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Posted at: Aug 13, 2017, 1:59 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2017, 10:17 PM (IST)

40 volumes on Punjab history procured from Pak

Manpreet Badal’s persistance pays off on treasure trove of 1935-1947 documents
40 volumes on Punjab history procured from Pak
Manpreet Singh Badal with the 1935-1947 documents.

Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12

It has taken years of persuasion and even some ‘track 2’ diplomacy to get hold of 40 valuable volumes from Pakistan on Punjab’s political, social and economic history from 1935 to 1947.

Thanks to the efforts of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, the incumbency list of the Punjab Provincial Assembly from 1935 to 1947 and transcripts of all debates in the Assembly during those 12 years are finally here.

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The papers mention not just the names of the members of the Assembly, but also the unique problems of each of the 175 constituencies — from Multan to Gurgaon, and the language spoken in each part.

The 40 thick volumes will soon adorn the libraries of both the Punjab and Haryana Vidhan Sabhas. The transcripts of the debates are in English, with detailed information on the members. The papers also contain historical anecdotes about the ruling parties of the time — Congress, Muslim League, Unionist Party, Akali Dal and Khalsa National Board, Hindu Election Board and Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam.

For the past five years, Manpreet Badal, an ardent student of British Indian history, had been fervently pursuing with the Government of Pakistan Punjab to get copies of transcripts. “I have a keen interest in history, especially events relating to the Partition of India. These documents reveal so much about the developments and any research is incomplete without getting access to these. Thus, I pursued it relentlessly,” he said.

When officially the copies were denied to him, he didn’t waste much time in initiating ‘track 2’ diplomacy. A close relative of a key functionary of the Pakistan Punjab legislature, based in London, was roped in to help get these important historical documents.

When the copies were ready, the next big challenge was getting these documents across the border. Manpreet Badal says “friends” on both sides helped in transferring the documents from Lahore to Amritsar, with a small distance being traversed each day to avoid any suspicion.

Though these documents adorn a corner in his personal library now, Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana KP, who got wind of these documents being in possession of Badal, approached him. “I learnt that this important slice of Punjab’s political history is finally available. I met Badal a few days ago, and he has agreed to donate copies to the Vidhan Sabha library,” the Punjab Speaker said.

Manpreet Badal says that he will also be donating copies of these 40 volumes to Haryana, besides Panjab University and the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration (MGSIPA).

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