Meeting Shahid, With Love

Jagadeesh Tamilselvan 17 Aug 2021 30

A biography of Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali locates his life in his poetry and his many adventures...

Some students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, had on February 9, 2016, organised an event to mark the third anniversary of the execution of the 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The event was disrupted by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, and several others were accused of shouting “anti-national” slogans and later faced charges of sedition.

The name of the event was ‘The Country Without a Post Office’, after the seminal poem by Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali, prompting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader M. Venkaiah Naidu (then Union minister and current vice-president of India) to ask: “The heading of the poster says: ‘A country without a post office’. Is India without a post office?” A parliamentary debate and a Right to Information application seeking the number of post offices in India followed.


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