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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Amitabh Bachchan’s full speech at 26/11 #StoriesOfStrength: ‘Perception that moderates are not relevant in the war on terror is myopic’

Nine years ago, on this day these attacks were, to me, a wake-up call. But the question I asked myself was: “Wake-up, yes, but wake-up to what?”

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 28, 2017 5:49:28 pm
Stories of strength, mumbai, amitabh bachchan, gateway of india Amitabh Bachchan at the Gateway of India. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

The Gateway of India, at first instance, appears to be an odd place for us to enter into the type of conversations we have been having today. It was, after all, built to commemorate a state visit of a foreign invader.

But rather than tearing down the Gateway on our liberation, we absorbed it, re-attributed to it our own meanings of hospitable welcome and an openness to the world, as much as simultaneously, possessing the cultural confidence to leave it intact as a reminder that the Raj happened, so that then we know that it also passed. And it passed because of our collective might. We overcame this foreign invader by the solidarity of peaceful resistance.

The Gateway, therefore, in its contemporary complexity of meanings, is a locus for reflection, pondering and debate. There could not be a more fitting place to commemorate the cowardly attacks on this day nine years ago that occurred at various places across our city, including at the landmark just across the street. Nine years ago, on this day, these attacks were, to me, a wake-up call.

But the question I asked myself was: “Wake-up, yes, but wake-up to what?” I woke up to a new era of violence, a new kind of violence — a violence that was inflicted by terrorism. I woke up to the fact that terrorism is not an ideology. It is an act of scaring peaceful people, an act of evoking the fear of a sudden, untimely death. It is an act of negotiating at the point of a gun.

Terrorism is not an act of faith. Terrorism can never replace another ideology. And there is, before us, true evidence of that: The same children who held the same guns and ammunition in the trenches of Afghanistan to fight a foreign invasion of their land, the same children who were paid wages and salaries to kill and be killed in those battles, became professional mercenaries after they began to use the same training and weapons out of hatred, malice and vengeance.

Whatever political rhetoric may say, terrorism is neither a form of justice — nor even an instrument of justice — it is the whimsical randomness of evil.

So how does an unarmed, peaceful humanity fight the fear of terrorism’s sudden violence? How does anyone who believes in a life of merit and hard work begin to believe in the authority of guns and bombs? Will armed mercenaries decide the future of our children? Will the threat of violence decide what is right or wrong, good or bad? Will terror decide what is true-false, correct-incorrect, good-bad and right or wrong?

No.

Terror does no such thing, terror does not decide anything. Terror only hopes to establish the bluff that evil can be stronger than natural humanity, that hate is mightier than love. It is now for each one of us to decide if we want our children to accept this evil doctrine or show our children that terror does not have a place in our hearts.

An estimated 20 lakh people were killed during the Partition of our country in 1947, and several times more were displaced. When people are divided by distrust, when friends and neighbours stop trusting each other, when a nation turns into hostile islands of random fear, then our world is broken into fragments, broken by narrow domestic walls. This is precisely what terror aims to achieve.

Terror does not preserve anything, it is designed to destroy. Once unleashed, terror cannot be stopped by a debate. An act of terror, therefore, is not open to negotiations or to wisdom. It can only be repelled, repulsed and destroyed by a more powerful reaction. There are no two ways about that: A corrective action is necessary.

But it does not end there. When a farm is infested by weeds, a weed-killer does not stop them from growing again after the next rain. The farmer has to pull them out, one by one, every single weed, by its roots.

Terror, to be prevented before germinating, must be rooted out. We know that the war on terror worldwide has not eliminated the root cause of terrorism so far. And it doesn’t look likely, if the same method is expected to give different results.

And here is where I think we must fall back on Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha. Satyagraha — in its truest form — as in the persuasion of truth.

The perception that moderates are not relevant in the war on terror is rather myopic and short-sighted. Moderates are not part of this struggle because both the handlers of terror and the agents of resistance consider them to be passive and disempowered. Yet, the prime victims of terror are moderates. More than 70 per cent of our nation is moderate. And as moderates, we must recognise that to vilify a foe is no victory at all, to understand a foe is the first act of strength in resistance.

amitabh bachchan at 26-11 memorial event

 

To understand a foe, one must first understand oneself. To understand ourselves, we must ask not what we are against, for that is defining ourselves by the ideas of our foe, by their power. Rather, to understand ourselves, we must ask what we are for. We can only understand ourselves together.

To understand ourselves as a collective is to find the time for debate, discussion, argument, listening to each other, trying to understand differing points of view, engaging, challenging our ways of thinking and honouring each other with compassion. These are the answers to violence and death. If we are to be for anything, then to start with, what we must be for is each other. That is solidarity, and history has shown that our country’s solidarity is as strong as oak.

 

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Actor Amitabh Bachchan along with the victims of 26/11 terror attacks at the Gateway of India for The Indianexpress stories of strength. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

 

The colonial rulers laughed at our Mahatma Gandhi when he spoke of this vision. His passive resistance suffered unimaginable brutality during its campaign. But we know the result: This approach wiped out the foundations of imperial colonialism from the face of the Earth.

The time has come for us moderates to unite once again. It is time to invoke the Mahatma’s satyagraha of peaceful, non-violent non-cooperation. Not only must we boycott violence, but everything that breeds it. We must rise up with one voice as a nation of moderates, and say, “No!”

Actor Amitabh Bachchan at the Gateway of India for The Indianexpress stories of strength. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

 

To the terrorist, that one “no” shall have the most impact. It’s very simple: A parasite cannot kill and survive in the same host at the same time. We must refuse to host terrorists. And, today standing at the feet of the Gateway, this is my prayer:

“All those who live for humanity, all those who live for the children of tomorrow, must now realise that it is time to rise, and say, ‘No!’. Uproot every weed from your surroundings, one weed at a time. Do not threaten, do not fight, do not kill, do not injure. Simply refuse to cooperate, at any cost.

Do not feed the evil; do not host the parasite called the terrorist.” And then, may we all live in the dream of Gurudev Tagore’s words: “Into that Heaven of Freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

IMPRINTS OF BLOOD or BLOOD STAINS
By Harivansh Rai Bachchan
In remembrance to him, and to so many others this day, this week, before and beyond.

This is a dream, a review

Subah-Subah uth kar kyaa dekhtaa hun
ki mere dwaar par,
Khoon range haathon ke kai chhape lage hain.
(I get up in the morning and see
That on my door
There are many blood-stained handprints)

Aur meri patni ne swapn dekhaa hai
ki ek nar-kankaal aadhi raat ko
ek haath mein khoon ki balti liye aata hai
aur dusra haath usme dubokar
Hamare dwaar par ek chhapa lagakar chala jaata hai;
Phir ek dusra aata hai
Phir dusra aata hai
phir dusra, phir dusra, phir dusra….
(And my wife has seen a dream
That a skeleton in the middle of the night
Holding a bucket of blood in one hand
And immersing the other in it
Imprints his hand soaked in blood, and departs.
Then another comes, then another and another)

This is persecution of the jews and the holocaust.

Yeh begunah khoon kinka hai?
Kya unka?
jo sadiyon se satae gaye,
jagah-jagah se bhagaye gaye,
dukh sahne ke itne aadi ho gaye,
ki vidroh ke saare bhaw hi kho gaye,
aur jab maut ke muh mein jaane ka hukm hua,
nirvirodh, chupchap chale gaye,
aur uski vishaili saanson mein ghutkar,
sada ke liye so gaye.
unke rakt ki chhap agar lagni thi toh,
kiske dwaar par.
(Whose innocent blood is this?
Is it of those
Who have through hundreds of years been troubled,
Chased away from place to place,
So accustomed to bearing pain
That today they have lost the intent of revolt?
And, when ordered to move into the mouths of death
Silently and without any opposition they went
And throttled by the poisonous gases
Went to sleep forever?
If their blood stains were to mark,
Then to whose door would they make?)

Yeh bejuban khoon kinka hai?
Kya unka?
Jinhone aatmahan shashan ke shikanje ki,
pakad se, jakad se chhutkar,
uthne ka, ubharne ka prayatna kiya tha.
Aur unhe daba kar, dal kar, kuchal kar,
pees daala gayaa hai.
Unke rakt ki chhaap agar lagni thi toh,
Kiske dwaar par.
(Whose speechless, tongueless, blood is this?
Is it of those
Who, governed by the tyrant’s vice-like grip
Caught and suppressed, tried to break free
To rise, to evolve through their efforts
And who were trampled upon, crushed into
A pulp
If their blood stains were to mark,
Then to whose door would they make?)

Yeh jawaan khoon kinka hai?
Kya unkaa?
Jo apne maati ka geet gaate,
apni Azaadi ka naara lagate,
haath uthaate, paanv badhate aaye the.
Par ab aisi chattaan se takrakar,
apna sir phod rahe hain,
Jo na talti hai, na hilti hai, na pighalti hai.
Unke rakt ki chhaap agar lagni thi toh,
kiske dwaar par.
(Whose young and youthful blood is this?
Is it of those
Who sang the songs of their mother earth
Shouted slogans of freedom
Raised their hands, and walked fearlessly forward
But have now struck against this immovable rock wall
Smashing their heads against it
A wall that does not turn, or move, or melt?
If their blood stains were to mark
Then to whose door would they make?)

This is about the black slavery in the United states of America

Yeh masoom khoon kinka hai?
Kya unka?
Jo apne shram se dhoop mein, taap mein,
dhool mein, dhuein mein sankar, kaale hokar,
apne safed-swamiyon ke liye,
saaf ghar, saaf nagar, swacchh path,
uthate rahe, banate rahe,
par unpar paanv rakhne, unpe paithne ka,
moolya apne pranon se chukaate rahe.
Unke rakt ke chhap agar lagni thi toh,
kinke dwaar par.
(Whose innocent blood is this?
Is it of those
Who with their effort and work, in the heat, in the sun,
In the dust, in the smoke-filled atmosphere, blackened
Did for their white-blooded masters
Make and build clean homes, clean cities, clean paths
But to place their feet within, to sit within them,
They did pay the price by the sacrifice of their lives?
If their blood stains were to mark
Then to whose door would they make?)

This is about partition of the country

Yeh bepanah khoon kinka hai?
Kya unka?
Jo tawarikh ki ek rekh se,
apne hi watan mein ek jalawatan hain.
Kya unka?
Jo bahumat ke aawesh par,
sanak par, pagalpan par,
apraadhi, dand or wadh karar diye jaate hain,
Nirwas, nirdhan, nirwasan
nirmam katl kiye jaate hain.
Unke rakt ki chhaap agar lagni thi toh,
kiske dwaar par.
(Whose endless flow of blood is this?
Is it of those
Who through a dated line
Became outsiders in their own land,
Who, on the dictat of majority
On their idiosyncrasies and madness
Were termed guilty and convicted and punished
Without any home, without any wealth, without a living
Mercilessly butchered?
If their blood were to mark
Then to whose door would they make?)

Yeh bemaloom khoon kinka hai?
Kya un sapno ka?
Jo ek ugte hue rashtra ki,
palkon par jhoole the, putliyon mein pale the,
par lobh ne, swarth ne, mahatwakanchha ne,
jinki aankhein phod di hain,
jinki gardanein madod di hain. Unke rakt ki chhaap agar lagni thi toh,
kiske dwaar par.
(Whose unknown blood is this?
Is it of those who dream
That, a free and growing nation
Swinging on the eyelids and the pupils of hope had been brought up and nurtured
But greed, selfishness and selfish motives
Had gouged their eyes
And twisted and strangled their throats
If their blood were to mark
Then to whose door would they make?)

Lekin, iss amanviya atyachaar, anyaaya,
anuchit, akarniya, awarun ka
dayitwa kisne liya?
Jinke bhi dwaar par chhape lage usne,
paani se ghulaa diyaa,
chune se putaa diyaa
(But
For these inhuman, wrongful, erroneous, horrendous criminal deeds
Who took the responsibility?
On whichever door these prints were marked
They washed them away with water
They white-washed it clean!)

Kintu, kavi-dwaar par
Chhape yeh lage rahein,
jo aneeti, atti ki,
katha kahein, vyatha kahien,
sur shabd yagya mein manushya ke kalush dahein.
(But
May these blood-stains remain imprinted on the door of the poet
So that they reflect and recite immortality, the pain and anguish of deeds
And bedim the human in the yajña of words)

Aur meri patni ne swapn dekhaa,
ki yeh nar-kankaal,
kavi-kavi ke dwaar par,
aise hi chhaape lagaa rahe hain,
aise hi shabd jwalaa jagaa rahe hain.
(And my wife has seen a dream
That these skeletons
Move from door to door of the poet
Imprinting them with the stains of blood
And lighting up the fire of the written word within.)

Deviyon or sajjanon yahi prarthana hai apse ki jo shabd yagya hai, shabd agni hai, yeh sadaa jaagrit rahe or jeevit rahe or jagi rahein. (Ladies and gentleman, may the word spoken and expressed tonight remain imprinted on all our doors as a reminder of our Stories of Strength.)

Namaskaar.

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