A call to defend the Constitution with creative expression

The annual event of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust to highlight India’s secular traditions

December 30, 2019 01:37 am | Updated 01:37 am IST - NEW DELHI

At a time when protests are being organised across the country against the citizenship law, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat) will start the New Year with its annual event that seeks to resist all forces that threaten the right to freedom of creative expression.

Sahmat, created in memory of political activist, actor, playwright and poet Safdar Hashmi, who was violently attacked while performing a street play in Sahibabad on January 1, 1989 and succumbed to injuries the following day, has for thirty one years been a platform for creative expression that resists communal forces. Safdar Memorial is conducted on the eve of his death anniversary every year.

Speaking about this year’s event, Sohail Hashmi, Safdar’s brother said: “This year we have seen a series of attacks on the Constitution of India. First with the abrogation of Article 370, the dismantling of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the bifurcation of the State without the consent of the people of Kashmir and then with the passing of the amended Citizenship Act, which is against the secular fabric of our country. The memorial on January 1 will be a call for the people to defend the Constitution using creative expression.

He added that Sahmat was created as a platform for artists to defend creative freedom and expression as Safdar was attacked by forces that did not want him to perform.

Religious intolerance

“The biggest threat to all forms of expression we have found after Safdar’s attack comes from one source, which is religious intolerance and a majoritarian discourse that were being pushed then and continue till today,” Mr. Sohail said.

Mr. Sohail said this year’s memorial will continue its tradition of highlighting India’s secular traditions like the sufi-bhakti traditions and focus on classical music, folk art, poetry and other art forms that encapsulate the fight for a secular nation.

The memorial will be organised at 1 p.m. at Constitution Club Annexe, Rafi Marg on January 1. There will be street plays, music, release of new books and a performance by Carnatic musician T.M Krishna.

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