On January 2, 1989, the convenor of Janam, Safdar Hashmi, died in a New Delhi hospital following a murderous attack on Janam activists the previous day by anti-social elements patronized by the ruling vested interests. Janam was performing Halla Bol in Jhandapur, Sahibabad, in support of the workers' demands led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). People from all walks of life – workers, political activists, artists and intellectuals – came together spontaneously in a massive, unprecedented protest against this brutal murder. Today, Safdar's name has become synonymous with street theatre and the progressive cultural movement in India.
Every year on 1st January, Jana Natya Manch and the Central Indian Trade Union (CITU) collaborate to celebrate Safdar’s martyrdom at Jhandapur, Site-4, Sahibabad Industrial Area. Hundreds of Art lovers, cultural enthusiasts, workers and local people assemble at the Ambedkar Park in Jhandapur to watch plays, songs and other performances.
This programme is to celebrate the relationship between workers and cultural activists in the interest of each other.
Safdar Shahadat Diwas, 2015
Safdar Shahadat Diwas, 2002
Janam’s street play POTO Mera Naam had its first performance on 1st Jan, 2002 in Jhandapur which unmasks POTO’s diabolical face. The play targets US imperialism for having fostered fundamentalism across the globe, particularly in Afghanistan. Through a humorous sequence of parodies of Hindi film songs, we see how the US campaign against terrorism is in reality a campaign for reasserting its hegemony over the peoples of the world, to take total control over all resources, in this case oil and natural gas. Using the popular traditional madari-jamoora (street magician and his boy) form, the play exposes the BJP claims of fighting terrorism. It shows how authoritarian laws like POTO are actually aimed at curtailing democratic rights, and are used as much against people’s movements as against alleged terrorists. The programme included songs, plays, and a mass political rally addressed by CPI (M) Central Committee member and Member of Parliament, Subodh Roy. The mass rally was followed by Janam’s two-hour stage play Azaadi Ne Jab Dastak Di (When Freedom Beckoned), which chronicles the glorious Chittagong Uprising of April 1930.