Her courage and grace shine amid gloomy times

Prof Roop Rekha Verma, former acting V-C of Lucknow University, carried the courage to stand as surety for the release on bail of scribe Siddique Kappan, who had been languishing in jail for months

Upcoming on 8 March, the International Women’s Day. And perhaps I’m expected to focus on this day. But as I’ve been writing all along, this day is of little or nil significance for me, because it’s been hijacked by the political-opportunist lot to deliver fancy-fashionable speeches and more along the strain.

Prof Roop Rekha Verma

How can one even dare think in terms of ‘celebrating’ this day when blatant violations are taking place! When raped women are finding it tough to get their convicted rapists kept lodged in prisons cells. Yes, I’m referring to Bilkis Bano, whose rapists and killers of her daughter and other family members, have managed to get released from the prison cells, roaming out freely whilst she and the alive members of her clan are surviving in sheer anxiety and apprehensions.

There would be hundreds and thousands of our women whose survival is at stake whilst we go on giving speech after speech!The ground realities are so alarming that after sunset it getsdifficult for an unescorted woman to even walk down the street; chances of getting molested and abused hold out. More so, in the so called developed smart cities!

And though the Women’s Day is still days ahead but I can well imagine the speeches and skits and sessions lined up; with the speakers trying to outdo the other in terms of flowery speeches, that is!

If was I to vote for the one particular woman who truly deserves an award on this day, it ought to be the Lucknow-based Professor Roop Rekha Verma.

Siddique Kappan

Last summer, in 2022, Professor Roop Rekha Verma, former acting vice chancellor of the Lucknow University, carried the courage to stand as surety for the release on bail of Siddique Kappan – the journalist from Kerala, who had been languishing in jail for several months in Uttar Pradesh.

The bail conditions required the surety of two residents of the state, and with the prevailing political climate, nobody seemed keen to come forward. Till, of course, Verma volunteered to stand surety for this journalist. According to me it’s a huge gesture to reach out to a prisoner in deep distress.

Today women of the stature of Verma are rare. Though she must be in her late 70s but not letting age come in way, she  is there to help out  citizens of the country, whose  basic human rights  have  been  bypassed or sabotaged  or violated by the system and by those manning it.

And what particularly impressed me about her is the fact that she keeps an extremely lowprofile. Far, far away from the media glare. Always dressed in simple cottons, sans any trace of make-up, she stands out with her personality- modest and humble and so very dignified.

What if Empress Razia Sultan was still ruling Delhi!

Reading, rather re-reading, verse after verse on the erstwhile ruler of Delhi, Razia Sultan. What if she was still ruling here, in the capital city? Not to be overlooked the fact that she lived hundreds of years back. Perhaps, over 800 years back, but till date she stands out.

In fact, today’s modern-day poets have been writing verse after verse on her, on her courageous brilliant moves. Quoting verse on her, from Bushra Alvi Razzack edited anthology -‘Dilliwali – Celebrating the woman of Delhi through poetry – A multilingual anthology’:

These lines of Aabha Vatsa, from her poem- Mallika Delhi: Razia Sultan –

“Razia Sultan, the darling daughter/

Of Iltutmish, the Sultan of Delhi/

Was born with a meteoric destiny/

That blazed Medieval India. /

Her reign of less than four years/

A torch bearer/

Not just for women of the contemporary world/

But as long as life exists/


No Sultana/

But the Supreme Sultan herself/

Grew up as a princess/

Regal and beautiful/

Totally aware of the destiny/

That Allah had bestowed on her…”

And this verse of poet Rajesh Joshi, titled – Razia Sultan:

“Though soft at heart/

Melting at a glance/

Of that big black man, Altunia/

A slave /

And she a princess/

She was a woman of substance/

Razia Sultan/

Reigning her rule over Delhi/

The first ever Muslim woman ruler/

Surpassing her two brothers/

In matters of mind /

In matters of might /

Holding the sword in her young hands /

Dropping off the veil/

And donning the garb of a man/

Refusing to be called Sultana/

Just the wife of a king/

Sultan herself was she/

Fighting till the end/

Never surrendering/

Though soft was she at heart/

To fall in love/

To look into the sorrows of her people/

Yet strong enough/

To be remembered till day/

The Razia Sultan/

Not only ruling over the sultanate of Delhi/

But the heart of people too.”

And also these lines of poet Abhay K.:

“Razia Sultan/

Queen and king fused in one/

As Ardhnarishwar- Parvati and Shiva/

I ruled the court dominated by men/

With my seductive charm/

As a tigress/

Gently turning the wheel of time/

Delhi eagerly awaits my return/

To rescue her women/

Raped in moving vehicles/

To answer their distress calls.”