Aayat Farooqui


Enough pieces have been written about the people of Delhi University – people from different walks of life with their diversity of thought; their loud, messy, and innately human lives. But in the hustle and bustle of daily college life, do we forget about another set of residents on our campuses?

Delhi University is known not just for its diversity of student and faculty but also for its enriching biodiversity. Students call the red brick walls of the varsity home for 3 years but the creepy crawlies on campus call it home their entire lives. The sprawling, green college campuses are cozy shelters for a wide variety of fauna. From litters of kittens and protective dogs to majestic peacocks and playful squirrels, campus spaces are made all the more vibrant.

College life is one’s first foray into the real world. Away from your families, out of your comfort zone, it is easy to feel lost in the vastness of the city. Coping with the transition from school days is difficult, but many find solace in the four-legged fuzzballs around campus. Missing home? Having a bad day? Had a fight with a friend? Worry not for our resident therapy-substitute doggos are here to brighten your day.

The sight of puppies and kittens lounging in the soft breeze of air conditioners and fans in the summers and basking in the warmth of the sunlit lawns in winter is a familiar sight to behold. Enter your first year and you’ll be bewildered at the ease with which the animals on campus traverse the people and infrastructure. Move on to second year, and you’ll get comfortable with the co-existence, not batting an eye when a puppy interrupts your late afternoon lecture. Come graduation year and you’ll find that these furry friends have found a way into your hearts. Even if you aren’t an animal lover, this university teaches you many lessons, pleasantly sharing campus spaces with a multitude of species is one of them.

While dogs, cats, and squirrels are a common sight, some colleges are also home to diverse avian species. Indraprastha College for Women’s open grounds often welcomes winged visitors in the winter months. The college’s location between the North Delhi Ridge and Yamuna banks makes it a habitat island for several migratory species. One can also spot the occasional peacock and peahens on the campus of Shri Ram College of Commerce.

Many of these animals are looked after by hired caretakers or gardeners, but students also play an active role. There are animal welfare societies or branches of the college National Service Scheme that cater to everything from immunization, sterilization, and injury treatment by experts to feeding through student volunteers. A few admins also share Do’s and Don’ts about animal feeding by students which goes to show the synergies between the species.

With the rapid urbanization in the national capital, the patches of urban greenery within the varsity become even more crucial for maintaining the fragile micro-ecosystems. They become essential for studying conservation insights and preserving diversity. With UGC and NEP’s guidelines for greater Environmental Science awareness among students, the study and maintenance of the vibrant flora and fauna has become implicit in campus life.

The indelible touch these animals have on our college lives is evident by the numerous Instagram pages dedicated to college dogs, occasional college graffiti, and society logos. So next time you come across a lounging puppy, give it a belly scratch. After all, being cute all day is hard work.

Read Also: How Having Dogs as your Furry Friends in College Helps

Bhavya Nayak
[email protected]

Delhi University’s East Campus to be ready by 2026 in Surajmal Vihar, to aid better administration, create more opportunities for higher education and introducing more law programmes. The construction work would begin within the next eight months, said VC, Delhi University. 

The Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, Yogesh Singh, on Friday revealed the commencement of construction
work of the East Campus of Delhi University, adding that the work would begin next year with an aim to have the new East Campus ready in Surajmal Vihar by 2026. He says that the Delhi University plans to spend Rs 1718 crore on revamping the entire infrastructure of the university over the next few years.

The University of Delhi currently has two college campuses under it’s aegis–the North and the South Campus. The proposal for expansion were first brought up in December, 2020, when the then pro-vice-chancellor PC Joshi informed about prospects of development of a campus in East Delhi in a bid to reduce the administrative burden on the existing two campuses and also to give way to more opportunities for higher education.

This news elicited a positive response, especially from DU colleges located in East Delhi.

“We have to send someone to the North campus for some administrative work almost daily. Our students also have to travel all the way to the North campus for any grievance. It becomes even more difficult for us to coordinate during examination or admissions. Things will become really easier for us if we get a campus in Surajmal Vihar.”said Payal Mago, principal of Shaheed Rajguru College in Vasundhara Enclave.”

The Delhi University had also planned the establishment of a West Campus in Roshanpura, near Najafgarh, to cater to student coming from rural Delhi and Haryana. However, the VC responded that at present, there are no plans for the construction of a West Campus. With regards to the construction of the East Campus, Mr Singh, in conversation with the Press Trust of India, stated that,

“The construction of the East Campus will be begin in the next eight months. The process is underway. We have
applied for funding with the Government of India”

The Vice Chancellor also relays the pertinence of having constructed a new campus by highlighting how it would help manage administrative work, introduce new courses and expand across the city. He laid heavy focus on their aim of launching law programmes in the new campus and incentivizing entrepreneurship.

“There are over 100 unicorns in the country today. We need to provide space to help students, faculty and alumni to come up with ideas,” said Mr. Singh (The Hindu).

Image Credits: Hindustan Times

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Rubani Sandhu
[email protected]






















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Ahead of our 75th Independence Day, here is looking at the four unsung verses of our national anthem by a fellow Bong and his experiences with the same

Growing up in a Bengali household, Rabindranath Tagore or “Kobiguru” (the guru of poets) as we were so fondly taught to call him, was a looming presence in my life. The drawing room wall had a two foot long portrait of the man with his cascading white beard and saintly eyes. On summer afternoons legs propped on the divan and orange peels on my fingers next to undone algebra I could hear him walking past the still curtains – his presence speaking of a quietude so deeply internalised that it could almost be akin to silent absence. On monsoon evenings when my heart was too heavy, his poetry gave words to my unshed tears. And on Independence Day, when I heard the country blaring the national anthem in a hindi dialect far removed from the original bengali pronunciation my heart would swell with anger.

In crowds, from childhood, I made it a point to sing the anthem in the Bengali dialect, while people around me would turn and stare at me with glaring eyes – indicating that I was the person who was singing it wrong. “Don’t be a rebel without a cause, of course there has to be a standard pronunciation for the entire country,” my mother would say each time I would go on an unwarranted rant about the hegemonic imposition of the hindi dialect across the nation. But little did I know that this was just the tip of the ignorance for most outside the Tagore-centric cultural bubble of Bengal.

In the middle of a casual video call with some of my recently made friends in DU, I found us humming the anthem after hearing a spectacular orchestral arrangement of the same on Youtube. But it was only when I continued to sing, long after the verse had ended that my friends curiously asked me as to what I was singing. That night I spent close to an hour, explaining to my friends, all from various ends of the country, how the national anthem is merely the first verse of a five verse long song composed by Tagore. It is with their shocked faces in mind today, that ahead of the 75th year of our Indian Independence, I present to all my readers the four unsung verses of the song from which our anthem originates. The translation will never be at par with the original Bengali and hence apologies are in order for all that will inevitably get lost in this humble translation.


Original Bengali:


Ahoraho tabo aahwan procharito shuni tabo udaar baani

Hindu bouddho joino paarsik musalmaan khristani

Purabo poschimo aase tabo singhasano-paase

Premhaar hoy gnaatha.

Janogano-oikyo-bidhayako jayo hey bhaaroto bhaagyo bidhata !

Jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo, jayo, jayo, jayo hey.


Paton-abbhudayo-bondhur pantha, jugo-jugo dhaabito jaatri

Hey chirosaathi tabo rathochakre mukhorito patho dinoraatri.

Daarun biplab-maajhe tabo shankho dhwoni baaje


Janoganopathoporichaayako jayo hey bharoto bhagyo bidhata !

Jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo, jayo, jayo, jayo hey.


Ghorotimiroghano nibiro nishithe pirito murchito deshe

Jaagroto chilo tabo abichal mangol natonayone animeshe.

Duhswapne aatonke rokkha korile anke

Snehomoyi tumi maata.

Janoganodukhotraayako jayo hey bharoto bhagyo bidhata !

Jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo, jayo, jayo, jayo hey.


Raatri probhaatilo udilo robichchhobi purbo-udayogiribhaale –

Gaahe bihangamo, punyo somirano nabojibanoraso dhaale.

Tabo korunarunoraage nidrito bhaarato jaage

Tabo charone nato maatha.

Jayo jayo jayo hey, jayo raajeswaro bhaaroto bhaagyo bidhata !

Jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo hey, jayo, jayo, jayo, jayo hey.




Endlessly resonates thy charitable call to uplift –

Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsees, Muslims and Christians.

Across the East and West, unites this call, in strings of love.

You, the one who binds together the people in unity,

The one in whose hand sways the fate of India

Hail to thee!


Reflected in the wheels of your chariot O! the Timeless One,

On the jagged road of crests and troughs, walk a million listless.

In the midst of astounding rebels, rings loud your clarion call to revel –

You – the one who quells evil and distress!

Hail to the thee, the hand who sways the fate of India

And who shows its millions the path to traverse!


In the expanding gloom, of the darkest nights of distress,

Was awake forever, your bent unblinking gaze.

In the darkest of dreams, in the direst of circumstances,

You held us in your embrace –

Like a piteous mother to her babe.

Hail to thee, the hand who sways the fate of India

The one who vanquishes the distress of our souls!


The night melts into day, and rises the sun

On the eastern horizon front

Sing the birds, swayed by the holy breeze,

Tunes of a new life impending.

To your blood marked songs of compassion

Answers a nation rising from slumber,

Bowed forever at your lotus-feet.

Hail to the thee, O! Mightiest of Rulers,

The one in whose hands rest forever, the fate of India!


Here is a rendition of the song from the 2015 Bengali film Rajkahini (A Tale of Kings)



Anwesh Banerjee
[email protected]


Stampede-like situation during the degree-distribution ceremony at DU’s School of Open Learning prompts issue of advisory to past and present students to not attend any event without prior registration.

 Delhi University’s School of Open Learning had scheduled a Degree Fair on June 3rd and 4th, 2023 to distribute degree certificates to undergraduate and postgraduate students from the batch of 2022. The two-day long event was to take place at the University Stadium in New Delhi. Prior to the event, students had been asked to book an appointment through the university website to collect their certificates.

However, despite the arrangements, number of students showing up on Day 1 exceeded the venue’s capacity. Videos and photos shared online showed chaotic scenes as students tried to scale the walls of the sports complex.

Around 10,000 students had registered for the first day and adequate arrangements had been made for them. We had distributed a few hundred degrees when suddenly 25,000-30,000 students turned up.

        Uma Shankar Pandey, Officiating Principal, SOL

Students have been queuing up since 6 in the morning. Students crowding on the pavement is making things difficult for us.

        A rickshaw driver in DU’s North Campus notes the disruption caused due to overcrowding 

On Saturday, a notice issued by SOL read, “All concerned may please note that the distribution of degree for passing out students of 2022 of SOL through ‘Degree Fair’ scheduled on June 3 and 4 has been stopped with immediate effect due to unavoidable circumstances.” The university has said that the degrees would now be sent by post to students. 

I had travelled for 2 hours from Noida to collect my degree but I know of people who came from far-off states all in vain.

– Trigya Agarwal, a student at DU SOL.

Several teacher and student groups have called out the ‘mismanagement’ by the authorities. Krantikari Yuva Sangthan in its press release said “Due to the mismanagement by SOL, a stampede followed as students were arbitrarily not allowed entry to the venue and the event was abruptly cancelled by them. This is not an isolated incident, but among many which keep cropping up regularly.” KYS also calls for resignation of SOL Director Payal Mago and would be organising a protest. 

In response, Principal US Pandey has issued an advisory stating that all current and former students should strictly adhere to the registration process before attending any event and refrain from engaging in indecent behaviour and misconduct. This advisory seeks to maintain discipline and protocols during any university-sanctioned event.


Image Credits – Bhavya Nayak for DU Beat

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Bhavya Nayak

[email protected]

The university that all of your schoolmates drooled over. Red bricks and skyrocketing cutoffs. Living with the cream of the crowd in the city of dreams, Delhi. What does it take to come far from home and survive this fantasy?

Dream incessantly, asleep or awake. When you’re on the metro listening to high volume EDM’s and the aunty
next to you is squishing and pushing just enough to make it to the last empty seat. Dream, looking at the autumnal hue of the Celtis tree while your professor reads out the last lines of a background reading, you with all the determination of a first-sem-out-of-the-womb of a school cocoon had written on your to-do list to complete last week. Dream, you made it to the interview round of a hard to get into, corporate job recruitment drive like college society. Dream, when you fake smiles awkwardly at a volunteering programme you signed up for, because Freuds super ego can handle your social anxiety in a faceless swarm of people. Dream, when you’re a pile of slob sitting on your undone assignments and dirty laundry. Dream, on Diwali evenings
far from home when fairy lights don’t suffice for your mother’s handmade kaju barfi . Dream kid. You are finally living it: The DU Dream.

Be it the first or the fifth list, you are just happy that you made it to Delhi University. Well, that is nothing but
a half-truth. While some of you are sullen for you got a college far less than what you had hoped for in the last two epochs of your school life, the others beam with unsurmountable joy as they witness the first day and the first step towards the college of their dreams. All this would soon melt into a horizon of memories, a marvel you would look at when the first six months pass by. You, the light that recoils in fright, you don’t even know who you are. You chant that you feel ugly on the outside and worse on the inside. You want to fill the voids
and be whole. You will be soon enough, even if partly so.

In between the rickshaw rides and lose change problems. The rent payment and unpaid internship struggles. The all-nighter study sessions, one night before the exam. The PG ka rukha sukha khaana. The maheene only do baar nahana. The Majnu ka Tila and Humayun’s Tomb. The month-end when dessert is a single spoonful of sugar. The cold coffee and iced tea, the Kamala Nagar shopping spree. The morning classes and Delhi’s unpredictable afternoon rains. The last minute presentations. The resume building and the fans that fall off ceilings. The break-ups and breakdowns. In the thick and thin of it all, piece by piece, it is as if all this time you have been trying to achieve this very thing, to separate the good parts of you from the rotten. You seem to have become whole.

I welcome you to this dream with a strong heart. You, who will stand tall and love the fresh air that comes from
following this ever-onward road. You, who will stride in bold steps, and feel a sense of pride in each one.  And this journey is not about a destination, an arrival point or a finish line, for there is no such thing. This dream is about the people you meet and how you made them feel. For it will take you to places unchartered within yourself and beyond. Friends come, friends go, often-times you would be alone. Then make solitude your
companion, take it as it comes, good or bad, and keep moving forward.

Aayat Farooqui

[email protected]

Fifty-three years ago, Atal Bihari Vajpayee called this law a “donkey that had been made to look like a horse.”
Today, it still remains horrifyingly omnipresent in the working machinery of the present regime, flexing its muscles by using the criminal justice system and draconian laws to strike terror against journalists, human rights activists, students, or for a matter of fact, anyone opposing its fascist policies.

“For the longest time, I would pray for his release. But now, I am praying that he doesn’t die. The way he is being treated, and with his worsening condition, I worry he might die in jail,”

said Sanjida, wife of the 28-year-old Atikur Rehman who was arrested along with Kerala journalist Siddique
Kappan while on their way to Hathras in 2020 to report the incident of the gang-rape and death of a Dalit
teenager by upper caste men. Rehman now lies “partially paralysed” and “highly disoriented” in a ward
at Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University (KGMU) hospital, and Kappan still remains in jail, two years
with no sign of bail. The “sensitive nature of the case” could be the reason, says his attorney, why no one
is willing to act as his surety

Furthermore, Mohammed Zubair was arrested after a complaint alleged that the AltNews co-founder had hurt religious sentiments, while Umar Khalid and numerous other anti-CAA activists were implicated in fabricated criminal charges related to the Delhi riots. These are only a few of the numerous incidents of attacks on media professionals, particularly the independent media, that have occurred in India during the past few years. Since the BJP came to power in 2014, the number of persons who are being persecuted for their identification and commitment to fighting for democratic and progressive rights has dramatically increased. From the 2018 Bhima Koregaon arrests and the 2020 CAA protests to the most recent arrests of Teesta Setalvad and Mohammad Zubair, the current leadership is hell-bent on locking up anyone who speaks unpleasant truths and exposes their lies.

According to some, democracy is not just a pipe dream; it is a real idea whose fundamental components are listed in the preamble: social, economic, and political justice; freedom of speech and religion; and equality of status and opportunity. This regime has discovered that, rather than explicitly abolishing democracy, another, less obvious way to do so is to completely deny the people’s rights to social, economic, and political justice, to
severely restrict their freedoms of expression and thought, to suppress their right to practice their religion, and to give up their commitment to the ideal of a society in which everyone is treated equally.

UAPA, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, has been abused by successive governments for decades, transitioning from an anti-secession law to an anti-terrorism law. Criminalising dissident views and actions, this act blurs the line between political dissent and criminal behavior, while engaging in a violation of the fundamental right to association. Due to this, political opposition is severely criminalised as some ideologies, groups, and opinions end up being labelled as unlawful. As a result, certain organisations that contest the legitimacy of the State and the ruling classes become targets of political witch hunts.

Take the case of Umar Khalid, who is “so dangerous an offender that he cannot be released on bail” and has been kept in jail for the last two years without any concrete evidence except for an alleged “meeting of minds”
which schemed the Delhi riots. Other police evidence includes a speech that is available to the public but does
not incite violence, testimonies from witnesses that differ from the police, and communications from WhatsApp groups that discussed organising protests against CAA, where he was hardly active. The irony that remains is that the riots that Khalid is accused of starting claimed the lives of over 53 people, the majority
of whom were Muslims. Similarly, the majority of the 18 people who were accused of hatching a plot to foment
racial unrest and were charged with terrorism under the UAPA, as well as murder, sedition, and over two
dozen other crimes under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, are also Muslims. Additionally, some of the remarks
made by several Delhi courts about police investigations into these riots stated these investigations to be ‘absolutely’ evasive,’ ‘lackadaisical,’ ‘callous,’ ‘casual,’ ‘farcical,’ ‘painful to see,’ and ‘misusing the judicial system.”

One also comes across bizarre cases, like in Kashmir, where 10 young men were booked in September under the same law because the police alleged that they were playing a cricket match in the “memory” of a militant
who was killed last year. Explanations like these boggle one’s normally functioning brain in ways not known
to humankind. What UAPA simply means is jail without bail and without a trial, on the grounds of little to no
evidence. One section of the Act says, “The accused must be informed of the grounds of arrest as soon as may
be,” meaning that the person who is being arrested might not even know why they are being arrested and the
arresting officer can take their sweet time in informing them as to why to they are being sent to jail.

The pattern is evident. Not merely actions, but also any anti-government beliefs are being criminalised. The state cynically employs investigations as weapons, turning an already unjust criminal justice system against those who oppose the state’s unlawful policies. As a result, the so-called inquiries into the Delhi Riots actually
result in the targeting of anti-CAA activists, while Bhima Koregaon is used as a cover to attack Dalit
intellectuals as well as human rights advocates and attorneys.

Aayat Farooqui

[email protected]

In the two main areas of conflict reporting in India: Kashmir and the North-East, plagued by insurgencies,
and the states affected by political extremism, many journalists have been targeted, maimed, or even assassinated or killed as a result of their ‘living’—journalism

Attacks on journalists are nothing new, whether they take place within or outside of crisis zones. A Thakur Family Foundation investigation found that between 2014 and 2019, there were at least 198 serious
attacks against reporters in India, of which 36 occurred in 2019. According to a survey released last year, 40
occurrences of journalist deaths occurred, 21 of which were related to their profession. But given the circumstances on the ground, the obstacles are far greater in Kashmir.

As recently as 2018, unidentified gunmen in Srinagar shot and killed Rising Kashmir’s Shujaat Bukhari. Photographer Kamran Yousuf stated last year that he was wounded close to an encounter site in the Pulwama district. Senior Kashmiri journalist Yusuf Jameel claims that after 1989, completely new difficulties arose for journalists in carrying out their work. He said, “Every day is becoming difficult for us, so many things are happening. Largescale killings have started taking place, and the whole thing [has] changed. Information accessibility has become zero, entry to many places is banned. Attempts to suppress information have started.

Jameel also recounts how in 1995, while working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Srinagar, he and two other men were attacked. He said,

“I didn’t fear for life as such but I have faced a number of allegations of glorifying militants, [and of] being their hand. I was called an Indian agent by the militant groups. I faced six attacks. In one of the attacks, which was a parcel bomb last in Srinagar office in 1995, I, along with another fellow journalist, was injured while the third succumbed.”

It has long been believed that the worst Indian state excesses are first attempted, tested, and polished in
Kashmir before being implemented elsewhere in the nation. The same holds true for political arrests. Following the Modi government’s decision to abrogate Article 370, more than 5,000 Kashmiris were detained. Politicians, attorneys, businesspeople, activists, and journalists were jailed in remote locations or confined under house
arrest throughout the valley.

In November 2021, noted human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, from Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a group based in Srinagar which publishes regular reports on the human rights violations
and excesses committed by security forces in the Valley, was arrested on accusations of “terror funding”. The
National Investigation Agency (NIA) took charge and he was arrested under the draconian anti-terrorism
law, making it impossible for him to get bail. Earlier this year, Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah was detained
under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) on the grounds that he had been “misguiding common masses by circulating fake news against the government and its policies.”

In the North-East, we observe a similar situation. The list of deceased journalists is extensive and includes
everyone from editors to lower-level reporters and camera operators. According to government data, there have been 32 deaths in Assam since 1987. Despite a clear connection to individuals in authority, none of these cases has seen a thorough investigation that resulted in the conviction of the accused.

Konsam Rishikanta, a sub-editor for the Imphal Free Press, was killed by unidentified assailants in 2008 in a
neighborhood of Imphal. Yambem Megha, a reporter for Vision North East, was shot and killed in 2002.
The Manipur News’ editor, a thenpopular English publication, was also killed in 2000. And many more unidentified cases could be added to this horrifyingly exhaustive list. Even after dangling between numerous situations of life and death, journalists in these states remain largely underpaid—from late commissions from the government to newspapers never paying the recommended wage. With media houses shutting down and their offices being sealed, there is only so much one can criticise about them.

While India drops to 150th place out of 180 nations on the World Press Freedom Index, even behind Palestine and Afghanistan, it wears the crown of “one of the most dangerous countries for media,” and according to research, a place “where journalists are vulnerable to all types of violence.” On a daily basis, those who defend free speech are either incarcerated or shot to death with metal. Furthermore, the administration remains mostly intent on denying the reality of the crisis it has created by fabricating the report’s “questionable methodology” in parliament.

Aayat Farooqui

[email protected]

Lurking in the dark corners of lost Mughal provinces is the glory past of bejewelled necks and lavishly costumed bodies of heaven romancing to the rhythmic tunes of royal melodies-the tawaifs, the mujre wali, and the kothewali. The cultural treasures and artistic geniuses of then, now social outcasts and sexual objects of an institutionalized patriarchy.

‘Mujra’, a word often associated with eroticism or sexual dance styles, born of an Oudhi origin, was a performing art form solely reserved for the womb it was birthed at, that is, the royal courts. Under the tutelage of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the final king of Awadh, two storytellers known as Kathaks, Kalka Maharaj and Bindadeen Maharaj, expanded and perfected the classical dance form of Kathak, adding more drama and seduction till it was refined to Mujra. This dancing style was learnt and improved by the Nawab himself, who was a dancer of great skill and finesse. Therefore, the Ustads who were recognised with starting the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak later became the creators of Mujra.

Derived from the Marathi language, Mujra literally means ‘to bow down’. Before beginning a performance, it is customary for dancers to bow and pay respect to God, their Guru, and the audience. Namaskar and Salaami
tukdas/todas of Kathak have kept this alive. It was most likely this act of Mujra, or paying respect, that gave the performance its name. This symbolism can be seen in famous folk Bhajans of Uttar Pradesh like Ram Jharokhe- “राम झरोखे बैठ के सबका मुजरा ले, जैसी जाकी चाकरी वैसा वाको दे” (Lord Ram watches us all through
a window and rewards us in accordance with the intensity of our obeisance towards him.)

Holding these tokdas in the delicat elegance of their palm were Tawaifs. Contrasting popular connotations,
they were courtesans similar to Japan’s Geishas. Well-known culturists, aesthetes, collectors, and entertainers, they were artists who passively consumed the patronage they had received. The Tawaifs were the most powerful group of female citizens and made the most of their direct access to powerful males. They were supposed to be affluent in Hindi and Urdu languages, and learn poetry and literature. In a place known for being extremely competitive, only the wittiest and most self-assured remained. They were the first wave of feminists in the Indian peninsula and possessed land, which was a privilege enjoyed by few males, save for any woman. It was the incoming British who cracked down on Tawaifs under the guise of social cleansing in order to end kinship-based authority and destroyed the indigenous dynasty. To lessen their power over their respective leaders, the Tawaifs were stripped of their possessions and territory.

In the early 1800s, the British turned them into prostitutes and prohibited Mujra through a number of laws. A social purity movement that attacked non-hetero, noncis, LGBTQ+ citizens began soon after. Anti-courtesan laws were introduced in an effort to combat STDs. The governments of India and Pakistan adopted this atmosphere of shame after their respective independences. In Mumbai, the dance bars where the contemporary Mujra was practised were forbidden. The tawaifs of Pakistan were expelled to the outskirts of the city during the rule of the military ruler Zia-Ul-Haq.

After then, the Kotha facility was turned into a brothel, and Mujra was transformed into a suggestive and borderline filthy erotic dance show. For India’s indigenous performing arts, this was a horrible and irreparable loss, as a vast array of songs and dance forms also perished along with their keepers.

Mujra now takes the contemporary, reduced-down form of Bollywood songs like Salame Ishq and Inn Akhon
Ki Masti Ke performances in bars and wedding parties for a hefty price and a lowly occupation. According
to Kabir Kakkar, the talent manager of Lucknow’s K4 Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.,

“In Lucknow, most dancers are Indian, but the ‘big money’ dancers are from Uzbekistan, Russia, and Ukraine, paid between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000 per one-hour show. They are trained in Kathak or Bharatnatyam, and some have picked up mujra expressions and gestures from films like Umrao Jaan.”

The maker of the same film Umrao Jaan, Muzaffar Ali, claims that what we see now is not mujra. It’s all very
commercial and physical, as he puts it. “The art, where is it?”

The status quo of these dancing groups remains hazy with the transforming identity of what it is to be a ‘Mujre Wali’. They substitute their menial occupation with jobs in IT sectors, modeling agencies, and small acting roles in television serials. Because as accounted by one of these dance group owners, “It’s a bit demeaning to call them just mujra girls.

Aayat Farooqui

[email protected]

Between conjugated buildings, jutted roofs, kebab roasting coal smokes, and tuk-tuks. Beyond hollow stigmas and xenophobia biases, at the heart of Jamia is where this Delhi University student has found a home.

Reader Advisory – Intended dark humour can cause serious injuries to the fragile egos of monoculturalism flag bearers.

“Bhaiya Jamia jaoge?”

And after the fifth rejection, I feel like a Tamil hero trying to curse his love interest in a soup song while dancing obnoxiously to item beats with sloppy choreography. I know my amateur bargaining skills and the consistent hostile repudiation of auto-walla’s will serve no help. Who, anyway, in their full senses, would want to choke themselves in the tang gullies of Okhla Vihar, Okhla NSIC, and a bunch of more Okhla derivatives? An overcrowd of humans, the white-capped, the scarf-wrapped, old men with long beards, the indigo print kurtas that go to university, the rich Greek-God looking Kashmiri brats, racing their way to cricket practise after noon, and swarming the seating area of all food joints within a ten-metre radius by night. Beguilers, if it is the visual representation of a community that you are looking for to initiate some spicy riots, all the markers are present here.

Noor Nagar:  My misery seems to have found a home at the corner of a corner street, among
three conjugated apartments that boast magnificent balconies, a very common overstatement made by local property dealers for jutted roofs and make-shift washing places. A home built on overturned tuk-tuks and travel agent aunties who are almost universally dissatisfied with my creased cartilage line and the small-talk dodging earbuds I refuse to remove. A home on chipped metal stools, dousing chicken seekhs while the burning coal fumes play with your face like a country breeze. A home, in the dust-sniffing shopping sprees of Batla House and long walks into late nights. A home, in Fax shops and juice points, crocs over socks with the monsoon high, when overflowing drainage systems bring out the child inside.

“The next station is Jamia Millia Islamia.”

On the 15th, the flags billowed with a sense of longing, clipped on pigeon feeders and laundry nets like melted glass windows, stained pale and grey. The poles rattled now and then as the standing irony of holding
unity in a piece of cloth. Rippling over roads, they are often mocked as “Mini Pakistan” for their green haze. In the fainted screams of yesterday, of what was lost and what remains, this ghetto has withheld so much
that it has now become full. Full of meanings in torn-out posters and graffiti walls blackened with paint, as its glory is restored in the light of dawn, its spirit shines in the vivid symphony of eventide hues. And it is here,
in this bustling solitude, in the sound of the crowd, that pulls out strings of joy from the happy centre of my brain. I have found a home, a serenity for the soul.

Aayat Farooqui

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Memory is the most important tool which oppressed people have. The oppressors want us to have amnesia. The only potent weapon we have as people is memory. “Our memory will always help us to sustain the struggle against injustice,” said Khalid Parvez in an interview with David Barsmain. Indeed, between the neat beds of crimson bloom, her fragrance is like a time machine, granting me a fleeting visit to the land that clings on to nothing, but memories. To my mother’s land. To memory.

Aayat: “Appi it’s not working, why can’t click a photo?”

Mir: “Give it to me, give it to me, I know how to do it…It’s on video mode, now try it like this.”

As god sits on a Shikara painting the paradise, he paints it deep blue and green. A lake so magnificent that it reflects the willing canvas of the mountain and sky. And when he strikes the brush he weaves strings of harmony, and when he strikes the brush he writes poetic songs of the light that is played upon the wind dancing ruffles of willows and trees, and when he strikes the brush he breaks dawn in crimson and wine red, giving it a
watercolour effect. But if the kahwa in his hands slips into a tumultuous storm that wipes the sailcloth grey, was it man who did it or was it divine justice that did not come into play?

Sitting in the university garden, in the serenity of the whistling waters of Dal, our hearts tuned to the flow striking the fixated stones; it was then that I had believed so much in beauty, it was then that I had believed so much in its imposing power that transforms any human being. Every second spent in Kashmir is etched to me like a memory, that if ever revisited, redefines each moment that has ever lived in me, in my mind’s eye.

We were happy. Mountains in summer, lawasa and noon chai, spinach curry dinner on red carpets. The intoxicating smell of afternoon rain with nadru (lotus root fritters) in newspaper wraps. All year round we waited for summer, because summer meant holidays and holidays were a month-long dip into the relieving
waters of a home far away, a fernweh. And because holidays were the hugs and kisses of khala as she spoiled and stuffed us until we turned into a burrito. And because holidays were not only days spent playing
in doll houses or snow-laden balconies, but by then holidays were like a dream that kept on returning to kiss greater life into our souls.

Dated: 12/6/2019
Walking bare feet on wet grass in Shalimar does not equate to the baghs in Delhi. How can nostalgia be so weak that it can’t cling to the last pieces of what is lost? It is because so much is lost. Nothing is the same.
Jhelum boils red in the loss of mothers, endless suffering, endless pain, the endless murder of life, widows, orphans, rape, politics, law and order. Oh, the border, the border! Shelling and pelting, take the youth to detention centers so that the ‘high sir’ can do the belting, the shooting electrocuting.

Nothing is the same. Life is cheap. The winter wind comes with its hollow screams, its quiet cries. But the whispers linger on, the blood dries out, covered under the snow. Don’t let yourself show. Out in the dark, at night. A son born here is a son died. Nothing is the same. Army bunkers and barbed wires surround the roads, mental agony surrounds the people and it is grief that they breathe in. I live in Delhi now, Lucknow feels unlike home. Mir left college after his father died of a heart attack. He sits at the shop now with his elder brother. That is how they earn a living. I went back there after 7 years. Sitting on the stairs at Hazrat-Bal, I see a gamut of pigeons flying. The people often feed them. Just like they feed the hope inside. The walls are scribbled with Azaadi, of what they want, but who are they? Are they some of them or all of them, and if they are who they are, who gives them the liberty to want what they want? Who gives them thought? They are nobodies. No blood and bone. No skin and soul. They are dust. They are ashes. They are long-lost dreams. They are the wind-blown chinar leaf you step on while you walk in and out of paradise(hell) in peace.

“Jis khaak ke zamir mein ho aatish-echinar
Mumkin nahien ke sard ho wok hake arajmand

Wo arajmand ab hogaya hai sard o iqbal
Ab ro raha wadi-e-kashmir phir se ek baar.”

Aayat Farooqui

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