not to be overlooked is the core fact that PWM was the very offshoot of the collective cry; with that, it relayed the aspirations of the workers, the peasant, and the exploited masses of this country.
Of course, then, in the 1930s, we were united. We were not divided. No apparent divisions then, along caste and community and communal formats. Today we are being made to stand divided by the political lobbies at work, to see to it that there’s an ongoing partitioning of psyches, if not of forms. Never before such blatant moves by the communal brigades to make sure that deep divisions come up, between the communities. The situation is compounded by the fact that commercial films are now being made to spread misconceptions and slanted notions about the ‘other’. Ugly propaganda tactics are on, deepening the already deep divide.
Needless to say that these dark dismal realities haven’t come up all too suddenly. The ground realities have been steadily deteriorating in these recent years. I do recall that just before 2017 ended, Gulzar saab didn’t mince words whilst describing the halaats/situation around, commenting along the strain that if one were to pick up any of the day’s newspapers, it would so heavily be laced with news reports of violent killings that if you were to squeeze those pages blood drops would spill out!
We are seeing those tell-tale signs of violence and killings and anarchy and destruction. As though we haven’t learnt a lesson from the past, we are not visualizing nor comprehending what lies ahead.
It is time to speak up. A collective cry, loud and clear.
Speak up…along these lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz –
“Speak Up! /
Speak up, for your lips are not sealed /
and your words are still your own ./
This upright body is yours –/
speak, while your soul is still your own ./
Look there, in that smithy,/
its red oven , fierce flames ,/
the padlocks are already opening their mouths /
and each fetter is skirting around ./
Speak up now, for time’s running out,/
Before your body and mind fade away,/
tell us, for truth is not yet dead./
Whatever you have to say!”