Revolutionary Cultural Front
JNU, New Delhi
Let us arm every song with dreams, in the time of war…
The songs, poetry and theatre of Kabir Kala Manch cannot be imprisoned in jails!
The valiant struggle of the people, against structural violence and injustice
cannot be crushed by draconian laws, branding or witch-hunting!
…Quite amazing, the moonlight that
Floods this room—
I cannot even see the moon outside.
To relieve this solitude
I draw out my blood
And transfuse it
With poetry that is heavy
With the sound of handcuffs.
Chain them if you will…
The birds of freedom
Will break into flight
To the sound of pioneer songs.
Poetry burns quickly
Spreading like a forest fire.
Watch more carefully,
Poetry can stir people…
Poetry is an open secret…
It reaches in a trice
Those it is meant to reach…
The secret is,
My poetry was born
From the pangs of struggle,
Cover it if you must—
You will see it escapes through
The spaces between your fingers,
Its vibrant , anguished notes
Snapping in anger
Setting tears on fire
And flowing forth—
A river of blood-red syllables.
(while in solitary confinement
in Secunderabad Jail 1985-89)
On April 2nd, 2013 , Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali of the Kabir Kala Manch(KKM), a political cultural organisation, courted arrest outside the Vidhan Sabha Bhavan, Bombay. Members of this organisation had been hounded by the state for more than two years now, a period when they were unable to perform and take their politics to people openly. The KKM had been vocal since 2002 against caste based discrimination, atrocities on dalits, structural violence against the oppressed masses, spreading a revolutionary message for several years now through music, poetry and theatre. As Maharashtra witnessed incidents of gross violence and injustice inflicted on the dalits by the dominant caste and the state authorities as in the case of the rape and murder of the Bhotmange family in Khairlanji (2006), the songs and plays of KKM became more militant. It is this militancy that brought them under the police scanner. In 2011, KKM members were forced to go underground after police began to brand as ‘Maoists’ and hounded them. Two of their members , Deepak Dengle and Siddharth Bhonsle were charged and arrested under the UAPA, by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in April-May 2011.
After two years of prolonged struggle, on the 31st of January this year, the Bombay High Court granted bail to the arrested activists. Justice Thipsay gave the verdict that sympathy for Maoist philosophy is not sufficient ground to conclude that the accused are active members of any terrorist organisation and further stressed that their activities were well within the fundamental rights to freedom of expression assured to citizens. The court also accepted that raising issues of social and economic inequality, exploitation and oppression of the poor and downtrodden or even expressing the view that a change in the social order can be brought only by a revolution is not a crime.
Last week cultural activist and member of Visthpan Virodhi Jan Vikas Manch, Jeetan Marandi was finally released from the Birsa Jail by the Ranchi High Court. The Sessions court had implicated him in a false case and had awarded a death sentence to him and three other activists in 2007 by declaring them guilty of murdering Jharkhand CM’s son and of treason. Jeetan’s songs are a decade long uncompromising and vehement battle against the state-corporate nexus that is looting the natural resources of the country today, displacing thousands of tribals and peasants, and branding all political dissent as ‘terrorist’. In December 2011 he was acquitted from the case by the High Court, but Jeetan and others had to remain in jail thereafter, as the Jharkhand Govt. once again invoked the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) against him. In the face of massive protests in various parts of the country demanding his release, the fascist state, its puppet judiciary and its henchmen in the police, had little choice but to concede to the progressive sections as well as revolutionary masses.
Revolutionary Cultural Front appeals to the students to raise their voice against this deeply casteist-communal and fascist state and its tried and tested tactics of maintaining a façade of democracy. While welcoming the judgements that have freed Jeetan Marandi and granted bail to Deepak Dengle, let us recognise that ‘fundamental rights’ have never been onoffer, but were fought for and defended tooth and nail at every step by the struggling oppressed masses. And we must continue fighting in our songs, theatre and writings in solidarity with the masses that are fighting valiantly against this state and ruling class, to establish a new society.
Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali’scourting arrest yesterday screams out an account of the witch-hunting, branding and monitoring project of the state to stub out the music that is not in tune with the deafening cacophony of the vested interests of corporate houses,ruling class and caste, and that of the state. Whether the imprisonment of Seema Azad, Varavara Rao, Rambali or Gadar, cultural activists have always been targeted, incarcerated and tortured by the state machinery for the revolutionary spirit and zeal they have inspired in the masses. Under immense pressure from civil democratic rights activists they have even been released. But thousands are still languishing behind bars having been charged with the‘crime’ of taking forward a fearless cultural and literary activism that stands by the people’s resistance for their land, livelihood and dignity. Sudhir Dhawale and Utpal Bashke are two names among these thousands. The fight to release all political prisoners including cultural activists must go on in our songs,pamphlets and protests along with upholding the spirit of their politics.
- Angry Jeetan Marandi vows to continue stir for poor (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- PRESS RELEASE – Kabir Kala Manch Members Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali court arrest (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- Amnesty International Appeal – Arrested theatre activists at risk of torture (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- Two members of Kabir Kala Manch stage ‘satyagraha’ (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- Solidarity Statement -Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) for KKM (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)