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Safdar Hashmi

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SAFDAR HASHMI
1954-1989

     Twenty years ago, on 1 January 1989, Safdar Hashmi was fatally attacked in broad
daylight while performing a street play in Sahibabad, a working-class area just outside
Delhi. Political activist, actor, playwright and poet, Safdar had been deeply committed,
like so many young men and women of his generation, to the anti-imperialist, secular 
and egalitarian values that were woven into the rich fabric of the nation’s liberation
struggle. Safdar moved closer to the Left, eventually joining the CPI(M), to pursue his
goal of being part of a social order worthy of a free people.

Safdar Funeral Procession
 
     Tragically, it would be of the manner of his death at the hands of a politically patronised
mafia that would single him out. The spontaneous, nationwide wave of revulsion, grief and resistance aroused by his brutal murder transformed him into a powerful symbol of the
very values that had been sought to be crushed by his death. Such a death belongs to the revolutionary martyr.
 
     Safdar was thirty-four years old when he died. Those years, during which he had initially
tried to find himself in an academic career, eventually encompassed an intense period of revolutionary activity when circumstances and a maturing inclination brought together
an early interest in theatre and a growing political commitment. They were years of
political theatre, street theatre, and finally the growth of the Jana Natya Manch (Janam)
into a forum for evolving a conception of an alternative people’s theatre and culture.

Safdar Funeral Procession       
 
     The goal of strengthening bonds of democratic unity among creative artists had been
an important focus of Safdar’s aesthetic and political activities during this period. That
it should have been achieved so significantly through his death and through the solidarity surrounding the activities of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, has sustained and
strengthened the resolve of those who uphold the values and objectives that Safdar
has come to symbolise.    MADHU PRASAD



9 January 1989 Protest against the murder of Safdar Hashmi

12 January 1989 Protest statement against Safdar's murder read out by
Shabana Azmi at the awards event of the 12th Film Festival of India,
Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi







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