July 27, 2020
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"I'll Join Hands Even With The Devil"

SAHMAT's secretary Shabnam Hashmi resigned from the CPI(M) after the party asked her to explain why Sahmat organised a mushaira for the Delhi Police. In an interview to Outlook, she defends the organisation's action. Excerpts:

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"I'll Join Hands Even With The Devil"
You are being criticised for accepting Government funds. How do you defend yourself?
It's tax-payers' money, we see nothing wrong in accepting it. For communal harmony, I can take money from anybody. We used to sing a lot of songs against Tata and Birla—even today we do so. But if I have to take money from Tata for communal harmony, I'll take it. I'm ready to join hands even with the Devil, if it's for communal harmony.

Why did Sahmat organise a mushaira for the Delhi Police?
The allegations that we took money from the Delhi Police are all baseless. We helped them in contacting the poets. But it's wrong to say that Sahmat became a cultural contractor for the Delhi Police. If I am working with 50 cops and can make even one of them secular, I think it is absolutely creditable.

Would Safdar have agreed to what Sahmat is doing today?
If you say Safdar wouldn't have, you would be wrong. In 1986, he organised a communal harmony march for which he took ads and free hoardings from the Congress. And posters were printed by Parle.

What about other issues Safdar fought for?
One organisation can't do everything. You can't go and ask Medha Patkar to leave Narmada and work for street children.

Why do you prefer to work from Mandi House instead of Jhandapur village where Safdar and Ram Bahadur were killed?
Jana Natya Manch goes to perform there every year. We do it in Mandi House. I don't see any contradiction in that.

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