In support of Rihai Manch’s indefinite dharna for justice to martyr Khalid Mujahid Revolutionary Cultural Front (JNU) presents a play Batla House
Date – 8 June 2013, Saturday
Time- 12 am
Place- Vidhan Sabha Dharna Sthal, Lucknow
Contact- 09415254919, 09452800752
On the 19th of September 2008, the Special Cell of Delhi Police murdered two young Muslim boys, Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid in Batla House, Delhi. The police claimed this to be an encounter and trumpeted its success through a pliant corporate media, of having busted the “terror module” responsible for the serial blasts which took place in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur etc. Soon several questions were raised by the progressive and democratic sections of the country, but what followed was the regular witch-hunt of residents of Jamia Nagar, the profiling of Azamgarh as the ‘den of terror’ and the familiar tactic of branding of Muslims as terrorists and anti-nationals.
The Batla House Fake encounter left glaring loopholes in the police version of the incident. How could two ‘terrorists’ flee from a fourth floor flat which had only one entrance secured by the police before the ‘encounter’? Could they jump from the fourth floor window without injuring themselves and escape? 6 bullet marks were shot point blank on the skull of 17-year-old Sajid, which is impossible had it been a gun battle. There were brutal torture marks on Atif’s body which is again not possible if it was a case of bullets being fired from both sides. MC Sharma, a police officer was shot in the ‘encounter’ curiously, not on the front side of the body, but on his back and made to walk to the hospital and finally he died of excessive blood loss.
These loopholes were meted out with a criminal black out by the corporate media. A clean chit was given to the police by the National Human Rights Commission which did not take a single testimony from the witnesses of the murder in the locality. The Home Ministry denied a magisterial enquiry that was demanded by various sections. Saquib Nisar and Mohammed Zeeshan who challenged the claims of the police and testified that the murdered youth were ordinary youngsters who had taken to their studies, were arrested and are still languishing in jail on false terror charges!
The incident that took place in Batla House was gruesome but not an isolated one. The imperialist ‘War on Terror’ is being faithfully carried out by the communal fascist Indian ruling class and has claimed many lives in fake encounters or custodial murders, Sohrabuddin, Ishrat Jahan, Kausar Bi, Qateel Siddiqui…the list goes on. Thousands of Muslims are languishing in various jails of India and Kashmir, implicated in false cases of bomb blasts and sedition. On the other hand, the communal fascist forces of RSS, Abhinav Bharat whose involvement in various of these bomb blasts have been established beyond doubt are given impunity by the state! In the same way, the Indian state uses the cruellest weapons to subjugate all oppressed masses whether it is dalits, adivasis, women or oppressed nationalities. Our play therefore, does not raise each of these issues in isolation, but tries to show violence as endemic to the system, and in fact getting reinforced every day.
Published in 1970, Dario FO’s play Accidental Death of an Anarchist is considered a classic of 20th century theatre. Written in the form of a farce, it is based on the events involving a real trade union activist Giuseppe Pinelli in the fascist regime in Italy, who was thrown out of the fourth floor window of a Milan police station in 1969. The man had been accused of bombing a bank. In Dario Fo’s play, a Maniac decides to impersonate a judge who is due at a police station to investigate the unnatural death of an Anarchist who was interrogated and murdered in the same police station. A journalist comes to probe the same incident. When the Maniac finally leaves the building setting off a time bomb in the police station after handcuffing the policemen and leaving the journalist to decide their fate, Dario Fo builds a climax that directly attacks the fascist state in Italy. The play has been staged in various countries in many languages. It has also faced repression by various regimes, attacks by the right wing and has also been banned in several places. Given the fact that the cruelty and ruthlessness of fascist forces is same everywhere, we could adapt and situate Dario Fo’s ideas in our context.
The Special Cell office of Delhi Police that hatched the plan of ‘encounter’ of Atif and Sajid, the courtroom where Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were sentenced to death, the prison where Afzal was hanged, the police station where Soni Sori was brutally sexually assaulted by the police, the Home Ministry’s office which launches Operation Greenhunt to raze villages to ashes displace and commit mass murders of thousands of tribals, the Parliament that passes the black law AFSPA which gives the armed forces the right to rape and kill with impunity to crush the national liberation movements in Kashmir and the North East, are not mere buildings. They are the seats of power of this oppressive and violent system; the symbols of the farce of this ‘secular democracy’ in which the ruling classes seek to imprison the toiling masses of the country. They are the machinery which reinforce and perpetrate values of communal hatred, casteism and patriarchy every day. However, while the myriad machinations of the state are out to stifle the dissent and aspirations of the people, the corridors of power incessantly reverberate with bold voices of organised struggle of peasants, tribals, workers, dalits, students, women, religious minorities, oppressed nationalities. These struggles strike at the heart of the very system of structural violence at every moment. And one day they will demolish this system of inequality and injustice.
The bombing of a government building is a symbolic act of demolition, because only after completely overhauling the current exploitative system, the oppressed can herald and establish a new order based on justice and equality. It is with this spirit of struggle that we sings songs, write poetry and tonight bring the play Batla House in front of you.