The late Pakistani dictator General Zia ul-Haq would be so proud of Indians. All his life he wanted to ban Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry, calling it anti-national, anti-Islamic, and almost anti-everything.
General Zia failed miserably. But he would be ecstatic his ideological scions in India have taken up the challenge of banning the poet's work, branding it anti-Hindu. We can already hear the late dictator trying to scream (more about it later) in his grave (which, as if in deference to Faiz’s iconic poem Hum Dekhenge, doesn’t exist): “Zia Hind!”
The poetry of Faiz has always inspired rebels and humanitarians because of its stirring anti-establishment sentiments and lines that read like war cries. For decades, his revolutionary couplets have acted as rallying calls for people to rise against oppression, tyranny and injustice. Naturally, his words have scared dictators, despots and authoritarian regimes.
Book burning isn’t a typical Nazi trait. All despots, bigots and fascists are really scared of new ideas and the written word, even though they themselves love writing them. They are afraid that independent thoughts (other than their own) can open the doors of perception (though not in the way Aldous Huxley recommended), inculcate critical thinking and make masses immune to propaganda and empty rhetoric. In short, dictators and bigots, being the insecure nutcases they are, fear literature will liberate people from the tyranny of politics, religion, fundamentalism or whatever –ism they plan to deploy to subjugate their subjects.
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