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SAHMAT protest against hatred through art, poetry and music

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A plate, a knife and blood spilled on it; a person wearing a cow mask carrying placard that read "misused, abused and used", these and many such posters screamed for attention in a protest against incidents of hate violence in India.

Starting with historian-activist Sohail Hashmi reciting verses of 'Main Ghass hun' (I am grass) of revolutionary poet Pash, protest titled 'Artists Dissent' was organized by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) here recently.

The evening saw songs of protest and change sung by composer-singer Kajal Ghosh, sufi singer Dhruv Sangari and others.

Though not a full-fledged protest as it was earlier designed to be, under the banner of 'India Against Hate', which was postponed to September 10 due to the imposition of Section 144 in few areas of the city, the protest did manage to attract almost 100 people from all walks of life.

"SAHMAT had decided to be part of the 'say no to hatred' protest for which the call was given during the 'Not In My Name' campaign only. We were all ready but due to prohibitory orders, it has now been postponed.

"However, as decided we are still having a protest, only a smaller one. And will be having one in many areas of Delhi on September 10 also," Hashmi said.

The violence that ensued following the conviction of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a rape case led to the Delhi Police enforcing prohibitory orders till September 8.

Other than songs, stories and art creations, the innovative protest was peppered with acts of human chains where art students from Shiv Nadar University were seen with the messages written on them against hatred and intolerance.

This also included a girl masquerading as a cow with 'Not in my name' written over her.

"We wanted to go beyond little symbols or slogans in the protest...We wanted to be part of it through the body or action. So we prepared little acts for it," Mohit, an art student at the university who has taken part in many such protests with innovative ways, said.

Highlight of the protest was playwright and 'Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai' fame Asghar Wajahat showing up with sarcastic conversations of a deshbhakt (patriot).

"A patriot asks dalit 'Do you love your country?', dalit replies, 'Can I give you this answer inside the temple?'...'I have got my reply...You don't love this country!'," said Wajahat, and many laughed at the irony of situation.

There was also a visual signature campaign where people were seen registering their dissent by getting themselves photographed against a photowall that had embossed on it names of victims of hate and lynching like Mohammad Akhlaq, Rohith Vemula, Najeeb, Narendra Dabholkar and Junaid, among others.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, August 29 2017. 16:02 IST