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Haqqani Qasmi: Poet beneath the uniform

By December 21, 2018No Comments

Source : The Hindu

Haqqani Qasmi makes us realise that creative practice of some of the cops goes well beyond every day chaotic scenes of law enforcement


Does the much-admired, equality affirming and empowering new information technology wave around us an ever-broadening net of stifling surveillance? Does the dazzling galore of smart phones and CCTV cameras make us blind to the grotesque consequence of being watched and being lied upon increasingly? Has image collection of everyone by everybody reduced us to a huge nation of informers? These pertinent questions are destined to fetch a ‘yes’ and what does it signify? Is it just a social and cultural phenomenon or a guile designed by the power that-be? The modern state, no matter what kind of governance it employs, seeks to enslave its citizens by drawing on “violence through law” (Franz Kafka). The unending threat of national security and terrorism seems to be frequently cited excuse for subjecting the innocent citizens to surveillance . The people who strap on a gun and wear a badge are usually taken as the usurper of the basic human rights and perpetrators of blood letting that is being done at the behest of the State. Not many set themselves upon highlighting alternative facts that reject the widely- held notion that the policemen lack creativity and one can find no trace ofhuman values flourishing in them.

It is what has been remarkably documented by a promising critic Haqqani Qasmi who published a special issue of his reputed journal “Andaze Bayan” recently. It unfailingly showcases the creative dexterity of the authors, poets, critics, and journalists who worked as the police officials. The magazine, running into four hundred pages offers tantalising glimpses of artistic sensibilities of the policemen whose layered narrative makes us aware of fascinating but unexpected luminosities of the most daunting job of maintaining law and order.

It is known that George Orwell served the British police in Burma and his eminently readable novel “1984” spells out the danger of intrusive government surveillance that ran amok. Franz Kafka described bureaucratic power as a giant vacuum cleaner in his novel “The Castle”. Haqqani tried to fashion a new narrative by referring to the works of many authors and poets who served in police. According to him, their exploration of the entangling of life displays their magical mastery over explaining the unexplainable without flinching.

Here one can recall the works of Keki Daruwalla (English), Tilkawathi (Tamil), Ain Rasheed (Urdu), Khaleel Mamoon (Urdu), Shuja Khawar (Urdu), Faiyyaz Farooqui (Urdu), Vibhuti Narayan Rai (Hindi), Surajveer Singh (Punjabi), Vipin Bihari Mishra (Odiya), S.I. Baucha (Manipuri), and the like but not much is written on lesser-known but equally powerful authors who belonged to the police cadre. “It is wrong to assume that the police officers are completely devoid of human compassion and sensitivity”, the editor points out but it is the media that perpetuate stereotypes about various sections in the society and the police is no exception but one has to see beyond the popular perception.”

Authors of yesteryears

The special issue zeroes in on those poets, short story writers, dramatists, novelists, critics and journalists who write in Urdu. Divided into eight well-produced sections, the magazine begins with a chronological account and discussed many authors of yesteryear. Three prominent poets Shuja Khawar, Ain Rasheed, and Khalil Mamoon came in for a detailed critical scrutiny.

Prominent Urdu critic Professor Gopichand Narang explored the semantic import of Shuja Khawar’s poetry with a marked sense of critical acuity. According to him, Shuja’s unassuming conversational tone and his intent on the subversion of widely- accepted realities has the capacity to tug at the people’s heart. His poignantly rendered ghazals offer fresh perspectives on human predicaments, contradictions, ironies, and idiosyncrasies. For Shuja, words are meant for concealing the meaning, instead of revealing.

Khaleel Mamoon, a Sahitya Academy awardee, seeks to explore the gamut of human emotions and sheer absurdities of modern life. His astutely textured poems especially that are included in his latest collection “La Ilah” betray the nuanced sensibility of a strong and spirited man whose spiritual quotient help him in overcoming the waves of anguish. Exploring the repertoire of his deeply felt thoughts, noted critic Mahmmod Hashmi turned attention to his poem, “There is no way” and asserted that the poet put his sense of awakening and epiphany of his personality into position to wipe out the darkness that life around him produced. Khaleel Mamoon lives in Bengaluru and the city remains alive on the literary map of Urdu owing to creative dexterity of him and Shaista Yusuf.

Breaking new ground

Ain Rasheed’s prose poems broke a new ground in Urdu poetry as he tears apart pseudo-facts that are used to twist the reality a marked sense of disenchantment exposes the banalities of life with creative ease and noted playwright Zaheer Anwar did well to explain the stunning complexities poignantly depicted by the poet

Paigham Afaqi was a celebrated storyteller and his novel “Makan” evoked a tremendous response but his other novel “Paleeta” and short stories have not been made the object of serious critical appraisal and the articles carried by the journal did try to supplement what has been left out.

The journal carried a number of perceptive articles on Faiyyaz Farooqui, Vibhuti Narain. Mohammad Ali Sahil, Akhtar Kazmi, Vipul Chaturvedi, Mahesh Chander Naqsh, Masoom Kazmi and some others and certainly it is a journal that pays no attention to the run- of -the- mill stuff. Haqqani made us realise that creative practice of cops goes well beyond every day chaotic scenes of law enforcement.

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