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July 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         June 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:May' 2018


A true loyalist

Humra Quraishi

Sunil Dutt For the last few years I have asked the politicians I interviewed one basic query – what is the way out from the heap of disasters hitting us? And one of the politicians to have come up with a practical solution was Sunil Dutt. In fact, on Sunil Dutt’s birthday - June 6, I kept thinking of the vision he held out after touring rural India.

On the four different occasions I’d met and interviewed this actor turned politician- activist, I recall asking him what could be a possible solution to the communal surcharge the country had begun witnessing right from the early 90s.

He had rather too spontaneously detailed, “Only last night I was going through the latest Time magazine and the horrorifying photographs of the war -ridden Somalia shocked me so much that I couldn’t eat. It was dinner time but couldn’t touch a morsel…just couldn’t! Those horrifying pictures of human beings lying injured and ill, dying, rendered so frail and weak that they couldn’t even walk or talk. These human disasters because of the ongoing civil strife in Somalia….And now I am going to suggest that those pictures and connected pictures be displayed all over our towns and cities, at all public places and educational institutions. And displayed with this caption: See, what internal war or strife or unrest can do to you ,to your country, to your fellow countrymen! Those pictures will touch one’s soul … will definitely have an impact and make us realize the havoc that internal unrest drags along. ”

There was a certain earnestness and humbleness to Sunil Dutt ,which stood out whilst he talked of the padyatras he undertook to connect to the masses. And though he had sat surrounded by people, yet he lonely to the extent that when I’d asked him who were his friends and foes he’d quipped –“ I have no best friend, as I am myself my best friend! Also , I do I believe that nobody is your enemy except your own destiny.… tapai raikhai hain zamanai kei ! But I suppose one has to fight on , to go on with life. Right from my childhood it has been a struggle but what happened to my son I couldn’t ever even dreamt of …But these are tests of life !”

Needles for me to add that lonely it gets if one is a true loyalist! After all, Sunil Dutt couldn’t have dreamt of getting politically practical! He was a hard core Congress loyalist and remained so, in spite of the fact that he got little political support when he was going through a harsh phase, with even communal tags and labels thrown at him .

As he had told me, “Why this propaganda that I’ve worked only for the Muslims ! Earlier when I had undertaken the padyatra from Mumbai to Amritsar then I suppose it was for no Muslim cause ! It was only for the Hindus and Sikhs. Even during the Bombay riots I helped whoever was suffering and affected .Obviously , I couldn’t have first asked their religion and then got down to helping them! I have always and always helped anybody in pain , in need and anybody who is suffering .

Though I have myself been a victim of the Partition and with that suffered tremendously but my mother taught us never to hate a human being. I have been brought up on this principle and this very principle I have passed on to my children …in fact, my son had really worked in trying to provide every possible assistance to the riot victims but now he says to me , ‘ Papa I will never do any social work …’ See, how sad it is !”

Sunil Dutt detailed the trauma he and the family went through after Sanjay was arrested and imprisoned, “Filthy allegations were thrown against us .Allegations that I can’t even dream of. People calling us ‘Pakistani agents…DeshDrohis’. You can imagine how I felt. Those days wherever I used to go , even the peons at the lawyers’ chambers would say right there on my face – ‘deshdrohi aa rahahai …’ In fact, once my daughters had gone out shopping and told me that the moment they stepped into a shop there was a minute’s silence and then the shoppers started moving out , walking out of that shop …Can you imagine even my deaf wife was dragged into all this ! I could hear people say that Sanjay’s mother was a Muslim . I told these people that you can slash Sanjo and me as much as you like but at least spare the dead; or remember Nargis for the work she did for the spastics, for the blind …Nargis worked for all possible children and didn’t work from any religious angle ….Look what all we did for the country- During the two wars we went to the border areas to meet the jawans and those days , round 1962, when we were financially hard up I’d donated I lakh for the PM’s relief fund in fact, I am ready to do anything for the country .”

Goon brigades let loose

With deteriorating surviving conditions, I sit wondering rather aloud :Where are the saviours? Who is there to stand up for a cause, to protect structures – human and otherwise? Why is no one lashing out at the goon brigades, denting and damaging heritage monument- the Taj Mahal?

Why that eerie quiet in political circles, as lynching is spreading out, seemingly out of control? What could be the way out from the destructive forces spreading out?

Saving lives and souls

And with a severe dearth of loyalists who will out there to save whatever remains of the near - ruptured fabric. Perhaps, a way out could be to publicly honour the men and women who are showing courage and conviction to protect and save lives and souls… I can very spontaneously come up with at least three such persons who in these recent months have tried to reach out in their own ways - Imam Maulana Imdadul Rashidi showed immense maturity when his 16 year old son, Sibtullah Rashidi, was brutally attacked and killed during the Ram Naumi processions in West Bengal’s Asansol, yet he appealed and pleaded that there ought to be no cries for revenge or counter killings. With that, Imam sahib did what the police force couldn’t do – that is, protect the lives and limbs of hundreds of citizens of Asansol Also, West Delhi based Ankit Saxena's father Yashpal Saxena who sabotaged and halted all cries for revenge even as his son was allegedly killed by a Muslim family…If you recall this spring , Ankit Saxena was allegedly murdered by his Muslim girlfriend’s family who were residing in the same neighbourhood , not too far from his home. Thereafter that brutal murder, Ankit’s family controlled their emotions and anger and didn’t come up with a single communal or provocative statement. In fact, his father, YashpalSaxena, tried his utmost to control the communal brigades from spreading hatred and poison in and around New Delhi…And last month, YashpalSaxena even hosted an ‘iftaar’ for over 200 persons in his home in West Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar. He has shown not just great maturity but he has also relayed that a truly good citizen is one who sees to it that the social fabric is not affected and innocents not hounded and harassed. Also, stands out Sub inspector of Ramnagar - Gaganadeep Singh who saved a young man from a communally charged mob.

Leaving a void !

Raj Kishore As news came in of the passing away of the well- known Hindi writer and journalist, Raj Kishore , I have been thinking of my interactions with him. I had first met him in Srinagar,in the summer of 2006 , during a conference on ‘Indian Federalism at Work’ hosted by the Institute of Social Sciences .

Initially he came across as an introvert but then when he spoke, he spoke on…extremely forthright and blunt and honest.Thereafter , we kept in touch and I liked the way he spoke, in that delightfully un -complicated way.

Few of us possess the ability to put across heavily loaded views and view points in a simple and direct way. He did exactly that and with that connected with hundreds ...Another aspect to him was that he wasn’t bothered about the worldly ways and seemed to hate the synthetic and gaudy. Always very, very simply clad in cottons, he looked comfortable and confident with the basics.