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01 January, 2009

Twenty years of SAHMAT


The end of the year 2008 marks the completion of 20 years of activities of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT).

Formed in January 1989, a few weeks after the brutal murder of Safdar Hashmi, theatre activist, SAHMAT became a platform for artists, cultural activists and intellectuals to intervene in crucial political and cultural debates, through activities aimed at defending cultural spaces, opposing divisiveness in all forms and strengthening the bonds of artistic unity.

Upholding the values of a plural and secular culture, some of SAHMAT's interventions, like those after the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya in 1992, became important markers of resistance to the communal politics seeking to overwhelm our country.

Over these two decades, SAHMAT has staged performances, mounted art exhibitions, published books and posters in the thousands, organized seminars and conferences, and held innumerable other protest actions, in which hundreds have participated.

A month-long programme has been drawn up to mark the 20th anniversary.

1 January

SAHMAT has observed 1st January every year in New Delhi as a thematic memorial to Safdar Hashmi. The programme on 1 January 2009 (1.30 pm onwards, at Constitution Club lawns, Rafi Marg) will include: Kabir Bani by Prahlad Singh Tipania and Group from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh; the Manganiar repertoire of Rajasthani folk and Sufi music by Anwar Khan and Ghazi Khan Barana and Group; music performances by Rabbi Shergill, Sunanda Sharma, Jasbir Jassi, Vidya Shah, Madangopal Singh; contemporary dance by Astad Deboo; a puppet play by Dadi Pudumjee; and a performance by Maya Rao.

The programme will also pay tribute to painter Manjit Bawa and journalist Sabina Sehgal Saikia, the two friends of SAHMAT who contributed immensely to its growth and whom we have lost in the recent past.

20 Years of Sahmat: a document of SAHMAT activities and of the more than 100 statements issued by SAHMAT over the last 20 years
Soorat Badalni Chahiye: a collection of popular songs
Bahas Ananta: a chronicle of the debates and discussions that have been conducted around SAHMAT activities
2009 SAHMAT calendar: commemorating the street theatre activities of SAHMAT and National Street Theatre Day is being brought out.
SAHMAT journal: presenting a brief visual history of SAHMAT's activities

8 January
Lecture by Prof. Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University) on the possibilities of a radical alternative to standard liberal orthodoxies about democracy (5 pm, Deputy Speaker's Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg)

15 January
Opening of Image Music Text, an exhibition mapping the trajectory of the 20-year cultural journey of SAHMAT (6 pm, at the M.F. Husain Gallery, Jamia Millia Islamia University). The exhibition will showcase SAHMAT projects over the last 20 years like Artists Alert, Janotsav, Images and Words, Hum Sab Ayodhya, Postcards for Gandhi, Art on the Move, Ways of Resisting, The Making of India, Making History our Own, in the contexts of the times they were conceived. Stage backdrops, videos, street banners, posters, mobile exhibitions and the books published by SAHMAT will be a part of the display. There will also be a series of lectures, performances and street plays during the month-long run of the exhibition. The exhibition will be on view till 14 February 2009.

17 January
Screening of SAHMAT films (4-6 pm, M.F. Husain Gallery, Jamia Millia Islamia University)
Sufi-Bhakti music by Vidya Shah (6.30 pm, Ansari Auditorium, Jamia Millia Islamia University)

20 January
Lecture by Prof. Arindam Dutta (MIT) on SAHMAT's activities immediately following the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992 (4 pm, Edward Said Hall, Administrative Building, Jamia Millia Islamia University)

31 January
Sufi-Bhakti music by Madangopal Singh and Rekha Raj (4.30 pm, M.F. Husain Gallery, Jamia Millia Islamia University)

See Wikipedia account as also Frontline report on the outcome of the murder case.

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