Armed with revolutionary poems, Kabir Kala Manch activists want to fight against state

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GAYATRI JAYARAMAN  MUMBAI,
Kabir Kala Manch poster
Kabir Kala Manch poster

Aasaman te rachat 

Nahin jaade mein rajaai 
 
Signal pe teri duniya 
Khadi dhoop mein hai bhai
 
Indica mein firte kutte 
Mercedes mein ghoomte kutte 
 
Tujhe biscuit ki bheek 
Aisa kyon hai? Aisa kyon hai? Aisa kyon hai?
Above the bustle of dense Pune city traffic, at a roadside tapri, the sweet voice of primary poet and composer of cultural activism group Kabir Kala Manch, Deepak Dhengle, 38, resurrects these, the first words of revolution he ever penned a decade ago. Three others of the group, Jyoti Jagtap, 27, Siddharth Bhonsle, 27 and Rupali Jadhav, 28 share one cup of tea between them, and listen to the lyrics that are their only weapon against a State that labels them naxals.
All of them have spent the last two years underground, but courted arrest in May this year, and are currently out on bail. Their colleague, poet Sheetal Sathe, nine months pregnant and incarcerated at Byculla jail in Mumbai under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, is released on bail a day after this meeting. Rupali’s husband, Sagar Godkhe, and Jyoti’s husband, Sachin Kale, remain behind bars.
Dhengle, a small time motor mechanic who found employment with the government in Pune after he came to the city when his father was displaced after TELCO shut down in Bhimashankar, in 1996, joined the Manch after the Gujarat riots. He found them singing about the removal of caste, class and community differences. He began to compose and sing too.
Arrested under sections 465, 387, 419, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120 B of the IPC, section 10, 13, 17, 18, 18A, 18 B, 20, 21, 38, 39, 40 (2) of the UAPA, Dhengle’s defence claims that he was tortured in custody to the extent that he faces potential paralysis and was forced to confess sympathy for Naxal. He has never picked up a gun or received arms training, he says. He has been suspended from service and survives on the goodwill of friends.
This is not the intellectual activism of the well-ensconced elite. The crackdown of the State is so intense, to continue is not an easy or obvious choice to make. But he, and those with him, will continue to sing of these issues at colleges, in slums, he says, come what may.
“There is a difference between the ahimsa of Gandhi and the ahimsa of Buddha. Buddha spoke of attadippa bhava (annihilation). It is a whole philosophy of opposition that ends oppression. The youth in its enthusiasm wants instant change. The voice, with which we sing, is the vidrohi voice (the counter culture, the voice of opposition). It is drawn from a long history of Dalit literature and activism that prompted social betterment. If this has us branded naxals, then so be it. If Babasaheb Ambedkar was alive today, maybe he would have accepted the Communist party.” Dhengle says.

 

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