Kolkata dubbed the cultural capital of the country has always been a home to protest music. Now a band from the city has come out with a song on the Rohingya crisis.
From the Naxalite movement of the 1960s and the 70s, the influence of American protest songs; The "Jibanmukhi" songs on various social issues oriented towards life; Folk song movement of the 1990s and the Bangla band movement of 2000, Kolkata has seen it all.
Now Kolkata based Alternative Rap-rock band Underground Authority (UA) has released a music video "Boatman" on the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.
"Since formation we have always been very vocal on various issues that haunt the society like rape, crime against women, economic failures. This time we decided to do one on the Rohingya refugee crisis. Every morning when I wake up and read the newspapers and see how they are suffering, I feel it becomes our responsibility to speak out. The best medium of reaching a message to a large audience is through music. For how long will we turn our faces away from reality. They Rohingya's are being ignored" stated Santhanam Srinivasan Iyer talking to Oneinida.
The band sends across their message from live concerts, usually attended by 5000 to 10000 strong audience or through the social network where they have a 3 lakh strong following.
Underground Authoritie's music is flavoured by protest poetry, reggae, alternative rock, rap rock and hard rock.
The band prefers to label their brand of music as "Music to express and not to impress."
Formed in 2010, the band Underground Authority comprises of Santhanam Srinivasan Iyer (EPR,) Adil Rashid, Soumyadeep Bhattacharya and Sourish Kumar.
The band is popular for their original numbers with socio-political messages. Their popular numbers include Microphone; Realize (song that is based on formation of a classless society;) You Can't Stop Us (against racism) and We Kill G.I. Joes (against the materialistic society.)
"Boatman is a song appealing to stop Rohingiya genocide. The main objective of this song is to make people aware and so that dialogues are initiated between different sides" stated Iyer.
The song's opens with the lyrics "Boatman boatman; Why can't I see the land; And why my family sent me away; In the hand of another man."
The song also questions Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's State Counsellor's (Prime Minister) silence on the issue and appeals to her to come out of denial mode.
The Rohingyas are an ethnic group, majority belonging to the Muslim faith, who have lived for centuries in Myanmar. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Rohingya who live in the predominantly Buddhist country.
The Rohingya speak the unique Ruaingga dialect but are not considered one of Myanmar's 135 official ethnic groups. They have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982. This has rendered the Rohingya's stateless.
Nearly all of the Rohingyas in Myanmar live in the western coastal state of Rakhine in camps. Time and again there have been allegations of Myanmar embarking on ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya's which the country has denied.
Following an attack on the police posts and an army base in Myanmar on August 25 that left 12 officers dead, the Myanmar military has imposed a crackdown on the Rohingya population which they have dubbed a clearance operation against an insurgent terrorist group.
Due to ongoing violence and persecution, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighbouring countries either by land or boat.
UNICEF figures claim that out of the 600,000 Rohingyas who fled from Myanmar nearly 3,40,000 are children. Reports further claim that each week around 12000 Rohingya children pour into Bangladesh already reeling under the crisis.