Asrar Jaamayee, a well known Urdu Poet of satire and humour left for the heavenly abode on 4th April, 2020. In the times when poets and writers have either sold their conscience or remain terrified of the powerful his is a huge loss to the society. Rarely, we see a poet so upright that he can tell the Prime Minister and Home Minister of the largest democracy in their faces of their oppressive regime.
Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) was enforced in 1985 by the then Congress led Central government to ‘control’ extremism in Punjab. The act was repealed in 1995 after much opposition from the human rights groups. Of around one lakh people arrested under the act less than 2% were actually convicted. It proved to be a tool of Congress governments (Rajiv Gandhi & Narsimha Rao) to frame innocent Sikhs and Muslims.
Jaamayee was one of those who believed that TADA was being used in a discriminatory manner against the minorities and hence should be repealed. In 1994, he was invited to a poetry summit (Mushaira) where the then Home Minister S.B Chavan was the chief guest.
Jaamayee, a fearless poet, used the occasion to launch a scathing attack on TADA as Chavan listened to him. It was one of those occasions where an Urdu poet was telling the rulers of the atrocities being done in the name of laws in front of a huge crowd and the minister could do nothing.
Jaamayee started with a couplet;
Qanuun kaala aaya TADA mai.n band kar do
Sarkaar nai banaya TADA mai.n band kar do
(Black act is passed, jail under TADA
Government passed it, jail under TADA)
Jaamayee further pointed out the harsh reality that the act was being used to blackmail and harass women. Rarely, people talk about the sexual crimes related to such acts. He said;
Kal shaam wo humaari biwi ko dekhte hii
Dhiire se muskuraya TADA mai.n band kar do
(Last night after looking at my wife
He smiled cunningly, jail under TADA)
Without mincing any words Jaamayee accused the whole system, from top to bottom, in running a campaign against the minorities. He accused Congress government with the acouplet;
PM se le ke CM, CM se le ke DM
Har ek ne bataaya TADA mai.n band kar do
(From PM to CM, from CM to DM
Everyone says, jail under TADA)
Jaamayee further attacked the government for using TADA against the Muslims. He said;
Gar muuncho.n wala koi pakdaaye to na pakdo
Gar daaDhii wala aaya TADA mai.n band kar do
(Don’t arrest if the culprit has mustaches
If he has a beard, jail under TADA)
Ahmad ho naam jinka un sab ko jaa ke pakdo
Dawood hoga taaya TADA mai.n band kar do
(Arrest all those whose names are Ahmad
Dawood must be their uncle, jail under TADA)
Here, beard and moustaches signify Mulims and non-Muslims respectively. Ahmad has also been used as a metaphor for Muslim community and Dawood as terrosist. He accused that any Muslim was being arrested under suspicion just because they happened to be Muslim.
Jaamayee asked why the Congress government adopted double standards while dealing with different communities. Questioning about the crime of the demolition of Babri Mosque he asked;
Masjid giraayi jisne usko kabhi na pakDo
Naara ye kyu.n lagaya TADA mai.n band kar do
(Never arrest those who demolished the mosque
Why do you raise slogans, jail under TADA)
The most scathing attack came in the form of a couplet where Jaamayee compared the Congress regime to the rule of Ravana, the legendary demon king of Lanka. He said;
Chishti ke is chaman mai.n is Ram ke vatan mai.n
Ravana ka raaj aaya TADA mai.n band kar do
(In this garden of Chishti, in this nation of Ram
Rule of Ravana has arrived, jail under TADA)
No need to mention, this poem caused ripples in the official circles. It helped in forming further public opinion against the act. Within a few months, as the next general elections were also nearing, the government repealed the act through legislation.
The Narsimha Rao government was hailed for this decision. In an attempt to control the damage done during the last poetry summit (Mushaira) Jaamayee was invited at the next summit (1995) where PM Narsimha Rao was also present. Government hoped that Jaamayee would praise the government as the press was giving him credit for this step by the government.
But, Jaamayee shocked PM Narsimha Rao by reciting these lines;
Chhapvaa rahe.n hai.n Khabre.n kuch log papero.n mai.n
TADA ka bill jo badla koshish meri rahi hai
Sun kar ye khud sataayi Asraar hans ke bolaa
Haa.n! Bill badal gaya hai, par saanp to wahi hai
(This is being published in newspapers, that
The amendment bill for TADA was because of my efforts
Listening to this praise Asraar laughed
Yes! the burrow has changed, but snake is still the same)
Interestingly, he rejected this change in TADA comparing the government with snakes. In a beautiful use of language he uses the first bill for the English word of legislative purpose and the latter bill is an Urdu/ Hindi word for burrow where snake lives.
Today, when Asrar Jaamayee has left us the world of literature in general and Urdu in particular will miss this spirit to stand for the right cause against a powerful government.
(Author is a well known Historian)