A young woman in a black leather jacket, chanting a poem on freedom was what put social media in a frenzy on Monday. The video of this protestor from Lahore has been trending on Twitter for the last three days.
“Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai, dekhna hai zor kitna baazuay qaatil mein hai,” she recites in a video that went viral on social media on Monday.
This is a verse of a patriotic poem by Bismil Azimabadi. It translates to, “ The desire for revolution is in our heart, let us see what strength there is in the arms of our executioner.”
The crowd chants and claps in support. A dhol in the background plays in unison with her verses.
— Shiraz Hassan (@ShirazHassan) November 17, 2019
The young woman in the video is Arooj Aurangzeb, a graduate of the University of Punjab, and she recited a famous patriotic poem, Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna, at the fifth Faiz International Festival held in Lahore from November 15 to 17.
Her demonstration was criticised on Twitter by people who called her a ‘burger girl’, primarily because of her appearance.
One of the tweets called the video a ‘street entertainment performance’.
Another tweet said, “Desi Surkhas believe in keeping the wealth from the serfs on their land holdings, being chauffeured by their ill paid drivers and served on by their maids. Very revolutionary people..”
Who is Arooj Aurangzeb?
Aurangzeb is a Mass Communication graduate and Punjabi theatre enthusiast, according to BBC.
“I come from a middle-class setup and my hard work has gotten me scholarships,” she said.
Aurangzeb is a member at the Progressive Students Collective (PSC), an organisation working for the rights of students from universities across the country.
The PSC has organised a Students Solidarity March on November 29. “I attended the festival to invite students across the country to join the March,” she said in an interview with BBC.
“What I said was not some street entertainment or a performance,” she said. “We knew a lot of people will come to the conference and we had planned that we will invite people to our March.”
We did not just chant slogans, but also gave out pamphlets and conducted study circles, she added. “But none of those things went viral.”
What is the Student Solidarity March and what does it demand?
The PSC announced that students in all major cities of Pakistan, from both private and public sectors are organising a march to stand in solidarity with students who have been victimised by educational institutions and state authorities.
Their demands include access to free education for all, restoration of student unions, formation of functional sexual harassment committees in universities and abolishment of binding students in no party politics.
They also demand the end of securitisation on campuses. “All our campuses are heavily guarded in the name of security,” tweeted Aimen Bucha, a member of the committee and supporter of the March. “While actual securing is minimal but there is continual humiliation of students through racial profiling, gendered surveillance, and class-based attitudes.”