PERSPECTIVE

Monthly Archives: DECEMBER 2017


AMARINDER, BADALS, KHAIRA, AROOSA ALAM & A JOURNALIST OF TRIBUNE
Suhaani sham dhal chukki — Of samosas on 20th, five-star parties on 32nd, viral videos now!
31.12.17 - S Pal
Suhaani sham dhal chukki — Of samosas on 20th, five-star parties on 32nd, viral videos now!



WHEN THE LEADER of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha demands the resignation of the chief minister for the first time since the Congress government came into power, and makes allegations as sensational as sheltering a possibly Pakistani spy in the CM residence, there are two different scenarios you expect in next day’s media coverage.

A. Front pages of newspapers exploding with the sensational story. A lot of back stories detailing the life and career of the alleged Pakistani spy. The linkages of the chief minister with such a person. The presence or absence of links of others in the ruling party with the said person.

B. In another scenario, next day’s media might be full of scathing commentary on the conduct of the Leader of the Opposition. It may talk about the utter ridiculousness of the allegations or his proclivity to tilt at the windmills. Someone may point out the entrenched patriarchal values he carries of a man who cannot gulp a deep bond of friendship between two adults with enough decades of life experience behind them. Some might say he is incapable of fathoming that a group of grownups could be enjoying a melodious song and a drink in the confines of a friend’s house, and it may not be such a sinful activity.

I hold no brief for either of the scenarios, and in a robust democracy, one often sees both scenarios being played up simultaneously. What scares me is the scenario that actually happened: some of the region’s leading mass circulation newspapers fell completely silent and chose to ignore the story.

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Unbeknown to her, Aroosa Alam has become a subject of debate in the corridors of power, social get togethers hosted by leaders of all political parties, the press room on the second floor of Punjab Civil Secretariat, and hacks’ daaru-parties.
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Everybody and his uncle (or friend, Hindustani or Pakistani), knows such blackout of the story in sections of the media was not the result of any editorial judgement. Instead, it denotes a sense of fear in newsrooms where those wielding the blue pencil prefer to step back and stay safe.

When the Leader of the Opposition makes a serious allegation — even if it is of the ‘I saw men from Mars taking away a farmer from Bhucho Mandi’ variety — it is eminently reportable. You can grill him on coals, but how can the media not report?

Punjab’s chattering classes are not the only ones indulging in salacious gossip about Aroosa Alam. Unbeknown to her, Alam has been a subject of debate in the corridors of power, social get-togethers hosted by leaders of all political parties, the press room on the second floor of Punjab Civil Secretariat where I have seen even peons and attendants expressing a view or two on the subject, and hacks’ daaru-parties all the time. Now, hers is a name known well to even Bharti Kisan Union’s second rung leaders and government primary school teachers.

(I know this because someone who is both, a second rung leader of the BKU and a primary school teacher, called me aside at a function last fortnight and asked me if he should meet Alam with a delegation to present some demands. "No one else is listening. She, at least, has the power,” he reasoned.)

Informed and engaged citizens anywhere, including readers of Punjab Today, have developed an innate skill—they remain in the know of things and yet remain aloof. They amusedly watch such news cycles ebb and flow as a controversy like this explodes, or dies down. In a region where most men above 40 do not have a single woman as their friend, and most women above 40 do not have a single man they can call to plan a movie outing, such salacious gossip gets a little more playtime in the media than it deserves. (You have to be married to the man or woman you want to go watch a movie with. Believe me, it’s almost a rule! And do not push your luck arguing, unless you want some cleric to issue an edict on it!) 
 

Aroosa Alam is not the subject of this piece. Yes, sincerely. Not even after all the above paragraphs I punched. 

I am on a different point. And it is about what date on which you choose to have a party.

It’s all about the date. Date, as in a calendar. 

But before I go any further, allow me a flashback.  
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"Badal Sahib, jee ikk chotta jiha sawaal hai, je ijaazat hove tan?” Wow, politeness galore! This was a turbaned journo from the Indian Express. Everyone was all ears. I was standing next to Parwana ji. "Eh munda hamesha panga karda hai koyee na koyee,” Parwana ji whispered in my ear. Everyone was attentive by now.
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It was 2004. Prakash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister of Punjab. Sukhbir Singh Badal was a recently baptised Akali leader. Gurcharan Singh Tohra had died a couple of months earlier. A year had passed since Tohra and Badal had savoured ladoos at the house of Harmail Singh Tohra to announce panthic unity. On July 11, 2004 was scheduled the SGPC election, the first after Tohra’s death. 

It was June 6, 2004, to be precise. Prakash Singh Badal had issued the first list of SGPC candidates on June 5. On June 6, he called a press conference at his official residence in Sector 2 of Chandigarh. I had come from Delhi and was visiting a journalist friend. On that fateful day of June 6, I tagged along with my friend and attended this press conference where Badal issued the list of remaining candidates for the July 11 election to SGPC.

Some of the top names among Chandigarh’s press corps were there at the press conference. I particularly remember one N S Parwana, who, I was told, had spent decades covering the CMO. Harcharan Bains was handing out printouts of a two-page press release that also had names of the SAD nominees. Some perfunctory questions later, journalists realised they were getting late for the office, and the ever so mild mannered CM Badal apologised for having called scribes at this late hour. "Tuhanoo taqleef ditti,” he said. I was touched by the politeness in politicos-hacks relationship in Punjab. 

Suddenly my attention was drawn to a lone voice from among the media crowd - "Badal Sahib, jee ikk chotta jiha sawaal hai, je ijaazat hove tan?” Wow, politeness galore! This was a turbaned journo from the Indian Express. Everyone was all ears. I was standing next to Parwana ji. "Eh munda hamesha panga karda hai koyee na koyee,” Parwana ji whispered in my ear. Everyone was paying attention by now.

"Jee, ajj June 6, Operation Bluestar di veehvin (20th) anniversary utte, Akali Dal de pardhan da patarkaran nu ghar bula ke chah, samose te gulab jamun khawaun ton bina koyee hor vee program hai? Kyon ke shaam tan pai hee gayee hai, din beet chaliya hai. Koyee hor vee program hai, ajj da?”

<<Trans: On this June 6th, today, the 20th anniversary of Op Bluestar, does the Akali Dal president have any other engagement in his day schedule except for calling journalists home and offering them sweet delicacies, since it is already late evening? Is there any other engagement scheduled?>>

"Lo, pa ditta panga!” Parwana ji said, a samosa in his hand, and me holding the plate for his benefit. 

"Phir jee na kariye soochi jaari umeedvaran di?” a piqued Badal asked the young journalist. Bains explained that it was the last day and filing of nomination papers was to begin the next day.  
 

I had re-adjusted my ideas about levels of politeness in journo-politician relationship in Punjab. Parwana ji had finished the samosa and was now having tea. I told him I was happy someone does some "panga”. He didn’t seem pleased. I returned to Delhi the next day, and have often thought why wasn’t Badal prepared to handle the most expected question. 

I am a dumb guy in many ways, the kind they call ‘tubelight’. Last week, the answer flashed. I was in Jalandhar, watching Sukhpal Singh Khaira slamming Amarinder Singh at the local press club. Khaira was raising hell about Aroosa Alam, and questioning why Amarinder Singh was having a daaru-party and a fun evening when Sikhs everywhere in the world were in mourning, observing the Shaheedi days of the Tenth Sikh Master’s Sahibzadas. 

After the press conference ended, I asked Sukhpal why did he think Amarinder could afford to be so blasé? "Because he does not expect anyone to question it,” Khaira said.

Till Khaira spoke, even the media had not questioned it.

Till date, the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal has not questioned it. 

I mean the date, not the fact that Amarinder Singh was with Aroosa Alam and other guests. Date. It is the day on which he was holding this party which should concern us all.

A journalist from a major media house based in the town told me after the presser, "Saade tan chhapni nahi (It won’t be published in our paper).” I was shocked. Next day, his newspaper did not even mention the story. Neither did The Tribune, or the Hindustan Times, or The Times of India, or Jagbani or many others. The Indian Express, Punjabi Tribune, Ajit and a few others were honourable exceptions.

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We were in the lobby of the Ramada Hotel, located on the Chandigarh-Punjab border on NH22, when he casually mentioned that he had last come here to see Aroosa Alam! "Aroosa Alam?” I spoke a little too loudly for the plush environs and shushed silence of the five star hotel’s lobby.
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But I might not have written about all of this if I had not run this week into a stringer of a local newspaper in Chandigarh, a chap I often stay with during my visits to Chandigarh. We were in the lobby of the Ramada Hotel, located on the Chandigarh-Punjab border on NH22, when he casually mentioned that he had last come to the foyer of Ramada to see Aroosa Alam!

"Aroosa Alam?” I spoke a little too loudly for the plush environs and shushed silence of the five star hotel’s lobby.

He said a year ago local journalists, after being tipped off that Amarinder was partying with some friends, including Alam, at this hotel, had all converged here. "Lal Singh, Rana Gurmit Sodhi and Kewal Singh Dhillon came down and met the journalists. Hans Raj Hans was also there. Amarinder also came and met the scribes. They said they were all here with their families, having a private party, and Amarinder Singh’s friends denied Alam was there at all,” he recalled, and then added, "But Alam was there.”

"Really? How did you know? Did you guys file a story?” 

"Yes, most of us did. Punjabi Tribune carried the story in a big way,” he said. He did not remember the exact day, but hotel staff is always helpful if you speak nicely to them. We soon knew what day it was, and searched for the Punjabi Tribune’s file for the month. There it was — the claim by the Punjabi Tribune’s journalist, in black and white: "Amarinder Singh’s friends denied Aroosa Alam was there but this journalist saw Aroosa Alam herself in the hotel that night.”

Interesting stuff! No, not that Aroosa Alam was present in the hotel in Zirakpur. Not that the journalist claimed he saw Alam himself when Amarinder’s lieutenants denied it. None of that is so interesting. 

As I have said consistently and repeatedly — what is important is the date.


The Punjabi Tribune edition we were reading was dated June 7, 2016. The party was on the night of June 6, 2016. The anniversary of Operation Bluestar. The 32nd anniversary.

The Akali Dal did not issue even a simple press release to point out this even when it was bitterly fighting Amarinder Singh, with Punjab Assembly elections just months away. I am not sure how Akali leaders observed it, but they knew how Amarinder and his friends marked June 6, 2016 — with a party at a five star hotel. 

Ladoos at home on 20th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, five star hotel parties on 32nd anniversary of Op Bluestar, clinking glasses to the tune of suhaani raat dhal chuki, na jaane tum kab aaoge on Shaheedi gurpurabs. They don’t expect you to question. About four years ago, I had met Rashtriya Sikh Sangat’s Avtar Singh Shastri in Delhi. While planning a celebratory event, he advised his associates not to schedule it in June. "Dukh bhariya maheena hunda hai Operation Bluestar wala, July vich kar lavo,” he was saying. He was being careful, because he expected to be questioned.

Suhaani raat dhal chuki is a 1949 song. Rafi was singing it in a country that had still to become a republic. Sometimes I wonder if it still is, but savouring sweets and having gala parties on days of mourning was never the culture of this region.

They do it because they do not expect anyone to question it. At times I miss that fellow at Badal’s house. Someone should be there to do some "panga.” Make it your New Year resolution – take it upon yourselves to do the "panga.” NS Parwana is a nice man, he’ll understand. 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT






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RELIGION, POLITICS & LAW
Balwant Singh Khera - The frail man who could prove to be the nemesis of Akali Dal
15.12.17 -
Balwant Singh Khera - The frail man who could prove to be the nemesis of Akali Dal



LONG YEARS BACK, Balwant Singh Khera was an unassuming school teacher, but when he ran into stone walling officials of the Punjab Government who could not explain to him why primary school teachers have no promotional avenues, he learnt the ways of struggle and agitation. Decades of his fight forced the Punjab Government to finally set up a Primary Education directorate. "At that time, no one thought I will ever succeed. In fact, those trying to pull my leg used to taunt me as 'Primary Director' when I passed them by," he recalls.
 
 Read Also Related Story:  Sukhbir is right – Panth Khatre Vich Hai.  

Khera knew doggedness pays in life. In his case, at least, it did. When he started his fight for a separate primary teachers' directorate back in the mid-1960s, he prepared the draft in Punjabi but then found that the officers hardly knew any Punjabi. His friend Dr Roshan lal Ahuja translated it into English. The two then tapped a rich friend for Rs 100 to get it printed. While still a teacher, he started dabbling in activist journalism. An old friend of his used to bring out 'Hoshiarpur Times', a local rag. Khera recalls with a glint in his eyes the days when he used to travel all the way to Jalandhar to get it printed, then gather all his family in a room to paste the postal stamps. Soon he was bringing out another pamphlet called "Karrak" for primary teachers. It ran for ten years.

In 1987, Khera took premature retirement. He was to actually retire in 1993. But perhaps his real life time work was to start only later. As nearly 300 youth, mostly Indian and a large number of them Punjabi, lost their lives in the icy waters of Ionian sea near Malta during an illegal human cargo transfer from one to the other vessel, Khera made it his life time's mission to get justice. Leading from the front under the banner of Malta Boat Tragedy Mission, Khera was knocking at all doors. Courts, activists, lawyers, ministers, chief ministers. When he met then Prime Minister IK Gujral, he was astonished to find that Gujral actually believed the propaganda that the tragedy had never happened. The Italian government had denied the tragedy. Later, he met then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too, but only after he had scoured many avenues and created immense pressure visiting many European countries, and even meeting archbishops at the Vatican, all to garner support for his struggle for justice.

When a couple of Akali Dal MLAs were found to be indulging in what in Punjab is popularly called 'kabootarbaazi' and involves taking people illegally out of the country, Khera was again back in his activist mode in 2001. 
 

For a man who just loves to fight for public causes, the issue of the Shiromani Akali Dal having two Constitutions came almost accidentally. "I read in The Hindu newspaper about a petition that wanted the Supreme Court to outlaw parties that had communal names. How can a secular country have a party called the Muslim League? This set me thinking as to how a political party vying for state power can also lord over a religious body in which only people of one religion can contest and vote. As I probed more, I educated myself about how laws had changed and how the political parties have been amiss in keeping pace."
 

But this is not the only fight. Khera is also leading a fight to bring all political parties under the ambit of the RTI.
 ---------------------
 Read https://goo.gl/zuoCny for this explosive main story of
*Dangerous Liasions* Between Religion & Politics. 
 ---------------------
 Click https://goo.gl/NJza8Y to read The Akali Dal's Defence 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________
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 _______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

 





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WINNER OF VICTORIA CROSS AND MAHA VIR CHAKRA
70 years on, most decorated soldier of India remains unsung
12.12.17 - YASHVEER GOYAL
70 years on, most decorated soldier of India remains unsung



Barring few things done in his name by the successive governments and authorities concerned, Naib Subedar Nand Singh, the "highest ever decorated soldier of India", who having earned prestigious twin war medals, Victoria Cross (VC)-the highest military gallantry award of United Kingdom (UK) and Maha Vir Chakra (MVC)- second highest Indian award for battlefield graciousness "remained unsung even 70 years" after he attained 'heroic martyrdom' in Jammu and Kashmir hills during Indo-Pakistan 'Kashmir war' on December 12, 1947.

The dare devil deeds performed by Naib Subedar Nand Singh, who was recruited in First Battalion of Sikh Regiment in 1931, during World War-2 in 1944 and during Kashmir War, not only played undisputed and unquestionable role in drawing the contours of geophysical and geopolitical maps of British Empire and Independent India respectively but also earned Victoria Cross-the highest gallantry award of United Kingdom (UK)-from the Queen Victoria  and Maha Vir Chakra-the second highest gallantry award of India- for his kitty and thus made him highest ever decorated soldier of Commonwealth Countries.

The acts, which were full of valour and were done with heroic tempers and undying spirit for UK war with Japan and later for 'Mother Land' in Kashmir War and the way he conducted himself during these two intense Wars, when put together, if do not make his sacrifice equal to 'martyrdom of a prophet', then there is also no reason for anyone to gauge the same (martyrdom) on lesser scales. His story is such that everyone in the world must know the same.

Sadly and unfortunately, the central and state governments and other official agencies involved in the glorification of country's martyrs seem to have no respect for the 'Real Heroes' and instead have been hurling 'insult' repeatedly on martyr Nand Singh as they have failed to erect a befitting memorial of this international Hero in the past seven decades.
---------------
The promises made by successive rulers of Punjab to immortalise his valourous deeds are yet to be fulfilled. 
---------------
Any function to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of Nand Singh, who was born in Bahadurpur village of Mansa district in 1914, joined the army at the age of seventeen or eighteen years of age and attained martyrdom on December 12, 1947 in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, is rarely organised by the authorities concerned.

Not only this, the official agencies concerned have been adding insult to the injuries of the family members of the martyr by keeping themselves absent from any function organised by his kin in the past. Besides, the promises made by successive rulers of Punjab to immortalise his valourous deeds are yet to be fulfilled.

Another fact, which could prove that scant respect is also given to the family members of Nand Singh, is that no monetary help was extended to his widow Joginder Kaur, who once fell ill and found it difficult to gather enough money to get treatment. Moved by her plight, the then Punjab Governor, J.F.R. Jacob sanctioned relief of Rs 10,000 for her treatment.

Naib Subedar Nand Singh, who attained martyrdom at the age of 33 years after securing Srinagar valley-paradise on earth-for mother nation, was picked up for Victoria Cross-highest bravery award of British Empire for his exemplary action during World War-2 in 1944 against Japan.
 

The citation, which was published in the London Gazette of 2nd June 1944 after Jamedar Nand Singh was picked up for United Kingdom's highest gallantry award-Victoria Cross- for his bravest deeds during World War 2, reads, "In Burma on the night of the 11th/12th March, 1944, a Japanese platoon about 40 strong with Medium and Light Machine-Guns and a Grenade Dis-charger infiltrated into the Battalion position covering the main Maungdaw7Buthidaung road and occupied a dominating position where they dug foxholes and underground trenches on the precipitous sides of the hill. Naik Nand Singh commanded the leading section of the platoon which was ordered to recapture the position at all costs. He led his section up a very steep knife-edged ridge under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. Although wounded in the thigh he rushed ahead of his section and took the first enemy trench with the bayonet by himself. He then crawled forward alone under heavy fire and though wounded again in the face and shoulder by a grenade which burst one yard in front of him, took the second trench at the point of the bayonet. A short time later when all his section had been either killed or wounded, Naik Nand Singh dragged himself out of the trench and captured a third trench, killing all the occupants with his bayonet. Due to the capture of these three trenches the remainder of the platoon were able to seize the top of the hill and deal with the enemy. Naik Nand Singh personally killed seven of the enemy and owing to his determination, outstanding dash and magnificent courage; the important position was won back from the enemy."

The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of Victoria Cross (V C) to Sepoy number 13068 (Acting Naik) Nand Singh, 11th Sikh Regiment, Indian Army."
---------------
Colonel F.T. Birdwood, author of book titled 'Sikh Regiment in the Second World War' has remarked, "Naik Nand Singh’s part in this brilliant little action, his splendid resolution and utter disregard for his own life were fittingly recognized by the award of the Victoria Cross.” 
---------------
The prestigious Victoria Cross was pinned to his chest, filled with proud, by Lord Mountbatten, who later became Viceroy of India, at an impressive function organised at Red Fort at Delhi in connection with the investiture ceremony.

Colonel F.T. Birdwood, author of book titled 'Sikh Regiment in the Second World War' has remarked, "Naik Nand Singh’s part in this brilliant little action, his splendid resolution and utter disregard for his own life were fittingly recognized by the award of the Victoria Cross.”

The acquiring of highest gallantry award of Commonwealth Nations could not 'satiate' the unending zeal of Nand Singh to do something for Mother Land after India attained independence from British occupation.

Barely two years after the Victoria Cross was pinned on his chest, the time came for him to load his rifle once again and after some refitting, rest and training he went to action again in 1947 to flush out the Pakistan's army regulars and tribal infiltrators (who had intruded into Jammu and Kashmir to cut the valley from the rest of land of India) and to wrest the control of valley.

In December 1947, this passionate soldier again showed exemplary courage when he came under sudden attack of enemies while leading a fighting patrol in the Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir and immediately started fighting valiantly, killing about odd five Pakistani soldiers and recapturing an occupied bunker.

Putting his life into extreme danger, the brave son of soil faced a burst from Light Machine Gun (LMG) fire on December 12, 1947 when he was advancing his movements with boundless grit and courage to occupy other positions of enemies. He got killed immediately.

He was bestowed upon Maha Vir Chakra posthumously on first republic day of country in 1950. 

The citation for Maha Vir Chakra reads, "Jamadar Nand Singh during a routine patrol suddenly came across enemy who were more in number, undaunted they led and encouraged the men to fight against the enemy. Subedar Bishan Singh and Jamadar Nand Singh displayed conspicuous gallantry, exemplary leadership, determination and devotion to duty of the highest order in keeping with the best traditions of the Army and were posthumously awarded Mahavir Chakra." 

Interestingly, Major-General Frank Messervy, who commanded one of the army divisions during World War 2 and was closely associated with Nand Singh in military action against Japan Army became the first Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, in whose attack Nand Singh attained martyrdom. Major General Messervy has also made a written record regarding the "Heroic Deeds" of Naik Nand Singh in two wars.
---------------
 Also in the past 70 years the successive governments of Punjab have miserably failed to erect a befitting memorial of Nand Singh in his native village for which his family members, kin and other villagers have been fighting relentlessly.
---------------
On May 30, 1944, Major-General Messervy recorded that on the main Maungdaw-Buthidaung Road, Arakan (Burma), on 11/12 March 1944. Japanese troops having infiltrated the battalion position at night, and dug in on a spur commanding the vital road, Nand Singh commanded the leading section of the platoon ordered to retake the position. This was achieved without fire support, yet under heavy enemy rifle and machine-gun fire and grenades. Every man in his section was killed or wounded, and Singh took three trenches single-handed at the point of the bayonet. Although he was wounded in the thigh, and peppered with grenade fragments, he returned to his unit six weeks later.

Nand Singh's medal is displayed at the Sikh Regiment Centre, Ramgarh (Jharkhand).

Huge respect was showered on Nand Singh as Simon Edmund Vincent Paul Elwes, who as lieutenant colonel in British Army fought battles of Benghazi, Mersa, Matruh and Knightsbridge and then got employment as British War artist and society portrait painter made portraits of the Maharaja of Patiala, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and various Indian Army soldiers including Naik Nand Singh.

An appreciation of highest order was recorded in the service book of Nand Singh as it reads as  "….a handsome, brave and obedient soldier who has the distinction of being the highest decorated and celebrated soldier of commonwealth countries. He was awarded Victoria Cross, the highest bravery award of British Empire, on 12th March, 1944 for his chivalry and courage shown in the hills of Arakan, during Burma campaign in the World War II. In spite of being badly injured six times by bullets and hand grenades, he alone himself killed seven enemy soldiers and captured three trenches one by one. All his company's soldiers were either killed or injured but no power on earth could stop him and he emerged as the bravest person on the earth.

After independence again he stood as rock in the way of enemy on 12 Dec.1947 in Jammu and Kashmir to save the motherland. Around 6000 Pakistani raiders infiltrated into the Uri sector posing a great threat to Indian garrisons and road leading to Srinagar and Poonch. A platoon of 'D' company led by Jamadar Nand Singh attacked the enemy. Jamadar, who belonged to village Bahadurpur Distt. Mansa, with his small detachment charged this large group of Pakistani tribesmen. He captured number of bunkers and his daring assault saved the battalion…."

Unfortunately, his body could not be recovered and as it was carried away by the enemies. He was treated brutally by the Pakistani army after his death. The Pakistani army identified Nand Sing for his Victoria Cross ribbon. They managed to lay hands on his dead body and took it to Muzaffarabad town. There Pakistan army men tied him in a face down position on a truck and paraded in the entire area with a loudspeaker declaring that this would be the destiny of every Indian VC winner. After that they threw his body into a garbage junkyard.

Perhaps precariously little efforts were made at diplomatic and other levels by the then government of India to recover the mortal remains of pious and brave soul to do the proper funeral and to perform last rites as per social and religious tenets.
---------------
'Blatant disrespect' has been shown to this legendry Sikh warrior, whose heroic acts have gained place of prominence and respect in the war books written by historians of world so far, by using his statue, erected in Bathinda town, to tie ropes and projecting him in different manner in Punjabi movie in the past. 
---------------
Also in the past 70 years the successive governments of Punjab have miserably failed to erect a befitting memorial of Nand Singh in his native village for which his family members, kin and other villagers have been fighting relentlessly. A memorial of Nand Singh has been cut out of hills in Uri by the army personnel.

So far a narrow road linking his village Bahadurpur to nearby Bareta town is named as Shaheed Jamadar Nand Singh Marg in 1991 and Bus Stand of Bareta town is named as Shaheed Nand Singh Bus Stand. Unfortunately, Shaheed Jamedar Nand Singh Marg has almost of disappeared due to poor upkeep by authorities concerned. 

A college, which has been built up by Punjab government in Bahadurpur village last year, has not been named as Shaheed Jamedar Nand Singh despite the fact that successive 'Rulers' promised this thing to villagers and kin to martyr time and again.

No statue of the martyr has been installed in his village so far despite the residents have been demanding the same for the past more than half century.

On the other hand, 'blatant disrespect' has been shown to this legendry Sikh warrior, whose heroic acts have gained place of prominence and respect in the war books written by historians of world so far, by using his statue, erected in Bathinda town, to tie ropes and projecting him in different manner in Punjabi movie in the past.

Now every nationalist is asking the governments concerned that whether 70th anniversary of martyrdom of Commonwealth countries' highest decorated Sikh Soldier would be observed in befitting manner and would Capt. Amarinder Singh, Punjab's chief minister, who once strongly condemned previous chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for poor upkeep of statue of Naib Subedar Nand Singh installed in Bathinda town, would do something to immortalize feats of valour and gallantry of brave son of soil for posterity.

Interestingly, Captain Singh in his book ‘Lest We Forget’ has highlighted the valour and courageous deeds of martyr Nand Singh.
 
{70th death anniversary of Nand Singh falls on December 12, 2017.}
 

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WEATHER BULLETIN – FROM THE HEART
Breaking News – It rained last night. He heard, and wrote this.
12.12.17 -
Breaking News – It rained last night. He heard, and wrote this.



It rained last night. 
The weather turned.
The nip was now a chill.
The wheat stalks seemed to be smiling.
Sweaters needed a cover, so out came the jackets.

But then rain touches many raw nerves in us. To some, it brings back memories of a particularly fateful day. To another, it is a reminder of the day back in the ancestral village. To yet another, it is forever connected to a raga, to a particular song playing on Vividh Bharti. 
 
 
Well known social and political activist, and historian, Sumail Singh Sidhu, heard the raindrops falling on Punjab’s head last night. Ever a chronicler of events momentous, Sumail heard the music in that rain, and refused to save it for a rainy day. Instead, he shared it with us. We bring you his ruminations in his words, in Punjabi, of course, for in no other language can somethings be said — proof that all languages hold in them a complete world view.

Here’s to singin’ in the rain, with Sumail Singh Sidhu:

'ਆਸ਼ਕ ਹੋਵੈਂ ਤਾਂ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਕਮਾਵੈਂ।।,
ਰਾਹ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦਾ ਸੂਈ ਦਾ ਨੱਕਾ,
ਤਾਗਾ ਹੋਵੈਂ ਤਾਂ ਜਾਵੈਂ।।'
     – ਸ਼ਾਹ ਹੁਸੈਨ, 16ਵੀਂ ਸਦੀ 

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਸੱਭਿਅਤਾ ਦੇ ਬੁਨਿਆਦੀ ਸੰਕਲਪ ਨੂੰ ਸਿਜਦਾ 
 
ਦੋਸਤੋ,

ਪਿਛਲੀ ਰਾਤ ਤੋਂ ਮੇਘਲਾ ਰਸ ਭਰੇ ਅੰਬ ਵਾਂਗ ਟਪਕ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਦੀ ਸਹਿਜ-ਭਾਅ ਟਪਕਣ, ਨਿੱਕੀ ਕਣੀ ਦੀ ਮਖਮਲੀ ਛੋਹ ਅਤੇ ਅੰਞਾਣੀਆਂ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਮਾਸੂਮ ਚਾਅ, ਛੇਤੀ-ਛੇਤੀ ਕੱਦ ਕੱਢਣ ਲਈ ਵਗਦੀ ਵਾਅ ਨਾਲ ਲਈਦੀਆਂ ਧੁਰਲੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਫਰਰ-ਸਰਰ, ਪੂਰਨ ਸਿੰਘੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਸ਼ਾਇਦ ਇਸੇ ਨੂੰ ਆਖਿਆ ਹੈ ਸਾਡੇ ਪਾਸ਼ ਨੇ।ਜਸਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਕੰਵਲ ਦੇ ਨਾਵਲ 'ਪੂਰਨਮਾਸ਼ੀ' ਵਿਚ ਵੀ ਮਲਵਈ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੇ ਕਿਸਾਨ ਸੱਭਿਆਚਾਰ ਦਾ ਕਣਕਵੰਨਾ ਰਾਗ ਸੁਣੀਂਦਾ ਹੈ। ਮੋਢੀ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਨਜ਼ਰੀਆਸਾਜ਼ ਸ਼ਕਰਗੰਜ ਬਾਬਾ ਫਰੀਦ ਜੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਸਲੋਕ ਮੇਰੇ ਅੰਦਰਵਾਰ ਲਹੂ ਵਿੱਚ ਘੁਲਣ ਲਗਦਾ ਹੈ :

'ਗਲੀਏ ਚਿੱਕੜ ਦੂਰ ਘਰ, ਨਾਲ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਨੇਹੁੰ।
ਚੱਲਾਂ ਤਾਂ ਭਿੱਜੇ ਕੰਬਲੀ, ਰਹਾਂ ਤਾਂ ਤੁੱਟੇ ਨੇਹੁੰ।

ਇੱਥੇ ਭਾਰੀ ਮੁਸ਼ਕਿਲ ਦਾ, ਪੰਥ ਦੁਹੇਲੇ ਦਾ, ਆਪਣੀ ਹਸਤੀ ਦੀ ਸ਼ਿਕਸਤਾ ਹਾਲਤ ਦਾ ਗ਼ਜ਼ਬ ਦੀ ਸਾਦਗੀ ਨਾਲ ਬਿਆਨ ਹੈ। ਅਕਲ ਤੇ ਈਮਾਨ ਘਰ ਬੈਠਣ, ਸੁੱਕੇ-ਸਾਫ਼ ਰਹਿਣ, ਆਪਣੀ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਸਮੇਟੀ ਰੱਖਣ ਦੀ ਬਾਤ ਬੁਣ ਰਹੇ ਹਨ।'ਨਾਲ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਨੇਹੁੰ' ਦਾ ਬਲ੍ਦਾ ਦੀਵਾ ਦੁਚਿੱਤੀ 'ਚ ਫਾਥਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ 'ਕੀ ਕਰਨਾ ਲੋੜੀਏ?' ਰੂਸ ਦਾ ਵਾਲੀ ਅਤੇ ਲਾਡਲਾ ਲਾਲ ਵਲਾਦੀਮੀਰ ਲੈਨਿਨ ਕੋਈ ਸੌ ਕੁ ਸਾਲ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਇਸੇ ਮੁਕਾਮ ਤੇ ਦੁਚਿੱਤੀ 'ਚ ਆਉਂਦਾ-ਆਉਂਦਾ ਮੁੜ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਜਜ਼ਬੇ ਨਾਲ ਖੰਡ ਖੀਰ ਹੋ ਕੇ ਅਗਾਂਹ ਠਿੱਲ੍ਹ ਪੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ। ਆਖਰ 'ਤੁੱਟੇ ਨੇਹੁੰ' ਦਾ, ਹਾਰੇ ਕੌਲ੍ ਦਾ, ਕਣਕਾਂ ਦੀ ਖ਼ਾਮੋਸ਼ੀ ਦਾ ਮਿਹਣਾ ਕੌਣ ਝੱਲੇ? 'ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ' ਹੁਣ 'ਸਿਰ ਧਰ ਤਲੀ' ਊਜਾਂ, ਅਸ਼ਲੀਲ ਆਵਾਜ਼ਾਂ, ਈਮਾਨ ਦੀ ਵਲਗਣ ਨਾਲ ਲਿੱਬੜੀ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਵਾਲੇ 'ਗਲੀਏ ਚਿੱਕੜ' ਵਿੱਚ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦੀ ਸੁਰਖ ਲਾਟ ਦੇ ਅੰਗ-ਸੰਗ ਤੁਰ ਪੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ। ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਛੰਡ ਕੇ, ਅਡੋਲ ਹੋ ਕੇ 'ਭੱਠ ਖੇੜਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਰਹਿਣਾ’ ਆਖਦਾ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਸ਼ਕਰਗੰਜ ਆਪਣੇ ਵਾਰਸਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਥਾਪੜਾ ਦੇ ਕੇ ਤੋਰਦਾ ਹੈ:

" ਭਿੱਜੋ ਸਿਜੋ ਕੰਬਲੀ, ਅਲਹੁ ਵਰਸੋ ਮੇਹੁੰ।
ਜਾਏ ਮਿਲਾਂ ਤਿਨਾਂ ਸੱਜਣਾਂ, ਟੁੱਟੇ ਨਾਹੀਂ ਨੇਹੁੰ।

ਧਿਆਨ ਧਰੀਏ ਕਿ ਜੰਗ ਚਮਕੌਰ ਵਿਚ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਬਾਬਾ ਜੁਝਾਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਨੂੰ ਰਣ ਤੱਤੇ ਵਿੱਚ ਜਾ ਕੇ ਸ਼ਹੀਦ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕੇ ਸਾਹਿਬਜ਼ਾਦਾ ਅਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਨਾਲ ਮਿਲਾਪ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਆਖ ਕੇ ਵਿਦਾ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ।ਖ਼ੈਰ ਫੈਸਲਾ ਕਰ ਲਿਆ ਤਾਂ ਪਹਿਲੀਆਂ ਜ਼ੰਜੀਰਾਂ ਹੀ ਹੁਣ ਸੰਗੀ-ਸਾਥੀ ਹੋ ਗਈਆਂ ਹਨ।'ਜਾਏ ਮਿਲਾਂ' ਦਾ ਜਜ਼ਬਾ ਆਪਮੁਹਾਰਾ ਹੋ ਗਿਆ ਹੈ।ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦਾ 'ਸੂਹਾ ਰੰਗ ਮਜੀਠ ਦਾ' ਜੋਬਨ ਤੇ ਹੈ।'ਅੰਦਰ ਬੂਟੀ ਮੁਸ਼ਕ ਮਚਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਫੁੱਲਣ ਤੇ ਆਈ ਹੂ' ਦਾ ਮੁਕਾਮ ਨਜ਼ਰੀਂ ਆਉਣ ਲਗਦਾ ਹੈ। ਬਕੌਲ ਵਾਰਿਸ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਇਹ ਮੁਕਾਮ 'ਸਿਰ ਦਿੱਤਿਆਂ ਬਾਝ ਨਾ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਪੱਕੇ' ਵਾਲੇ ਸੰਕਲਪ ਸਦਕਾ ਮੁਸਲਸਲ ਵਹਿੰਦੇ ਆ ਰਹੇ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਿਦਰੋਹ ਦਾ ਨਾਦ ਹੈ।

ਮੈਂ ਨਾ ਕਿਹਾ ਸੀ ਕਿ ਪਿਛਲੀ ਰਾਤ ਤੋਂ ਮੇਘਲਾ ਰਸ ਭਰੇ ਅੰਬ ਵਾਂਗ ਟਪਕ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ...
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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SPEAK, MEMORY
Lahore nu salaam
09.12.17 -
Lahore nu salaam



Memories of Lahore: 1938 to 1947, as narrated by Prof Randhir Singh, then a student active in the communist movement, to the author, his daughter.

 
Today, as Pakistan is once again going through a churning and Lahore – the town forever hyphenated with our past, with Amritsar, with Delhi Darbar, with our freedom movement, with Shaheed Bhagat Singh and with a thousand other reference points – continues to grapple with the million prospects of an unpredictable future, we bring you the memories of an activist, academician, thinker par excellence of our times – Prof Randhir Singh. The good professor, often referred to as the tallest Indian academic don, died on January 31, 2016. 

For those of newer generations who may not know enough about Prof Randhir Singh, suffice to quote Dipankar Bhattacharya, the CPI(ML) General Secretary, who, said this about the legacy of the great communist: "Randhir Singh’s long communist journey had begun in the 1930s a few years after the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh...If by a quirk of history Bhagat Singh were to get a long life and compelled to become a university teacher, we would have perhaps known him as Professor Randhir Singh.” 

Punjab Today proudly brings you these memories of the great professor, chronicled by his daughter, Dr Priyaleen Singh, a conservation architect and an academic in her own right, who is currently based in Delhi. Dr Singh shared these with Punjab Today a few years earlier, and we take a special pleasure in bringing these to you once again, deferring to a great demand from many readers.
 
Lahore nu salaam – Lahore chodd aaya
 
Dr. Priyaleen Singh
 
 
IN ANALYZING CITIES, urban historians and urban designers often glorify the magnificent and the monumental and simplify their understanding of the city into easily represented spatial structures or models that ignore much of the subtlety and significance of everyday experience. These simplified structures of analyses then go on to inform proposals for the design of environments within these cities, often ending up manipulating people and places into patterns that are supposed to make for a more ‘efficient’ human existence. But there is something beyond physical environments that gives value to a place, a value measured in terms more than ‘efficiency’. Cities need to be understood as much with theories and models of spatial understanding as with the ‘lived in’ episodes which hold experiences of our day to day activities and events which result in actual place making. Place and sense of place cannot lend itself to spatial and physical analysis alone, for it is inextricably bound up with all the hopes, meanings and aspirations of people and their lives. There are indeed profound psychological links between people and the places which they live in and experience. Cities many a time get their distinctiveness from this deeply felt involvement with the places by the people who dwell in them. The memory of a place is as much about emotional experience as the physicality of it. For many, such an attachment to a place continues much beyond their period of habitation. 
---------------
Cities need to be understood as much with theories and models of spatial understanding as with the ‘lived in’ episodes which hold experiences of our day to day activities and events which result in actual place making …The memory of a place is as much about emotional experience as the physicality of it. 
---------------
This paper – through a simple account of a college student, active in the students’ movement, who lived in Lahore from 1938 to 1947, a period that was both remarkable and tragic at the same time – seeks to highlight the key events, places and people that continue to form a part of the memory of Lahore more than six decades on. These places in Lahore, as narrated to the author, are not the majestic, cyclopean or iconic structures normally associated with Lahore such as the Lahore Fort, Shalimar gardens or the Anarkali bazaar, but the ordinary and the everyday spots like the Rama Krishna book shop, Kennedy Hall, the Communist party office on Macleod road, the open space in front of Mochi gate or the Gwalmandi thana. But it is against the backdrop of these modest places, which for the narrator were the arena of an extraordinary activity set in an equally extraordinary time where people and events came together, due to which the city of Lahore transcended to another level, acquired the status of a very distinctive city and continues to hold a very special place in the chronicle of the life of the narrator. It was an emotional bonding with the city due to these events and experiences, emphasizing the fact that it is not only the physical expression but human responses that give life and meaning to a city.
 
Here’s how the good professor recalled Lahore in 2011:

"THIS IS ESSENTIALLY an ad hoc and an episodic personal and political account of the period between 1938 and 1947. Memories filter through time and there is blurring and forgetfulness, especially at the age of ninety.  But even after over sixty years some events and places still stand out. 
 
For me it all began in Lahore in 1938 when I returned to the city as a student, sixteen years old, in pursuit of studies. Having lived in Lahore in my childhood, the city for me was always associated with the heroic figure of Bhagat Singh. A morning is still vividly etched on my mind, the morning after he and his comrades were hanged. As a nine year old I was detained, briefly, while passing in front of the Lahore Central Jail on my way to the Borstal primary school in the neighborhood. Amidst the defiant cries of ‘Inquilab zindabad’ was born a dream which, I believe, in some form or another has always stayed with me. Years later I was to spend a few months, among the happiest of my life, in the ‘Terrorist Ward’ of this very prison in Lahore with some of the surviving comrades of Bhagat Singh - Kishori Lal and others – who had in the meantime joined the Communist Party.    

I again came to Lahore in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, for my higher studies at the Punjab University there. My father, a remarkable man in his own mixed sort of way – a brilliant physician and surgeon, profoundly religious and puritanical, with a rather deadly combination of Gandhi and Lenin in his head – sensing the turbulence inside me, his only son, had advised: ‘Do anything out there but don’t join some illegal organisation’.  Predictably that was the first thing I did on reaching Lahore. Even as I was searching for it, the Communist Party found me. There was a certain pride in being a communist. 
---------------
  My father, a brilliant physician and surgeon, profoundly religious and puritanical – sensing the turbulence inside me, his only son – had advised: ‘Do anything out there but don’t join some illegal organisation’. Predictably that was the first thing I did on reaching Lahore. 
---------------
One almost inevitably moved left, to revolutionary socialism which was then gathering unto itself, in Punjab and elsewhere, all the streams of modern India’s revolutionary tradition - the legendary survivors of Kartar Singh Sarabha’s Ghadarite uprising, old revolutionaries in exile or jails of India and the Andamans, comrades of Bhagat Singh, leaders and activists of the peasant and working class movements, radical young students, poets, artists, intellectuals and many more.  And Lahore was the city to be in.

My first impression on arrival in Lahore was its openness, Lahore being an open city in more ways than one. The open and endless horizon spanned wide as I cycled daily from my house in Model town to the Mall road on my way to and fro from the university.  The Canal road was another route frequented by many of us and was very pleasant to walk and cycle on.  Distances were short even though new parts of Lahore were expanding beyond the walled city.  Model town had a newness to it even as it sat surrounded by expanses of agricultural fields and a wilderness which extended all the way beyond the FC college where I was to study later. Our house at D-132, Model Town was very spaciously laid out, open on three sides with a grove of narangi and other fruit trees which gave us an endless supply of fruit to last us through the season.   
---------------
Lahore was open in terms other than the spatial … it was above all a students’ city…The Rama Krishna Book Store near the Commercial Building was another landmark I remember…The Coffee House in the neighborhood was another adda for our discussions and debates. 
---------------
Lahore was open in terms other than the spatial and had a very vibrant public culture. The city had emerged as a centre of education and politics where its robust liberalism did not shy away from actively supporting our communist causes, integral to our students’ movement at the time.  It was above all a students’ city and our activities were essentially centred around the freedom struggle. As a student movement, our program was anti-imperialist in character.  Students’ politics crossed all gender divides with the Fatehchand College for Women having a very active unit of the Lahore Students Union.  

The Commercial building near Punjab University, located on one end of the Mall road, housed the office of the Lahore Students Union of which I was soon the secretary. The Rama Krishna Book Store near the Commercial Building was another landmark I remember. There was also a shed or khokha outside the book shop where rare, radical and prohibited literature and second hand books were available. The Coffee House in the neighborhood was another adda for our discussions and debates.  

My initial years of study were at the Sikh National College, where I got actively involved in the students movement. The college at the time was still being built on the outskirts of Lahore. In a short span of time, the college unit became the most powerful unit of the students’ movement in the city. Torchlight processions from Sikh National College to the city were a common occurrence. Its principal was Niranjan Singh, brother of Master Tara Singh, the Akali leader. He was a Nationalist and a Gandhian and was sympathetic to our movement. The Akali affiliated  governing body of the college got worried about our growing influence and was pressing the principal to expel me, which he didn’t want to. To avoid any further embarrassment to him and as a compromise, it was decided that I shift from Sikh National College to a college of my choice.  I chose Forman Christian College. A deputation of teachers of Sikh National College went and met the principal of FC college, SK Datta, who had represented the Christians in one of the Round Table conferences in London, asking him to accept me. He looked at my excellent academic record and agreed. About this time, Major Short, who was a liaison man between the Sikhs and the Army, offered me a commission in the Army to which my immediate response was - ‘I was not born to serve British imperialism’.
 --------------
The principal of my college, the Sikh National College, was Niranjan Singh, brother of Master Tara Singh, the Akali leader. A Nationalist and a Gandhian, he was sympathetic to our movement but the Akali affiliated governing body of the college was worried about our growing influence and was pressing the principal to expel me.
--------------
Of course, my association with the Sikh National College continued. Even as I was banned from entering it, I remember standing on the water canals and furrows of the fields surrounding the college and addressing crowds of students from there. 

I have fond memories of my teachers at the university, J.N.Khosla and P.N.Kirpal in particular, who supported us financially and otherwise in our students’ movement. The former was literally responsible for my later career as a university teacher. After my release from prison, I was put under the usual restrictions. He persuaded me to use this period to complete my formal education and even took the risk of giving me attendance certificate for the period that I was in prison to enable me to sit for my exams for Masters Degree. This degree came in handy when I became a teacher at Delhi, post partition. Even otherwise, there was a very close bonding between students and teachers which continued at the FC College.  It was typical of the time that Principal SK Datta of FC College refused to give permission to the police to enter the college campus and harass or arrest us. Another teacher whom I remember was Victor Kiernen, who later became famous as a Marxist historian. A member of the British Communist Party, he came straight from Cambridge to Lahore and became our teacher in Sikh National College.  The rules of a banned organization like the Communist Party being what they were, it was left to us to discover his identity as a fellow communist on our own. Victor Kiernen’s residence across the premises of Sikh National College became both the centre of our activities and a storehouse for the banners, posters and material for torch light processions. 

Another person I remember most was Eric Cyprian who was my teacher in FC College and became a whole timer of the party at the same time as I did.  He was a great raconteur and had a great sense of humor, making him an extremely popular figure. We looked forward to the weekly meetings with him in the party Commune across the party office on Macleod road. He continued to share a great connection with Lahore and was later friends with the Gohar family. And on meeting Khadija Gohar a few years ago in Delhi, we shared fond memories of him.

The landscape around FC College was also one of large expanses of agricultural land, beyond which there was wilderness. With its extensive groves of wild ber, it was a popular spot for occasional picnics. It had a farmhouse of a family friend and I remember playing hockey in its courtyard. The grounds of FC College, along with this surrounding wilderness, gave us many opportunities to set up a guerilla training camps. When Japan entered the war and its attack on India was imminent, we organized a guerilla training camp in the spacious lawns of FC College. While I had personal and political reservations about it, it was Victor Kiernen who persuaded me to accept the commandership of the camp. The lawns of the FC College and the canal passing by were very useful for training purposes.  
--------------
Another teacher whom I remember was Victor Kiernen, who later became famous as a Marxist historian. A member of the British Communist Party, he came straight from Cambridge to Lahore and became our teacher in Sikh National College. 
-------------- 
There are many other anecdotes of student life of the time. We were a group of 18 including the two ‘nawabzadas,’ Mazhar Ali and Mahmood Ali, nephews of Sir Sikandar Hayat, the Unionist Chief Minister of Punjab. Once when our meeting was on, the police raided us and one of my friends, Surinder Sehgal who had the list on him, literally swallowed it to prevent it from falling in the hands of the police – only to discover later that the police already had more than a complete dossier on each one of us.  

The campus of the FC College was spatially very scattered with several students’ hostels including the Kennedy Hall where I stayed. Teachers also lived on the campus. FC College also had a slot in the time table for religious instruction called the Bible class. But because of the growing influence of our students’ movement and the secular culture of Lahore, these were literally turned into a discussion on current politics and socialism. I still remember Reverend Lucas my tutor on learning that I lived in Model Town, once provocatively asked me if my father was willing to give up his property. ‘I am not the guardian of my father’ was the best response that I could muster at the time.

The global events occupied our mind space as much as the situation in India. After Soviet Union entered the war, we would sit in the living room of Prof Painter, our English teacher, and trace on the map the progress of the war and discuss politics. During this period, I also remember Mochi Gate reverberating with the eloquence of K.M.Ashraf, the famous historian, who came to inaugurate our conference.  
 ---------------
When Japan entered the war and its attack on India was imminent, we organized a guerilla training camp in the spacious lawns of FC College. While I had personal and political reservations about it, it was Victor Kiernen who persuaded me to accept the commandership of the camp. 
---------------
The main centre of activity was the Fazli Hussain Building which was the party office on Macleod Road, one of the more posh areas at the time. But because of its location next to a graveyard, the rental was low enough for the party to afford it. Near Macleod road party office there was a chowk which was our point of entry into the old city. Across the chowk was the party Commune where we gathered at the end of the day for informal discussions. Bradlaugh Hall was another hub of all political activity including ours. I remember being lathi charged outside Bradlaugh Hall many a time when the police dispersed our meetings and demonstrations.  Another landmark of college life was the Ewing Hall at one end of Anarkali, which was the official residence of post graduate students of FC College.  It was a single storey structure and provided paying guest facilities to new students who could not be accommodated in the college hostel.  Bhagwan Singh’s shop at the other end of Anarkali was another popular place where lassi was measured and sold by the yard.   

Life as a student and a political activist had its small pleasures as well. The culinary highlight was the occasional visit as a guest to the medical college hostel, which had the reputation of serving delicious meals at reasonable rates. We also frequented the shop near the Islamia College for its shami kebabs. We regularly attended the mushairas at Islamia College and after the mushaira, we used to make a beeline for the shami kebabs. Cultural life was also closely linked with political activity. The Lawrence Gardens had a stage for open air theatre and was a regular place for both meetings and street theatre. I remember watching many performances by IPTA (Indian Peoples Theatre Association) there. Cinema of the period was also charged with politics. As students, we mostly frequented the cinema hall on Macleod Road to watch the Charlie Chaplin classics (The Gold Rush, Modern Times etc.) and the radical films on the Russian and Mexican revolution (Zapata etc.). That was the kind of culture that young people lived on those days. We would buy the twenty paisa tickets and sit in the front rows with a packet of Peak Frians biscuits as the ultimate luxury, while the rich and the affluent amongst us would sit in the two rupees seats.
---------------
We were a group of 18 including the two ‘nawabzadas,’ Mazhar Ali and Mahmood Ali, nephews of Sir Sikandar Hayat, the Unionist Chief Minister of Punjab. 
---------------
The inner city by this time was already growing into a slum and what perhaps had been a place of privilege a few centuries ago today housed the economically poorer sections of society. And typical of the place was Gwalmandi Thana where I spent the first night of my arrest. The next day I was transported to Kasoor jail for my trial where I was charged with obstructing the government’s war efforts.  (It was ‘the Peoples war’ period !). After that horrific night at the Gwalmandi Thana, which was truly the worst night of my life, Kasoor jail almost seemed like freedom. I spent a total of one year in jail. At Kasoor jail, I was entitled to B class facilities, but I chose to share C class facilities with two of my peasant comrades. At the end of three months, they were transferred to Multan while I was sent to the Lahore Central jail. Walking from the Lahore railway station to the jail, I reached Lahore Central Jail late in the evening. When the jailor instructed the warder to lodge me in the ‘Bomb case ahata’ (the terrorist ward), it was among the happiest words I ever heard in my life as it meant sharing the company of Bhagat Singh’s comrades, who were serving their life terms.
---------------
Typical of the place was Gwalmandi Thana where I spent the first night of my arrest. The next day I was transported to Kasoor jail…In Lahore Central Jail, the jailor instructed the warder to lodge me in the ‘Bomb case ahata.’ These were the happiest words I ever heard in my life as it meant sharing the company of Bhagat Singh’s comrades, who were serving their life terms.
---------------
Student and party activities continued into 1947 when I used to cycle down from the house in Model town, bypassing the Mozang area, to the party office where we would organize ourselves into squads and go into the old city to carry our politics to the people. Being a regular traveler on this route, I struck many a friendship with the owners of small shanty shops which were near the bridge on the canal on the way to Model Town. Mozang by now was teeming with refugees from East Punjab with tales of looting, humiliation and death.  In June of 1947, the party instructed me to change my route as it was not considered safe to pass by the Mozang area. As I changed my route and said goodbye to the shop owners, I never thought I would not travel this road ever again.
------------
I finally left Lahore in September 1947, and came to Mehrauli, on the outskirts of Delhi, which by this time, was flooded with refugees. I had all along believed I would return to Lahore. 
------------
I shifted to the cantonment and lived in the outhouse of the bungalow of an uncle of mine who was then the Director Medical Services Navy. Times changed rapidly and soon any kind of travel for me became unsafe. The Party finally asked me to leave Lahore for the time being. Till the end I wanted to leave my cycle, which was a prized possession, in the Model Town house, hoping to retrieve it on my return. But my uncle in the cantonment, who was better informed of events unfolding around, kept fobbing me off with false promises. I finally left Lahore in September 1947 in an army convoy provided to the family of my uncle. Days of travel finally brought me to Mehrauli, on the outskirts of Delhi. Delhi, by this time, was flooded with refugees and further entry of refugees was banned.  I had all along believed I would return to Lahore. It, however, soon became clear that there was no returning to Lahore except as a citizen of another country. It was time to say my farewell to Lahore.

(This article is based on a paper presented at a conference on "Portrait of Lahore: Capital city of the Punjab,” organised by the Trust for History Art and Architecture of Pakistan.)
 
 
 
  
Memory Recall: Teachers' Union activist Yashpal; Prof Birender Pal Singh, Professor Emeritus, Punjabi University, Patiala; Prof Randhir Singh; Kuldeep Singh, Assistant Professor, Punjabi University; Charanjit Singh, Deputy Director, Punjab Pollution Control Board; Kashmir Singh Godaiya, activist of CPI; and Kanwar Manjit Singh, editor-in-chief, Punjab Today.
 
 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________
Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

THE LOOT THAT RAJASTHAN COMMITTED – An insult bigger than Bollywood’s Padmawati!  

 

Tribune's Harish Khare shatters the editorial silence over Caravan reportage  

 

THE DANGER OF RENAMING A COLLEGE 

 

ARNAB GOSWAMI WATCHES PADMAWATI, KARNI SENA IS HAPPIEST


DESH CHORR DO – VANDE MATARAM MAN TELLS SIKH LEADER TO LEAVE COUNTRY

 

DYAL SINGH COLLEGE TO VANDE MATARAM MAHAVIDYALAYA - A DESIGN NEFARIOUS?

 

HONESTY CERTIFICATE TO MAJITHIA TRIGGERS CRISIS IN TRIBUNE 


THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

 

WAS IT MEANT FOR TRUMP? OR US?  – Bush, Obama said this on Diwali

CHALO, PATAAKE CHALAYEN – CM Amarinder Singh & Parkash Singh Badal Jee

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

ELECTION COMMISSION - YOU FAILED TO CONVINCE. TRY AGAIN.

THIS IS WHY ELECTION COMMISSION DID NOT ANNOUNCE GUJARAT POLL DATES – Decoding the mystery 

BJP TO EDUCATE FARMERS ABOUT AGRI & RELIGION LINK – Will tell them Modi did so much 

AYE BHAI, BINA DEKHE CHALO –  Walking with the blind in Chandigarh

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

OPEN SALE AT GNDU – Have Rs 25,000? Get your compartment cleared. Rs 50,000 for two subjects

SUCHA SINGH LANGAH : KAMAAL JAARI HAI... Sucha Singh Langah wins, even in his darkest moments

ABEY TU BAHAR NIKAL, CHOWK MEIN AA   The 10-yard-radius protest

PATIALA, VIA PANCHKULA. SOON REACHING YOUR CITY. HAIL DEMOCRACY! Halaat kharaab nahi hone chahiye!

PEHLU KHAN CASE   Will Govt Now Compensate The Magnificent Six? The Nation Needs to Know

MR HOME MINISTER, WILL YOU BE VISITING FAROOQ AHMAD DAR'S HOUSE? Deconstructing Modi's narrative

THE RYAN DEBATE: HOW INDIA MISSED THE GREAT CCTV ANGLE?  Not covered by cctv, so not covered by tv either

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF EXTENSION IN AGE OF RETIREMENT  What’s wrong with retirement age policy?

THE GORAKHPUR DEAD SPEAK TO PUNJAB  From Patiala to Gorakhpur, the tale of the dead

WE WILL KILL 40-50  Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS  Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

LET'S KILL PAASH  Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu on the importance of Paash

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace.

TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHUThis is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

 




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