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There’s a G on my Neck (again): Simran Kaur

May 9, 2014

Guest post by SIMRAN KAUR

Shekhar Gupta is at it again: lacing an insidious agenda with just enough actual facts that even the targets of his vitriol become eager to swallow. Aspiring Indian Journos, this is how a good Sardar Joke—and while you are at it, jibe at the poor, the rural, the unemployed, the mourning—is done, while earning your paycheck yet again as an esteemed Editor-in-Chief, at best with head-in-clouds, at worst, a stake-in-oppression.

Shekhar G’s latest thesis: The rest of the country has moved on but Punjab has become a prisoner of its boisterous old stereotype. It has forgotten its entrepreneurial energy, its competitive spirit and slipped into a complacent, decadent trance of perpetual balle-balle.

His first argument for the thesis of Punjab’s decline: “the Punjabification”…of Punjab. He bemoans that signs and posts are in Punjabi, in Punjab.

The 50s and 60s saw Punjabi Hindus becoming the unique community to denounce their own mother-tongue. Upping the ante, G. ridicules Punjabis who use Gurmukhi, the script developed in the time of the Sikh Gurus. He finds tell-tale signs over Punjab (he notes his fieldwork of actually travelling on the Grand Trunk Road and flying over Punjab by helicopter recently) of the people being un-couth:  signage on Punjabi establishments, in poor English.

You will take a minute figuring out what the “burgars” and “nudles” painted on so many fast-food shops mean, or why Lily is always spelt “Lilly”, whether it be the name of a restaurant in Phagwara or a beauty parlour in Bathinda…If you haven’t figured out already that this, indeed, is Singh’s English.

Brilliant two-birds strike, Shekhar G.

He negates the language of an entire people, while himself no stranger to the historic battle to keep this language alive in post-British Sahib India. On de-colonization in 1947, while Commissions were set up to examine linguistic and cultural boundaries for other Indian states—including Andhra, Karnataka, Maharashtra—Punjab had to launch a civil disobedience movement (again), to receive the same consideration. Demand for recognition of Punjabi was suddenly pegged as questionable: Punjabi Hindus were conniving convinced to distance themselves from Punjabi, and Punjabi Sikhs found themselves accused of asking for a Sikh-majority, Punjabi-speaking state (gasp!). Tens of thousands of Sikhs courted arrest in the late 50s and 60s—in the famed and celebrated way of the 30s and 40s—protesting for language recognition. Why Sikhs, who had repeatedly been given assurances of the protection of their unique identity and homeland—as they gave up their lives in struggles against the British and then opted to stay with Gandhi in India rather than join Pakistan or form their own Country in 1947—are put on the defensive when it comes to ‘Punjabi for Punjab,’ is beyond logical explanation. Other explanations do come to mind.

Secondly, the new Sahib deftly dodges the real questions behind the misspelled Burgers: the real questions around the dire state of education in Punjab. Sure he mentions a few damning statistics. But, this erudite fellow seems to have skipped the overwhelming consensus in the literature (of the English-only variety, G.) that to improve education levels for a developing nation’s children—not for the GD Goenka or Delhi Public Schools that cater to the 1%—the first step is quality education in the mother tongue. Our kids need to learn to think in one language, fully and freely, before they go speaking the language of …well, the other.

But Shekhar G. need not worry about solutions—he has a Problem People to highlight.

Another supporting factor for his thesis is the lazy Punjabi farmer who must be persuaded to toss out his entrepreneurial laziness and move out of the self-destructive wheat/ paddy cycle.

This from the man who has written elsewhere on Indira Gandhi’s brilliance in bringing the Green Revolution to Punjab.

Shekhar G. damns the same Punjabi farmer who was forced into a wheat/paddy (rice) cycle by Madam Gandhi and the Central Government policies that—proving Sikh and Punjabi ‘paranoia’ correct—have sucked dry the land, once of plenty.

Sitting in his air-conditioned office, G. seems to have missed the last decade of documentation around farmer suicides in Punjab. Or, more chillingly, his point is that these kisaans are dying of laziness? Wonder why “bored” kids, who cut school and claim there is “nothing to do, yaar,” don’t just kill themselves for fun, 100 in one village, nay, Delhi gated colony, at a time? Suicides and in fact multiple suicides in many rural families are documented by schools like Harvard, Columbia, and many other English-speaking institutions, Mr. G!

In any case, Mr. G then gets to his usual point about Punjab’s well-deserved peace dividend after a bloody decade stolen by terror.

The blue-starry eyed man is all praise for the terror unleashed under Indira Gandhi, a great leader as he has reminded us in the past, repeatedly. He reminisces on her genocidal “mistakes” during her last year in another piece:

…these mistakes were not rooted in the paranoia and insecurities of her second phase, but in the heart of a rejuvenated leader who would not allow her or her nation’s authority to be taken lightly. That it ended so tragically with her insistence that her Sikh bodyguards could not be removed is such a fitting tribute to her. Even in her death she ensured that at least one point on which historians would never disagree is that she was, ultimately, a secular, true-blue Indian patriot.

And Shekar G has elsewhere bemoaned how Army men—with their impeccable English and table manners of course—who led the attack on the Darbar Sahib, the “Golden Temple,” the Vatican of the Sikhs, (and 42 other gurudwaras on a religious holiday to target large amounts of pilgrims) have not been thanked enough for their killings:

 Dayal, after spending nearly a quarter century in relative anonymity imposed on all the key figures involved in Bluestar, passed away unsung on January 29 this year. Nobody seemed to have remembered to even write a footnote to the fading away of one of the greatest Indian soldiers ever. 

When G. has such serious failings to worry about, why think of the near 50,000 farmer suicides that his paper regularly underplays?

Much less then countless Sikh deaths at the hands of terrorist police and army officials, which he simply sees as the Punjab’s “dark days.”

Punjab should have risen, a Phoenix, after the dark period in which the brave Shekar G. remembers once being the only passenger in the so-called Flying Mail to Delhi, which ran at 15 km an hour because of the fear of bombs.

Never mind the illegal cremations; custodial rapes; impunity and promotions for all killer cops and no acknowledgement, forget accountability from New Delhi. Punjabi Sikhs should just have risen one morning, forgotten their dead and ‘disappeared’ sons and daughters, made disappear the decades old countless unaddressed socio, economic, and political demands and started speaking the Queen’s English, to make Shekhar G. more proud of the land he grew up in.

[Punjab] has lapsed, instead, into a self-destructive chill.

Yes, G., there is a chill in Punjab. It’s deathly cold. But this wasn’t a lapse. This is the result of well-laid plans. And like Native Americans in US, Punjabi Sikhs today are also themselves participants in the policies of destruction highlighted by acts such as Madam G’s.

As in other post-conflict areas, drugs are all the rage. And, you might have read about the drug nexus that is assiduously monitored and run by local Punjab police and politicians, disbursing the dirty drugs throughout Punjab’s poorer youth and the cleaner stuff to the richer kids in Chandigarh and Delhi, who snort but still speak perfect JNU English?

Don’t get me wrong: Punjab has serious problems. One of them is ill-wishers like Shekhar G. In a concerted effort, he reminds Sikhs, again and again, and with his editorial flair, that a lesson was taught in the 80s and 90s, and never dare raise your voices again or ask about the roots of your problems. And he threatens softly…the targets know it’s a threat, others only see nice prose.

 … but if you have Sikh friends, as all of us do, you’d know one thing about them: they wear their “minority” status most lightly. It may be their confidence, self-assurance, or maybe just the belief in Guru Gobind Singh’s invocation of the principle of one Sikh being as good as “sawa lakh” (1.25 lakh) others that you rarely find a Sikh talking like a victim. That, probably, is also the reason why the community has forgotten 15 years of terror and violence, and forgiven us, the rest of the 98.5 per cent, particularly the residents of Delhi, for the massacres of 1984 that put Gujarat of 2002 in shade, and moved on.

G. does this for a living. I have to get back to work.

So, we’ll forego commentary on the rest of his “airplane” article. But if you must, read for his selective telling of the Punjabi immigrant story. Of course he does not mention the vibrant diasporic communities and rather reduces the immigration story to:

 Young Punjabis today … want to escape and run low-level services overseas or fill up European jails as illegals.

Maybe note here, as elsewhere, his disdain for the blue-collar workers. For the Aam Aadmi.

Yes, note that he does in fact give one Punjabi Sikh aam aadmi, Bhagwant Mann, kudos:

“He is not a mere clown”—high praise from G!—while of course leaves out the many other Punjabi activists, thinkers, writers, singers, poets, and community workers alive and well in today’s Punjab,who are fighting the odds, on the ground and with love in their hearts. They don’t put out billboards announcing their dedication, Mr. G., but then, even if they did, you might miss it, on your cursory drive on the national highway or flight over our heads.

Yes, Mr. Gupta, Punjab is chilled. Killing a generation of us and never addressing the underlying inequities would do that to any community. Having you remind us of that and reinforce the silence around the killings would do that too.

Your shoe on our neck might not make us yell in perfect English. O, but, we are yelling.

Sometimes, you should rejoice, we release our pain by building airplanes on our rooftops, and if we are fortunate enough, by getting in an actual one and flying far away from you. But enough of us live and breathe right around you to recognize what lies beneath your sheep’s clothing.

Simran Kaur is an activist, accountant, reader, mother, and Punjabi, who spends her time between Moga and Canada.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Subash permalink
    May 9, 2014 8:30 PM

    Nice retort to that pompous, preachy, editor who thinks his point view is superior and wants to earn some kind of a Padma award or maybe he already has one.

  2. May 9, 2014 8:30 PM

    I agree with the author regarding Shekhar Gupta’s (and the Indian state’s) hegemonic attitude towards non-Hindi languages, and the appalling reduction of justice for the Sikh massacres and the victims of the the insurgency to petty politicking.

    But there is an economic reality, and it is that Punjab’s economy (in relative terms to other states) has been suffering, and its agricultural growth faces ecological and competitive challenges. Jat(t) attitudes towards Dalits remain extremely oppressive, like those in Haryana and West UP. All this needs to be given serious thought.

  3. Sankar Kumar Das. permalink
    May 9, 2014 9:19 PM

    Simran Kaur”s article is really heart touching and reminding us again the shocking stories of 1980-90s, specially which happened aftermath of murder of Indira Gandhi. Killing of Indira Gandhi was no doubt a condemnable one, but how it can be forgotten that much debated and Controversial person Bhindrawal,himself was initially a Congressman, who shifted to other side, to take full control of Swarna Mandir through his brutal Forces, and killed loyal efficient sikh police officer and created a situation of ” Operation Blue star” to apprehend the culprit, and thus hurt the sentiments of our Sikh Communities, amongst whom someone took revenge against her for operation blue star. Mentionable that during Janata Dal’s rule, 2nd Time operation Blue Star (or something like that) took place to wash out terrorists from the Swarna Mandir’s area under the guidance of the then Sikh Chief Minister of Punjab, (who later on accepted the punishments of policing shoes at the gate of Swarna Mandir), but that Military Operation did not flare-up uncontrollable sikh sentiments, as happened during Indira Gandhi’s regime. So this incidence itself shows that there were certainly a mistake took place during Indira Gandhi’s regime due to which sikh youths were allieniated from mainstream of youths of Indians,for a temporary period. However, indiscriminate killing of Sikhs and torture upon them after killing of Indira Gandhi cannot be justified under any pretax, since all sikhs were never responsible for killing of our Prime Minister. And more serious matter is that culprits of rioting upon sikhs during 1984, have not been punished till today. Why it is so ? Is our intelligent forces are so weak or inefficient that they cannot identify a single person who had done henieous crime upon sikhs during that time ? Or, are these persons (murderers) above the law since they are the members of Congress Party ? Rioters upon any community, be he the members of any big party or small party or any organisation, cannot be pardoned, under any pretex, Be it the affairs of 1984-sikh riots or of 2002’s Gujrat riots should have been punished long ago to establish India is a country of Rule of Law, even if we keep idological questions aside ? Will those two big political parties Congress and BJP agree to it ? I abstain from discussing other points of Simran Kaur, as the comments will be lengthy if I do so.

  4. Vipin Sehgal permalink
    May 9, 2014 11:15 PM

    Although I have not read Shekhar Gupta’s article, Simran Kaur’s comment “The 50s and 60s saw Punjabi Hindus becoming the unique community to denounce their own mother-tongue.” compelled me to write. I completely agree with the comment, and the unspoken tragedy behind the words. British were the first to divide Punjabi’s among Muslims and Hindus, culminating in the barbarous partition. Even today when I run into Pakistani Piunjabis in the diaspora, as soon as they find out I am an Indian Punjabi, invariably the lament is “Couldn’t they have found some other part to partition”.
    Back to the point of denounciation of the mother tongue, it too was a direct result of the Congress Party creating a divide among Sikh and Hindu Punjabis, in the short sighted, selfish interests of Vote Bank politics. If I remember correctly, there was the demand for a Punjabi Suba in the air, just like Bhindrawale later, and the denounciation was to statistically try to defeat the Suba demand.
    The result of these shenanigans is that today Baisakhi has become the Sikh New Year, not the Punjabi New Year that it is, for all Christian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu Punjabis alike. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  5. Pritam Singh permalink
    May 10, 2014 2:31 AM

    What Simran Kaur has brilliantly and powerfully rebutted is not only Sekhar Gupta but a mode of thought that he represents. Compared with other representations of that mode of thought, his representation may be cruder on some points and more sophisticated on some others. This mode of thought views the Sikhs as an irritant in not immersing themselves completely, silently and willingly into the national mainstream whether that mainstream is seen secular Indian nationalism or Hindu nationalism. So these irritants have to be either made fun of (sardar ji jokes) or imprisoned (Akalis struggling for Punjabi speaking state) or killed in ‘encounters’ (the militants). This mode of thought is outraged at the suggestion that the project of constructing ‘one unified Indian nation’ is flawed, that there are multiple nationalism in India who are emerging, despite all attempts to suppress them ideologically or militarily, in different regions of India from Assam to Tamil Nadu. All attempts of ‘ national’ media outlets such as S Gupta’s to distort, lampoon and kill these emerging regional identities, cultures and nationalism would now be interrogated, rebuffed and repulsed as Simran has done in this instance for the Sikhs, Punjabi language and Punjab.

  6. Somnath permalink
    May 10, 2014 10:03 AM

    An astonishing article of “Sikh” victimhood, narrated through the prism of second rate pop sociology peddled by shekhar Gupta. The latter is perhaps to be expected, but a narrative of victimhood?! On behalf of Sikhs?! Seriously?

    The author perhaps missed the elementary facts – after Parsis, Sikhs are are richest religious denomination in India. Whether it is business, government or academia – Sikh representation is vastly disproportionate to its share of population. last but not the least, punjabi is the leitmotif of popular indian culture today – in India as well as outside.

    To try and extrapolate some sort of “discrimination” from such a background is really something!

    • May 18, 2014 5:05 PM

      You’re relying on faulty logic here. Being visible and successful in certain ways does not negate the possibility that systematic discrimination is indeed taking place, for which there is plenty of evidence, some of which Simran Kaur alludes to. The two things do not cancel each other out.

      • Pritam Singh permalink
        May 18, 2014 8:04 PM

        Very apt comment by sschaudhary

  7. Jaspal Singh Sidhu permalink
    May 10, 2014 12:34 PM

    Intense and unfathomable pain of Punjab and that of the Sikhs flow through the write-up of Simran. And it is consolable that some people are there to delve deep into layers of bitterness and terse emotions lying suppressed within the Sikh mind.
    And, aptly Sekhar Gputa is among those ‘Aspiring Indian Journos’ who astronomical rise could hardly be fitted into a story of a talented person deserving to reach the pinnacles journalism. Rather, G represents a case of career maneuvering with propensity to use and abuse all non-professional inducements that come in the way.I had an opportunity to know him from from close quarters as we, both, covered together some events in rural Punjab including the hooch-tragedy of Kalianwali in Haryana, bordering Bhatinda district in 1978 for Indian Express when we were cub reporters.
    Sekhar Gupta pointing a finger at the Punjab people– obviously G is referring to the Sikhs– that they have lost ‘entrepreneurial energy….. competitive spirit and have fallen into decadent trance of balle-balle’.In fact, those preaching from the pulpit rarely see through the facts that backbone of the Punjab people was virtually broken and their energy was sapped,rendered them disillusioned and alienated during several years of State Terrorism unleashed in the name of preserving Unity and Integrity of the country.It was an attempt to smash and smother the Punjabi Identity and cravings for distinctness among the Sikhs to steamroll them into ‘ mainstream’ –a grist for a unified Nation-State based on 19th century Western model. And, Sekhar Gupta and his ilk have been the opinion leaders for that Indian State sponsored exercise.
    How can a Punjabi like Sekhar Gupta understand the present agony of Punjab where the state repression has left the younger generation totally bamboozled about their future; about their place in India and the smashing of their dreams left them disillusioned which drove them into the trap of drugs. And smuggler enjoying political patronage has spread net deep into the Punjabi society.
    Actually.rootless of a section of Punjabi began from days of Lala Lajpat Rai, when Congress leaders like him rejected Punjabi language and started advocating Hindi/ Sanskrit as part of their political opposition to the Muslim majority in joint Punjab in 1920s and Lala Lajpat Rai was the first to demand division of erstwhile Punjab on communal lines and wrote a series of articles to that effect in the Tribune in 1924. And, naturally with a long history behind it , sign-boards in Gurmukhi script in Punjab, could be perturbing scenario for Mr G.
    But, observations of Mr G are nothing more than a superficial brag in service of political elite.

    • Somnath permalink
      May 10, 2014 5:51 PM

      I hold no brief for shekhar Gupta, but seriously you think that the Sikhs are an “oppressed” lot? Really? Let me see.

      The PM of this country for the last 10 years has been a Sikh. Ok, he is a puppet (of a Roman Catholic), so lets move on. The country’s exonomic policy czar has been a sikh for the last 10 years. The Chief of Army Staff is a Sikh, the head of the country’s strategic forces command is a Sikh. The last head of IB was a Sikh. I can count at least half a dozen Sikhs in the list of the top 50 richest Indians.

      All this evidence if “oppression”?! The narrative of the “failed” always searches for alibis.

      • Aditya Nigam permalink*
        May 11, 2014 9:02 AM

        Somnath, this is the very last time we have passed a comment from you. The problem is not with the substance but with your sneering tone. You can do this on any other forum that allows you to do so.

      • M Singh permalink
        May 14, 2014 1:59 AM

        Somnath, you may very well be the Indian counterpart to the American who says, “Racism and discrimination are a thing of the past, a black man is now President!” Very ignorant of embedded social constructs and demonstrative of how alien you must be to the reality of ongoing behaviors and attitudes.

  8. Milind Wani permalink
    May 10, 2014 12:55 PM

    spirited!..one knows about G-string of course….But here we get a G strung!

  9. Pritam Singh permalink
    May 11, 2014 9:11 AM

    Two things can co-exist i.e. a community might have wealthy and powerful individuals in its ranks but it might still be, collectively, discriminated/oppressed. The Jews in Germany were very prosperous and, in fact, their prosperity was used by Nazis to arouse hatred against them leading to their mass liquidation. At a lesser level, during the genocidal attacks on the Sikh community in 1984 Delhi violence, the class hatred of some poor Hindu communities was used against ‘prosperous’ Sikhs. Although majority of the killed Sikhs (eg in the Trilokpuri area), were very poor, the mythology of Sikhs being privileged was systematically exploited to whip up collective/communal Hindu hatred against them.

  10. pal permalink
    May 14, 2014 1:44 AM

    So all Punjabi Hindus denounced their mother tongue. Dhani Ram Chatrik? Shiv Kumar Batalvi? All those Hindu devi jagrans in ‘theth’ Punjabi?
    “Your shoe on our neck might not make us yell in perfect English. O, but, we are yelling.” i suggest the writer read Surjit Patar’s poem ‘Aya Nand Kishore’ on how children of bihari migrant labourers (hindus) learn punjabi while jatt sikhs prefer english- and hindi-medium education for their kids.

    And Sikhs were the victims? Forgot how Bhindranwala snatched the control of Damdami taksal? how he campaigned for indira gandhi, even sharing stage with her? how he issued open threats to kill thousands of hindus in just hours if his wishes were not granted? horrendous dark deeds of his brigade inside the golden temple? how lakhs of people used to attend bhogs of slain khalistani terrorists? how thousands of hindus were massacred? how for years hindus were unwanted, second-class citizens? how lakhs of hindus migrated to neighbouring states out of fear? how lots of sikhs themselves challenged the khalistanis? the sikh code imposed on hindu students in all govt/private schools? how avtar singh paash and hundreds of other Punjabi thinkers and artists (hindus, sikhs, dalits and communists) were killed by khalistanis? just because punjabi hindus don’t bandy about their decade-long pogrom by khalistanis, it doesn’t mean they were the victimisers!

    “Killing a generation of us and never addressing the underlying inequities would do that to any community.” what about the inequities within sikhs which khalistani and separatists always suppress? what has that done to punjab, ever wondered? why do sikhs marry same-caste hindus but not fellow sikhs from a different caste? why every village in punjab has a separate gurdwara for dalit sikhs? how certain sikh sections constructed religious boundaries by denigrating punjabi hindus and their faith openly while those hindus venerated the gurus?

    “as they gave up their lives in struggles against the British and then opted to stay with Gandhi in India rather than join Pakistan or form their own Country in 1947″
    sikh separatists forget that not all sikhs fought against the british. lots of sikhs fought along with the british army in 1857 (patiala army, for instance) and killed hindu and muslim sepoys. Gen dyer, the butcher of jallianwala bagh, was honoured with a siropa and a kirpan at the golden temple by the sikh clergy soon after he had accomplished his deed. sikh separatists once got so desperate that they became more separatists than sikhs: one teja singh bhasauria went so far as to expunge banis of brahmin saints from guru granth sahib (it includes hymns by more than a dozen brahmins). it shows how for separatist sikhs identity has been more important their own syncretic religious ethos.

    i am not arguing for shekhar gupta. such journalists have their axes to grind, and must be called to account. i agree that the state and not punjabi farmer is responsible for the crisis. and only the right govt intervention can help punjab economy. my larger point is, the way the writer neatly divides punjabi hindus and sikhs is mischievous. in her desperate dash to victimhood, she forgets sikhs were not the only victims in Punjab. the victim was the whole state… and the khalistanis, congress and akalis were the victimisers. it is fashionable among upper-caste NRI sikhs to fabricate narratives of victimhood blaming punjabi hindus (most of such rants come straight from hate&terror speeches of bhindranwala). there is so much diversity within hindu and sikh communities in punjab that it is misleading to play the sikh versus hindu game.

    • Jaspal Singh Sidhu permalink
      May 15, 2014 1:31 PM

      Your are jumping from one issue to the other, from one point to the other and giving out misleading facts. Hyperbolic projection as thousands and lakhs were killed by Khalistanis, does not rebut the case forcefully argued by Simran… Pattar’s recent poetry does absolve those New Delhi rulers who had played communal and venomous politics during the Punjabi Suba agitation which , later, spilled over to the Punjab bloodshed on 1980s. You are pouring out poison against separatists but do not utter a single word against the State terrorism flowed through symbolic persona of KPS Gill and you are mum over the killings of thousands of Sikhs in November 1984 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 with open support of the Indian State. The Indians, even those claimed to be progressive ones seemed least bothered about those organised killings of innocents and rather, they seemed to have bucked up and hailed pogroms through their concrete actions — voting Rajiv Gandhi to power who achieved landslide victory with 401 MPs and catapulting Modi to a top position for having presided over the Gujarat killings. The bashing of the minorities to consolidate the Hindu majority and strengthen of the Hindutva forces for building a Indian Nation State— a politico-religious and culturally hegemonic project— could only be understood in a larger perspective and not through the out-of -proportion projection of murder of Paash and perceived victim-hood of the Punjabi Hindus whose loyalty to Punjab and Punjabi has always been suspect. Claiming to be pursuing the Left ideology while keeping Hindutva hidden in the heart… cannot help achieving so-called Hindu-Sikh unity and harmony in Punjab.

      • Sankar Kumar Das. permalink
        May 16, 2014 12:27 AM

        And ultimately attacking to the left, who have always been in forefront of maintaining communal harmony ? And can any body forget the gesture of Comrade Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, who within two hours of time, having learnt that some peoples were conspiring to do riot upon the Sikhs at Calcutta immediately after murder of Indira Gandhi, had deployed Central Army, and curbed any possibility of riots at West Bengal against Sikhs ? Many of the then communal minded people had criticized Jyoti Basu at that time for doing excess and inviting central forces to control States Law and Order situations. Many of the Sikhs of the then period had realized and admitted the then unique role played by the CPIM Government of West Bengal to protect the lives and property of innocent Sikhs, who were not at all responsible for killing Indira Gandhi. But surprising enough that the present commentator, did not hesitate to criticize the Indian Lefts or progressive forces for remaining “Least bothered about those organised killings of innocents and rather, they seemed to have bucked up and hailed progroms through their concrete actions- voting Rajiv Gandhi to power ……,etc., etc.” The author should have restrained his own limitless false propaganda against left, for the sake of honest criticism, (of course if he wishes), even if he differs with Left Ideologies. Regarding accepting or non-accepting Gurumukhi ( or Punjabi Language) as mother tongue of Hindu Punjabis or Sikh Punjabis, I strongly feel that religion questions should not have been connected to it. And I also know that many Hindu Punjabis ( my personal friends) claim that their mother tongue is Gurumukhi (i.e., Punjabi), though they can comfortably talk in Hindi and English as well. How the commentator has generalised that all Hindu Punjabis have accepted that only Hindi as their mother tongue and Gurumukhi is not their mother tongue, is not known to this author. However, if I am wrong or mis-informed, I would like to be corrected.

        • S Singh permalink
          May 17, 2014 3:04 PM

          @Sankar Das: As any Punjabi well versed in the region’s hostiry would know, Jaspal’s comment is about the pseudo communists among the Punjabi hindus that claimed to shun the Jan Sangh(predecessor of the BJP)/Arya Samaj/Congress(yes in Punjab, congress was in bed with them as Arya samaj formed its backbone from the Lahore days) ideology favoured by their community elders post 1947 all through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s until their shenanigans finally thrust the Punjab problem on the rest of India. All the while holding not so secret anti-Sikh and anti-Punjabi language biases in their home and community environment despite being avowedly communist and trade unionists outside of it. This was the time when “Hindutva” was not even in its infancy anywhere in India, and the Congress had self positioned itself as the great secular messiah, while its actions via the army in Nagaland(yeah most Indians have never heard of that genocide), and via its politics in Punjab and in any minority majority area were anything but.

          About Jyoti Basu and 1984, the 1984 project has recorded testimonies of people who were trapped in Calcutta hotels or private residences for weeks. The situation was not all hunky dory in Bengal ruled by the then anti congress left, even weeks after the Delhi riots. I personally know at least three people who either escaped or were saved just in the nick of time or were injured(as in stabbed or beaten by mobs) in Calcutta in the days following the assassination.

          Another historical tidbit for you on something mentioned earlier in the “Lahore days” comment. As mentioned in the comments above by some Lala Lajpat Rai and Arya Samajist Congress members(well that was what congress essentially was in pre partition Punjab) were advocating the division of Punjab along communal lines as early as the 1910’s and 1920’s when even the muslim league was non existent there and communal tensions were unheard of and infact the state was ruled by the non sectarian Unionist party govt. until 1947. To this end the Arya Samajist controlled local press of the capital Lahore left no stone unturned and it did not help that the only dailies in Urdu published in Punjab Milap etc. were all controlled by them. Leading upto the partition, during and after the great Calcutta killing and the arrival of Radcliffe these papers and their columnists spewed out such vitriol and hatred against Muslims and the League that they and their papers were often used in inciting Muslims by the league as an example of what would happen to them when the British left. That’s how the riots started in Punjab.

          • Sankar Kumar Das. permalink
            May 17, 2014 9:56 PM

            Dear S Singh, I am aware ( if not full) about the role of the then Congress during its independence movement. Except M.K.Gandhi (despite of his many negative side) most of the Hindu Congress Leaders used to behave as Hindu Mahasabha or Jana Sanghist Leaders or as of BJP leaders of present days. Even though the role of Congress cannot be denied,for fighting against British Government but their drawback or failures of winning the hearts of Muslims or other Religious Minorities (even Low caste Hindus) cannot be ignored too. The then shortcomings of lefts during that period also cannot be denied, but their pious intentions also needs to be admitted despite their mistakes hither and thither, which theyopenly admitted on many occasions. But to equate past Communists with present Communists and/or between past Congressees with present Congressees will be unfair, though I would not plead that the lessons of History or Historical mistakes are to be forgotten. Divisions of races in considerations of Languages/Religions again Division of Languistic groups in considerations of Religions, Just as Gurumukhi for Sikhs and Hindi for Punjabi Hindus and Hindi For Hindus and Urdu for Muslims, etc were very bad and expressio of mean-mindedness, but unfortunately it happened. All these are painful incidences of History. But we, who believe on modern thinking of equality and justice must be able to raise above all these meanness. So far, for the Sikhs of India, all the Indians, irrespective of their religion, caste, crede or language, possess a very soft corner for them and always realize and admit the great sacrifices, which Sikhs people did. Rabindra Nath Thakur, in his Bengali poems had portraited the great sacrifices of Sikhs, their love for the country, their bravery and Generoucity of Guru Gobinda Singh with heart touching manner. So, it will be an injustice to other Indians as well as painful for them, if any Sikh feel that Hindus or other Indians possess hatretism towards Sikhs.

  11. Jaspal Singh Sidhu permalink
    May 17, 2014 7:25 PM

    Dear Sankar Kumar Das,
    Your have taken my criticism of the Left out of context…. I am well aware what happened in Calcutta in 1984. For my better part of life I have remained associated with the Left of difference shades. There are a large number of well-meaning Punjabi Hindus but the Hindu leadership has , invariably, been a part of Congress which opposed Punjabi Suba, Punjabi language in Gurumukhi script….. It is not my wishful utterance— but a recorded history .
    When I say that Indians bucked up and hailed pogroms , I am referring to those people who fit into the majoritarian Hindutva mental frame which has now catapulted a supremacist (of extreme RSS version) to office of Prime Minister ignoring his role of presiding over the killings of 2002 in Gujarat.
    My criticism against the Left is from a bigger perspective—- they never theorized the political trappings of the Hindutva laced the Indian State which, unlike any other civilized democratic State, has digested the bigger pogroms and hundreds incidence of riots, minority bashing, a long saga of discrimination in past 60 years. And secularism remained its ploy for building a Nation State out of a diverse Indian Sub-continent on Western model and it never shied away from using force, military and other covert measures to crush the political dissent and invariably branded the mass upsurge as Terrorism, Separatism and Foreign foe- inspired conspiracy.. And Left never opposed as such building a Nation on majoritarian ethos, culture and religious lore ( all that forms RSS ideology). That is why, there is no palpable distinction between the approach of the Left and the RSS ( let we say soft Hindutva) towards Kashmir, north east and Punjab. Ask your Punjabi friends why a majority of Punjabi Hindus are not proud of their mother tongue like that of Bengalis and Tamilian, for an instance.

    • pal permalink
      May 19, 2014 2:06 AM

      “There are a large number of well-meaning Punjabi Hindus…”

      I congratulate you for this wonderful discovery even if it took you some time. Maybe the discovery would have been easier for you to make if Punjab had more Hindus around… that is if they were not taken out of buses and shot day after day after day for years. Can you please share your discovery also with Simran Moga-to-Canada-to-Moga Kaur?

      Now that you seem to be open to discover the truth, here’s some work for you:

      How did division of river waters with haryana ever become a sikh issue? lakhs of sikh farmers in haryana were supposed to be hindus?

      While you are ranting against Hindus for propping up Modi, you may get as the leader of opposition in lok sabha a man who personally ensured that sikhs were burnt alive in delhi in 1984. Use your analytical skills to find out why most Punjabi Sikhs never protested against Kamal Nath or for that matter Sonia Gandhi who kept propping up killers of Sikhs in delhi, and instead embraced the Congress party?
      Punjabi Hindus, you said, betrayed their mother tongue; who or what did those Punjabi Sikhs betray who never questioned Sonia Gandhi but voted her stooges to power in Punjab while she kept on giving tickets to Sajjan Kumar’s relatives and ensured that Kamal Nath and Jagdish Tytler thrived in Congress?
      and who did those sikhs in amritsar betray who voted amarinder singh recently right after he shamelessly defended jagdish tytler?

      Why is there not a squeak from most punjabi sikhs in support of ‘sikhs for justice’ who have got a US court to serve summons to Sonia and Manmohan Singh recently? why not boycott sonia gandhi or congress or manmohan?

      Finally, a simple procedure for you:
      When you say Sikhs, you must say which sikhs. there is a wide variety of them. some want khalistan, others just want to be respected as equal citizens. some live proudly by their caste while some, like true gursikhs, hide it. some hated hindus and killed them, while some were hated by hindus and were killed by them. some abuse hindu gods while there are those who just ignore them.
      and ditto when you say hindus, they too come in a mind-boggling variety.

      • Jaspal Singh Sidhu permalink
        May 19, 2014 2:19 PM

        Sorry, I wanted to argue on politico-religious trends that bled Punjab.But, I do not want to engage myself in the bickering of street urchins.

        • pal permalink
          May 20, 2014 9:58 AM

          argue by all means. kafila is for argument. but don’t use this site for abusing the hindu minority of Punjab. and i hope by now you have realised the stupidity of seeing people as either sikh-hating hindus or hindu-hating sikhs.

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