Shabana Azmi Marches with Kanhaiya, Jignesh in Patna

IPTA members marching in Patna on Saturday.

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Patna: Critically-acclaimed Bollywood star and social activist Shabana Azmi joined thousands of people in Patna on Saturday to celebrate the platinum jubilee of the formation of Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), an organization of theater artists and also the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

The march that began from Dadaji Temple also included young communist leaders like former Jawaharlal University students' union leader and presumably a Lok Sabha candidate from Bihar Kanhaiya Kumar and Gujarat Dalit rising star Jignesh Mevani.

The colorful rally consisting of stage artists from different states, after passing through the Kargil Chowk, arrived at the open-air theater of the Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir on Frazer Road where Azmi, the star of hundreds of films, both commercial and art, delivered her speech imploring everyone not to turn everything into a Hindu-Muslim issue.

"We are identified by Ganga and Jamuna and let us keep our identity based on our culture and not on one's religious affiliation," the actor said adding the fight was not between two religions but about different political ideologies.

"On one hand there are secular people who believe in equality for all and on the other, there are communal folks who are conspiring to create rift between different religion and culture. We have to understand this difference. It is quite easy to declare anyone an 'anti-national' person and we all need to be aware of it," she said.

Shabana Azmi, the daughter of legendary poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi, talked about her own upbringing saying she grew up in a small flat with eight family members and often attended workers' meetings and rallies with her father.

"I was born with 'red color' before me. Red flags meant party time for a small child like me who attended several party meetings with my father. Today, attempts are being made to muzzle our voices. I am, first and foremost, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a wife and only then I am a Muslim. However, today the Muslim part of my existence is being exploited by some while forgetting that I am a woman, a mother, a daughter, and a wife also.

Film director Sayyad Mirza said that IPTA was a progressive organization and together it will bring the truth about politics of communalism before the society.

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