The IIT-Kanpur administration has formed a panel to study the poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ written by poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz. The daughter of the famous Urdu poet, Saleema Hashmi said that her father’s words would always engage those who wanted to express themselves.

Saleema Hashmi informed PTIin an interview that it is not sad but funny to call Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’ anti-Hindu. Examination of the poem’s meaning is nothing of worry; it is amusing. “Let’s look at in a different way, they may get intrigued by Urdu poetry, and it’s tropes. Never underestimate the power of Faiz,” she said.

“Creative personalities are natural enemies of dictators”, Hashmi said. She was delighted that her father was able to speak to people from behind his grave.

“It is not shocking that Faiz continues to be relevant to both sides of the border. I had been informed that this poem was recited in Nepal during their days of democratic struggle against the monarchy,” she said.“

Each viewpoint has some truth to it. Someone who does not have knowledge in literature, who has not studied Faiz in depth, they may take them at face value. All parties need to be considerate of both positions.

The contention concerns the reading of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Hum Dekhenge” by students during a demonstration against the amended Citizenship Act and the police violence on students of Jamia Milia Islamia. INSPIRE faculty Vashi Mant Sharma had reported to the institute director Abhay Karandikar that students had made communal remarks at the event.

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Poetry as an instrument to fight fundamentalism

When asked whether poetry can be an apparatus in fighting fundamentalism, Hashmi said, “In itself, poetry cannot fight fundamentalism. But it can create conditions for change by helping in mobilising people. This gives them a feeling of shared aspirations and hopes of a better tomorrow.”

“All of which is anathema to fundamentalist thinking which flourishes on the exclusion of the ‘other’. And a type of self-hatred which spreads hate for others.”

Faiz employed traditional religious symbolism to tackle political structures in his search for revolution. He had composed the poem in 1979 to oppose the tyranny of former Pakistani general-premier Zia-ul-Haq.

Hum Dekhenge was a charismatic and popular poem, but it attained iconic status and became a universal anthem of protest and endurance after Iqbal Bano rendered it in 1986.

IIT Kanpur to examine of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem

“One of the complaints regarding the poem was that it hurt sensibilities,” the IIT’s Deputy Director, Manindra Agrawal, told The Hindu. He said there had been collection of complaints from two groups of students and faculty.

“We are not going to decide whether sentiments were hurt or not,” he explained. Instead the six-member committee would examine if there was any ‘deliberate mischief.’”

“Some students thought that the messages of the poem were offensive. They saw it as a connection to the Muslim invaders who arrived in India and demolished Hindu temples. There is another perspective to this. Faiz did not mean this literally. He was alluding to something else.”

Faiz employed traditional religious symbolism to tackle political structures in his search for revolution. He had composed the poem in 1979 to oppose the tyranny of former Pakistani general-premier Zia-ul-Haq.

Critics have steered to the symbolic nature of the poem. The Communist Faiz spoke out against a dictator using traditional Islam as a medium of repression.

“Each viewpoint has some truth to it. Someone who does not have knowledge in literature, who has not studied Faiz in depth, they may take them at face value. All parties need to be considerate of both positions.”

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Image: The Indian Express

Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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