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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 34, New Delhi, August 7, 2021

Ruthless times & Some Unusual People | Humra Quraishi

Saturday 7 August 2021, by Humra Quraishi



August 4, 2021

The rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl child in the capital city of the country, New Delhi, is another of those reminders that we are living in dark-barbaric-ruthless times. Nah, no human form is safe and secure, in spite of all those governmental claims that there’s that machinery to look after the welfare and well-being of the citizens. Bogus seem those hollow assurances and tall claims.

Correct me if I’m wrong but only a very small percentage of the rape victims are treated with utmost sensitivity. If left alive they suffer severe dents on their psyches as well as on their forms. They continue witnessing hopelessness, amidst false hopes and promises.

Needless for me to add that the most vulnerable are the children of the country. Yes, both girls and boys. And the vulnerability has only compounded in these coronavirus-ridden times. With hundreds and thousands not being able to attend schools, they are out there in the fields and lanes and by-lanes. Of course, in this particular case the nine year old Dalit girl had entered a cremation ground near the shanty where she lived with her family, to fill cold water from the water-cooler and its there she was raped and murdered by the priest and four other men.

Somehow this girl child’s rape and murder reminded one of the rape and murder of another young girl. In the Spring of 2018, a 8 year old Bakkarwal Muslim girl was raped and murdered in Kathua, on the outskirts of Jammu. Never before in the recent history of the Kashmir region a child had been gang-raped with such brutality. That girl was lured from the forest where she had gone grazing sheep and horses, confined in a village temple, drugged to be raped repeatedly before being bludgeoned to death…when her body was finally recovered from an isolated spot in the forests, communal politics came into play, to such an alarming extent that even the child’s burial was not permitted in her village. Her family carried her battered and bruised and broken body for eight kilometres, to another village, where she lies buried.

Rapes and related murders are accelerating to such extent that one is provoked to comment that there seems a nexus, between the political mafia and the machinery. If you recall what fate awaited the raped Hathras girl. She was burnt to death by the State police force! Ironically, journalists Siddique Kappan and his colleagues, who were travelling down to Hathras to report on that gruesome tragedy were not just detained, but even booked, made to languish in prison!

In fact, reported cases of violence and rape have been accelerating. Shockingly, one case after another from States like Uttar Pradesh. No stopping. No halts. No breakthroughs. All that one does get to hear are those stale-superficial political speeches of the rulers of the day. All those lies akin to raping of our psyches and souls!


Vinod Pande’s - ‘Undertaker’

Veteran filmmaker Vinod Pande turns 81 this coming week - 15 August to be precise. And I recall last year he gifted himself a unique gift by hosting many more talk shows and also completing all his unfinished projects.

Recently I re-watched one of his recent film, Undertaker. It’s a film on human bonding taking off amidst much hopelessness and helplessness. After all, the tale revolves around Lakhpat, an undertaker for unclaimed bodies. One day he is followed by a dead woman’s young son to the cremation ground. The boy turns up at his door again at night, demanding two rotis …Lakhpat feeds him and thereby takes off an emotional bond between the two. And that paves way for the story to unfold, bringing into focus other emotional connects and also the disconnects that are bound to intrude.

In fact, I watched this film in the backdrop of the Coronavirus times we are destined to be living in. With hundreds of deaths taking place the role of undertakers is of utmost significance.

Also the role of filmmakers like Vinod Pande. His positivity holds out in real life. In fact, at eighty plus when most would sit back retired, he is seizing every moment to come up with films and host talk shows and discussions. Creativity at its peak.


Jawhar Sircar - A Stunningly Strong, Secular Voice Makes Way Into The Parliament!

The good news is that Jawhar Sircar, former Prasar Bharti CEO, takes oath as member of the Rajya Sabha. He was nominated to the Upper House by the TMC. Though he’d been a bureaucrat for over four decades but I would like to describe him as a creative genius …along with the secular strain. He is a man with a personality, equipped with strong views. His dislike for the communal and fascist forces is apparent and he is unchanging in his views and outlook. He comes across as a strong fearless man who is well-versed and articulate.

I have read Jawhar Sircar’s writings, and heard him discuss any given topic. For the last several years he has been writing in great detail on each and every festival observed in the country. Its not along some religious strain but more to inform his fellow citizens of the diversity of the land and its people.

In fact, about five years back when I had completed the manuscript of my book on the Dagars and Dhrupad, I wanted Jawhar Sircar to write the foreword to that book, because I was well aware of the fact that his knowledge of our traditional and classical arts was thorough. I requested him and he did write a detailed foreword, which could be described as one of the two strong points to that book. The other being the rare photographs of the Dagars, provided by the Dagar family.

Jawhar Sircar comes across as a man who speaks with strong convictions and an unchanging stand on secularism. His writings and works carry that mark of thorough research and that definite passion to write on the various aspects to our country and us.
He is indeed a rarity in today’s India!

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