The shift from turban to skullcap, over a time of 36 years (Sikh Genocide 1984 to Muslim Genocide 2020) evolves very less in features. In fact, they remain the same – of state-sponsored minority genocides. When the visual treat for Donald Trump was being adorned, the Muslim lives of Delhi were being adjourned. Stories of losses and betrayal arise from every nook and corner of NE Delhi, but the inability is to relate them with our comfort zones. As the disparity between the so-called privileged and underprivileged grew, the urge to voice for the same declined.
“My college lies in the vicinity of these areas. On the first day of the riot, students were wholly evacuated into the nearby metro station in police buses. The college remained closed for the next days. On back to college, the street I saw seemed less familiar, with all burnt and grey. The masjid I used to go was burnt and destroyed, houses and vehicles were demolished in the place. The air had a lot of hatred that I had to leave the area soon as I found myself suffocating”, shares Razeem Ali, a first-year student of BSW, Delhi University, on narrating his inspirations for the images.
The inspiration for the war-peace images was from Ugurgallen, a Turkish artist who combines photos from different parts of the world to depict the exact contrast between them. Among these images of diverging realities, the depth of the war and violence was more powerfully portrayed through its other half of peace.
Razeem Ali’s motive was to draw global attention towards the Muslim genocide happening in India by comparing them with images of global appeal. When Mohammed Salah sujoods on the pitch, Zubair was lynched by saffron goons in the same posture. When kids of his age had school days of colors, little Ayan was mourning for his father’s death. When people were throwing water balloons of holi in the streets, Muslim men of Shiv Vihar were thrown by petrol bombs.
They weren’t extracted from deep thoughts and far imaginations, simply by removing the privileged lenses of eyes to see the country burning. The images portrayed the atrocities happening in the country where it’s own central government-sponsored it and the state government neglected it. Life in the refugee camps and with free food packets are not the same. The loss of human dignity and self-esteem are the deeper wounds that take more time to heal. The stories from NE Delhi were not that of losses and deaths alone, rather of betrayal and otherness.
Nada Nasrin is a student of English literature at Ramjas College, University of Delhi