Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rizwanur's death: A tragic Hindu-Muslim love story in Kolkata

Priyanka, a millionaire's daughter, and Rizwanur Rahman fell in love and got married.

From her palatial house in Salt Lake, she came to the humble two-room house in a lower middle class to live with his family but their happiness barely lasted a month.

The police started harassing him. Rizwan was warned to let his wife go back to her house.

He was rounded up, kept in detention and later his body was found on the railway tracks. And this hasn't happened in Ahmedabad or Meerut, but in the City of Tagore.

Two adults who love each other and want to live together can't be separated but here they were not only in love but also married. Still, the police not only played 'moral guardians' to separate the mismatch marriage: Rich-Poor & Hindu-Muslim wedlock.

Several top officials of Kolkata police allegedly colluded to try to separate them and put pressure on Rizwan even as he was seeking legal support and the help of human rights groups. West Bengal, especially Calcutta, is known to have an enlightened society compared to other Indian cities and it is a place where ordinary people and the middle-class does react.

There is outrage in Kolkata. Social organisations and citizens have taken up the issue. Inquiries have been ordered but that's just a way to divert attention. Stern action must be taken against the police officers who harassed Rizwanul and Priyanka, the daughter of Ashok Todi who is Chairman of Lux hosiery.

The State and police have no business to interfere in the lives of people and stop people in love from marrying. We have enough of such killings in this country and it's time for us to raise our voice strongly at all forums to ensure that lovebirds don't have to fear for their lives in this country.

Going by WB Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's statement that guilty policemen would not be spared and his admission that the case has many angles including money power, communal and social issues.

Rizwan, the 30-year-old graphic designer is no more. He has lost his life for love and at least we can hope that justice would be done. [Photo: Rizwan and Priyanka]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

American Arrogance Vs Ahmedinejad: Insulting Iran prez at Columbia University

The discourteous reception given to the Iran president at the Columbia University where he was invited and the reaction of mainstream newspapers, has showed sections of American intelligentsia and their press in poor light.

Firstly, if they didn't like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they shouldn't have invited him for lecture at the University. And when he arrived there, the University president Lee Bollinger introduced the Iranian leader as 'a petty and cruel dictator' to the audience.

Bollinger's reportedly aggressive tone and the words he chose to describe Ahmadinejad were distasteful and beyond all civilised norms. If that was not enough, the newspaper reports reflected the feeling of concern that Bollinger's unwarranted aggression may help Ahmadinejad, who remained composed and reacted in a dignified way, earn brownie points.

Bollinger didn't stop at this and further said, When you come to a place like this it makes you simply ridiculous' and 'You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated'. The president of a leading University must know that you can't grow in stature by belittling somebody, especially your guest.

And when Ahmadinejad replied to a question on holocaust by saying that why should Palestinians pay for whatever happened in Europe, the audience applauded him. However, the newspapers were quick to write that 'they were a bunch of anti-Semites'. What a joke!

And what are they--Zionist stooges, those on the payroll of pro-Israel lobby! (I haven't used the Jew word yet). If Ahmadinejad is a dictator, what about American president? Who is responsible for killing millions in Iraq by telling the world blatant lies about Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction'.

Israel can disregard all UN resolutions but US foreign policy remains oblivious to everything. Anyway. I read many articles in American press online and there was a feeling of regret that maybe the insult thrown at him could bring more popularity and sympathy to Mahmoud Ahmadinijad [and more support to him back home]. Such is the American loyalty to the cause of Israel!

Do Americans have the right to take any moral high-ground, especially after the Iraq fiasco?
I am no fan of Ahmedjinejad but American arrogance perhaps need men like him, who can make them uncomfortable. And that's why a website report said, 'Ahmedinijad, the winner in the battle of nerves at Columbia university'.

[Photos on the top: Ahmadinejad on the left, Lee Bollinger on the right and the view of students on the campus listening to Iranian president on a big screen.]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Former BJP MP's diktat: Behead Karunanidhi, get Gold

Former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti has done a Haji Yaqub act, with the statement that anybody who cut DMK leader Karunanidhi's head and tongue would get gold as much as his own weight.

The immediate provocation is Karunanidhi's remark on Lord Rama. The Dravidian leader's statements are unfortunate and not in a good taste. Such statements are bound to cause hurt to millions of Indians irrespective of their religion and caste.

But this not unexpected from DMK, as the Dravidian leaders especially the pioneering ones were staunchly anti-religion, anti-temple and anti-Brahmin. Karunanidhi said that Ramayana was a fiction and termed the existence of Rama as a Himalayan lie apart from saying that Lord Rama also used to drink.

Karunanidhi is also playing to the gallery just as the BJP is trying to woo electorate by rousing sentiments on Sethusamudram project (Rama Setu). Everyone is out to fool the common man and divert the attention from the real issues to emotive ones.

Does anybody remember that Vedanti is the same person who was also caught in the sting operation on six godmen who were shown on camera, promising to turn black money into white through donations for his trust. IBN 7 had aired the sting operation earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the VHP and BJP have distanced themselves from the remarks of Vedanti but they are not going to let the issue slip away. Togadia has urged activists of VHP to file 1000 FIRs against Karunanidhi. In Bangalore the house of Karunanidhi's daughter was attacked.

But the DMK's cadre has also threatened Vedanti and VHP activists to dare set foot on the soil of Tamil Nadu. But Vedanti, Haji Yaqub and the other politicians of their ilk, know that they can get away with irresponsible statements, their diktats or so-called 'fatwas' are mere gimmicks to grab attention.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Abdul Moeed Khan's killing & anti-Muslim violence in Nepal

The anti-Muslim violence is Nepal hasn't stopped and tension prevails in the entire region following the killing of Madhesi leader Abdul Moeed Khan by a Maoist in Nepal and the attack on life and property of Muslims in several towns in the country.

Business establishments, shops, eateries (dhabas) and houses of Madhesis, especially Muslims, were targeted, looted and set ablaze by the Pahadis. Scores of vehicles including 48 buses and many other cars and two-wheelers were earlier set afire. Around 300 houses were torched by mob in Chandrauta alone, officials confirmed. Mosques have also been attacked.

Factories and saw mills have also been burnt. Nearly 28 persons have been killed in the violence so far and there is tension on this side of border as well. Indian security forces, particularly, SSB are keeping an eye on the situation in Siddharth Nagar district in UP.

Reports indicate that hundreds of people fled their homes due to violence. Curfew continues in several Nepal towns and movement at border has been stopped. The Muslim-dominated Khairi town was the worst affected and all the shops in the six km area from Halapur to Chandrauta. (Kapilvastu district is the worst affected)

Earlier, Moid Khan, the executive president of Madhesi Democratic Front was buried amid the presence of his supporters and residents of the town. It was following the burial procession that the Madheshi property and shops were attacked.

Khan was erstwhile chief of an anti-Maoist group and district committee member of Nepali Congress. Latest reports said that there was retaliatory violence from both sides in various towns in the region.

On several occasions in the recent years violent incidents and clashes have taken anti-Muslim turn in Nepal though such communal violence was not reported from the Himalayan republic in the past. Madhesis are the group of people who live in the Terai region adjoining India while Pahadis live in hilly region of Nepal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Archive: Articles on India and Indian Muslims

Following is the list of nearly 250 articles and posts which were published during the initial years of this blog---from 2005 to 2008--chronicling the major issues and views on contemporary issues:

* Indian Muslims' stand on Nuclear deal

*Indian candy-seller on cycle: The magic of the mithai-wala

*The communal scrap-dealer

Arresting innocent Muslims in Uttar Pradesh and framing them as terrorists

So-called Muslim leaders: Salman Khurshid, Mohsina, Ahmed Patel, Najma & others

When Burqa gets saffron band: Muslims and BJP

Branding the Bangladeshi migrants as terrorists

After Cancer Hospital, Imran building university: What about Indian cricketers?

Indian Muslim children: Playing marbels, catapult (gulail)

Abusive messages, anti-Muslim comments and this blog

A samosa seller's nap under the tree shade

Road-roller, the raja of roads

How government can stop and allow a communal riot

After Ahmedabad blasts, what India needs to do?

Will Azharuddin enter politics, join TRS?

Nehru's newspaper Qaumi Awaz shuts down after National Herald

Haji Ishtiyaq's arrest and anger against Mayawati government

Dividing UP into Harit Pradesh, Poorvanchal and Bundelkhand, leaving Awadh

Do we need Muslim MLAs?

Majaz Lucknowi: Poet of romance and revolution

After Ulema's anti-terrorism conference, it is the government's turn

Ram Vilas Paswan and Muslims

Fifty years of Majlis: AIMIM celebrates as it turns 50

Tea in Lucknow: Huzoor Chai pijiye!

Journeying with a jamaat in train

Selection of great Urdu poets

Chacha's queema stuffed samosas

Remembering PN Oak, the original Hindutva Historian

Best wishes on Hindu New Year from an Indian Muslim

Arrogant Congress leaders paving the way for BJP's return

Harassment of Muslims acquires a new dimension

Gujarat 'encounter cop' Vanzara beaten up in jail

Reporting romance in Urdu papers

Faiz Ahmed Faiz's poetry: Selected best Urdu couplets

Don't brand Muslims as terrorists: RSS and bomb blasts

*Hindu Household, Urdu nameplate

*Selected couplets of Urdu poet Munawwar Rana

*India must protest French ban on Sikh turban

* Shh..don't talk about holocaust: Arun Gandhi pays the price in America

*Hailing the Indian judiciary: Justice for Bilquees Bano

*Hindus and Imam Husain

*UP police had arrested wrong 'Aaftab' for bomb blasts in courts

*Hindu family taking out Tazia for 130 years

*Mayawati forgets Muslims: No place in 30% job quota

*Famous and quotable Urdu couplets of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

*Azamgarh Ijtema: That's India's photo, not Bangladesh

*Benazir Bhutto's assassination: Whither Pakistan, after Daughter of East's death?

*Zakir Naik's comments on battle of Karbala and Yazid

*Chandrashekhar Azad forgotten: Remains just a Jijhotia Brahmin hero?

*Faiz' extraordinary verse 'Raqeeb Se': To Rival in Love

*Liars of first order, our Indian politicians

*Apathy of Arabs towards plight of Palestinians

*Delhi discovers poet Bedil's tomb during Tajik pres visit

*Why angry Sulabh sent email to Prez

*Well known couplets, little known poets

*Bandit Salim Gujjar dies, was he Hindu or Muslim?

*Major literary works of Indian Muslims

*From pro-Vande Mataram to anti-Vande Mataram

*Entire village has to remarry Fatwa frenzy

*Thank God, Haj subsidy is gone

*From Mumbai to Malegaon: Skewed vision of Police

*Desi Islamophobes hurt the most

*Tales of two Malegaon, tension chowk etc

*Poets flares up passions, gunshots over couplets

*Among the Bengalis, In Kalibadi

*Communal big bits Mangalore

*Iftaar beside Ganges, Muslims setting afire Ravana

*No Azan in Gujarat villages

*Civic elections in Kakori

*Muslims, Sikhs need not apply for job with Indian intelligence agencies

*What about ghettoes of Gujaratis...others

*Bayaan: A novel on Hindu Muslim relations and 1992

*Ruins in towns of North India

*ADGP's suspension and loose talk about madarsas

*One of the greatest novels Khuda Ki Basti

*Saddam's execution: Tragedy for Asia, shame for Middle-east rules

*India erupts in fury after Saddam Hussein's hanging

*Saudi Arabia and Israel become friends to contain Iran

*Kamleshwar's death isn't news for Delhi newspapers!

*Shiv Sena's win in Mumbai elections and Muslims

*Muharram Photos: Colours of pain and Tigers in processions

*Hindus observing Muharram in India

*Miyan Sahab saved Gorakhpur from burning

*Stamp on Bahadur Shah Zafar and how Savarjar hijacks the freedom strugge of 1857

*Police make dead man accused in Samjhauta Express blasts case

*Prez Kalam offers Namaz at Fatehpuri mosque

*Ordinary Indian, price rise and politicians' fears:

*Seminar on Iqbal's use of the word 'Kuchh'

*Shahrukh Khan, an ambassador of Islam!

*Ragini, the magical eyes are closed for ever

*Why Indian Muslims are away from extremist influences

*Who will rule Uttar Pradesh (UP) ?

*Your honour, I am not a minority!

*The inflammatory anti-Muslim CD and BJP's lies

*Hindu girls eloping with Muslim boys and vice versa

*A visit to Falaknuma Palace

*Another blasphemy, Khushi-Qadir and cross on coins controversy

*Don't make it a Hindu-Muslim issue, Sohrabuddin Vanzara episode

*Halaku, if you visit Baghdad again....

*Owl's role in unearthing hidden treasure

*Fall of Congress in UP, Sonia Gandhi's Urdu letter to 15,000 Muslims

*Muslims had helped Killer cop Vanzara in his childhood

*Firing on Muslims: The ugly patters from Delhi to Hyderabad

*Why exit polls failed and why most Muslim MLAs in UP elected but none from Congress

*Is he a Hindu or Muslim?

*Insha's poetry: Great Urdu poets' profile series

*Blasphemic couplets or lack of tolerance

*Hyderabad, the last citadel of Urdu in India

*Casteism among Indian Muslims

*At last, a bank for Muslims of Juhapura

*Hats off to Hindu parents of Muslim girl

*Dalit Urdu writer's nazm against Manu

*Importance of knighthood and response of Muslim world

*Science to superstition: Prez Pratibha Patil's belief in aatma

*Powerless in UP: Hand-held pankhas and battery operated fans

*A unique book shop in Lucknow

*Rahi Masoom Raza's Scene 75

*Fazal Tabish the maverick poet

*Storm in Hindi blogosphere and Shah Alam camp stories

*Great Urdu poets: Behzad Lakhnavi

*Confusion over couplets: Six Urdu ashaar

*The story of Adnan Mulla

*Five immortal couplets of a forgotten Urdu poet

*Haroon Rashid Alig: Journalist par excellence

*Shouldn't Muslims visit Israel, talk to Jews

*Abdul Moeed Khan's killing and anti-Muslim violence in Nepal

*BJP leader calls for beheading Karunanidhi

*Rizwanur's death: A tragic Hindu-Muslim love story

*American arrogance Vs Ahmedinejad's poise: Insulting Iran President

*Who are the killers, who are getting killed

*Qurratul Ain Hyder: A legend passes away

*Attack on Ajmer shrine: Terror reaches Sufi shrine

*Tehelka's landmark sting 'Operation Kalank' on state-sponsored genocide in Gujarat

*Culture fest begins with Milad and Hari Katha: Remembering Tan Sen

*The failure of Ulema and Muslim leaders

*Islamic art at a rural fair

*Indian fair: Halwa, Halim, Biryani and Books

*Lucknow and imbibing secular values

*The law of jungle in Gujarat

*Boy holds gun at RSS function: Who is he aiming at?

*Sher Ali, the great freedom fighter, who had killed British Viceroy

*Hyderabad blasts and column on Rediff

*Why terrorists target Hyderabad?

*Muslim boy celebrating Diwali

*Campaign to replace doctor's Red Cross with Swastika

*Akhtar Shirani: The poet of Romance

*Immortal couplets of Moin Ahsan Jazbi

*The love story of Kanchana and Moideen: An epic Hindu-Muslim love tale

*Defiled by Dalit's touch, Muslims perform Hindu man's last rites

*Only the Gujaratis have pride!

*Hindu, Muslim conversion to Bahaism and marriage of orphan girl to a Bahai

*Angry cobbler wears stethoscope hurt at docs disdain for his job

*First openly gay Urdu poet Ifti and his couplets

*The colourful and daring Maulanas of past: Getting into girl's gharara, abusing the rulers

*We believe in Jesus, why can't you respect our Prophet

*Against love: Hindu, Muslim right-wing groups agree on V-day

*51 girls who will never marry

*Free speech advocates jail Irving for denyig Holocaust

*Australian Muslims at the receiving end

*Malik Shabazz alias Malcolm X

*Indian minister's fatwa for cartoonist's head: Haji Yaqub would give away gold!

*Great poet Moin Ahsan Jazbi's demise and closure of Shabkhoon

*Fatwa on Vande Mataram

*Temple razed in Lahore: Protests against the demolition

*India's caste composition, population and percentage

*Interesting and fascinating Urdu couplets

*Is Hindi literature less secular?

*Popular couplets, unknown poets

*It is not Bahadur Shah Zafar's ghazal but Muztar's

*Jain monk's death or suicide: The ancient practice of Sallekhana (Santhara)

*Poet Chakbast and his ghazals

*Jagannath Azad's verse Bharat ke Musalmaan in post 1947 era

*Irfan Siddiqui and his selected Urdu couplets

*Post-Mumbai blasts: Role of citizens

*Muslim husband puts wife at stake in gambling

*The last legend: Death of Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi

*Hindu, Muslim weddings on jail premises

*Have we lost Chhattisgarh to Maoists

*Zoroastrian poet's Urdu poetry

*Professor Matuknath and Julie's love affair

*Sahara launches Urdu edition from Patna

*Seemab Akbarabadi's Urdu poetry

*Why Nepali migrant is welcome, Bangla migrant is unwelcome

*Lessons for NRIs, Asians to learn from Dr Death row in Australia

*Burqa (Veil) brings freedom for non-Muslim girls in conservative India

*Shah Fahd's death fails to move Muslims across the world.

*Compensation to victims of Sikh riots and lesson for Muslims

*Targeting Deoband and Muslim institutions, biased media coverage

*When rapes are seen with communal angle

*Hindu 'fatwa' bans Muslims from dance

*Couplets on love for motherland, how can I leave my country?

*Christmas for a Muslim child in India, twenty years ago

*Love story of 105 year old Bagh Husain and his 90 yr old 'girl friend', Muslims great lovers

*Ten best couplets of Parvin Shakir

*Iran, an enigma for outsiders

*Urdu newspapers in India and Etemaad's site

*Bhojhshala distpute at Dhar: Love story of Rani Roopmati-Baz Bahadur

*Dhar, Mandu, Raja Bhoj's 'conversion' to Islam

*Govt's Tazias, Savaaris and so many things:Muharram in India

*First ever riots in Lucknow and Goa

*Indian Army's headcount: 3% Muslims in India

*Who won't admire Mohammad Rafi?

*BBC's Urdu channel and anti-Muslim Congress party

*Jawaharlal Nehru's Tribal wife!

*Man who changed Indian politics for ever dies Shahbano's husband

*Ancient Indian arts of self-defence

*Urdu poetry, medieval era and homosexuality

*RSS chief's advice to Muslims on Krishna, Rama...

*Nothing Shahi about Imam or his conduct

*Now a Shia TV Channel

*Hindu majority district in Pakistan

*Shankar Shaad Mushaira and overall decline in Mushaira standards

*Christians protest Da Vanci code movie in India

*Doctors are no angles: Quota issue and their protest

*Norway's national anthem in Urdu

*Failure of Indian Muslims in Imrana case

*Why Nepali migrant is welcome, Bangla migrant is unwelcome

*Lessons for NRIs, Asians to learn from Dr Death row in Australia

*Burqa brings freedom for non-Muslim girls in conservative India

*Shah Fahd's death fails to move Muslims across the world.

*Compensation to victims of Sikh riots and lesson for Muslims

*Targeting Deoband and Muslim institutions, biased media coverage

*Hindu 'fatwa' bans Muslims from dance

*Couplets on love for motherland, how can I leave my country?

*Christmas for a Muslim child in India, twenty years ago

*Love story of 105 year old Bagh Husain and his 90 yr old 'girl friend', Muslims great lovers

*Iran, an enigma for outsiders

*Urdu newspapers in India and Etemaad's site

*Bhojhshala distpute at Dhar: Love story of Rani Roopmati-Baz Bahadur

*Govt's Tazias, Savaaris and so many things

*Who won't admire Mohammad Rafi?

*Immortal couplet of Raja Ram Maunzoon Sirajuddaula's defeat in Plassey

*Now Christians also see Jewish hand (like Muslims)

*Urdu poetry, medieval era and homosexuality

*Now a Shia TV Channel

*Shankar Shaad Mushaira and overall decline in Mushaira standards

*Hindu, Muslim conversion to Bahai and marriag of orphan girl to a Bahai

*Angry cobbler wears stethoscope hurt at doctors' disdain for his job

*First openly gay Urdu poet Ifti and his couplets *

*Against love: Hindu, Muslim right-wing groups agree on V-day

*Free speech advocates jail Irving for denying Holocaust

*Australian Muslims at the receiving end

*Malik Shabazz alias Malcolm X I

*Indian minister's fatwa for cartoonist's head, Gold weigh

*Great poet Moin Ahsan Jazbi's demise and closure of Shabkhoon

*Fatwa on Vande Mataram

*Temple razed in Lahore

*India's caste composition, population and percentage

*Interesting and fascinating Urdu couplets

*Jagannath Azad's verse Bharat ke Musalmaan in post 1947 era

*Irfan Siddiqui and his selected Urdu couplets

*The last legend: Death of Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi

*Have we lost Chhattisgarh to Maoists

*Zoroastrian poet's Urdu poetry

*Matuknath Professor and Julie's love affair

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Bohra divide in Udaipur & the recent clash among the two sects

The clash between two groups of the minuscule Bohra community in Udaipur made headlines in national media on Saturday but it's an age-old schism (nearly a century old) and the dispute over claim on mosques also dates back to several decades.

It was in the 70s in this Rajasthan city when a section of local Bohras had revolted against the religious establishent and formed the Progressive Bohra community. The Dawoodi Bohras are a sub-sect of the Ismaili Shia community (there are some Sunni Bohras as well) and have the reputation of a hardwork businessmen.

number around a million (10 lakh) in India and have main concentration in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Malwa (Western MP). Udaipur has a population of 15,000 Bohras. The Bohras here got divided first in the early 20th century over alleged misappropriation of Jamaat funds.

The rebel 'aamil' could be buried on his death only after the intervention of the ruling family of the princely state. In the 70s, the local religious leadership that was allegedly under corrupt influence asked the Bohras to vote for certain candidates but the popular Youth Party candidates won as they got overwhelming votes.

Subsequently, misappropriation of Jamaat funds, corruption and high-handedness of local Bohra clergy became a major issue and the rift kept widening. The majority of local Bohras supported the Youth Party ie the reformist movement.

The problem took a serious turn when members of Progressive group were ex-communicated and there relatives in other parts of the country had to shun contact with them. In those days Jaiprakash Narayan and other prominent leaders of stature tried to intervene.

As far as I know, the group that calls itself 'Progressive Bohra' don't claim to be another sect and also don't question the authority of Syedna Sahab. The images from Bohravadi (Udaipur) surprised many as Bohras concentrate on trade (and also education) and stay away from such street fights over trivial issues.

I wonder why the Bohra establishment doesn't try to settle this old dispute and win over the other smaller group, if there is no theological issue involved. Of course, it's an outsider's opinion as Bohras better know if it's just an old dispute, a problem of ego or something else!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Hindu-Muslim love story from Kerala: Kanchana and Moideen [Communal Harmony Project-4]

Just a representative photograph about inter-religious love
Kanchana, 67, couldn't marry Moideen, her childhood friend because of their different religions, and didn't meet him for years due to family restrictions.

After his death in an accident, she decided to remain single all her life and lived his dreams in the form of his social work which she has taken ahead.

"I went through hell living on hope for the first 25 years after they found out about us, because of him. I will still go through anything for him, again", says Kanchana. This amazing love story is reported by Rajeev Pi from Kerala.

Moideen and Kanchana studied in same school in their town in Kozhikode and fell in love in their youth. But their well-to-do yet ultra-conservative families couldn't allow them to marry. Kanchana couldn't marry for sake of her younger sister as her own marriage with a Muslim would have sealed marriage prospects of her younger sister.

She was confined to her house. Moiuddin turned to writing stories apart from social work. They exchanged just a few notes in over a decade. Then Moiuddin died when a boat overturned in Iruvanji river. She also tried to commit suicide.

But one day Moiuddin's mother came to her house and gave her everything which her son possessed including his library. She found her scribbling sent to him, safely tucked between pages. Mohiudeen's mother died soon after.

Kanchana now heads a shelter for homeless, a family counselling centre, a blood donor's network linking villages, a good library and lot more with funds coming from villagers for the BP Moideen Sewa Mandir. This amazing story can be read here.

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project

#communalharmony #communalharmonyproject #india

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering Urdu poet Akhtar Shirani: The Poet of Romance

Great Urdu poet Akhtar Shirani passed away this month nearly 60 years ago.

But his unrequited love affair, letters purportedly written by him and the mystery of 'Salma', still evoke tremendous interest among readers.

Shirani was among the most popular poets of his generation. His famous romantic Nazms include 'Aye Ishq kahiiN le chal', 'Jahaan Rehana rahti thi' and Salma.

Along with Majaz, he is also often referred to as Keats of Urdu poetry.

tum afsaana-e-Qais kyaa puuchhte ho
idhar aao, ham tumko lailaa banaa deN
[Akhtar Shirani]

He is referred to as 'Shahzada-e-Ruman' [Prince of Romance] and Shaaer-e-Husn-o-Javaani [Poet of youth and beauty]. After failing to get his lady love, Akhtar had drowned himself into liquor and died at an early age (43).

He was the son of the renowned scholar Mahmood Sheerani who taught at Oriental College but unlike his father, Akhtar lived a bohemian life. Even sixty years after his death, publishers in India and Pakistan continue to cash in on his 'colourful life'.

A periodical in India claims that in the special issue it would name the woman who was referred to as Salma. Another publication in Pakistan prints some 'hitherto hidden' letters of correspondence for the first time and a weekly boosts its sales with a special report claiming that he didn't die but had committed suicide.

The truth is that contrary to popular perception, Akhtar's life was not at all as colourful. One of his couplets:

baad az gham-e-judaai-e-Salmaa mere liye
yaad-e-zubuur-o-maatam-e-shaivan hai aajkal

The man who used to gift away a note of Rs 50 to a pan walla because of the latter's tehzib of giving paan, spent the latter part of his youth and the last years in utter distress. He may have initially turned to liquor to forget Salma.

But his son's (Javed Mahmood alias Zuboor) sudden demise, the suicide of close friend Mirza Shuja Khan Shaivan, the incident of his son-in-law Naziruddin Shirani getting drowned in the Yanas river and that his daughter became widow at a young age, broke him.

His strained relations with his father also added to Akhtar's frustration. Shorish Kashmiri wrote that it was better not to see Akhtar. In his poetry he looks like a Greek God and in real life he is merely an 'echo of apology'.

If you come across him in real life and someone tells you that he is the great Akhtar Sheerani, you will feel cheated, said Shaukat Thanvi. Thanvi vouches for the fact that Shirani was never seen in 'Aalam-e-Hosh' [he was always drunk].

Akhtar was in Tonk, Rajasthan at the time of partition and was seriously ill. Rumours spread that he was killed along with his entire family while crossing the border. Jang published an article titled "Where is Akhtar Shirani?". Another paper published a letter of Dr Ahmar.

But as news reached Shirani, he said:

laao to qatl-naama meraa maiN bhii dekhuuN
kis kis kii mohar hai sar-e-mahzar lagii huii

Akhtar passed away in September in 1948. He was brought to hospital in an unconscious state. The photographs of Akhtar on his hospital bed were published in papers. Mukhtar Tonki writes in Aiwan-e-Urdu that stories were fabricated even after his death. It was said that his body was found on the street and taken to mortuary with nobody identifying it, that he committed suicide et al.

In 2004, weekly magazine 'Lahore' published letters to 'unravel' the truth about his mystery love and death. And later Takhliq also printed similar story. Munshi Abdul Baseer wrote the Nazm in which each stanza's letters alternately added up to 1948 and the corresponding Hijri year.

aye ishq kahiiN le chal is paap kii bastii
nafrat-gah-e-aalam se laanat-gah-e-hastii se
nafs parastoN se, is nafs parastii se
duur aur kahiiN le chal
aye ishq kahiin le chal....

The Nazm 'Jahaan Rehana rahtii thii..' is quite long as well. It starts with the following lines:

voh is vaadii kii shahzaadii thii aur shaahaana rahtii thii
kaNval ka phuul thii, sansaar se be-gaana rahtii thii
nazar se duur, misl-e-nikhat-e-mastaana rahtii thii
yahii vaadii hai voh hamdam jahaaN Rehaana rahtii thii...

The Nazm 'Salma'

bahaar-e-husn ka tuu Ghuncha-e-shaadaab hai Salma
tujhe fitrat ne apne dast-e-rangiiN se saNvaaraa hai
bihisht-e-rang-o-buu ka tuu saraapa ek nazaaraa hai
terii suurat saraasar paikar-e-maahtaab hai Salma
jism ek hujuum-e-resham-o-kamKhwaab hai Salma
shabistaan-e-javaanii ka tuu ek zinda sitaaraa hai tuu
is duniaa meN bahar-e-husn-o-fitrat ka kinaaraa hai tuu
is sansaar meN ek aasmaanii Khwaab hai Salma...

Daud Khan, who became famous as Akhtar Shirani, was born in 1905 in Tonk, Rajasthan and just two years after his father's death, the poet of romance also passed away in Lahore on September 9, 1948.

aye vaae Akhtar huaa ham se judaa ab=1367 H
lagaa haaye teer-e-qazaa kaa nishaana=1948 AD

You can read ghazals of Akhtar Shirani in Urdu, Hindi and Roman scripts here.