Play: Hatyare, 1990
Directed by: Sabir Khan, Jana Sanskriti Manch, Jaipur
Through the late 1980s and early 1990s, Indian politics was witnessing two major processes — “Mandalization” of the political field, which is an assertion of the poor and lower castes, and the emergence of ‘Hindutva’ politics through the production of a new sense of a religious community. Thomas Blom Hansen observes, “the 1989 election results seemed to indicate a close correlation between the routes of the Ram Shilapujan and the subsequent communal violence in September-October 1989… (Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India 1999, 163). ” The Ram-Shilapujan Rath Yatra and the Shri Ram Mahayagya Rath Prasthan were strategically organized by the RSS-Shiv Sena-BJP-VHP to mobilize various caste groups in Rajasthan — the Eklavya Rath from Bansawada, Dungarpur through Udaipur was organized to appeal the tribal Bhil sentiments; the Vir Durgadas and Hadirani Raths from Jodhpur-Nagpur and Kota-Bundi-Tonk to appeal the Rajput history. The yatras went along nine subroutes in Rajasthan and all raths converged at Jaipur following the Shilapujan ceremonies. As a consequence, many cities of Rajasthan witnessed communal riots during 1989 and 1990.
Artists, intellectuals, and activists shared the responsibility for organizing the peace processes, and the street play, ‘Hatyare’ written in Hindi was performed by Jana Sanskriti Manch under the direction of Sabir Khan in Jaipur in March 1990. It was a collective response to the communal riots through theatre.
The narrative of the play revolves around the jewellery industry of Jaipur, reflecting on the historical relationship between Hindus and Muslims within this profession, a partnership that has developed over two centuries in the city. The owners of the business are Hindus but the workers in the industry are mostly Muslims. In the narrative of the play, workers of the jewellery industry organize a friendly kabaddi match. Since it is also the time for an election, goons and criminals are planted by the political parties and two of the jewelry industry workers — Rafiq and Ramkishan are murdered on the pretext of the match. As a result, riots erupt in the city. The sutradhar in the play notes, “In our country, upper castes kill lower castes, nothing happens; but when a Hindu kills a Muslim and vice-versa, riot breaks out, there is bloodshed everywhere.” At the end of the play he asks the audience in the street, “can you differentiate who are Hindus and who are Muslims here?”Hatyare
Source: Newspaper clipping, Image Courtesy – Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archives.