Poetry in the face of sedition charges

The cover page of the book Ninna Dhakale Yavaga Needutee? by Yamuna Gavnkar.

The cover page of the book Ninna Dhakale Yavaga Needutee? by Yamuna Gavnkar.  

Siraj Bisaralli, the journalist-poet booked for reading a poem with critical comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) at a cultural festival in Koppal, is yet to get anticipatory bail.

Meanwhile his poem Ninna Dakhale Yavaga Needutti? (When will you submit your documents?) has gone viral on social media. It has already been translated into at least 13 languages including English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. “The poem has gone beyond the poet. People are translating it widely as they seem to think the poem voices their feelings too,” Mr. Bisaralli said.

A collection of poems with voices of criticism against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act titled after Mr. Bisaralli’s poem Ninna Dakhale Yavaga Needutti? has been published by Kriya Madhyama. It was released at the Kalaburagi Sahitya Sammelana.

One more collection on the theme is in the offing, being published by Ladayi Prakashana, Gadag.

‘Not a new phenomenon’

Yamuna Gaonkar, editor of the poetry collection Ninna Dakhale... told The Hindu that filing a case against a poet was not a new phenomenon.

“D.R. Bendre was arrested by the colonial British government for his poem Narabali. Now we have a government that is resorting to similar means. Poetry has taken to the streets in these dark times and it has become thea mode of protest,” she said.

The collection includes translations of poems and songs that have become anthems of protests across the country and in Karnataka too such as Hum Dekhenge by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Hum Kagaz Nahi Dikhayenge by Varun Grover, apart from W.H. Auden’s poems on Nazi times.

The book also includes art work and posters inspired by the anti-CAA protests across the country.

Basu Sulibhavi, working on the other collection, said, “While it is a dark moment when the government is trying to push a divisive agenda, it is also when a large section of society has awakened. Like always, Kannada poetry has been engaging and responding to this moment, which we want to capture.”

Application for anticipatory bail

Booked for making ‘statements conducive to public mischief’ and ‘intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace’, Mr. Bisaralli has now applied for anticipatory bail in the Dharwad bench of High Court of Karnataka.

“I have been involved in several progressive movements in Koppal district, where I also run an online news portal and report for a news channel. The complaint by BJP seems to be because of this, more than the poem,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:14:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/poetry-in-the-face-of-sedition-charges/article30773171.ece

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