Remembering Safdar Hashmi
syedstauheed | 04 Jan 2011

Safdar started his life in Aligarh and Delhi, as the son of Haneef and Qamar Azad Hashmi, with a liberal, Marxist upbringing. His exposure in St Stephen's College in Delhi prepared him for a lifetime of causes and political activism.


Safdar Hashmi was born to Haneef Hashmi and Qamar Azad on 12 April 1954 in Delhi. He spent his childhood in Aligarh and finished his  schooling in Delhi. He did his M.A. in English literature from Delhi University. After short stints of teaching in the universities of Garhwal, Kashmir and Delhi he worked in the Press Institute of India and then joined as the Press Information Officer of the Govt. of West Bengal in Delhi. In 1984 he gave up his job to work full time as a political cultural activist but Safdar Hashmi also worked for communal harmony during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.He was involved in building ties with progressive groups in Pakistan. In 1987 and 1988, he and Badal Sircar, the prominent playwright and director, held a series of workshops for Pakistani political theatre groups in Karachi and Lahore.

Safdar, a founder member of Jan Natya Manch  'Janam', was a brilliant theoretician and practitioner of political theatre, especially street theatre. A versatile personality, he was a playwright, a lyricist’ a theatre director, a designer and an organizer He also wrote for children.
His film scripts were much acclaimed. He wrote on various aspects of culture and related issues in journals and newspapers. Safdar was a member of the C.P.I. (M). His creativity and ideology were inseparable. In recognition of his contribution to the street theatre movement and to the growth of a democratic culture.
On January 2, 1989, the convenor of Janam, Safdar Hashmi, died in a New Delhi hospital following a murderous attack on Janam activists on 1st January 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
The Safdar Hashmi Foundation,with its band of committed men and women continues to arouse common consciousness by raising a constant voice against the social inequities in Indian society. The highly motivated individuals holding strong convictions which constitute such institutions and memories of men such as Safdar Hashmi who inspired these structures help our society stay true to its democratic ideals.