Celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day, with “Reimagining Citizenship”, a film festival organised by Karwan e Mohabbat, the University of York and the Centre for Equity Studies, to commemorate this historic movement, and the minds and art behind it. We will talk about what being an Indian means today, and what it takes to defend that belongingness. We will see films that document the protests and state repression, and ask fundamental questions about the future of this country. We will also speak to key voices of the resistance, witnesses and survivors of the repression, and artists who gave the movement its soul.
On day 2 of our online short documentary festival – Reimagining Citizenship, we look the citizenship crisis in Assam in our first session. In conversation with Abdul Kalam Azad,Suraj Gogoi, Rehna Sultana, Ashraful Hussain, Smitana Saikia and many others!
For session 2 we will be looking at the overall crisis of citizenship and democracy in our country with several short films and discussions around it!
SESSION One : 3 pm to 5 pm
CITIZENSHIP CRISIS IN ASSAM
I AM MIYA
‘Miya’ poetry is a reclaiming of one’s Muslim identity by the Bengal origin Muslims of Assam. It is protest poetry that rebels against oppression and subjugation.Poets and activists from the Muslim community in Assam have found a way to take the derogatory term “Miya” and subvert it. Miya poetry seeks answers to questions of belonging and citizenship. It echoes the fears of a community threatened by exclusion from the NRC
ERODING CITIZENSHIP IN ASSAM
This is the story of the people of the Char islands, 10% of the population of Assam. This film looks them in the eye, listens to their voice, their song and their despair.
THE DIARY OF HAMIDUL ISLAM
Meet Hamidul Islam, a 13-year-old school boy from #Assam. A first generation student from the Char islands, Hamidul’s parents can barely afford his school uniforms, leave alone have a smartphone for him to access online classes. The mid-day meals he used to get in school had become a way to make sure there remains enough food for everyone else at home. As he prepares for the impending floods that may wash away his home, Hamidul is very busy these days. Listen to him as he shares his story.
WE ARE ADIVASIS, NOT TEA GARDEN TRIBES
“We, Orang, Munda, Santhal and Kharias are Adivasis. We demand our rights.” Listen to the powerful voice of Mansukh Sankharika, public secretary of All Adivasi Student’s Association of Assam (AASAA) as he walks us through the lives and history of the Adivasis residing in Assam’s tea-gardens. Officially referred to as ‘tea-garden’ tribes till date, Assam’s tea-garden workers are asking for ST status. While ministers and elected officials refuse to listen to the demands of the Adivasis.
WHO KILLED ZABEDA’S BABY?
What does it mean to lose your home? Your income, savings, family, identity, citizenship? What does it mean to lose your own child…all because of the state’s arbitrary rules and callous human errors? The exclusion of over 41 lakh people in Assam from the National Register of Citizens has led to widespread distress and anxiety amongst the most vulnerable communities in Assam.
THIS EID, A SONG FOR MY FATHER
Meet 16-year-old Saddam Khan from Kharballi Char in Barpeta district of Assam. On the occassion of Eid, he dedicated this song to his father who is stuck in Delhi due to the lockdown. This is a spiritual song known as Murshidi, in Miya dialect, spoken by Bengal origin Muslims.
Suraj Gogoi is a PhD candidate in sociology at National University of Singapore. His doctoral project is about water lives and state making in contemporary Assam. He is interested in social and political history of India’s northeast, water, public sociology, citizenship, liminality, water and non-philosophy.
Abdul is a human rights researcher, community worker, and writer based in Assam. He is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis on Assam’s citizenship crisis at Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is a co-investigator of the Reimaginig Citizenship Project
Professor Yasmin Saikia is the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and a Professor of History in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at the Arizona State University.With a specific focus on contestations and accommodations in South Asia between local, national, and religious identities, she examines the Muslim experience in India, Pakistan, and Bangaldesh, and the discourse of nonviolence alongside the practice of violence against women and vulnerable groups.
Smitana is a faculty with the School of Development at Azim Premji University. She completed her Ph.D. from King’s College London. Her doctoral research focused on the longue durée state and identity formation processes in northeast India to understand why certain conflicts reach a resolution while others continue to fester. She has previously taught at FLAME University, Pune and Ashoka University, Sonepat. Her research interests lie in the intersection of political geography, identity politics, federalism and conflict studies
Rehna Sultana is a PhD holder from the Department of Assamese, Gauhati University, Assam (2020). She is an Independent Researcher and her research interests include linguistics, folklore, history etc. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor at Sibsagar Girls’ College.
Ashraful Hussain is an activist, social worker and politician from the state of Assam. He is the youngest Member of Assam Legislative Assembly projected by All India United Democratic Front, elected in 2021 from Chenga. He is also a poet and worked as a journalist during early days of his career.
SESSION TWO : 6 pm to 8 pm
THE CRISIS OF CITIZENSHIP AND DEMOCRACY IN INDIA
FLIGHT OF FREEDOM
The kite makers in Lal Kuan in Old Delhi give us a glimpse into the history of the largest kite market in our country. They also remember a time when being a citizen of India meant being free. In the current times, however, there is more fear and anxiety which prevails.
MAZHAB – POOJAN SAHIL
Singing of Poojan Sahil that evokes the feelings of hopelessness and despair we see all around, yet gives us hope. Set to the visuals of violence and arson that was witnessed during the Delhi riots of February 2020.
WE WILL SAVE THE CONSTITUTION
Where #VarunGrover compares #NarendraModi to an authoritarian father and shares that poetry is the weapon of the vulnerable. “Poetry is a cry for help,” he says. Poetry empowers the self to say, “I have not lost yet…” At Azad Maidan during anti CAA protests and in conversation with Karwan e Mohabbat
WHY DO WE NEED KARWAN E MOHABBAT?
Harsh Mander, Natasha Badhwar and Navsharan Singh give us a glimpse into the idea behind Karwan e Mohabbat and why we need it in todays time. Surrounded by hate, the people of country need to be made aware of the power of love, compassion and empathy.
STORY OF FAHAD AHMAD
The film takes a deep dive into the experiences of a young Muslim student activist who was a part of the movement from its inception. It also traces the history, events and moments of the movement that made it a historic movement.
WHO KILLED AMRIT DAS?
Amrit Das was a healthy man when he was picked up arbitrarily and locked up in a Detention Centre in Assam. His sons visited him there and he still seemed healthy, yet he died days later. The family have no post-mortem report and no hope for justice. Why are some Indians in Assam being branded Doubtful-Voters when their names have been on the electoral list throughout their life? Why has the state turned against its own citizens?
Harsh Mander is a social justice and human rights activists. He works with survivors of mass violence and hunger, as well as homeless persons and street children. Formerly an IAS officer, he is the director of the Centre for Equity Studies, a research organization based in New Delhi. He also served as a special monitor for the National Human Rights Commission to the detention centres for ‘declared foreigners’ in Assam.
He is also co-investigator for the Reimagining Citizenship Project