The opening program of the campaign was a very heart warming event attended by over 300 persons, of all ages, from different parts of the city. While, it was in town, at the Cama Hall, the audience was not the usual South Bombay audience. There were activists from many groups and communities, film-makers, journalists, as well as many young students from different community organisations, women, survivors of the violence, those of us who remembered the days of 1992-93 and many who might not have direct memories but still live with the impact of those days.
The quilts already prepared as part of the campaign were put up all around and they spoke of the multiple aspirations and imaginations and collective owning of the city.
The program began with Chayanika speaking powerfully about the need to remember, the need to have such a campaign and the activities planned as part of the campaign. She ended by speaking of the need for continuous conversations in the city around what we all want this city to be and how this campaign hopes to create space for such conversations.
This was followed by some beautiful and intense songs and poems and recalling of some histories of this city by Muktiyaan Lok Sanskritik Sanghatana, Republican Panthers and Vidrohi Shahiri Jalsa. Their songs brought tears to many eyes in the room. Here is a video clip of that haunting song “Manoos Marala” written just after the 1992-93 violence in the city.
This was followed by some readings from the Srikrishna Commission report and a few testimonies of survivors of the violence. Some film clips from Madhusree Dutta’s film “I Live in Behrampada” were followed by Hasina recounting the days of violence and the some recent conversations with people in some affected areas . Saher and Shalini read the excerpts from the Srikrishna Commission Report.
Meena Menon and Shakil Ahmed spoke of the struggles for justice of some of the affected persons over the last twenty years and Tahir Wagle, whose son was killed in police firing, came on stage to share his experiences. A short excerpt from “Farooq vs. The State,” a film by K. P. Jayasankar and Anjali Monteiro was shown as well.
Three young women from Rehnuma, a group in Mumbra, read some of their poems on living there and the complex emotions of loss, forced migration, connection and hope.
Sitaram spoke at the end of the program of the communities living in Jogeshwari and the work of rebuilding connections and creating conversations in collectives. He spoke eloquently about the need to remember to build anew. He ended by inviting everyone to join in a slow and beautiful rendition of “Tu zinda hai, to zindagi ki jeet pe yakeen kar, Agar kahin hai swarg to, utar la zameen par.”
It was an amazing note of hope, peace, and strength to end the evening.