Monday, July 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The Punjabi spirit: political leadership behind separatist tendencies

In response to my article ‘The vitality and erosion of Punjabi spirit’, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann has raised three points (July 18). First, he prefers to use “Punjabi nationalism” rather than “Punjabiyat”. There is no incompatibility between the two, though I should prefer the latter as the word nationalism has certain negative features.

Secondly, Mr Mann holds the view that the Sikh leadership was opposed to the partition of Punjab. I fear that is not the case! On the contrary, it was the Sikh pressure that impelled the Congress and the British Government to partition Punjab. In this connection, Giani Kartar Singh, Baldev Singh, Master Tara Singh and the Maharaja of Patiala played a vital role. This is clear from Nicholas Mansergh’s “Transfer of Power” volumes and Dr Kirpal Singh’s “Documents on the Partition of Punjab.”

Jinnah had the sinister design of swallowing up the whole of Punjab. By his Direct Action strategy in Punjab he succeeded in toppling the Khizr government. To ward off this impending danger of losing the entire province, the Congress and Sikh leadership thought it prudent to split Punjab, and to save whatever they could in the conditioning circumstances. I think the Indian political leadership stood to the occasion to meet a difficult situation. Vallabbhai Patel showed remarkable statesmanship at the critical hour, and despite Gandhi’s strong opposition, he made the Congress Working Committee pass a resolution in early March 1947 urging the British government to partition Punjab. Behind the scene, the roles of Sir Penderal Moon and Major Short were highly important in support of the Sikhs.


Thirdly, Mr Mann maintains that the Punjab spirit broke down after the Ranjit Singh era. Though there was initially a setback, but the Punjabis stood up, and continued to maintain communal harmony which was exemplified by the working of the Unionist Party in Punjab for about two decades since the early 20s of the last century. This is not to deny certain aberrations, but on the whole the Punjabi spirit remained intact until the Muslim League by its virulent communal propaganda vitiated the entire political atmosphere and created a wide gulf between the communities. Those who were eye-witnesses to these fast moving developments in Punjab will testify to it from their own recollection, and I am confident that there may be quite a large number of them still living in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

Finally, the present separatist tendencies prevailing in Punjab owe their rise and accentuation not so much as Mr Mann says to the Sikhs alone for “holding the baby of Punjab nationalism”, but both to the Hindu and Sikh political leadership that relegated in the background the age-old valuable Punjabi tradition of inter-communal partnership due to their narrow, partisan and short-sighted interests for which we are paying today a heavy price.

V.N. DATTA, New Delhi

Punjabi farmer & drought

The Punjabi farmer has always risen to the occasion and is the first to come to the assistance of every citizen and the country be it in times of war, internal disturbances or natural calamities. The spirited Punjabi woman has more often than not cooked food and delivered it to soldiers in forward trenches in the battle as also to families in severe flood conditions when all govt machinery had failed.

Today despite the critical condition in which he finds himself, the Punjabi farmer has not asked for our help and is trying to fight the battle on his own. I appeal to all citizens to come forward to show our appreciation, love and concern during this difficult period of the nation’s bread provider. May we all be well aware that Punjab’s economy is dependent on his well-being. I as an individual offer to have my domestic electricity connection disconnected for a month so that electricity can be diverted for irrigation and also to pay to the P.S.E.B one month’s average electricity bill to compensate it for the loss incurred in providing it free to farmers.

May God, give us the awareness of sharing.

Lt. Col S.S. DHALIWAL (retd), Patiala

Unwarranted ire

Apropos of the ire expressed in their letters by Indar Pal Singh, C.L. Arora and Er Rajinder Singh Jassal (July 22) on my comments on the poem “Aj aakhaan Waris Shah noon” (July 15), with all due respect to them, I want to say: “Voh dushmani sey dekhtey hain dekhtey to hain/Main khush rahoon ke hoon to kisi ki nigaah mein.”

There was nothing either explicitly derogatory or as an innuendo against the personality of Amrita Pritam. As is my wont, I dealt with the mistakes in some verses very politely. There is no doubt that she is regarded as a great poet. However, every poem of a great poet does not become his or her masterpiece simply because a large number of people, unmindful of the mistakes therein, like it. No work of any poet is sacrosanct.

Allama Iqbal was a great poet. In his book “Iqbal Ki Khaamiyaan”, Josh Malsiani pointed out a large number of mistakes in Allama’s verses. When he personally presented the book to Iqbal, instead of showing any displeasure he thanked the critic and promised to avoid those mistakes in future. A fair and unbiased appraisal of a poetic work is not tantamount to disparaging of its author.

Those who want to know the agony and trauma of the people during the Partition, should read Manto’s “Thanda gosht”, “Khol do” and “Tobah Tek Singh”, Altaaf Mushhadi’s poem “Mughvayah” (abducted woman) and the odes written by a number of famous poets on the hemistich “Jab insaanon key dil badley to insaanon pe kya guzri.”

About the verses couched in an incorrect language without any poetic measure, I am reminded of a satirical couplet: “Tarz-e-nau ki shaairi khaatoon-e-maghrib ki tarah/Tor kar paabandiyaan sab baraihna-tan ho gai” (“Baraihna-tan” means with naked body).



BJP’s Delhi bandh

In the online edition of The Tribune I saw a picture of motor-cycle riding thugs in the corridors of the Connaught Place who purported to “enforce” the bandh organised by the BJP in Delhi. Exactly what authority did they have to “enforce’ anything on anybody?

Had the traders wanted to protest in sympathy with the BJP about the lack of even basic civic facilities in Delhi after half a century of India’s Independence, they would have voluntarily downed shutters and joined the protesters. The presence of these “enforcers shows that politics in India is not democracy but “democrazy” and full of “goondas”in every party.

Had these thugs tried the same tactics in London, the riot police would have been out in force to teach them a salutary lesson. Similar tactics in Paris and they would be nursing their wounds from the batons of the gendarmes. However, in lawless Delhi does anybody care? Certainly not the politicians!


Shifting of college

This refers to the news item “Shifting of college triggers protests” (July 23) involving my statement. I am pained to go through that. In fact, I never met any of your correspondents formally to make any statement of this nature.

I disassociate with all what has been attributed to me in the news item without any further explanation. Further, I tender my heartiest apologies to any person/institution for any harassment caused due to the news item.

Dr N.K. KALIA, Palampur


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