Saturday, 31 May 2008

Postcard from Bayana

I have just watched the Gurjar militia unload carts of onions, tomatoes, and potatoes on the railway tracks at Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. I am not sure what this will achieve, as the Mumbai-Delhi rail corridor has been paralyzed for almost a week.

It is sad to see India being brought to its knees, and a nation held to ransom simply because there is no dearth of potatoes. The Centre fiddles as Rajasthan burns. At least they could have secured the tracks. With a laidback NCR, the activists created a ruckus yesterday on the borders. And the experience has emboldened them to raise the issue, violently, elsewhere in India as well. Delhi even conceded defeat to Rajasthan in the Indian Premier League (IPL) semifinals yesterday.

The Centre has unofficially turned down the request for granting them Scheduled Caste status. One thinks about all the genuine SC tribes like the banjaras and the snake charmers who are so impoverished - inspite of their reservation. They have no voice of their own.

However Bayana is no stranger to battle. In early 1527 Rana Sangha of Mewar advanced at the head of his Rajput army to meet Zahir-ud-din-Muhammed aka Babur at Bayana 70 km south-west of Agra. Babur had already defeated the Lodhis a year earlier at Panipat, 80 km north of Delhi.

It was time for Rana Sangha to see off the invader and widen the scope of his own ambitions. In the ensuing battle at Khanua near Bayana the battle raged the whole day. But the Rajputs had to withdraw because of a Tomar traitor in their ranks. 'Khanua left the Mughals supreme in the heartland of Northern India' (Keay).

And yet a month back on the 2450 Nizamuddin-Madgaon Sampark Kranti it was possible to pen these lines at an idyllic Bayana . . .

Bayana

-Brian Mendonca

An avenue of safeda trees
ranged on either side
of two railway tracks.
The Banganga river behind me
A cauliflower patch to the South
A camel cart winks at a railway crossing
As a passenger train, and a goods train
slam past us at Keladani station
The brown hills rise to my right
a cliff face of laterite
a buffalo tethered near a temple ruin
Women in resplendent saris
gather wheat for the barns.
India on the move
India gazing
One-track motion
Two-track time.

(Bayana-Dumariya
Sat, 12 April 2008)

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