Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai, dehkna hai zor kitna baaju-e-qaatil mein hai, Waqt aane pe bata denge tujhe aye aasmaan, hum abhi se kya baatein kya hamare dil mein hai.

These lines were written in 1921, almost a century ago. In these hundred years, a lot of things changed: The poem served its purpose, the country became free.

However, even now, when we read these words – there is always a slight shift in emotions. We, the ones who had nothing to do with the freedom struggle. We, the ones who were born years after India got its independence. 

That is the power of art – it can be relevant even after 100 years – and it can bring about a revolution when people are stripped of their rights.

India’s recent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act are a testament to that.

With poems and posters, songs and paintings – the people of the country have shown how to get the attention of the state, which has stated clearly that dissent won’t be appreciated. 

Take writer-lyricist Varun Grover’s poem, for instance. Titled Kaagaz Nahi Dikhayenge, it has become an anthem within a few days of Varun putting it up on his social media handles. 

People across the country are reciting it during the protests, making it clear that no matter what happens, they are not going to ‘show their papers’.

Another hard-hitting poem Main Inkaar Karta Hun, comes from Aamir Aziz. To quote one of its lines:

For ease of the readers, a Twitter user compiled all the poems and nazms they could find, in a thread. Here it is.

Now, writing comes in different forms, one of them being the text for slogans. The protesters showed great a deal of creativity in that department, mixing humour with sarcasm. And these were the results:

Here are some others, for those who want to see.

People have made rap music.

And they have painted walls.

Facebook/Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Directory

Basically, art has brought the country together in its struggle against injustice, and while the reason is unfortunate, the results are glorious as ever.

Peaceful protest is a right that the constitution of India grants to its citizens. And to those who think they can stop people from doing that, should know that every time someone is denied what is theirs, an artist is born in another part of the country. Soon, these artists will be more powerful. It’s an old habit of theirs.