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From the stuffy haze of Delhi, a helpless cry for Gaza

Air Quality becomes severe due to pollution in India’s capital city New Delhi. Photo: Open Source

Humra Quraishi*

The killer haze continues, unabated and uncontrolled, in and around the Delhi-NCR regions. It did somewhat subside but just for a day. Not because of any of the Sarkari assurances of the supposed measures undertaken to reduce the haze, but because of the God sent rains. Rains are gone. Killer-haze is back with vengeance, forcing hundreds to remain indoors. The only other option: to step out and be doomed with cough and wheezing attacks. Everyday living becomes hellish!

The well-to-do are even contemplating, shifting base from New Delhi to Goa or else towards the mountain regions of North India. The rest of us are destined to remain unmoving, till the killer haze chokes us to death. Or, till the videos and shots from the Gaza stretch, numb our very senses and whatever else remains tucked in our nervous system!

I do realize that for the last five weeks I have been focusing only and only on the killings and tragedies striking the Palestinians in Gaza, but that is what the ground realities are. A writer cannot write in a vacuum. And the happenings in and around do dominate the writings. Never one had ever seen shots of such targeted killings, where even hospitals and the dying are not spared – bombarded with such ruthless intensity that no one is spared.

We, who seem to be mute witnesses to this genocide going on, are helpless. Organising long or short protest-marches is in the banned category. So, all that we, the helpless, can do is to sit back and cry out. Nah, the tears cannot be controlled. They are azaad enough to flow out, trickling down the cheeks …One is feeling totally bewildered and completely disillusioned, to see the quiet of the so many supposed Who’s Who manning the welfare platforms and forums and commissions for children here in our country. Why cannot they speak out, cry hoarse, get vocal, raise their voice against the mass killings of the children and the other civilians in Gaza!

The list of the dead and dying in Gaza seems endless. They include doctors, medical staff and the reporters and photo-journalists covering this genocide. In fact, on the just  passed by International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, 2 November, a UN report listed the terrifying scale of  violence  the  journalists  face, especially in conflict  zones and also in war torn  countries and  definitely  in regions  like  Gaza where the  Israeli bombardments are ongoing on the entire  civilian  population.

More than one journalists has been killed in the Israeli air attacks in Gaza since October 7, 2023. Photo: Interaksyon

To quote from news reports on the journalists killed in the region, in these recent weeks: At least 37 journalists have been killed since the war began, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said…These include 32 Palestinians, four Israelis and one Lebanese.  Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh lost four members of his own family in Israeli air strikes. His wife Amna, 15-year-old son Mahmoud and seven-year-old daughter Sham were killed, as was his 18-month-old grandson Adam, following directives to leave northern Gaza for the south, only to come under Israel’s bombardment of the Nuseirat refugee camp where they were staying.

 “They take revenge on us through our children,” Dahdouh stated upon finding his son’s lifeless body… “What happened is clear. This is a series of targeted attacks on children, women, and civilians. I was just reporting from Yarmouk about such an attack, and the Israeli raids have targeted many areas, including Nuseirat… We had our doubts that the Israeli occupation would not let these people go without punishing them. And sadly, that is what happened. This is the ‘safe’ area that the occupation army spoke of.”

On November 5, a strike on the home of journalist Mohammad Abu Hassir of Wafa News Agency, killed him and his 42 family members. Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was standing near the Lebanon-Israeli border on October 13 when he was killed by a missile strike. Reuters journalists Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh sustained injuries in the blast. Two AFP journalists, Christina Assi and Dylan Collins, were also injured…the list of the dead and injured and targeted and assaulted journalists is indeed long and perhaps ongoing. A tragic reality of these barbaric times we are living in, when anyone can be attacked and killed.

To quote from The Wire news report: ‘Journalists from the United States have issued a statement of condemnation against “Israel’s killing of journalists in Gaza” and appealed to newsrooms in the West to uphold “integrity” in covering Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians. The statement of condemnation, which was first brought out on November 6, was signed by 1,265 reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world at the last count…It also condemned the biased coverage of the ongoing war and longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine in the Western media. “We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanising rhetoric that has served to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Double standards, inaccuracies and fallacies abound in American publications and have been well documented.” it added.

Ending this week’s column, with this verse of Barnali Ray Shukla – titled –  Coordinates Unknown (Amity Peace Poems. Harakal Publishers):

Born in a village/

stitched to maps/

embroidered with/

 names that granny/

spoke in a language/

of salt that mended/

her wrinkles to/

laugh lines, her cheeks/

washed clean by tears/

of something like/

happiness, that/

memories don’t/

lie buried like sons/

who fell to mines/

in a land altered/

by whims, /

truce comes later/

than greed/

but my father/

and the holy/

ghost still watch/

over us, over time, /


for the day/

when guns fall/

silent, seek/

poetry of arms, /

embrace a future/

not scarred by/


*Humra Quraishi is a Gurgaon based independent writer-columnist-journalist.