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Posted at: Apr 16, 2019, 7:13 AM; last updated: Apr 16, 2019, 7:13 AM (IST)

English edition of banned poem on Jallianwala massacre unveiled

Punjabi writer Nanak Singh’s book is firsthand account of the tragedy
English edition of banned poem on Jallianwala massacre unveiled
Nanak Singh’s grandson Navdeep Suri, Cabinet minister Manpreet Badal and other dignitaries during the book release at GNDU in Amritsar.

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 15

The English edition of poetry book ‘Khooni Vaisakhi’ was unveiled at Guru Nanak Dev University here on Monday. Noted Punjabi writer Nanak Singh’s book is based on his firsthand account of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Cabinet minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who was the chief guest for the event, said: “There were some influential Indian families which played dubious role and shared bonhomie with the perpetrators of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.”

Just 22 then, Nanak Singh was present at the Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919. As the British troops opened fire on the people protesting against the Rowlatt Act — to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew — killing hundreds, Nanak Singh fainted and was piled up among the corpses.

He penned down his traumatic experience in a Punjabi poetry book that describes the political events in the run-up to the massacre and its immediate aftermath. This compilation of the scathing critique of the British Raj was banned after its publication in 1920 and all copies were confiscated and destroyed. He passed away in 1971.

After six decades, the manuscript was traced and translated into English by the author’s grandson and diplomat, Navdeep Suri, who also attended the occasion and later, held a panel discussion over the book with Manpreet Badal, Punjabi commentator HS Bhatia and GNDU history department head Amandeep Kaur.

Suri, Indian envoy to the UAE, viewed that “Khooni Vaisakhi” was a trendsetter in protest poetry as all other doors were closed to express anger then. “It was my maiden attempt to translate the intellectual process of such a magnificent compilation of Punjabi poetry. My ambition was not to sacrifice the sanctity of the content. I kept three things in mind to maintain — fidelity to the original, the grace and the readability,” he said.

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