Rao’s poems made ones in power uncomfortable: 50 young poets in solidarity with jailed poet

More than fifty young poets across the country have expressed their solidarity with people’s poet Varavara Rao and condemned his arbitrary arrest under draconian charges like UAPA, urging the authorities to release him immediately.

“Varavara Rao is a world-renowned poet, journalist and literary critic from Telangana who founded the Revolutionary Writers Association popularly known as Virasam. Throughout history, he has been hounded and arrested in various false charges by various governments and later been acquitted in all the cases. This only goes on to suggest that his revolutionary writings have always made the ones in power uncomfortable and they have always been threatened by the power of his verses. Ideally, a poet names the nameless without actually taking their name and for the ones in power to arrest or implicate poets, they need to accept that they are the ones being talked about in those poems,” the statement jointly released by young poets said.

The poets include spoken word poet, writer, and lyricist Hussain Haidry, Amir Aziz, a young poet whose poems particularly two poems of protest- ‘Mein Inkar Karta Hun’ and Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega’ have almost become the anthem for anti-CAA protest across the country, author of Lady Jesus and other poems Arathy Asok, Nabiya Khan, Urdu protest poet a student of History at Jamia Millia Islamia, poet Iqra Khilji, musical artist Poojan Sahil and Kashmiri poet Aseem Sundan.

“He has not been offered a fair trial in the last two years and has been imprisoned for an unjust length of time, along with other public-spirited activists, writers and advocates,” the poets claimed.

79-year-old revolutionary poet Rao has been in jail for over 22 months in the Bhima Koregaon case. His bail pleas, including those filed for relief on the ground of his age, ill-health and risk of COVID-19, have been rejected on multiple occasion.

“It is clear that Rao is only being kept in jail by virtue of him being a poet who questions the powers-that-be. While we as young poets not only understand the value and importance of speaking for the people and questioning the ones in power, we take it as a responsibility, to uphold. It is because of public poets like Varavara Rao that we, the young poets are able to write and speak for the society and on other matters,” the solidarity statement reads.

The poets also stated categorically that as young poets of this nation, they see the attack on Rao as an attack on all of them, their minds, their pens and views.

“If this suppression of our voices continues, all of us would be left with no voice at all, and there would be only two voices, the voice of the ‘King’ and the voice of the ‘poet employed in the court of the King’! That is the last thing we can afford in our democracy and we must keep alive the spirit of struggle for free thinking to bloom,” they added.

“While after enormous outrage by citizens, the news of Varavara Rao being moved to JJ hospital provides some succor, we demand that the appropriate government and judicial authorities immediately attend to all his medical needs, allow his family to be with him and enlarge him on bail. It is only then that we as young poets would rest assured that the current regime would not muzzle our voices when we speak out fearlessly,” poets urged.

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