Thousands of people thronged the Khilwat Ground in Hyderabad on Saturday evening as several poets to express their opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in a unique protest on the eve of India's Republic Day.
The grounds, situated next to Chowmahalla Palace near the city's iconic Charminar, saw leading poets Rahat Indori, Manzar Bhopali, Shabeena Adeeb, Sampat Saral and others, reciting their poems amidst thunderous cheers by the huge crowd.
The programme was organised by the United Muslim Action Committee. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) was also a part of the protest. The event witnessed poetry, qawali and satire that urged the Muslim community to come together, and also targetted the BJP-led government for its latest move.
Shabeena Adeeb, in her unique style, recited her poem 'Yeh Hindustan hamara hai', drawing loud cheers from the audience, many of whom had come carrying giant national flags.
Manzar Bhopali, too, delivered some powerful couplets, decrying attempts by some forces to divide the nation.
Sampat Saral poked fun at Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his poetry and satire titled 'Mann ki baat, kaam ki baat'.
Hussain Haidry and Nabiya Khan also gave fiery performances with their poems 'Hindustani Musalman' and 'Ayega inqalaab bindi, burkha aur hijab pehn kar', which drew a large cheer from the crowds.
Main Hindustani Musalman hoon— AIMIM (@aimim_national) January 25, 2020
Dakkan se hoon, UP se hoon, Bhopal se hoon, Delhi se hoon,
Kashmir se hoon, Gujarat se hoon
Harr unchi neechi jaat se hoon
Main hi hoon julaha mocha bhi,
Main doctor bhi hoon darji bhi.
Main Hindustani Musalman hoon. - @hussainhaidry pic.twitter.com/ZeSNLVtHnz
Others who spoke at the event included Hashim Firozabadi and Jamia Millia Islamia's Aamir Aziz, who drew a huge applause for his poems, highlighting the governemnt's attempt to suppress peaceful and democratic protests.
On demand from people, Rahat Indori, who went up last on stage, recited his famous poem "kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai".
Condemning attempts by some individuals to paint this as a poem by a Muslim poet, he said that this is the voice of all true Indians who shed their blood for building this nation.
AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi presided over the programme. However, he and other leaders allowed poetry to take the centre stage.
The programme had to be concluded early due to conditions imposed by the High Court. While hearing a petition filed by a BJP leader earlier in the day, the court directed the organisers not to hold the meeting till midnight.
Owaisi also had to drop plans of hoisting the national flag. "The court is supreme but not infallible," was how the MP reacted.
The programme was originally scheduled to be held at Charminar but the police asked them to shift it to Khilwat Grounds.
It ended with the national anthem and Owaisi announced that their next step of action would be to form a 'human chain' in Hyderabad on January 30.