Twenty two-year-old Rahul Rajkhowa is no stranger to mobs. And the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, who raps his protest against subjects ranging from his university vice-chancellor to rape jokes, now has an incident from his own life to trigger a new song (video above).
Rajkhowa recalls an incident from 2012 when he was attacked by a mob in Guwahati. His cousin, a model in Mumbai, was surrounded by a crowd for wearing “inappropriate” clothes – jeans and a sleeveless top. They started tugging at her clothes, while a news channel recorded the incident.
This occurred days after news of a woman being attacked and stripped naked by a mob in Guwahati made headlines. His cousin may have met the same fate, but Rajkhowa and his father reached the spot and tried to control the situation. Rajkhowa’s father managed to move her to safety – but 16-year-old Rahul, outraged, started shouting at the cameraperson and the crowd of some 45 people.
The next thing he knew, the entire mob tore into him.
“They started punching me on my face, pulling my neck and hair. Meanwhile, my dad managed to get my sister to safety and into the car. But I was stuck. I couldn’t come out. I was getting beaten up. And the news channel people were recording the whole thing,” he told Scroll.in.
“In the evening, they put out the video with a report saying ‘Young boy tries to interfere in lovers’ quarrel and gets beaten up by public’. I went into depression for a good two or three months, because it’s difficult to see yourself getting beaten up on national television with a false headline like that.”
With mob lynchings and mob violence becoming the norm in the country in the last few years, Rajkhowa, reminded of his bitter experience, decided to write a song and film a video (above) shot by Politically Incorrect Films, to make a strong case for peace.
“Mob violence brings back scary memories for me. And these days, mob lynchings are all I see in the news. It’s a regular affair now – people are killing each other because of religion. I find it deeply upsetting. It’s such a primitive, heinous thing to do. And it just brought back flashbacks of the situation I was in. So I just felt like writing a song about it, because we are better than this,” he said.
Rajkhowa hopes his song, No God Ever Taught To Hate, which stands against religious and mob violence of any kind will lead to conversations and informed debates about these urgent issues. The bluesy number, easy on the eye and on the ear, with a John Mayer feel to it, films Rajkhowa sitting on a rooftop in Guwahati, singing, and rapping: “First things first, let’s talk about those that are hurt.”
Here are some lines from the song:
How long we gotta wait,
Till we can put an end to this war?
How long we gotta wait
Till religion don’t decide who we are.
How long we gotta wait?
Till we treat humans for what they are.
How long we gotta wait?
Till we gotta wait, no more.
First we are humans then we are Indians
There is no point in fighting over religions.
This is a man-made divide.