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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 48 New Delhi, November 21, 2015

Ved Bhasin, Praful’s Book-launch, Bihar Results

Saturday 21 November 2015, by Humra Quraishi



When news came in of the passing away of the Jammu-based veteran journalist, Ved Bhasin, my first spontaneous reaction was—we have lost a brave man, who spoke and wrote so very fearlessly ... He wrote with conviction and passion.

Though this soft-spoken man looked mild and had a certain serenity spread on his face but he didn’t mince words, nor dilute details to the horrific human rights violations in the Kashmir region. I’d met him about five times and each time I was amazed to see that absolute fearlessness in him. In fact, once I had even asked him—doesn’t he fear the aftermath, that is, backlash from the state machinery? He’d swayed his head in that determined way and told me that right from his teenage days he’d been one of those rebels who’d never give up that fight for the rights of the masses. He had detailed the struggles, the hurdles and threats he had faced. In fact, whilst narrating those details he’d mentioned about the supportive role of his spouse. ‘Without her support I couldn’t have carried on this fight. Not once did she complain or nag, not once coming in the way of my determination to expose the facades and layers of the political mess. She was always there by my side ... ’ In fact, one afternoon Bhasin saab had called, he’d sounded gloomy and said he’d just finished reading one of my pieces on cancer, adding that after his wife succumbed to cancer he made it a point to read any information on cancer.

Ved Bhasin was one of those who were not just aware of the facts and factors to the entire Kashmir region—that is, the undivided Kashmir—but in close contact with the masses. He knew the grassroot-level realities, the exact build-ups and the characters involved ...

In fact, each time we met I would tell him that he should write a book on the Kashmir region or his autobiography where political turns and twists should be webbed. He would smile and say that some day he would...

I wish he had, for he was no ordinary man. An extraordinary man, his book would have carried extraordinary and intricate details of the Kashmir region, of the struggles and plight of the Kashmiris—a region and people he loved. If I could say, he was emotionally connected to Kashmir.

At Praful Bidwai’s Volume-launch

Sunday—November 8—saw the launch of the well-known journalist Praful Bidwai’s volume, The Phoenix Moment : Challenges Confronting The Indian Left (Harper Collins). A volume he’d been working on for the last couple of years but tragically before the book could get published Praful passed away—he died this summer in a freak accident: he choked on the food he was eating in a restaurant in Amsterdam.

One of those comprehensive volumes on the Left, it ought to be read by the Left leaders. It could, rather should, lead to some level of introspection.Why this decline of the Left parties in India? Why the Left is unable to counter the fascist forces? Why this lack of unity amongst the Left factions, weakening of its cadres? Why an apparent lack of Left literature? Why no consolidated effort to strengthen the Left so that it could take on the communal propaganda unleashed by the Right-wing?

In fact, speakers at this volume launch— Zoya Hasan, Harsh Kapoor, Neera Chandhoke, Sobhanlal Datta Gupta—were brilliant in their hard hitting views ... More than stating that this volume ought to be read and it should serve as a wake-up call.

The Best Possible Diwali Gift!

Bihar election results have given us the best possible Diwali gift! Several offshoots. Foremost, that people of Bihar don’t want to be ruled by murderers. They’d care a damn for all-possible packages from the Centre; announcement of crores don’t matter, it’s that togetherness which has to be kept alive ... Human life is precious, not the supposed crores.

Laloo and Nitesh’s victory does give a major jolt to the fascist forces. To quote Arun Shourie, the results are a hard-hitting slap on the face of the BJP!

In the last several months the situation had been going from bad to worse, with masked men of the BJP-RSS coming out with third-class tactics but these Bihar election results could halt their moves to a certain extent ... If you’d recall, it was Laloo Yadav who had halted L.K. Advani’s rath yatra way back in the early 1990s and to this day Laloo Yadav has been as outspoken as before: his outright and downright criticism of the BJP-RSS is hitting!

And now that Laloo plans to travel to Varanasi with his ‘lantern’, there’s some hope that he could drill some sense into the Yadavs ruling Uttar Pradesh. Till the Uttar Pradesh sarkar does not halt the Right-wing political mafia unleashing its fury and poison in the Avadhi belt, there’s little hope for sanity to prevail. After all, they come out with gutter utterances that reside in the plains of Uttar Pradesh. Western Uttar Pradesh is in the hands of the Right-wing mafia . ... It’s time Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav stop playing hide-and-seek with the realities of the day, otherwise they could get booted out in the UP elections.

And before I end this column I’m sitting wondering why the BJP’s top brass is obsessed with dogs. Each and every time they have to give some sort of an analogy, it was to be a pup or a full-fledged dog! Today even Shatrughan Sinha is not spared from this. Why? Menaka Gandhi’s tutoring!

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