No Urdu In Dilli


Two artists, a Christian and a Muslim, were drawing a couplet in Urdu on a wall when they were attacked by members claiming to belong to the Hindu right and told to stop. This was an unprecedented episode of cultural policing in the capital of India, a place which reverberates with a history of brilliant poets during the Mughal era, who wrote in Persian and Urdu, and who were part of the common Indo-Islamic culture that thrived in these parts.

Given below is a brilliant poem by Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee in response to this episode :


For Akhlaq Ahmad and Swen Simon

You can’t write Urdu
On Dilli’s walls, Mian1
There’s a saffron lock
On your zuban2, Mian
Horsemen of all faith
Plundered Dilli’s rūḥ3,
They only blame it on
Your ancestors, Mian
From Bīdel to Ghalib
Run rosaries in Urdu,
They embalm history

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