" Pinhaa tha daam-e-sakht qareeb aashiyaan ke
Udhne hi na paaye the ki giraftaar hum hue "
The above sher (couplet) of the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib, was used by me in my order in Budhadev Karmaskar vs. State of West Bengal, Cr.Appeal 135/2010 (see 'sex workers' on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in).
The word 'pinha' means 'hidden' or 'concealed', 'daam' means 'net', 'sakht' means 'hard' or 'cruel', 'qareeb' means 'near', 'aashiyaan' means 'nest', and 'giraftaar' means 'caught' or 'arrested'.
The sher therefore means :
"Near the nest was the hidden cruel net (of a hunter)
Even before the chick could take its first flight it was caught".
In India perhaps there are 20 million or more sex workers (prostitutes). They have been driven into this profession not because they enjoy it but because of abject poverty. The massive poverty of about 80% of our population of 1200 million people is the real cause of exploitation
of women. To fill their stomachs these poor girls have to sell their bodies. These girls should have had a life of happiness, but instead they get caught in the flesh trade because of their poverty at a very early age and their lives are ruined.
I have compared these innocent young girls to the chick which is caught in the net of a cruel hunter in its very first flight.
Urdu poetry has, among other qualities, a unique feature. An Urdu verse can be given a meaning by the reader which was never intended by the writer. Surely Ghalib, when he wrote the above couplet, never thought it could be applied to sex workers !