Monday, November 14, 2011

The parallel lives of Laura Pollan and Prof. Mushirul Hasan

Laura Pollan was born in 1948 in the pre-Castro Cuba.

Mushirul Hasan came on this planet a year later in a newly independent India.

Laura Pollan - Cuban freedom fighter
Laura Pollan, a simple housewife, a mother and a teacher, died recently of medical complications possibly caused by a long, wrenching struggle against a brutal regime that had imprisoned her husband for being an independent journalist.

 Prof. Mushirul Hasan - influential academic and Castro admirer
image source 

Prof. Mushirul Hasan, a world famous scholar and academic, is a vocal champion of that regime.

Prof. Mushirul Hasan, son of a  noted historian and professor, is a former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi's famous Jamia Millia Islamia University and has written several scholarly books.

 Laura Pollan was a bit like him -
She was ......... a teacher: someone who loved literature and had taught peasants to read in the early years of the revolution.    

Prof. Mushirul Hasan was

the elected President of the Indian History Congress in 2002. In 2007, He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India and the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Government in 2010. In May 2010, he was appointed the director-general of the National Archives of India.(wikipedia)

Prof. Mushirul Hasan lives in the comfortable and spacious environs that are available as perks to the government-academic elites in India even as the hundreds of millions of Indians who pay for their cozy existence squeeze into their hovels and worry about paying bills.

Prof. Mushirul Hasan at home in the JNU campus
image source

Laura Pollan had been less privileged and much less lucky-

Prior to her husband's arrest in March of 2003 she was an apolitical high school literature teacher who loved cats and plants. That all changed when her husband, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, was sentenced to an unjust 20 year prison sentence for his activities as an independent journalist. He had been a nuclear engineer until being demoted in 1992 for ideological errors.

Laura Pollan, instead of sucking up to a barbaric regime like Prof. Mushirul Hasan does, decided against all odds to take it on- 

Within days of the March 2003 show trials and the unjust prison sentences the Ladies in White came into existence and Laura Pollan was one of the founders of the movement. Their demands were simple and direct. The freedom of their loved ones. Their methods were nonviolent, strategic, and well thought out.


Short, blonde and stout, she was not cut out to be hauled into a bus by the police. All she wanted was to see Héctor back, and all the others. Her group would meet each Sunday at the church of Santa Rita in Miramar, Havana’s grandest district, say the rosary, hear mass, and then walk ten blocks in silence along Quinta Avenida on the green verges under the palm trees. The women wore white, symbolising pure intentions, and carried gladioli, a single stem each.

Unlike the cozy environment available to tenured leftist professors in India protected in their group-think, things are tough in Cuba for those of independent minds-

Ms. Pollan, whose resources were limited, ran the protest operation from her Havana home. Branded as a “mercenary,” she lived the dangerous life of a dissident. The government tormented her and other wives by moving the men to prisons far from their homes.

Shock mobs of other women were especially bused in to attack them, beat them and pull their hair. Ms Pollán could fight back with the best: when a man called her “Puta!” once, she threw her gladioli in his face. In one battle in September she was crushed against a wall, which may have set off the breathing troubles that killed her.

 Prof. Mushirul Hasan is such a partisan of the regime that brutalized Laura Pollan that during his time as the Vice-Chancellor he decided to name a university café after his beloved dictator in 2007-

Welcome to Castro cafe at Jamia Milia
Vice chancellor of the university Mushirul Hasan said the varsity will be soon naming a cafeteria after Castro. Earlier, he spoke about how Castro had become a symbol of “anti-colonial movement” across the world.
Visiting Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque was the chief guest...

Prof. Mushirul Hasan, like so many of his ilk, is in fact a serial admirer of dodgy characters-

(In Jamia)There is Noam Chomsky Complex, the big Edward Said Hall, the smaller Yasser Arafat Hall, and the smallest KM Ashraf Hall named after the Marxist historian. Not to forget the coolest spot to hang out — the Castro Café with its award-winning white and black design.  

As Jamia’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mushirul Hasan, says, “These names reflect Jamia’s cosmopolitan and secular character reflecting a continuity in its history and a link with future.”

So we have here totalitarian apologists( Noam Chomsky, Edward Said,  KM Ashraf ) and a terrorist (Yasser Arafat). Nice friend list, professor!

Laura Pollan,  unfortunately, could not much enjoy the world built on the ideals of these comfortable Marxist theoreticians-

   ....the (protesting)women were repeatedly assaulted by government-organized “shock brigades,” claiming to represent the ire of the popular masses against “counter-revolutionaries, in the pay if the U.S. empire.”  These thugs also took up intense harassment, occupying the sidewalks outside Pollán’s home on Havana’s Neptuno Street.  During one of the Ladies in White peaceful marches through Havana, video cameras show them being physically attacked before police arrest them, not the attackers, and piling them into a bus to be hauled off to jail.  At one point it became unclear whether the police or the mob did more physical harm to the women.  

Laura Pollan probably never heard of  Mushirul Hasan.

Prof. Mushirul Hasan has most likely heard of Laura Pollan (and if he hasn't, what kind of a historian is he?).

I wonder professor, is there is just an itsy-bitsy chance that you would like to dedicate just a small, lonely chair at the Castro café to this brave freedom fighter?

No need to answer, professor - we all know.