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The power of music is formidable. It resonates with almost everyone and influences the human psyche in more ways than we realise. For this reason, perhaps, music, from time immemorial has been used as a means to protest, to galvanise, make aware, encourage fraternity and to spread messages of love and peace. But when music is specially made to spread hatred against one section of society, it can create communal differences and divisions in unimaginable ways. Unfortunately, Jhansi’s DJs are doing exactly that.
Brought to light by The Print through a short documentary and a feature report, Jhansi’s DJs are creating and mixing songs about bigotry and communal hatred. Most of these songs are about Hindutva, Hindu Superiority, hate against Muslims and left-wing liberals. These ‘hate songs’ are then played in road shows and in festival processions, such as those of Ram Navami and Ganesh Chaturthi.
Jhansi is a small, politically-volatile town in Uttar Pradesh – a state where incidents of lynching, mob-rule, communal and caste-based violence are rampant. In a region like this, such vile and negative songs can only add fuel to the fire, and that is exactly what they seem to be doing.
“Kailash pe bathe Shiv ka sandesha aayega, phir Pakistan main bhi bhagwa leheraayega; (Shiv will send a message from Kailash, and the saffron flag will fly in Pakistan too), Hindustan me rahna hoga, Jai Shri Ram bolna padega (If you want to live in India, you will have to chant Jai Shri Ram), “Ram Lalla hum ayenge, mandir wahin banayenge” (a call for those who want a Ram temple where the Babri masjid once stood in Ayodhya) are just some of the songs you can hear blaring from a loudspeaker in Jhansi as the youth and even young children dance, forever internalising notions of xenophobia, fanaticism and prejudice.
So why are these DJ’s making these songs? Are they being paid by politicians or are they trying to assert their own identity through them? According to the report by The Print, the answer seems to be more straightforward. Their mantra is simple – Hate sells, bhakti doesn’t. There are around 300 DJs in the city of Jhansi, all young men with a crash course in mixing. Making these ‘hate songs’ is a side business and fetches them some extra money, which is why even Muslim DJs are making pro-Hindutva songs. Most say that their songs are played out of context. Most say they do not even care about the religion or the kind of tension their music will create: “If I start paying attention to the moral aspect of my job, it would stop being a business that very instant,” The Print reports, quoting DJ Monu who is part of this business.
While the DJs may certainly be at fault for making such music, let us not forget that the only reason they are making it is because there is a high demand for such content. There is a large part of the population out there that believes in these kind of messages which is why these songs are made in the first place, further perpetuating bigotry and influencing larger numbers of people. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be crushed.
The creation and the distribution of these songs is not just fundamentally wrong, but also illegal given that anything that aims to hurt religious sentiments and incite communal violence is a punishable offence. But given the kind of political climate we live in, it wouldn’t be surprising to see one of our own politicians dancing on these songs.
Religion, whichever one you choose to practice is meant to better you as a human being. This cannot be our new normal. With this we’ve hit a new low and change cannot be expected anytime soon, not until songs like these are freely available online for everyone to hear.
Perhaps the first step we could take is to report them online, so the demand and supply is affected or present these DJs with better opportunities so they no longer have to resort to such tactics to make money. However, for a more long-term solution, we need to heavily introspect and realign our own moral compass because this only illustrates that this is such a deep and dark part of our reality. Because if this is where we are headed, no amount of protests and candlelight marches can do anything.
Feature Image Courtesy: Nayanika Chatterjee/ ThePrint
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