Ghalib’s response to the article published in DNA – ‘Mirza Ghalib is fanning hate feelings: Cops’ theory’

Yesterday, I read an article published in DNA on the front page and the first words of the title were  ‘Mirza Ghalib’, I was happy for a micro second and was excited to read about Ghalib, not many newspapers write about poets. I continued to read the title of the article – ‘Mirza Ghalib is fanning hate feelings: Cops’ theory’. After reading the complete title, it didn’t add to my excitement, however I moved on to reading the article, the first line reflected my feelings, it said – ‘Absurd as it may sound,’ Exactly, Absurd!

I was reading not as any reader, but someone who knows about Ghalib and his body of work, having read not only his poetry but also his about life and the time he lived in. I knew that whatever I am going to read is not going to make sense, but I still continued, it said – Absurd as it may sound, the Maharashtra police believes members of the banned terror group SIMI are now taking inspiration from Mirza Ghalib.

Bordering on the insane and the improbable, the affidavits are a testimony to the fact that the police have been plain lazy while preparing a “watertight case” against SIMI. Of the several affidavits — filed in court asking for the ban on the group to continue — accessed by DNA, one by inspector Shivajirao Tambare of Vijapur Naka, Solapur, cites a Ghalib verse — as part of evidence — to show how dangerous SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) is.

Mr. Shivajirao Tambare, I am happy to know that the police department is reading Ghalib, but reading it without understanding can get you in trouble.

To understand the message, always understand the messenger. I am sure you have done your research on Ghalib’s poetry but not on Ghalib.

I continued to read and the couplet was quoted –  Mauje khoon ser se guzer hi kiyon na jay, Aastane yaar se uth jaein kaya! A loosely translated Marathi version in the affidavit concludes that these lines speak of bloodshed and animosity.

Khalid Mehmood, the head of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Urdu department, however, has a different take. He told DNA that the lines, in fact, have a positive meaning: “Whatever be the circumstances, we will not leave the place (country or home of the beloved) even if our heads are chopped off…”.

Khalid Mehmood added patriotism to the couplet, maybe he asked to add a pinch of ‘desh bhakti’. When one translates poetry, the essence is lost and then you can make anything out of it and give all the credit to the poet for it.

The couplet is taken from the a very famous Ghazal, the first verse of the ghazal is –

jaur se baaz aae par baaz aaen kyaa
kahte hain hum tujh ko munh dikhlaaen kyaa

This Ghazal is full of complaints and pain of the lover and has got nothing to do with terrorism or patriotism.

Here is a translation of the couplet quoted by the cop in his affidavit.

mauj-e khuun sar se guzar hii kyun na jaae
aastaan-e yaar se uth jaaen kyaa

even if a wave of blood would pass over [our] head
as if we would get up from the beloved’s doorsill!

In the second line kyaa is for contempt.

Bekhud Dihlavi’s commentary on the couplet – By ‘the wave of blood’, here trouble and suffering is meant.  He says, no matter how much trouble may come upon me, I’m now fixed here on the beloved’s doorsill; and I’ve made up my mind to it. So I wouldn’t at all get up get up from here– now I’ll get up only when I’ve died.

Back to the article, it goes on to say – Matters do not end here. Affidavit after affidavit, accessed by DNA, cites “secession of Maharashtra from India and thereby, disrupting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country”, as a reason to ban SIMI. The police — instead of providing any evidence to back their claim — have concluded that Ghalib’s shayari is the culprit.

I don’t think I need to comment on the intelligence and understanding of the police; the newspaper already did that throughout the article.

Only 235 words in the article talk about Ghalib, the remaining 215 words prove that it’s not only Maharashtra police who come up with such things, even Andhra Pradesh Police can give them tough competition when it comes to proving their point without evidence.

When I re-read the article after I returned home, I was happy, how strange it is that the police need to take support of a couplet to ban an organization. I was happy for Ghalib, he is still in news.

We all know, Ghalib can make you cry, he can make you wonder, he can everything other than motivate people to kill others.

I thought to myself, what would’ve Ghalib said to the cop, how would he reply, Ghalib himself has chosen to remain silent on this matter; I leave you an interesting story – A scurrilous attack on Ghalib had been published. Someone said, ‘Your Excellency! You haven’t written any answer to it.’ Mirza said, ‘If a donkey kicks you, then will you kick him back?’

Ali Muhammad Ali – @AliPoetry

Sources – Full Article on –

FWP – Columbia University.


One thought on “Ghalib’s response to the article published in DNA – ‘Mirza Ghalib is fanning hate feelings: Cops’ theory’

  1. Nehal

    I was taken a back. Not for Ghalib being on the front page. He is a pioneer of Urdu poetry in India. I don’t mean he was the first urdu poet, but every other poet from Haali till today has directly or indirectly got enlightenment from Ghalib. So If he was on the front, he deserves it. At least the positive side of the recent news was that it gave us a chance to recall the legendary poet Ghalib.
    The ridiculous conclusion of Maharashtra police that SIMI are inspired by Ghalib’s poetry is no more than a joke. Tow points must be noted. Either the police unable to present a concrete evidence is using Ghalib’s poetry as evidence to impose restriction on SIMI. In this case,helplessness and inability of the police becomes obvious. Because even the lines which they have quoted have nothing to do with terrorism. The other possibility as I think is that quoting lines from the poetry is an attempt to get Diwaan-e-Ghalib banned in India. If so, then I would suggest them to read Ghalib with sensitiveness. I have read his Diwaan and I am pretty sure that there is not a single line in his poetry that incite readers on terrorism.
    Ghalib, probably for just this occasion had said:
    Huay mar ke ham jo ruswa, huay kyuN na gharq-e-dariya
    Na kabhi janaza uth-ta, na kahiN mazaar hota


Feedback and Criticism Welcome...Shoot.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s