“I was born in colonial India, I have lived in an independent India, and will die in a socialist India.”

–Kaifi Azmi

 

Born in 1919 in Utter Pardesh, Kaifi Azmi was a well-known Urdu poet who also wrote 240 songs for eighty films and script of such highly acclaimed movies as “Heer Ranjha” and “Garam Hawa.” Besides his literary excellences, Azmi was also known for his relentless work for the rights of workers, organizing protests and pushing for the formation of labor unions. He also actively participated in the independence movement of India. Deeply inspired by the events of Karbala earlier in his life, Azmi never gave in to any kind of social injustices. His poetic works and politics often reinforced each other; his poems and songs often expressing the social and economic injustices of the society. He decided to return to his village, Mijwain, in mid 1970s to work for its welfare. It was because of his efforts that the village now has access to such modern facilities as electricity, water, railway station and a college for girls. He died in 2002.

Kaifi Azmi has been appreciated, remembered, honored in India. The treatment of his counterparts; the poets, activists, socialists, in Pakistan however has been the exact opposite. Instead of being honored, they have been jailed, exiled, threatened; Faiz, Habib Jalib, Ustad Daman, Fehmida Riaz, Gul Khan Naseer etc. Why have we not honored our Kaifi Azmis and what are its consequences?