AUTHOR-ACTIVIST, former editor of Hindi daily ‘Mahanagar’ and ‘Urdu Times’, Sajid Rashid is an eminent Hindi-Urdu writer and has battled both Hindu and Muslim communal forces.
Due to his stand on ‘triple talaq’, he was stabbed two years back in Mumbai. The left-liberal author spoke to the Hindustan Times on various issues during his visit to the State capital on Saturday.
“I had sensed that after the demolition of Babri Masjid, the Muslim youth nursed an extreme sense of injustice and alienation. That’s why I decided not to publish any Muslim writer’s article on the editorial page of Urdu Times for an entire month after the demolition”, says Rashid, who brings out a voluminous literary journal in Urdu.
“This was a surprise for many Muslims who came to know that there was a large number of liberals amongst Hindus as they read articles of Praful Bidwai, Kuldip Nayyar, Kamleshwar, Prabhash Joshi, Udayan Bajpai and Janardan Thakur”, he says adding, “There was no electronic media then and publication of such articles assuaged the feelings of Muslims and their confidence in the secular fabric of the country and the majority community was restored to a certain extent”.
“In early nineties it was perceptible that the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was moving in the wrong direction and ISI later poached amongst the disgruntled youths”, he further said.
“You will be surprised to find that 80 per cent of the objectives mentioned in the SIMI’s literature are similar to that of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, as if lifted straight out of that organisation’s objectives”.
Regarding the attack on his life, Rashid recalls that he was stabbed two years back. “As I was publicly speaking against the practice of ‘triple talaq’ in one-sitting and questioning the Muslim Personal Law Board for not taking solid steps to put an end to the practice, a group had turned against me”.
Regarding contemporary literature, Rashid feels that stories in Hindi are much more varied and depict and a wider spectrum of society than Urdu ‘afsana’ that focuses on far less issues. However, he feels that the young crop of writers in Hindi lacks command over language and is ignorant about vocabulary and pronunciation.
Rashid, who dared to attack modernist movement in Urdu during its peak in early 80s, never aligned with any particular group. He started writing since 1973 and soon made his mark as a prominent writer.
His first collection of stories ‘Ret Ghari’ was published in 1980. He has been associated with several Hindi magazines including Kamleshwar’s ‘Katha Yatra’ and ‘Shri Varsha’. An activist for Dalit and women rights, he is also vice-president of Muslims for Secular Democracy.
On the issue of renowned Urdu critic/author Prof Gyan Chand Jain’s controversial book that has sparked off a major debate amongst writers, Rashid feels that the book does raise some important questions and they need to be addressed. Besides, the writer shouldn’t be attacked just on hearsay and criticism is justified only after they have read the book, said Rashid.