Archive for the ‘LAHORE’ Category

Culture caught in the Indo-Pak crossfire …By Rashmi Talwar www.sify.com


Madeeha Gauhar

Madeeha Gauhar


Culture caught in the Indo-Pak crossfire

By Rashmi Talwar

Culture, sports and soft exchanges become the first casualty, of any aberration between touchy neighbours- India and Pakistan. Peace is so fragile, like a delicate porcelain cup and a mere fingerprint on its exterior results in smudges of rancor, heated exchanges and petulant stands.

Recent dastardly incident of beheading of an Indian soldier and mutilation of another, counter killing of Pakistani soldier, in early January this year, became the proverbial fingerprint and did exactly that.

Following the recent Indo-Pak standoff, many initiatives and itineraries went haywire.

Permissions were roller-coastered and blood pressure on both sides shot up. Few hapless ones were caught in the crossfire and could hardly be consoled.

One such was Madeeha Gauhar Director of Ajoka Theatre, Pakistan.

Madeeha, along with her team of 20 theater artists and another Karachi based group -National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) invited by National School of Drama (NSD) was scheduled to present plays commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of noted Indo Pak writer Saadat Hassan Manto, in Delhi. But the shows of both plays were abruptly cancelled by NSD . This was attributed to instructions by government during the ongoing acrimony between the two countries, following the recent LoC incident.

A perturbed Madeeha revealed to Sify.Com, on her way back to Pakistan – “On the scheduled date of January 16, merely two hours before our performance, we were told that we would not be permitted to perform our play ‘Kon hai ye Gustakh’ based on Manto’s life. Another Pakistani Play ‘Mantorama’ by NAPA led by Zia Mohuddin, was similarly cancelled.”

As Madeeha complained of an “indecent exit” wherein their theater troupe was bundled into a bus and were not given any lunch, she also confided that she subsequently met Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid, who himself is a playwright of ‘-Sons of Babar’.

She stated, that when she queried the minister- “How could India treat its guests in this manner by canceling performances , the house was fully sold out and booked for both Pakistani plays and artists were left high and dry.”

To which, she claimed, Khurshid answered that “Union Government issued no instructions to suspend the Pak performances.”

Madeeha said she confronted the NSD Director Anuradha Kapoor on this, who said there were specific government instructions behind this cancellation.

Anuradha, when contacted by Sify.com retorted back that the chairperson of NSD got written instructions from the Delhi government to cancel the Pak performances on safety and public peace issues.

She further added that NSD being a government run organization has to conform to government instructions and guidelines.

Moreover, she said, cancellation of the two plays was a bigger loss to NSD, who had financed the entire tour of the two plays from Pakistan and gave full payment and continued hospitality to those from Pakistan, till they stayed in Delhi. Alternately, NSD, had to face the proverbial music from the audience, who were angry and had to be refunded for their tickets. She admitted that the Jaipur leg of the theater performance was also similarly cancelled.

Anuradha further defended, “Madeeha has been invited by NSD for last so many years, how could she not understand that any untoward happening could have serious consequences. Would Pakistan dump Indian artists to face a hostile audience if the plan was vice-versa?” she asked

Later, however a theater group led by Arvind Gaur `arranged two performances of Madeeha’s play on a single day at Akshara Theater, Delhi and another at Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Delhi, that ended late at 1.00am on January 18th.

Even though Madeeha and Anuradha – both noted theater personalities are at logger heads over the cancellation of the Pak plays, they admit they see a big leap ahead in soft overtures of diplomacy on cultural and sports front, that could wipe away the short-lived distrust amongst the two nations

Theater was not the only casualty of the Indo Pak hostility, suspension of cross LoC trade and LoC bus between both sides of Kashmir too brought anxious moments to traders and visitors on both sides of Jammu& Kashmir. India too fell in the game of ‘tit-for-tat’ and unceremoniously turned back Pakistani hockey players from crossing over to India.

To top it all, a unique initiative involving spot visa on arrival for 65-year olds to visit each other’s country with as many as five destinations, too took a beating.

The initiative was scheduled to come into force on January 14. Ironically, the same morning saw its inauguration and suspension in quick succession.

However, veteran Indian journalist Chanchal Manohar Singh inadvertently created history on this morning to become the first to cross the Indo- Pak border under the senior citizen’s spot visa scheme.

Chanchal, speaking from Lahore to Sify.com said things were very normal in Pakistan and he has faced no harassment. He pointed out that had some similar performances been scheduled in Pakistan by Indians then the situation could have been different.
Despite these hot and cold moods, customary sweets were exchanged between BSF and Pak Rangers marking the celebration of India’s 64th Republic day, this 26th January which has become sort of a litmus test to gauge the temperatures on both sides. Also the arrival of 15 Pak women entrepreneurs under WCCI (Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in India yesterday and resumption of trade and bus service on LoC seems like a move forward.

Peace is fragile and can be fractured by the slightest of incidents goaded by media hype; such is the heightened sentiment between both distrusting neighbors- India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile senior citizens who were elated over the spot-visa scheme once again wait, somewhat more anxiously, this time, holding the fragile porcelain cup and hoping that it would not get smudged this time around.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN http://WWW.SIFY.COM

http://www.sify.com/news/culture-caught-in-the-indo-pak-crossfire-news-columns-nccefzefbhd.html

Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris? ….By Rashmi Talwar / www.sify.com


Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris ?

Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris ?


Has Pakistan ditched the Kashmiris? ..
..By Rashmi Talwar / http://www.sify.com

At the 8th Regional Conference of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association) held at Lahore, comprising media persons from eight South Asian SAARC countries, Kashmir issue appeared to have dimmed and become almost a non-issue.
SAFMA-2013 held its concluding session at Lahore, following its inaugural session in Amritsar wherein India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid floated the idea of ‘breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in yet another’ pushing forward for peace between the two neighbours.
However, in one of the most important panel discussions on the theme of ‘South Asian vision for an Economic Union’ in the presence of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, noted columnist and Editor-in-Chief of The Friday Times Najam Sethi,, Nusrat Javed, a famous Pakistani journalist and anchor for Aaj TV, besides Dr Ijaz Nabi Country Director, International Growth Centre, Pakistan, Kashmir issue took a back seat. It seemed that Kashmir was being clearly ditched by Pakistan!
For Kashmiris from India it came as big jolt to hear a Pak speaker say -“The totality of Indo-Pak relations cannot be linked to the single issue of Kashmir.” And further, to make their positions clearer, the speaker said–“We would like to see the welfare of Kashmiris by way of engaging in more trade between both Kashmirs, easing of visas for travel to each other’s places. However, at present, Pakistan has more pressing issues i.e. Indo-Pak trade, water and power generation, which we are greatly hopeful that peace between India and Pakistan is bound to bring in.” And all this time, Nawaz Sharif remained mum, clearly endorsing what was being said-and-missed, about Kashmir.
How would Kashmiris, who suffered for more than two decades aided by Pakistan to revolt against India, feel about this, I wondered. All this time, I had met many Indian Kashmiris, who came to Amritsar and looked longingly at Lahore, from the Indian side of the Attari-Wagha Indo-Pak border, during the beating retreat ceremony. Some, who sat glum during the retreat ceremony came close to grieving over being separated from Pakistan, lamenting that Kashmir on the Indian side, should have been a part of Pakistan.
One, who I met in Amritsar a few years ago, called the border an ‘unnatural divide’ and scoffed disgustedly –“if it were possible, India would station an army man in each Kashmiri kitchen”.
Numberless gullible Kashmiris, who ran the marathon to training camps across the border, were promised a glorious goal of Independence. They returned to fight, flush with money, arms and above all dreams of ‘holy war’ that would ensure a royal place in heavenly paradise for them in case they were ‘martyred’.
Many felt it was easy money and brain washed others to run their outfits in Kashmir with support from across the border. The more vitriolic ones became apples of the eyes of their masters as they fitted in their sinister plans.
There were others who fiercely wrote in newspapers about the atrocities on Kashmiris by security forces while ignoring or soft pedalling the atrocities by the militants. There were those who, while conversing with their counterparts in rest of the country, referred to anything Indian as ‘yours’ and anything Kashmiri as ‘ours’ .
All this while, they were filled with feeling of abhorrence for their present state. The army’s strong arm tactics aggravated the situation. Daily dirges and insults at the hands of the security forces had left them cold and concerned over their future and those of their children. Kashmiris found themselves on a cliff-hanger not knowing whether the militant or the army bullet would kill them.
When the initial itch over being freedom fighters faded and turned sore, the fallout of their actions spilled over. For some hardliners, a bleak future awaited so they tried to continue in their chosen destructive path, sure that their end would come painfully from either of the sides i.e. militants or army. It was a proverbial choice ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.
Others on the sidelines gave only lip service to their bravado and went on with their lives, availing all Indian government sponsored benefits and schemes while leaving them to struggle. Still, they hung on to their ally –Pakistan. Drawing strength and succor from the fact that Pakistan was still their well wisher.
Countless K-agendas raised at International forums by Pakistan had little impact although it endeared Pakistan to Kashmiris. However, Pakistan’s recent position on Kashmiris was shared with Rising Kashmir by a senior Pak bureaucrat who said – ‘Kashmiris had played a double game with them’.
He contended that while Pakistani side had lost more lives than Kashmiris, even as they had pumped in money, men and material as also feted and felicitated them, Kashmiris in turn joined the election process held by India, elected their leaders and lifted them on their shoulders. They availed all Indian government and army schemes.
‘They told us they are unable to offer Namaz in Indian side of Kashmir, but we have seen them freely doing so. They tell us their women are not safe, but their women are freely moving about, getting educated and showing no traces of fear’.
The Kargil misadventure in 1999, after nearly 10-years of turmoil in Kashmir, seemed like a shot in the arm for militants in Kashmir, who saw Pakistan as the saviour. Of course, the battle-end saw Pakistan faced with rebuke and reprimand, as also a royal ignore and the ultimate shaming by US – its funding ally that ultimately punctured its stature in global eyes. Alternately, under the leadership and statesmanship of Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kargil won India kudos for its restraint in the face of a sly enemy.
Pakistan used Kashmir to save the multitude of high profile chairs, raising the bogey of Kashmir, every time a crisis on home ground erupted. Kashmir served as a diversionary tactics, to gloss over faults of omission and neglect in Pakistan.
US too saw it being used by Pakistan who was trying to fulfil its Kashmir agenda on the pretext of Afghanistan’s occupation by USSR. Therefore, in time, USA too pulled itself out of the mire of Pak mechanizations, cut down its funding and ditched Pakistan partially as the Frankenstein monster of terrorism that it had created sought to feed onto its creator –Pakistan.
Having lost its financial conduit and faced with rebellion and insurgency in its troubled corners, as well as from insurgents it had created, Pakistan today is left with a choice to either save its own or that of Kashmir.
Perturbed over this stand of Pakistan to shelve the Kashmir issue, Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief of English daily, ‘Rising Kashmir’ raised a query to Pakistan panel and especially to Nawaz Sharif –as one of Kashmiri origin, asking – “If Kashmir issue was to be sidelined thus, why were 23-years and lakhs of lives lost for this cause?” To which he got a reply that welfare of Kashmiris could be in softening of the LoC (line of control) and “not in transfer of territory”.
The sidelining of Kashmir was complete when even in his personal address Nawaz Sharif gave a miss to the Kashmir issue and stated “If voted to power as next President of Pakistan I would bring the same relationship of bonhomie between India and Pakistan as I and PM Vajpayee had brought in February of 1999 by starting the Sada-e-Sarhad, Indo –Pak bus service.”
The present scenario in Kashmir is that Kashmiri households that drilled anti- India venom are left with an educated new generation, many of whom have flown the nest, to seek wider horizons to further their aspirations of a good life, while those who remain are left alone to tend to their festering wounds. Those who supported them from the neighbouring country have now their own hands-full, fighting internal battles, dousing the monster of terrorism that they had created.
Nusrat Javed, the panelist when questioned on the sidelines of SAFMA to clarify the Pakistani stand on Kashmir, counter questioned –“I have a child in Baluchistan crying in pain, should I tend to ‘my’ child or a Kashmiri child?” As a host for a popular programme ‘Bolta Pakistan’ of Aaj TV, Nusrat said people in Pakistanis are least interested in Kashmir issue and his programme’s TRPs drop every time a topic related to Kashmir issue is aired.
It is a fact that Kashmir is fast losing out in terms of media interest in India too. Many foreign media organizations have bid goodbye to Kashmir- a hotbed of news, for past two decades. Reuters, BBC radio and TV, German owned Deutsche Welle , AFP have wound up from Kashmir. Others like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Time, and Guardian are granting fewer slots to news from Kashmir. It has therefore come as no surprise that Pakistan media too turned its face away to news emerging from Kashmir, which is being relegated to inner obscure corners of leading newspapers.
Mehmal Sarfarz a senior member of SAFMA said in clear terms that ‘Pakistan had decided to drop the issue of Kashmir long ago. If in 60 years, four wars could not solve it, what is the point in pursuing a lame dream, is what Pakistan has slowly realized. With internal problems becoming hard to handle who has the time or the money to fund Kashmir or Kashmiris?’
However there was one such who had the guts to say –“Only those who have been failures or those who set up shops on the ‘tears’ of Kashmir or accrued advantage from the Indo-Pak standoff on Kashmir are banking on continued enmity between both countries. The army in Pakistan is the major beneficiary of Indo-Pak rivalry, he said, because it is only because of the enmity between the two countries that it can retain its hold on the politics and administration of the country. The terrorist outfits in Pakistan are the other beneficiaries who would lose their raison d’etre in case both countries come closer to each other. “They are the ones desperate to sabotage the peace process and stoke the fires of hostility”, he said.
I know Indo-Pak peace would soon be a reality. This statement is not merely a conjecture or hope or guess but based on study of wider spectrum of world affairs, in which US seeks to strengthen and embolden the south Asian region against the growing power of China. China, which is fast emerging, as a bigger threat to US any other country in the world.
The border clash, inhuman torture and beheading of an Indian army jawan and retaliatory killing of Pakistan army man, has come as the most recent example of covert mechanizations. The killing of Kashmiri sarpanches, including shooting a lady sarpanch, are such incidents, which may slow down the peace process, but will not be able to derail it.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ ON JANUARY 15, 2013

http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/kashmir-issue-relegated-to-the-back-burner-40044.aspx

SECOND PUBLICATION IN http://www.sify.com URL- http://www.sify.com/news/has-pakistan-ditched-the-kashmiris-news-columns-nbvcIXefhcf.html

Death of Amritsar’s short story writer ………..by N. S. Tasneem


shravan kumar urdu

ON November 28, Shravan Kumar Varma breathed his last in Amritsar. His passing away at the age of 85 has suddenly brought to the mind that Amritsar can no more boast of having nurtured Urdu short story writers. During the early 1930s, Saadat Hasan Manto made his mark in Urdu fiction with his debut short story, ‘Tamasha’, that centred around a victim of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. On the footsteps of Manto, some writers contributed fictional works and poetic creations to Urdu literature in the decades to come.

It so happened that in the mid-1940s, some students wedded to Urdu literature got admission in Hindu College, Amritsar. Shravan Kumar Varma was among those. His first Urdu short story titled ‘Pardesi’ was published in the college magazine, ‘Shivala’. Incidentally, I was the student editor of the Urdu section of that magazine. Both of us, along with some other like-minded lovers of Urdu, such as Mohinder Bawa, Inder Kumar Sagar, Gopal Krishan and K.K. Razdan, were under the influence of Prof M.M. Mathur, who had also taught Urdu and Persian to Saadat Hasan Manto years ago.

In the days to come most of us left Amritsar, in search of new pastures, but Varma stuck to his guns. He settled permanently in Amritsar as a lawyer. During the course of six decades, he published some collections of short stories and a few novels. He was popular in the entire subcontinent, as his fiction had attracted readers both in India and Pakistan. Some of his works had been translated into Hindi and Punjabi, besides English. One of his short stories found place in ‘Select Urdu Best Stories’, published by Penguin.

He had been bestowed with the Shiromani Urdu Sahitkar Puraskar in 1993 by the Languages Department, Punjab. Thereafter some other awards sponsored by the literary organisations and Urdu academies followed, but he remained unmindful of all these honours. He was fully absorbed in creative literature, even while neglecting the duties of his profession. He was well versed in Urdu and Hindi, but he had a special niche in his heart for Punjabi. He had been the President of the Sahit Vichar Kendra for many years. Some of his Punjabi short stories were published in Punjabi monthly ‘Lau’ and Punjabi quarterly ‘Akhkhar’, brought out from Amritsar. The Editor, Parminderjit, a Punjabi poet in his own right, was instrumental in getting his Urdu short stories rendered into Punjabi.

Unluckily he remained confined to his bed for a long time due to one ailment or the other. He was hard up in those days but he considered it below his dignity to approach the authorities concerned for financial help. Still there is a feeling of grudge in the litterateurs that the Languages Department, Punjab did not come to his help suo moto while his plight had been mentioned in newspaper columns many times.

Some time ago I visited him at his place and found him, in the words of T.S. Eliot, ‘like a patient etherised upon a table’. Earlier I had found him composing short stories and poems while lying in his bed. He had in himself a reservoir of patience and confidence, full to the brim. Even now when the last Urdu story-teller in Amritsar has bidden us goodbye, something can be done to make life easy for his wife and two daughters. Unluckily, his young son had died a year ago, leaving the ailing father in dismay. He stifled his cry in the throat, and that prompted his death.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE TRIBUNE

In 70s, Amritsar’s Khanna families named their sons Rajesh, after Superstar! ..By Rashmi Talwar


Lowered Goggles --Rajesh Khanna
In 70s, Amritsar’s Khanna families named their sons Rajesh, after Superstar!

By Rashmi Talwar

The lowered goggles, the twinkling ‘come-hither’ eyes, nod of the head and girls swooned!

This was the charisma of Rajesh Khanna- the first superstar born to India.
After Rajesh’s sad demise from a mysterious ailment, for many teenagers then of 1970’s in Amritsar –the Hathi Mere Saathi – star’s stardom is remembered longingly, especially amongst his female fans.

His lip sync in songs was so perfect , it raised the equation of the singer –Kishore Kumar with the actor.
The languid –‘Pushpa, I hate tears !’ drove girls teary eyed. Many slept with pictures of the Rajesh Khanna under their pillow, spoke to him, offered sweets on his birthday, to his pictures! Many were known to have written letters in blood. His co-star of many films Sharmila Tagore Pataudi –his –‘Sapno ki Rani–, had aptly contended that she was wonder-struck by ‘Kaka’s’ hysterical fan following .

Rajesh Khanna

But the 69-year old star born on December 29, 1942 never came back to Amritsar, his birthplace in ‘Gali Tiwariaan’ after his stardom. On his death though, in the narrow Gali, gloom has set in amongst the actor’s die-hard fans, relatives and friends who mourned the death of India’s first superstar, that took romance to new heights.

“Who would have thought that this pimply –faced boy would one day rule the hearts of women for more than a decade.” recalls Faquir Chand his childhood friend in the gathering outside his ancestral house.

Jatin Khanna , as he was named in childhood was lovingly called ‘kaka’ as were most boys in those days in Amritsari mohallas. Rajesh’s father a railway contractor in Lahore, moved to Amritsar after partition. Rajesh was adopted by Nand Lal Khanna his father Chunni Lal Khanna’s brother . Later shifting to Bombay wherein before entering the glittering glare of tinsel town, he was renamed Rajesh Khanna.

So popular and endearing was he to Amritsaris during his stardom, that many boys in the Khanna families of Amritsar were named Rajesh after him. I remember one such Rajesh Khanna, who was nicknamed ‘Babu Moshia’ the name Rajesh Khanna used for Amitabh in film “Anand” – the dialogue “Babu Moshia, zindagi aur maut upar wale ke haath hai… hum sab toh rang manch ke katputhliyaan hain jinki dor upar wale ki ungli pe bandhi hain kab kaun kaisa uthega yeh koi nahin bataa sakta hain !!” Well, true turned out this dialogue for Rajesh and true is it for all. .

“It is a sad moment. even though he did not come back to this area after becoming superstar but still he took the name of the family to dizzying heights’’, says Duni Chand Khanna, cousin of the actor. “The family had migrated from Lahore and after a brief stay in Amritsar left for Bombay. “Rajesh Khanna, regularly visited here to spend vacations as a child. He even came when he was going to college in Mumbai. But after becoming a superstar in films, he never came back.” Duni added

However, pride can be painful for dear ones at times. When Rajesh’s name cropped up for Amritsar’s MP elections , Rajesh refused- he probably felt that he had snapped his connect with the city of his birthplace.
Other events in his life like his sudden marriage to a 16 year old Dimple Kapadia less than half his age and ditching long standing girl friend Anju Mahendru did not deter his fan following that mounted more due to the fairy-tale Mills and Boons type of romance.
Now much-married to Reliance scion Anil Ambani , Tina Munim another actress and that phase of ‘toothbrush’ sharing with Rajesh, made headlines. Politics however was never his cup of coffee. Many including his most noted co-star Sharmila Tagore says ‘Kaka’s brush with politics could be much avoided, though he won against fellow actor Shatrugan Sinha in delhi’ .
.
The ancestral house of the superstar jointly held by three brothers including Rajesh’s father , his foster father and uncle besides another uncle Munni Lal Khanna was donated to a Shiva temple and serves as an attached property of the temple .
Faqir his friend recalls about Rajesh’s vacation visits to the mohalla . “In the Mohalla too , Rajesh as -Bumbai ka Babu- , as he was called could get away with anything owing to his innocent smile.

Between the years 1969 and 1972 almost everything he touched turned to gold — 15 consecutive hits of various degrees. No wonder producers chanted: ‘Upar aaka, neeche Kaka !’(God above and Kaka, Khanna’s pet name, on earth below). Unable to find a phrase that captured the phenomenon, the hypnotic and the media industry finally coined a new term: the Superstar for Rajesh Khanna. He was not without flaws but in the backdrop of a train journey, a number revisits my mind for this trend blazer– ‘Zindagi ke safar se Juzaar jatey hain jo Maqaam …woh fir nahi atey …” of film Aap ki Kasam .. ‘Umar bhar unka pukarey koi naam, ..woh fir nahi atey ….”

BOX Item — Kuch toh log kahenge…. Pak town claims ‘Superstar’ as its own ?

A sleepy township of Burewala in Faisalabad, Pakistan claims that Rajesh Khanna was born here in 1942 and the gathering there is planning a remembrance session in memory of the departed Indian superstar.

Old-timers of Burewala say the Indian actor was not only born there but also stayed until he was 5 years old in a double storey house that is still intact and probably built around 1934-35 . They claim that the actor studied in MC Model High School. Some claim that records in school mentions admission of one Jatin Khanna (a name that was later changed to Rajesh when he joined Bollywood) to substantiate their claim.

They also claim that Khanna’s father was not only one of the founder members of this school but also remained its headmaster for many years till the Indo pak Partition after which the Khanna family left for Amritsar.

The house attributed as birthplace of Rajesh Khanna is said to be located on Multan Road and according to some , has ‘Jatin Bhawan’ engraved in Hindi on its elevation besides lines from the “Gayatri mantra”, to which the new owner has made no changes .
The claim by the township could be true, as Rajesh is said to be born before partition in year 1942 and their family was living on the Pakistani side. Only family members of superstar Rajesh Khanna can put the controversy to rest.

Hit Songs :
1. Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai – (Kati Patang)
2. Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana – (Andaz)
3. Kahi Door Jab Dil Dhal Jaaye – (Anand)
4. Mere Sapno Ki Rani – (Aradhana)
5. Kuch Toh Log Kahenge – (Amar Prem)
6. O Mere Dil Ke Chain – (Mere Jeevan Saathi)
7. Kora Kagaz – (Aradhana) [1969]
8. Jai Jai Shiv Shankar – (Aap Ki Kasam)
9. Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke – (Anand)
10. Yeh Kya Hua – (Amar Prem)
11. Roop Tera Mastana – (Aradhana)
12. Hume Aur Jeene Ki Chahat Na Hoti – Agar Tum Na Hote
13. Chingari Koi Bhadke – (Amar Prem)
14. Yeh Shaam Mastani – (Kati Patang)
15. Pyar Deewana Hota Hai – (Kati Patang)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR

Two Mothers Reunite Lost Son to a Pakistani Mother …By Rashmi Talwar


District & Sessions Judge, Faridkot Archana Puri (India) Human Rights activist and Director of Ajoka Theatre, Madeeha Gohar (Pakistan).

Two Mothers Reunite Lost Son to a Pakistani Mother …By Rashmi Talwar

(WAGAH-ATTARI)October 11,2012——– It is perhaps for the first time that two women of India and Pakistan have stepped in conscientiously and brought speedy justice to a juvenile Pak prisoner. These were no ordinary women. From the Indian side was the District and Sessions Judge, Faridkot and Chairperson of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA)Archana Puri and from the Pak side was a Human Rights activist and Director of Ajoka Theatre, Madeeha Gohar.
It is also the first, perhaps when a Judge accompanied a Pak prisoner all the way from Faridkot and handed him over to his country right uptil the zero line.

Two Mothers reunite a son to a Pakistani Mother


On a celebratory note and day of Holy Gurpurab of Guru Ram Dass, the founder of the city of Amritsar, a beaming Kasif Ali’s (12 1/2 years) parting words to Ms Puri, before leaving for his home country Pakistan, were – “I will tell my Ammi, I have another Ammi like you, in India,” as tears rolled down his cheeks in happiness and he hugged her.
Kasif was wearing a new white T-shirt and jeans and holding tight the gifts of books, including a book on Baba Farid (Who is worshipped on both sides of the border) color books, sketch pens and crayons gifted to him by the Indian Judiciary.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Ms Puri related the entire sequence of events about Kasif’s release, when she joined as District &Sessions judge in Faridkot on 16th July this year. “On a routine inspection of the Juvenile Observation Home in Faridkot along with Administrative Judge (AJ) Justice Rameshwar S Malik, we saw a lonesome pre-teen boy and took up his case on priority. My maternal instincts were so strong about this lonely boy, but as a judge, protocol deterred me to pursue his case. However as a Chairperson of the DSLA and with significant support of
A J Justice Malik and Executive Chairperson of State legal Services Authority Justice Jasbir Singh, we were able to extend help to this boy.” And added ‘When things have to happen, they will and all the world works towards its completion’ said she as she thanked the Almighty, to have brought this three weeks long and 500 telephone calls, endeavor, to fruitation .
Kasif’s eyes lit up when Madeeha Gohar declared that she would be writing a play on his story and invited him to act in it, as its leading character.
Relating his story Kasif standing at the zero line on the Indo-Pak border between the two women Ms Puri and Ms Gauhar, said he had lost his father and was admitted in a Madrassa as the youngest son of five other siblings. “I did not like it there and one fine day I ran away. Loitering in border villages, one day I boarded a boat in the Satluj river and when I reached the other bank, I was caught days later by the BSF”.
Kasif was remanded to custody on 19 September 2011. He was absolved of all charges on April 6th the same year, with an appeal period of 3-months, following which; he was to be released in early August.

Puri who had worked relentlessly on this case on humanitarian grounds as a mother, says “When I met Kasif, his case was decided but was still detained and no repatriation proceedings were initiated”. It was there that Administrative judge Mr Mallik and I, decided to take this case as a primary project by the judiciary, which otherwise are handled by the executive.”
“As luck would have it, at the time, Baba Farid Mela –the soul of Faridkot, was in full swing and I had gone to attend it watching the theatre performance of ‘Bulla’ a play by Ajoka Theatre of Pakistan. Thereafter I contacted Madeeha Gauhar the theatre’s director accompanying her troupe and arranged a live telephonic interview with her and Kasif besides providing her photos, video clips and other details. Subsequently, consular access was provided and Madeeha then broadcast this to the media in Pakistan and got a response from the Kulsum Bibi, the widowed mother of Kasif. “Following which a talk was arranged between the mother from Pakistan with her son in India, whom she had presumed dead,” said Gohar

Kasif son of Mohammed Zafar is a resident of Peera Hayaat Village PS Mandi district Okara in Pakistan according to judicial records, but it turned out that he belonged to Dipalpur village of the same district which is about a 3-hours drive from Lahore. When asked if he was fan of Ajay Devgan and was that the reason he crossed over to India, he denied it. Media in Pakistan had presented his case as an ardent admirer of the Bollywood actor as presumed by his family and elder brother, as the reason for his crossover.

Puri’s daughter Mehak commented that following Kasif’s reunion with his mother; “I too have found my mother, who was continuously engrossed in his case”.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR

Manto’s Daughters explore their roots… By Rashmi Talwar


Manto’s Daughters warmly welcomed in India

Manto’s Daughters explore their roots

BY Rashmi Talwar

AMRITSAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2012–They were garlanded and warmly welcomed as they crossed the Wagah –Attari Indo Pak border. Even the BSF laid out a welcome fare for them. Village Paproundi was dancing, and gaily bedecked for the ‘pag feras’- the first visit of daughter to her father’s home, after the village’s son left it long ago.

Saadat Hassan Manto–One of the greatest short story writers during Partition of 1047

They arrived in an open jeep waving to the crowds and motorbike and scooter borne public in a grand procession, from Samrala in Ludhiana district, to the ancestral village of their father. As their cavalcade progressed Nighat Patel Manto, Nusrat Jalal Manto and Nuzhat Arshad Manto, daughters of acclaimed son of the soil Saadat Hasan Manto, belonging to this quiet little hamlet of Paproundi, felt the tangent ‘power of pen’ of their writer father, whose poignant stories on partition brought him accolades as well as brickbats during his lifetime. It was the 100th birthday celebrations of this Kashmiri, born in village Paproundi .

Ladoos and sherbet were pressed onto the eager entourage, a village Gurdwara priest decked the daughters with siropas while ‘bhangra’ was in full bloom to the beat of dhols and the village belles laid out a tangy flavour of ‘gidda’

Saadat Hasan Manto, a Kashmiri and a prolific writer had chronicled the freedom struggle and the aftermath of partition and churned such blatant writings as ‘Bu’ (odour), ‘Khol do’ (open it ) ‘Thanda Gosht’ (cold flesh) and ‘Toba Tek Singh’ -a story of mental asylum, a telling insight into the conditions prevailing during the tragic days of partition,. Unfairly berated, loved and loathed in equal measure during his lifetime, today Manto’s spirit loomed large in his gaily festooned village.

Castigated and tried for ‘obscenity’ for his writings that had unravelled the lives of prostitutes , besides which came tales of shocking inhumanity behind a curtain of religious fervour and multitude social issues, more tumbled out of dark closets in the form of ironies with surprise endings, in his stories.

Even after a hundred years of his birth, he is seen more as courageous man who told all, took all and remains untamed, without any apologies and thereby caught the imagination of the readers and fans like no other.

Manto was born in 1912 and celebrating the centennial of Manto’s birthday this year, his village sees a joyous procession welcoming his three daughters. Moving at a snail’s pace, a target of a young girl hit bulls-eye and the rolled petals she threw at the open jeep, opened mid-air in a petal shower over the heads of the daughters.

Here was born a man who had soothed his wife Safiya’s worried brow during his last alcoholic poverty ridden days with –“Safu jee, tuhanu kadi wi koi masla neyi huey ga” (you will never suffer any financial crisis) perhaps Manto knew that the world ahead would appreciate his lifetime’s toil in writing.

He was also the man who wrote his own epitaph-“Here lies buried Saadat Hasan Manto in whose bosom are enshrined all the secrets and art of short story writing. Buried under mounds of earth, even now he is contemplating whether he is a greater short story writer or God.”

But all the words are not seen on it anymore, said Nighat to Rising Kashmir –“My phuphoo (paternal aunt) replaced it, thinking that it could have serious consequences if left un-tampered”. So the epitaph today reads: “Here lies buried Manto who still believes that he was not the final word on the face of the earth.”

Manto, a writer ahead of his times, came to the state of Jammu &Kashmir only to recuperate and visited Doda, Kishtwar and Batote but could never visit the Kashmir valley as he later wrote in an open letter to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru.
His writings about injustices, social issues and harsh realities became a stark mirror to society about tabooed topics and these were challenged in courts in India and Pakistan, but he escaped conviction. Once he shot back to the judge, “A writer picks up his pen only when his sensibility is hurt.” His fears about America’s domination of Pakistan in his Uncle Sam series of letters proved, prophetic.

Born to a Kashmiri Muslim family, Manto had his early childhood in Amritsar. His father being a disciplinarian, Manto dreaded him and fared badly in studies. “Formal study was not his temperament” says his daughter Nusrat, who was barely 7-years when her father died but gathered the tit bits on her father from his friends. Nusrat is also working with Manto’s niece and noted historian Ayesha Jalal, who is writing a biography of Manto.

Ismat Chugtai, Manto’s contemporary writer and friend who too faced flak for her stories once quoted Manto as saying – “The future looks beautiful in Pakistan. As now Muslim migrants would get the houses of those who fled from here.” She adds “He was inconsolable and could not disassociate India from Pakistan or Bombay from his heart till his end.”

During the almost royalist procession the sisters looked up and in thanksgiving raised their hands in dua for peace, Nighat (67) who was born in India said ‘Indeed it feels like a true homecoming’ as if the heavens too were showering their blessings. By all means I would love to come to India and in the same breath, urged for easing of visas’.

Abdul Rehman, Trustee of the Aalmi Urdu Trust, Delhi aired his views that India and Pakistan‘s exchange in fields of literature, art and culture are the true bonding avenues that would erase the trust deficit between the two countries to a large extent.

Dr Mallik Raj Kumar a kathakaar and story writer, editor of Abhinav Imroz, a Hindi magazine who co-hosted the trio along with three other Urdu story writers including two women amongst them, queried if they would like to come every Sunday to India? To which they laughed ‘We can’t be so greedy, if we are allowed to come once a year, which would be sufficient’, they said as they laid the foundation of Manto Memorial Gate in the village. A primary school to be upgraded to Middle and named Manto Memorial School and a library in his name was broadcast to people of the village from the stage. To my query, if any of the sisters possessed Manto’s famed Schaeffer pens or the ‘khussa’ juttis he so loved or any such nishanian – Nuzhat retorted amusingly – “We are his three nishanian”

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BOX –A

Manto’s daughters from Pakistan

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote to his wife Alys upon Manto’s death “I was very sad to hear of Manto’s death. Inspite of all his shortcomings, he was very dear to me and I am proud that he was my student in Amritsar…”
He defended Manto against the charges levelled against him by the Progressives, not necessarily because he admired Manto’s art and his convictions (which he did, to some extent) but because he believed that freedom of speech and expression was a basic human right and should be defended at all costs. Faiz, one of the greatest poets of the sub continent, taught English in the Muslim Anglo Oriental (MAO) College at Amritsar before partition.
Manto for Punjabis is the common treasure of both India and Pakistan just as Amrita Pritam, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and others. While Pakistan government issued a commemorative stamp on Manto on his 50th Death anniversary, Indian officialdom did not bother for the celebrated writer, born as he was in India.
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Manto’s hometown Amritsar

Kucha Vakilan in Amritsar where Manto stayed

The daughters would visit the house occupied by Manto and their grandparents in Gali Kucha Vakilaan where shops have been constructed in place of Manto’s house, as also the ‘Hindu Sabha College’ at Dhab Khatikaan, in Amritsar before leaving for Lahore.
This college and the city of Amritsar holds a unique distinction as Manto- a Muslim, the present Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh- a Sikh and also the Hero of 1971 Indo Pak War that freed Bangladesh-First Field Marshal of India Sam Manekshaw –a Parsi had made Amritsar their home and studied in this college . Vijay Kapur (65) who had bought Manto’s place here and converted into a shop while talking to Rising Kashmir, said that his parents did talk about a writer staying here and loads of books were found in the house.
Manto was seven years old when in 1919 the Jallianwala Massacre took place that intensified the ouster of British and spelled freedom for India. Amritsar was the hub of revolutionary activities and as a young he is known to have gone on a spree of pasting anti British posters by night, which many revolutionary boys at the time freely indulged in.

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BOX-C
Point of view

Hindu Sabha College in Amritsar where Manto and many greats studied including Sam Manekshaw, PM Dr Manmohan Singh

Kuhu Tanvir on his impressions about Manto in Pakistan said, till five years ago it did not seem that Manto was actually celebrated in Pakistan. His books were impossible to find in shops in Lahore and his daughter confirmed for us that there was indeed some amount of suspicion around him as a figure and his works were definitely treated like ‘ticking bombs’ (which they are!).
Secondly, I went to Manto’s grave in Lahore (his daughter took us) and it was as plain and unadorned. Forget the epitaph, even his name was not on it. Like most Islamic graves, it was difficult to identify. They have redone it only in the last few years.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR

Rashmi Talwar ‘s Point of view on Baluchistan, Published in June NEWSLINE 2012



URL link to story :

http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2012/05/easy-prey-balochistans-hindu-community/

Rashmi Talwar ‘s Point of view on Baluchistan ‘Grave Situation’ Published in June NEWSLINE 2012

Rashmi Talwar ‘s Point of view on Baluchistan, Published in June NEWSLINE 2012

Peace Pangs and Pain of Partition, Candle Lit Freedom at Midnight ———– By Rashmi Talwar


Candle Lit Vigil on Indo Pak /Wagah Attari /Border in Amritsar -2012


RISING KASHMIR FRONT PAGE – 17 AUG 2012 Indo Pak Candle Lit Vigil /Wagah Attari /Amritsar -


Peace Pangs and Pain of Partition, Candle Lit Freedom at Midnight ———– By Rashmi Talwar
On the Midnight of August 14-15, a candle in hand, I walk with peaceniks, to Wagah-Attari Indo-Pak Joint check post in Amritsar. The tearing border of yore, on this particular day, is beauteously bridal showered.

Dark trees, shrubs draped in twinkling drops of fairy lights and strings of glitzy flags, transform the stringent security postures and the night’s gloom into a bejeweled bride, festooned for the Independence Day Celebrations of India and Pakistan- the two countries who had chosen to separate but cannot wish away their umbical cord or get over their shared history.

Like a wedding shagun, a basket of fruits and sweets arrive from Pakistan to India and the gesture is reciprocated the next morning by India to Pak.

It is the 17th year by Peace activists as well as organizations ‘Folklore Research Academy’ (FRA), ‘Hind Pak Dosti Manch’ , ‘Punjab Jagriti Manch’, that conceived the idea of Candle lit Vigil annually on this momentous occasion of Freedom, at a time when one country’s dusk coincided with dawn of the other.

Lighting candles had come as a symbolic gesture of peace between two clanking forbidding Gates – an unspoken barrier of no trespass! That open every morning and close by sunset.

The idea of candle lit vigil was infact a simplistic emotional call for friendship, sharing pains of separation, longing hearts and prayer for harmony on the midnight of Freedom. It started as a friendship mela at Wagah, in memory of Raja Porus a common hero for denizens of both countries.

I reached a little early, giving me the luxury of retrospect. Gaping at the peeking moon, beaming in its full circular glory, through diaphanous clouds, it made me wonder if there shone a moon on those sultry, bloody August nights of 1947. The nights of stealth, loot, rape, fear, blood screams and surrenders to the greatest inhumanity to shake the Earth, leaving millions homeless, naked and paupered.

I wondered was this, one of the routes traversed by those loaded bullock carts, donkeys, sheep and goats and teeming millions, household buckets brimful with oddities, weary animals, to have written their footsteps in blood, crossing the Cyril Radcliff line.

“Did they fold their hands in prayer looking at the sky for a savior or in thanksgiving, for being alive?” Starving, in tatters, lost and bewildered as to what this meant for their future.

The cities, towns and villages quivering at their changed destinies, shuffled like a pack of cards, by a single stroke of a pen, of the reigning regime of the English; fearful of the bottomless pits of depravity by human-turned animals.

I looked askance at the trees, “Why did you stand as mute spectators to the bloodshed of innocents waylaid by mobs, blood curdling screams of many a fair maiden carried away in a frenzy of lust and fury?”

I had heard of many a head of the family’s frozen turbulence, in putting their girls and woman on the sacrificial altar, cutting their heads with a swift stroke of a sword and the bloodied heads, rolling onto male feet. Brave some women stood with chilled faces witnessing the, ‘nanga nachch of vaishiyaat’ (naked dance of death)…

I stilled these stirrings….

Tonight was different, guards had been raised, and BSF personnel guarded at every 50 steps.
A threatening barbed wire fence loomed in the darkness but faces glowed in shimmering fairy lights.
I saw, people had changed !
Perhaps, the wounds healed and generations that faced it all, turned greyer and wiser. “Hatred divides and Peace Unites; There was no third path !”
The call from Indians this time too was answered with solidarity and support from Pakistan’s peaceniks of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association). A call for harmony, peace, mutual coexistence, for progress and prosperity through enhanced trade, visitations, easings, release of prisoners on either sides.
Now an annual feature, the candle-lit vigil first started as a trickle say FRA’s leading names Ramesh Yadav and Talwinder Singh; with the first breakthrough of poetical symposium at Wagah Indo-Pak border by Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha in 1993.
Down the years the innocent blaze of candle lights contributed to awaken the political authorities from their self-imposed slumber.
The flag of peace taken forward this time did not include celebrities. Mahesh Bhatt, Tara Gandhi- Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter and journalist Kuldip Nayyar were conspicuous by their absence while the cultural programme on the stage too was taken over not by the likes of established singers Harbhajan Mann or Hans Raj Hans, but by blooming youthful singers -Jyoti and Sultana the teenage Noora Sisters of Coke studio fame who unleashed sufi Punjabi music,, bonding the gathering of multitudes that trickled in from border villagers. The crowds swung into a frenzy of music, Bhangra and Buraaah !

Singers Nachattar Gill , Firoz Khan—who sang –‘Sadi Zindagi ch khaas teri thaa, Sochi na tenu dilon kadd ta ..(You have a special place in my heart, think not that my heart has abandoned you ) or “Ravi puchey Chenaab toh , Ki haal hai Satluj da ..” (River Ravi asks river Chenab in Jammu &Kashmir, how is river Satluj -Punjab being the land of five rivers –Panj-five, aab-water ) addressing the Indo Pak separation.

Pak women journalists, an MNA –Member of the National assembly –Tahmina Daultana, Faiza Ahmed Malik –Member state assembly, Awais Sheikh- counsel for Indian prisoners in Pakistan, besides mediapersons made up a medley crowd of representations from Pakistan who stood on the Indian side of the border hand in hand with Indians.

On the stage Raga Boyz –a three member band of brothers and sons of Ustad Hamid Ali Khan –Pak’s Gazal Maestro, drummed out the famed trespasses of naughty ‘Jugni’- the cult female folklore figure , brave and rebellious, bellowing out her antics, to the huge crowd who joined in from adjoining border villages.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s congratulatory note was read. “But what good is word oral or written if changes do not take place on the ground” contended Satnam Manak spearheading the Peace march.

Kargil war in 1999, viewed as a back stabbing operation by Pak , served as a bolt from the blue, for the efforts of peace, close on the heels of the CBM euphoria over improving Indo Pak relations, but peaceniks never gave up .
In its 66th year of Independence, and 17 years of ‘candle lit vigil’ this is only the 5th time that peaceniks from Pakistan were allowed to come near the gate to give momentum to the movement of peace.

And the jubilation turned infections when India’s candles glowed and were waved while Pakistanis took more liberties and stuck the candles in the niches that make up Pakistan’s side of the metal border gate. They even mounted upon the gates, peeking through and singing songs while the Pak Rangers and Border Security Force personnel in India smiled and laughed at their antics indulgently.

Songs of ‘Tere Mere geetan pyaar da Pul bandhna, Iss kaandiyali Tarr ne ek din Phul banna …’ (Our songs shall one day become a bridge, ..this barbed wire shall one day turn into a flower..). singing ‘Heer’- another common legend of love, turned crowds to thump a -bhangra in euphoria.
A 40 member Peacenik delegation from Pakistan and the Indian Peace organizations jointly highlighted the commonalities of Punjabis beyond the dividing line. Making fervent appeals to both nations to shed differences and grant visa-less travel to senior citizens, for a year, especially those who had suffered the pain of the partition.
The call did not end here. It called for visa less travel for under 12 year olds. The idea was brilliant. In other words it called for a grandparent to take their grandchildren to the land of their forefathers and forge a feeling of love amongst those who have no clue about the reasons of enmity, stoked by vested interests whose lifeline lay in continued hostilities.
They called for cutting of expense on weapons and alleviating causes to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, creating better civic infrastructure.
For “setting up visa counters at JCP on both sides to facilitate more travel.” This meant more people to people contact and a chance to remove long festered misgivings and doubts. And to resolve the Kashmir issue amicably.

Unlike Kashmir that still has its Bloodlines intact post partition, Punjab was brutally amputated and separated from the other Punjab.

Just after the candles were lit and had played their part, a rain shower washed the entire dirt floating in the air to bring winds of change for this land of hope. I again stole a glance at the moon that emerged through the spent clouds, its baby face shone more glorious and I prayed it would banish this darkness of hatred forever.
URL of story :http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/peace-pangs-and-pain-of-partition-31716.aspx
FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON FRONT PAGE DATED 17 AUGUST 2012

Walled cities of Amritsar and Lahore —-By Rashmi Talwar


Walled Citiies Amritsar & Lahore —by Rashmi Talwar

-Amritsar-Lahore

By Rashmi Talwar ———–

‘Saare jahaan se achha Hindustan hamara…Hum bulbulain hain iski, ye gulistan hamara ….!’ The lines penned and immortalized by famous poet Allama Iqbal, are a potent reminder of the acclaimed fabric of matchless, rich, composite cultural-heritage of people of two Punjabs before the separating linear of the Cyril Radcliff line, ripped apart destinies of millions in the Indo-Pak partition of 1947, forever.

Not only did commoners, but poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Allama Iqbal, writers like Saadat Hassan Manto, Amrita Pritam felt completely torn with the choices to stay in India or Pakistan.

The fate of lifeless works of art was even worse. They came under the tearing wrath of the mob frenzy, who vandalized priceless heritage of sculptures, mostly of the British – and of art and artefacts belonging to minorities. ‘They spat and destroyed them as of the British oppressor or the Kafir’. Such was the hatred that tore through the cities of Lahore and Amritsar, that at present only a lone statue stands in the heart of Lahore i.e. of Alfred Woolmer and a gun, while Amritsar hardly boasts of any public statues, from that period.

Lord Hanuman idol in lahore museum

However the matchless contrasts and comparisons that conjoin the erstwhile twin cities of Lahore and Amritsar in an everlasting bond, truly delights with a visually tangible heritage as also in the common thread that runs through the people’s lifestyle, housing, the tastes and flavours of incomparable cuisine, the common denomination in music, arts, dance and most of all in the unrivalled naughty humour through the lens of intangible heritage.

That “No one goes hungry” is the exalted indisputable status of both cities with Golden Temple’s tradition of ‘Langar’ (free community kitchen) in Amritsar and a similar sentiment pervading in the revered ‘Data Darbar’ of Lahore that ensures food. No surprise then that one is know as ‘Guru ki Nagri’ -Amritsar and other as ‘Data ki Nagri’ -Lahore.

Field on Indo Pak border Amritsar

The fate of the statue of Queen Victoria at Fuhare wala chowk near Golden Temple, Amritsar is unknown, while a similar statue in Black metal at ‘Chairing Cross’ has only the canopy with no statue at one of the main crossings in Lahore, the statue of the queen has however been preserved at the Lahore museum, much to the delight of art and heritage lovers. Many such invaluable heritage artefacts including the ‘Trimurti’ of Ashok pillar and starving Buddha of Buddhist, the Sikh, Christian, Muslim and Hindu art and sculptors including of Hindu gods and goddesses’ idols have found some semblance of respect in the Lahore museum.
Thus, even today, similarities and comparisons of both cities continue despite the oppressive borders.
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Tangible and Intangible heritage:

The exhaustive matter of ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ heritage of both cities was recently highlighted in Lahore by Amritsar based Dr Balvinder Singh, HoD Guru Ramdass School of Planning of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar before an enthusiastic and expert audience at THAAP, (Trust for History, Art and Architecture of Pakistan) Lahore, Pakistan, as also to audience at the University of Engineering and Technology, in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design, Pakistan.

Dr Balwinder, touched the chord in the audience, while talking about the inclusiveness in the architectural pattern of both the ancient walled cities of Amritsar–Lahore and pressed on the urgent need for Integrated Conservational Approach, for the tangible and intangible Heritage of both, as part of his extensive research paper .

His claim has been a product of not only a thorough ground study, but of a painstaking work of passion in collecting historical and documentary proofs on the many tangible similarities. “We urgently need to take stock of situation to save this treasure lest they be lost in the growing consumerist society, gobbling up land, irrespective of either preservation or conservation, of their historicity or essence for posterity”, is his contention, that caught the rapt attention of audiences in a similar dilemma, in Lahore.

Experts in Lahore are aware that their city is replete with structures besides oral and performing heritage owing to reigns of various rulers. Amritsar too is a proud possessor of such heritage being the spiritual capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who at one time, also ruled Kashmir and parts of Afghanistan.

Heritage lovers and experts therefore are visibly angered by the apathy of successive governments towards heritage preservation especially the structural variety on priority, as in comparison, the intangible heritage is less financially draining.

Some diehards feel that “In just a few years, the structural heritage would become ghosts or mere stories or seen only in stage plays or purely as artificial structural decors for restaurants, hotels, resorts and people would gape at these fossilised museum decors in surprise”.

Amritsar, founded by the 4th Sikh Guru in 1577 was turned into a walled city during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in early 19th century due to urgency of erecting solid defence structures from the encroaching British.

Similarly, Lahore also an ancient walled-city has its umbilical cord attached to the Maharaja, although the legendary origins of Lahore can be traced to Lav or Loh, one of the twin son of Lord Rama, the king of Ayodhya, as the founder of the city-Lahore, acknowledged in the official website of Pakistan and by UNESCO on its information board at Shahi Killa Lahore where the Loh shrine exists. Interestingly, Kasur in Pakistan was founded by Kush, the twin of Lav.
Lahore as a famous trade-route bears the cultural influence of at least three empires including, Mughal, British and present Pakistan. Lahore became the cultural capital of the Maharaja, while Amritsar was his spiritual capital.

Amritsar’s Golden Temple- nucleus

The Golden Temple is the key building around which the city arranged itself. Its foundation can be credited to the approach adopted by Sikh Gurus as progressive. Inviting people of varied professions led to setting up of 52 Kittae (trades) and 32 Hattian (shops) still known as ‘batti-hattan’ first developed, followed by Katras.
Similarly, in Lahore the concept of Katra, Mohalla and Kucha exists, named after professions and many areas have similar names.
Besides this, are the fortified gates named after directions to city Like Lohgarh Gate, Lahori Gate facing road to Lahore (Amritsar). Likewise, is the Delhi Darwaza, Multani Darwaza, Kashmiri Gate in Lahore.

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Walled cities

Balwinder points to ‘Shehr’ of Amritsar and the ‘Androon Shehr’ of Lahore as the walled cities are referred to respectively, having varied pattern with Lahore’s lanes in a zigzag pattern and dead ends while Amritsar’s in a ring or grid form with rayed pattern and connectivity.
The values, life styles and way of life are depicted from its land use, street pattern and ‘Mohallas’. Interestingly, both cities had a wonderful ‘mixed’ land use making it socio-economically viable with high degree of community spirit.

Many interventions by the British were made to forward their interests in inculcating English education and introducing greater communication in the form of railways and post office services in both cities. Hence both cities have post office buildings dating to the British era.

Interventions in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer palace of Ram Bagh turned it into a hotch-potch of informal- formal styles, at Gobindgarh Fort, housing residence of Gen O Dyer (murderer of Jallianwala Bagh) and Phansi Ghar (Hanging Room). Similarly at Shahi Killa (Lahore Fort) many incongruous additions were made like the ‘Teh Khana’ (it was also used to house Pak PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, for a short while before he was hanged by Pak military ruler Gen Zia-ul-Haq).
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Wagah — Amritsar Lahore Border


Globalization & Consumerism

But nothing has caused more harm, than globalisation which has proved to be a virtual ‘cultural bulldozer’ for tangible heritage. The lackadaisical approach of successive governments, their unimaginative and lacklustre vision, on preservation of ancient cities while making them congruous with modern development and poor enforcement of building laws have ruined the make up of these ancient cities exhibiting the best in styles of British, Sikh and Mughal architecture.

Tahir Yazdani Malik a passionate heritage lover and President of The Lahore Heritage Club , Pakistan and also working at Institute of Peace and Development (INSPAD) says , we are getting global and robotic and need to redefine our goals in which our heritage should be a vital part of our lives. I know “we will never give up Coke and go for Lassi alone” he laughs, but ‘our monuments are our treasures’ he adds.

At present , Yazdani is working towards restoration of the Ghulam Rasool Building, creating photographic , and GIS images, as also of ‘Andaaz Restaurant’ with Ahmed Cheema which is considered as Pakistan’ first step towards Cultural Heritage conservation of a Restaurant.

Heritage expert Balwinder feels that today’s need is for battery operated non-smoke vehicles to arrest road widening plans and underground streets and to keep the city-scape clear of modern structures.
But with an elevated road and more coming up and the ‘overhead Pod-travel, envisaged for Amritsar in the near future the entire historicity and character of this city is threatened. Old timers feel that in times to come even traditional fruit along with rehris (hand carts) selling Mauve-Jamuns, green-Kaulchapnis from Kashmir, Purple Phalsas or black singarey (water chestnut) all may vanish.

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Of Past with Present: Lahore-Amritsar -Idhar Bhi, Udhar Bhi! :

Nazim, Mian Amer Mahmood’s announcement to retain original Hindu –Sikh names of 58 streets and buildings in Lahore and not let his “government” make Lahore “Islamic”, made heritage lovers of both Lahore and Amritsar euphoric over this decision.

Hence names like Laxmi chowk, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Raja Dina Nath Garden, Dyal Singh College and Library has given Lahore a liberal feel, less visible in other parts of Pakistan.
Humour has a permanent home in Amritsar as much as in Lahore. Where comic greats like Umer Sharif, Moin Akhter, Shakeel Siddiqui, Parvez Siddiqui, Rauf Lala, Irfan Malik and Ali Hassan have brought unparalleled guffaws, Azizi alias Sohail Ahmed’s Hasb-e-Haal programme on Dunya TV with his inimitable political and social satire is most watched in neighbouring Lahore. Of the laughter challenge variety, Amritsar’s funny bone too is a top scorer with Kapil Sharma, Sudesh Lehri, Bharti Singh Lalli, Chandan Prabhakar leading the laugh pack and Ghulle Shah alias Surinder Faristha, a famous Punjabi comedian imparting formal training to comedians. Kewal Dhaliwal, Amritsar’s famed theatre director, presents plays in Amritsar as well as Lahore

langoor mela amritsar


• “Hindu custom of wearing bangles and applying Mehandi has become more popular in Muslim marriages across the border”. -Fauzia Yazdani, Lahore, a senior resource person
• “Pigeon-flying, is still a craze in Lahore, once common in Amritsar, where Indian pigeons breeds like Jalandhari, Ferozpuri and Rampuri, fetch a good price. Besides other sports like “lattu-bazzi”, cock-fights, Dancing horses and ram-fights were common in both cities”. – Faisal Satti, Lahore-Senior TV journalist with a foreign channel.

• “Kasuri Methi and Pakistani rock salt are widely used in Amritsari cuisines and “Kasuri Jutti” is still popular in Punjab”-Anuja Mallik, Amritsar-(just returned from Lahore)
• Pigeons-as traditional folklore messengers- stamped with Urdu couplets thrilled Indian villages like Dauke (Amritsar), surrounded on three sides by Pakistan. ~Dr Inderbir Nijjar, Amritsar- Radiologist Amritsar, and ardent fan of famed poet Faiz Ahmd Faiz.

• Just so, kites with prints of Indian film stars still bring cheer to neighbouring countryside of Lahore. Interestingly, a village, surrounded on three sides by India in Jammu sector, bears two names. ‘Khanjar’ in Pakistan and ‘Chicken Neck’ in India. For Pakistan the village’s shape forks-forward like a knife or ‘Khanjar’ surrounded by India on three sides while for India it is as if the village is ‘chicken neck’ captive in the hands of India. ~ Dr Joginder Kairon, Amritsar- Expert in Folklore.

• “In Lahore, it was common to see Hindus showering rose-petals on the Muharram procession, while Muslims were seen to flock to Ram Leela festivities on the back side of Badshahi Mosque, at Minto Park as also take part in the Diwali and Dussera festivities,” in the days before partition, -Chaudhary Tabassum – Member Lahore Heritage club.

• There are many areas in Lahore that may surprise a visitor from Amritsar. For instance, a Landa Bazaar with the same name exists in Lahore and in Amritsar, selling goods from each other’s country. Both bazaars are interestingly, located near the respective railway stations of the two cities! The Hall Road in Lahore sells electrical appliances, while it namesake “Hall Bazaar” in Amritsar, too sells the same. Incidentally, most “C” grade hotels in Lahore are found near its railway station and bus stand, and the same is somewhat true for Amritsar. Lahore’s ‘Paan Mandi’ displays Indian paraphernalia like ‘chavanparash’ ‘paan leaf’, hajmola, Banarsi sarees, paan masala etc. – Sajjad Anwar Lahore – director at TV News channel .

• Kite flying denounced by Mullahs as Hindu-Sikh festival is still a rage in Lahore despite bans with competitions carrying on from night uptil dawn in the week of Punjabi festival of ‘Basant’ -Nabila Iqbal, Lahore -Senior IT Officer
• Amritsar’s gotta, dabka parsi, machine embroidery in suits are a rage in Lahore while Pak’s lace and lace embroidery its fine chicken embroidery and lawn – a fine cotton of Pakistan from Faislabad remains a hot favourite in Amritsar. – Monica Mehra, a boutique owner, Amritsar

• Lahore glitters with its gold market called “Suha Bazaar”, the “Guru Bazaar” in Amritsar is a nice shopping stop for wedding jewellery. However lately many elite ladies from Lahore are known to buy diamond jewellery from Amritsar. Club culture is prevalent since the times of British, and now the Mall culture has entered our lifestyles in both cities- Zareena Saeed, Lahore- Lecturer in Punjab University.

• Interestingly, ‘Kuch toh log Kahenge’ popular serial on Sony TV in India gives its credit on storyline to popular Pakistani serial of 70s ‘Dhoop Kinare’ which we have already seen on PTV – Anupama Arora, Amritsar-from Kashmir.

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Traditional Amritsari and Lahori food is – “Laajawab” and “Buraaaa”..!!
No Amritsar Lahore

1 Aamritsari Famous Veg & Non-Veg : Champ, Tava Tikka, Brain Curry, Tandoori Chicken, Seekh Kabab, Fish Haryali Kabab, Amritsari Fish Fry, Machi Kabab, Raita, Sarson Ka Saag, Shammi Kabab Lahori Famous Veg & Non-Veg : Nihari Paye, Sree Paye, Shorba Kabab, Kathi Kabab, Gurde-Kapoore, Amritsari Fish Fry, Rann, Mutton Karahi, Sarson Ka Saag, Murg Takka Tak, Raita, Reshmi Kabab

2 Indian Rotis: Allo Ke Kulche, Bread Kulche, Butter Naan, Missi Roti, Onion-Garlic Naan, Poori, Makki Ki Roti, Bhega Kulcha, Rumali Roti Pak Rotis: Tillian Wale Kulche, Rogni Naan, Kasuri Methi Kulche, Manji Dee Dewan Waly, Lahore Special Kulche, Poori, Mhandrra Kulcha, Makki Di Roti

3 Amritsari Desi Snacks: Samose, Sat-Poore, Kachori, Mutter, Paneer Pakore, Onion And Veg Pakore, Dhokla, Papri Chat, Golgappe, Tikki, Bun-Chaney, Pao Bhaji, Khandavi Lahori Desi Snacks: Golgappe, Fruit Chat, Dahi Bhaley, Pakore, samosa

4 Amritsari Drinks : Masala Chai, Coffee, Juices, Cane Juice, Buttermilk, Lassi, Mango Shake, Shikwanjvi, Bantey Wali Lemonade, Mausmi Juice, Nimbu Chai, Noon Chai/ Lahori Drinks : Kashmiri Chai, Kava, Phalsa Juice, Sugar-Cane Juice, Lassi, Shikwanjvi

5 Amritsari Sweets: Boondi-Besan Ke Laddo, Kalkand, Chena Murgi, Kaju, Badam, Pista Burfi, Pinni, Jalebi , Gulab Jamun, Rasgulla, Kheer , Phirni, Gur Ka Halwa, Mung Dal Ka Halwa, Karah Prasad, Kulfi-Falooda, Gajrrela, Lahori Sweets: Seeweiyaan, Jalebi, Mutanjaan (7 Colored Sweet Rice), Kheer, Phirni, Sheer Khrmma, Badam Khateein , Karachi Halwa, Loki Ka Halwa, Kasoori Katlmey, Lal Khoo Barfi, Kulfa-Falooda, Zarda, Pethhey


Royal Treat of Haryanvi ‘paanwala’ in Lahore

Shahi-paanwala-Lahore


Among Lahore’s most unforgettable visitations is, if one can catch the stall of Rana Bhai Paan Wala, ‘Shahi-Paandaan wala’ in any of the grand exhibitions in Lahore. Once the ‘shaan’ of Anarkali’s Food Street in Lahore, Rana originally from Ambala in Haryana India now sets up stall at national or international exhibitions in Lahore. But his style remains the same. He is still perched atop a royal throne-like chair, covered with satin covers.
What immediately strikes you, is his glamorous attire of satins, which some say, ‘looks straight from a drama company!’ However creating drama is his USP which he does with aplomb by dressing up as famous urdu poets. It is not surprising thus that many a times he is mistaken for a ‘Mirza Ghalib look-alike with ‘Turki topi’ and ‘khussa’ jutti, strings of ‘taveez’ and rose garlands on his wrists.
“What sets him apart is his style” points out Ms Neelima Naheed Durrani, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Lahore recently on vacation in hometown from a UN mission in Sudan. The stock of photographs that Rana grandly displays in his stall with Pakistan’s Cricketing greats and many from the bureaucratic and political spectrum of the country immediately catches the eye.
The Royal Treat: ‘A customer is first sprinkled with rose water and then showered with rose petals. In a leaf bowl “Paan” garnished with “vark” is served to the customer, who can see his own self being pampered in mirrors as well as the close circuit cameras strategically placed in the stall. After a few bites into the melting ‘galoori paan’ added with local made ‘gullukand’ prepared by special briar-rose petals prevalent in upper reaches of Chakwal District, Rana Bhai once again showers rose petals on the customer, to complete the ritual’. Eventhough, one is standing in a street full of people, being pampered thus, with onlookers staring, makes one feel no less than a King or Queen!
It is a different matter however that a hired sweeper, collects the rose petals again and puts them in a big sieve to separate it from the dust to be re-used again!
Talking from Lahore, Rana says he gets regular orders from Dubai and Middle East countries for festive occasions and sets up his stall during festivals and grand Exhibitions. Of course his paan leaf is the very famous Indian ‘Banarsi patta’. Interestingly, Rana has recreated the ‘Lucknavi Bazaar’ innovation with Barbie dolls dressed up in “Lucknavi” Salwar suits and others in burqa placed as decoration that surely becomes a cynosure for foreigners and locals alike.

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FIRST PUBLISHED IN “RISING KASHMIR” ON 31 JULY , 2012 AS A FULL PAGE

Op Bluestar: Dome of many-coloured glasses ……. BY Vikram Jit Singh



Before noon on a hot June day in 1984, I was aboard a rickety Haryana Roadways bus to my beloved Naani’s house in Chandigarh to enjoy a spell of golf and pampering following a strenuous assault on the Class X Board examinations. A military history buff and a passionate reader of Commando comics, my youthful imagination was stirred when our bus snaked through innumerable convoys of troops draped in camouflage nets on the GT Road from Delhi. I wondered if our nation was preparing for war. Luckily, I just about sneaked into my grandmother’s house in Sector 11 when curfew was imposed.

I was imprisoned. I stood for hours at the gate watching Army trucks patrol the streets of this genteel neighbourhood. I darted out one afternoon to collect labernum flowers — strewn, unadmired and untrampled on the pavements — for my grandmother only to be rudely shooed back by soldiers in a jeep. The mystery of the Army tailing me from Delhi was soon resolved. Then PM Indira Gandhi addressed the nation on AIR and spoke of the need to storm the Golden Temple, the revered shrine of my community. My paternal Aunt, a God-fearing lady entirely free of malice, rang up, quoting her relatives from Amritsar. She spoke of Army truckloads spilling over with bodies of Sikh pilgrims, dumped in mass pyres and plumes of smoke rising from the Holy City as the bones and flesh of the innocent crackled and hissed. The truth, however, is certainly far less dramatic. The fact was that the Sikh psyche had been irreparably scarred.

As passion inflamed my heart, my late father, a senior civil servant then serving with the Government of India, counselled me. Mrs Gandhi had criminally blundered by delaying the flushing out operation and had let Bhindranwale and co. arm themselves to the teeth. Yet, at the same time, we as a community had failed because we had not objected strongly enough to armed desperadoes desecrating the temple’s sanctity. Four of my father’s colleagues, including a dear Uncle, went on protest leave against Operation Blue Star.

My father summoned me back to Delhi as soon as curfew lifted. He had a terrible premonition of darkness looming. On October 31, as I loitered about in school for a meal break, we were informed that Mrs Gandhi had been assassinated. We were granted a holiday right then. Sikhs spoke of divine retribution and fondly quoted the statement published in a Southall publication soon after Blue Star: that the bullet designed for Mrs Gandhi had departed the barrel.

In the evening of November 1, a mob of 700 stood outside our bunglow behind Parliament House baying for our blood. As fortune would have it, KK Paul, who later rose to become Delhi Police Commissioner, lived down our road and spotted the smoke coming out of a Sikh MP’s house right next to his, which had just been torched by the mob. He sent in a burly Sikh officer with a posse of cops to our house. The mob was turned back. Later that night, as we dowsed our lights and told our domestic helps to put out word that we were out-of-station, a lone Sikh was caught by a mob of 100, bashed on his head with a boulder, and dowsed with petrol siphoned from a motorbike tank just 20 yards from our bunglow. Our domestic helps, who were guarding our gate, recounted that horrific slaying to us later. They could never extinguish that memory. On the day of Mrs Gandhi’s cremation, we fled our bunglow at 3 am and took shelter with Paul, whose wife, Omita, proved a very reassuring host.

Strangely, none of the `brave gun-toting followers’ of Bhindranwale rushed to Delhi to take on the murderous mobs. Perhaps, the communalists hoped it would trigger migrations and help create Khalisthan. Perhaps the socio-economic mix of Delhi’s victims did not sync with the concerns of a section of the Punjab peasantry that spearheaded militancy. The 1984 Sikh pogrom has never really inflicted that deep a wound on the Punjab Sikhs arraigned against the Indian State though it has served as a handy political tool to whip the Congress with. With time, the pogrom’s scars may heal but the Sikhs will never forgive or forget Blue Star. No `invader’ who has dared enter the Golden Temple through history has gone unpunished; neither has any Sikh `luminary’ with an over-weaning ego, aka Bhindranwale. Interestingly, Lt Gen KS Brar `Bulbul’ starts off his rather racy account of the battle in his book (Operation Blue Star: The True Story) by remarking that both Bhindranwale and himself belonged to the Brar-Sidhu gotra of the Jat Sikhs.

As the memorial for Blue Star gathers steam, a deep schism surfaces. Many articulate people from Punjab’s minority community voice apprehensions in newspaper letter columns. Memories of passengers pulled out from buses, segregated and shot, migrant labourers mowed down sleeping at tubewells, shopkeepers butchered on their stools and RSS workers slayed while exercising. These are not just memories but genies of a collective consciousness that can come loose again. The years of armed militancy have left another odious legacy: a police and bureaucratic regime spoilt rotten by the heady years of President’s Rule. But armed militants have dared not rise from their cold pyres. Perhaps, the Gurus sitting in the Heavens above had not sanctioned all that Bhindranwale and his men committed in their august names, and had dealt militancy an early and deathly blow.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN TIMES OF INDIA ON JUNE 6, 2012 ON ANNIVERSARY OF OP BLUESTAR OF 1984 IN AMRITSAR

Jammu & Kashmir Interlocator’s Report in the Open ! By Saanjh


J&K-InterlocatorsRpt-0512

THE ABOVE IS THE ENTIRE INTERLOCUTOR’S REPORT IN PDF FORMAT

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/interlocutors-suggest-review-of-statute-provisions-in-jammu-and-kashmir/1/197336.html

Interlocutor’s report on Jammu and Kashmir !!

A tireless crusader /Courage & conviction/ by Rashmi Talwar


Courage & conviction
A tireless crusader

As a young girl of barely twenty years in 1946, Kunti Paul set out to do social service and remained committed to the AIWC as member of the standing committee for nearly 40 years. That however did not deter her from lending her expertise and enthusiasm to other prominent associations at the time, says Rashmi Talwar

KUNTI Paul begged, cajoled, persuaded and performed an almost impossible task — that of convincing women (young and old to part with their jewellery and money.

As an exemplary gesture, Kunti first donated the gold bangles which her father had lovingly given her at the time of her marriage. She helped to collect gold and money equal to the weight of Jawaharlal Nehru who made a fervent appeal after the 1962 Chinese aggression, to help tide over the financial emergency. Since the rupee did not find many takers in the international markets at that time, gold was valued in exchange in order to help buy weapons and stabilise economy of a newly independent nation. At the forefront of the freedom movement, Kunti had laboured before the country faced gruelling events of Partition.

“It wasn’t an easy task,” she recalls, But it meant “freedom” call the word a magic potion or adrenaline that sustained the very existence of Indians at the time. Nehru had selected her for the daunting task, as she had proved her dedication and worth as the national president of the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), a national body for women’s empowerment since pre-Partition years.

Thereafter, she went on to represent the country at the United Nations and spoke passionately on the plight of Indian women. Kunti has specifically focused on a woman’s predicament after her circumstantial or deliberate abandonment and her subsequent rehabilitation. She elucidated her viewpoint on the law and legal system to ensure shelter to women in cases of divorce settlements, widowhood, maltreatment and that of physical and mental abuse. Frail in health at the age of 77, as she presided over the local unit of AIWC’s annual function recently and surveyed its progress, she has lost none of her formidable spirit. She insists on walking without the support of a walking stick.

Not untouched by tragedy, Kunti had lost both her sons. While one of them had died in 1990, after fighting a prolonged battle with cancer, the other one Narbhir Paul an MLA in UP was killed by assassins in 2000. She immersed herself with the work of women’s uplift and empowerment and went on to complete her Masters in history at 60.

The AIWC has nearly 500 branches all over India, many of them were established with her help in north India. As a young girl of barely twenty years in 1946, she set out to do social service and remained committed to the AIWC as member of the standing committee for nearly 40 years. That however did not deter her from lending her expertise and enthusiasm to other prominent associations at the time.

She was a member of the habitat and environment quarter of a century since 1976. Having spoken at national and international seminars, she wrote several papers on environment and women’s problems. She remained an executive member of the Red Cross society, child welfare, blood bank society, cancer society, citizen’s peace committee. Having travelled all over major countries of the world she says: “Women’s problems remain the same throughout the world.” A member of the Punjab State Family Planning Board, the small savings scheme board, state social welfare advisory board Kunti guided the activities of grameen mahila sangh in villages. She helped to collect funds and amenities for defence forces during both the Pak aggressions and also helped in military hospital and organising women’s defence councils then the most threatening problem faced by India is “population explosion” and we should borrow the blue-print of family planning programme from China, with some valid modifications, to take a strong steps to stem the burgeoning population, she contends.

However, amazingly, her only dream which still remains to be fulfilled is to do her doctorate (Ph.D) in history.

First carried in The Tribune in 2003 http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030413/herworld.htm#2

The Partition of Territory, Not Hearts —by Vaneet Kundra


by Vaneet Kundra
THE Partition of India ranks, beyond a doubt, as one of the 10 greatest tragedies in human history. It was not inevitable. India’s independence was inevitable; but preservation of its unity was a prize that, in our plural society, required high statesmanship. That was in short supply. A mix of other reasons deprived us of that prize – personal hubris, miscalculation, and narrowness of outlook.
The bare details of 1947 and its legacy are stark. The territorial partition that created modern India and Pakistan involved the internal division of Punjab and Bengal provinces, which – in unimaginable conditions of collapse of authority, flight, and massacre – resulted in the forced movement of 20 million people (Hindus and Sikhs to India and Muslims to Pakistan) and approximately 1.5 million deaths.
My grandfather used to tell me stories of partition and the emotions attached to it. I was quite interested to know, why the same sons of soil were detached by our founding fathers. He read a small article, which he had preserved.

“This feeling of disbelief is best summarised in the words of an officer in charge of refugee rehabilitation in Punjab, who said: “we in India were only vaguely familiar with the word ‘refugee’ and used to wonder why people should be compelled to leave homes. Even our refugees expressed surprise at the strange phenomenon of exchange of population and were heard saying, we used to hear about the change of rulers but for the first time the ruled are also changing places”.
The partition of 1947 was far more than an abstract line across administrative maps; it sought to create separate enclaves for different religious communities. In August 1947, when the “Radcliffe award ” partitioning Punjab and Bengal was announced, millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs now found that they no longer “belonged” to the place they were born in and had lived in forever.
But some questions remain unanswered, even if dwell deep into history to know the real reasons. It was a master stroke developed by British rulers on the policy of ‘ Divide and rule ‘. But the fact remains, that we are two different countries in territory, but not different in our culture, history, values, emotions, ancestors, language, food and jokes, specially the people of undivided pre-partition Punjab.
The imperialists never forgot to play their game of ‘ Divide and rule’, inspite leaving our land in 1947. They kept on pumping arms and ammunition to both us with a double benefit. Their economy thrives on this particular industry. We both pay them for arms to fight one another. They have a win-win situation all the time. Then we give them all the importance to mediate between us all the time. They have become our Super- Rulers again without any cost.
There was a photo published in several Delhi newspapers during the nuclear stand-off of 1998, when popular media discourse was spiced with comment about how the Indian nuclear-tipped warheads could reach all the way to Lahore and Islamabad.
The photo showed a crowd of Hindus and Sikhs dancing in patriotic celebration of India’s momentary advantage over Pakistan in the race for regional military supremacy. What intrigued me was that the revellers were the descendants of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan; in hard logic, they were cheering the capacity to annihilate the land of their parents and grandparents. Such nationalist intoxication too is the fruit of partition.
After doing my B.A. ( Hons. ) from St. Stephens College, Delhi University, I came down to Amritsar to assist my brother in business as we had a business in Delhi and Amritsar both. For many years, I did not get the chance to visit Wagah border. Our business friends from Rajasthan had come to Amritsar with their family. They were quite eager to go there and see the retreat, as they had heard a lot about it in Rajasthan So me and my wife drove them upto Wagah, one fine Sunday in winters. This was during the time when Gen. Mushraff’ was the President of Pakistan.
While driving past Amritsar upto Wagah, we had thought, specially our Rajasthani friends, we would experience all that should be different. People, food, dwellings, crops, etc. Also, we’d thought everything should look, as between worst enemies, torn and divided: Culture, Community, Ancestry, History and Religion. But that was not to be. It was as if it were an extension of India into Pakistan, with nothing noticeable that tells one from the other.
We had heard about the Drill at Wagah and the sentiments attached to the event. A colleague in my office had once told me, “One is very enthused and enough prepared to die for the country at that moment, Sir”. The Indian side shouts “Vande-Matram, Bharat Mata ki Jai and Hindustan Zindabad”. The other side says, “Pakistan Zindabad, Paaindabad.” Lowering of the flags on both sides is followed by a common drill in which the Border Security Force Men and Pakistani Rangers ‘out step’ each other with overt and aggressive, macho display of strength.
Well we reached the Wagah Border with barbed fencing leading from both sides. The strong iron-gates were painted in tricolor scheme on ‘our’ side and green & white on ‘theirs’. Crowds of people having patriotic blood flowing through their veins had gathered on both sides. Each half was charitable but only to itself in shouting slogans. It was here that I felt there existed two countries, two people, two communities, two entities.
But still carried away by my fondness and respect for our mutual bonhomie with Pakistan, the tales of which I had heard from my father and grandfather, I began cheering even the ‘other side’ when they sought response to their sloganory exhortations. Suddenly then, I felt a tapping on my shoulder by ‘someone’. I turned back and looked someone with whom an argument ensued reflexively.
“Why are you cheering them?”
“There is nothing wrong in that”
“Are you one of those?”
“And are you someone different?”
“Don’t know they’re separate now?”
“Do Rivers stop entering this side?”
“Political rhetoric is long dead”
“So will be peace-willing generations!”
“Khushwants, Nayyars, Asma Jahangirs?”
“Yes. Precisely. So let’s cheer each other.”
“Don’t hear they swear by Allah?”
“Large number among us also does that.”
“They’re under seize and are tensed.”
“That’s why they deserve our cheers!”
“Emotional fool! Go your way”
Having been thus ticked off, I realized that ‘Someone’ was none else than my own flawed self. But what I had been looking in that crowd, even after the event of retreat drill, was the face of a child called Noor. Remember she had a successful heart surgery in Hindustan some years back. I am sure the likes of her would be the new generation of peace-willers in Pakistan. The retreat left me more hopeful. Emotional fool. Did you say that? No. Now it is ‘someone’ again at it. Damn him and hail peace!

Performing Seva Winning Hearts:Pakistan’s Depty AG cleans shoes & utensils at Golden Temple


Pakistan's Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Khurshid Khan


Nothing wins hearts more than True Humility….. Saanjh.wordpress.com
Performing Seva Winning Hearts:Pakistan’s Depty AG cleans shoes & utensils at Golden Temple
By Neeraj Bagga

Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Khurshid Khan polishes shoes during a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Tuesday. photo: vishal kumar

Amritsar, March 27
He polished shoes for peace. Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Khurshid Khan believed that selfless service can work wonders. Even that can melt the differences across borders.

Paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and wishing for harmony and peace between India and Pakistan, Khan denounced violent activities in the world.

True to his popularity in doing sewa at Sikh shrines in Pakistan, Khan dusted and polished shoes of devotees at the Joda Ghar at the Golden Temple.

A part of a Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association delegation, which arrived in India on March 21, Khan today arrived here from New Delhi. “During me stay in the holy city, I will do sewa at Joda Ghar (volunteer service of cleaning shoes) at the Golden Temple daily. Besides, I will visit Durgiana Temple tomorrow, a church on Sunday and Mosque on Friday,” he said.

Khan has been involved in volunteer service in various gurdwaras in Pakistan and India to oppose the kidnapping of three Sikh men by Taliban militants in Peshawar in 2010.

Of these abducted Sikhs, one Jaspal Singh was murdered. “It is not limited to atonement and purging for sins of my community members, but it’s the way to spread communal harmony,” he added.

“Being a Pakistani, a Mohammedan and a Pathan, I feel it is my duty to remove the misconception of terrorism tag attached to these names,” he said.

He added that inhuman actions of some frenzied people in the name of Taliban had damaged and tarnished Pakistan’s “pluralistic” heritage where Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities live together with the Muslim community. He said it was unfair to tarnish a whole community for the sins of a few.

Reluctant to form any kind of organisation to spread the message of peace, he believed that anybody from India and Pakistan could join him. He said his objective was to continue the tradition of paying obeisance at Sikh shrines which started from Peshawar’s Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh two years back.

BETWEEN AMRITSAR & LAHORE by Dr. Manohar Singh Gill MP Rajya Sabha


When I was a little boy in Tarn Taran, a doggerel known to every Punjabi was oft quoted: “The man who has not been to Lahore, is not born”. A second lesser known, but often said in verbal jousts ran: The Donkey has been to Lahore, and now puts on airs.

I hadn’t been to Lahore for many years, and thought mid-February the perfect time to visit friends. A night stay at the Guru Nanak University was a pleasure. A better kept campus with rich plantation, can hardly be seen anywhere else. A visit to the Golden Temple, in the mid-day warming sun, was as always exciting: plenty of people from every corner of India, and queues, to get in over the narrow causeway. I talked to many in the Parikarma. Even I was astonished, at the presence of all of India. I met Tamils, Andhrites, families from Odisha, others from Bihar and Bengal. This was just a sample. Everything sparkled in the bright sun and clear air, and the mood was one of joy.

Manohar Singh Gill, Member Parliament

The drive to Attari-Wagha was interesting. The many laned road is perfect. Just out of Amritsar, was the bronze statue of Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala. Thirty years ago as a young Commissioner, I dreamt of putting up such monuments, but the time was not ripe. On both sides of the road, I saw excellent wheat, and the yellow mustard of Mulk Raj Anands’ short stories.

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At the Attari Border, I saw hundreds and hundreds of laden trucks, waiting to cross over. I questioned people. They were carrying many kinds of vegetables. I asked of the waiting time, and was horrified to know, that it is generally a week, sometimes even more! This is hardly smooth commerce, and I could imagine the suffering of the drivers in the cold, and the loss to the transport companies, in efficient utilization of the trucks. I enquired, if it was as bad on the Pakistani side. I learnt that they were better! Why was this so on our side? It appears that the perpetual Indian curse of distrust, and lack of common sense, leading to the filling of multiple forms, and many many useless enquiries. I am clear from my long experience, that most good policies and reforms, are reduced and sometimes nullified by bureaucrats, who see a devil under every bed, and think that form filling is the solution to it all. The robust Punjabis on the Lahore side, are inclined to use their common sense more, than big rule books. To cap it all, trucks pass from 9A.M. to 2P.M. after that the police on both sides, practice their evening aggressive parade. It is strange that vital commerce is allowed only for a few hours, the rest of the day being given over, to the promotion of aggressive parades and negative attitudes. The fact is both the police and the people are relaxed, and not with this goose stepping.
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I will give a parallel example. The Amritsar-Lahore bus, was started with great fanfare, many years ago. The day I crossed, the bus too had gone to Lahore, entirely empty except for the driver and the cleaner. It seems this happens all the time, and everybody is pretending, that a great confidence building action has been taken. I am from a Tarn Taran village. I had said publically many years ago that the bus will fail, unless there is a Pakistan Visa office in Amritsar, and an Indian one in Lahore. I think they existed, but were shut down after the 1965 war. The bus needs a man from my village, to come to Amritsar in the morning, get a 24 hrs visa stamped, go to Nankana Sahib, and cross back in the evening, dining with his family. Punjab people have to fill half a dozen forms, which are sent to half a dozen Ministries, mainly home and police agencies, and they are lucky if they get a visa in six months! All this to take a day trip to Lahore, 30 miles across the border. The system being followed is meant to nullify the initiative, no less. Strangely more then a thousand rupees are charged for this 30 mile trip.
I will also say, that the Lahore people suffer equally. I could quote numerous examples, of high dignitaries, and professionals begging around our embassy in Islamabad. Their request sometimes, for my help embarrasses me. Pakistanis get a visa to go direct to Delhi, and are not allowed to get down at Amritsar, to visit the Golden Temple, or for cheaper medical treatment, in a familiar Punjabi environment. The Delhi-Lahore bus too, zips through the Punjab, escorted at our cost, but no Punjabi can get on it! I wish somebody would explain the rationale to me.

On the Pakistan side, many people welcomed us, and we stayed with Cambridge friends. In 1974 Dr. Rashid Amjad, newly married, was doing a Ph.D. in Cambridge, when I was writing a book, on the Punjab Green Revolution Success. He is the only case that I know, who got married to a pretty girl, took her to Cambridge, and still managed to study other irrelevant matters, and somehow get a Ph.D.! Manzoor had worked with me in Nigeria for four long years, but never given up the Rishta. The Mall Road and the wide thorough fares were a delight. The Silk cottons, were already bursting into potential blooms, ancient plane trees touching the sky were everywhere. For centuries Punjabis have lived with invaders, and the doggerel is known to all of us : Khada Peeta Lahe Da, Baaki Ahmad Shahe Da. Eat and drink what you can, the rest belongs to Ahmad Shah Durrani. So every evening there had to be a massive meal hosted by a gracious lady. One evening we were taken to Andaaz Restaurant in Old Lahore, overlooking the beautifully lighted Badshahi Mosque, Ranjit Singh’s Tomb, and the Akbar built Fort.

Of course, I played a round of Golf. I could not compete with the idle of Lahore, distinguished high public servants they might have been, but I did not disgrace myself. In the pavilion Verandah, I found four old bodies, tucking into plates of fried eggs, tomatoes, toasts, cheese and mushrooms. I went across in a wicked mood to greet them. They tried hard to ruin my cholesterol levels, and were anxious to take me to dinner. Another golfer passing by, was introduced to me as a past Federal Secretary. He gave me a knee touching greeting, in honour of the Indian Election Commission’s past work. I had been there once.
In that society of the well to do, I suddenly spied, an Aam Aadmi, a peasant, sixtyish, white Punjabi Chaddar, and white Punjabi Turban in a jaunty village style, that I know. He had a broom and was sweeping tree leaves. He was looking longingly, at the only Sikh on the horizon. I walked across and greeted him. We soon learnt that we were brother Gills. All Punjabi peasants, are Gills, Chatthas, Waraich etc. We are a tribal people from the North, religious variations came to us later, and our past over rides all these. We hugged each other, and numerous photographs were taken. He said I had made his day. I knew that he had made mine.

The next day I went to Kartarpur, some distance from Narowal, two hours from Lahore. People think only of Nankana Sahib, where Guru Nanak was born. My take is different. The miracle child lived his first 15 years at Nankana, the next 15 at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala, working in the Lodhi Governors office. At age 30, he gave it all up, and became a Sufi Fakir in search of the ultimate. He travelled to Baghdad, Mecca Madina, Assam, Tibet, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. After 20 years of having sat with the Sants, Sadhus, and Sufis of the world, he came back at the age of about 50, set up a Farm on the banks of the Raavi, and spent the next 20 years preaching what he knew. Guru Nanak’s teachings are all from Kartarpur. He passed away there. Muslims and Hindus argued over burial and cremation. As the legend goes, they found only flowers under the Chaddar, and half were buried, half cremated. To me Kartarpur, from where a mature Guru Nanak preached Sikhism, comes first and his place of birth second.
Sadly, in 1947 Independence came to both countries, but marooned the Mecca-Madina of the Sikh people. For the last 64 years, we are allowed limited permission for a few thousand each year, by the Home/Police Ministries of the two countries for pilgrimage only to go to Nankana Sahib, Lahore, and Panja Sahib near Islamabad. Guru Nanak’s Kartarpur was locked away, and it fell into disrepair. Now, the Pakistan Wakf has repaired it, and opened it for limited privileged visitors. In 2004, I had gone to Dera Baba Nanak, a small township, where Baba used to come across the Raavi, from his right bank Ashram, to preach to the people: hence the name Dera Baba Nanak. I stood on the Dhussiband on the Raavi, and saw Kartarpur 2 kms across. I found that Sikh men and women came everyday, in their hundreds, to bow in the mud, cry a little, and go back home. They could only glance at Kartarpur with longing eyes. It is strange that the Sikhs are the only people in the world, who are denied free and liberal access to their Mecca-Madina. I believe that the indifference on both sides, has given this punishment to the Sikhs since independence.

In the early winter morning, we drove across wheat and yellow mustard fields, through the pleasant countryside, passing villages and small settlements. The agriculture is good but frankly could be better. I did not see too many boys, and particularly girls, on the road going to school. In our Punjab thousands of girls on cycles, rushing to lots of schools is a happy sight. I missed that. At Kartarpur we suddenly turned a bend in the road, and there was the Gurdwara, elegant and standing alone, in a vast green rural landscape. A large number of people were waiting to greet me. I paid my obeisance and climbed to the top to look across at the eucalyptus trees on the Dhussiband across the Raavi. So close and yet so far.

I had wanted to meet people, real people, peasants, the salt of the land. I had met enough of the upper crust in Lahore. A large number had come. We sat on Charpais. Deghs of Biryani had been brought. Everyone ate. Three leading singers from the area, were there. Each sang to his heart’s content, and my delight. They sang of Guru Nanak; Bulle Shah, Heer Ranjha and Farid. I then spoke to them, and made it clear, that Guru Nanak was for the people. Therefore for me to come, and do isolated prayers, and not meet the people, amongst whom he is still revered as a great Sufi, was not possible. The experience will live with me, as it will with them.

At Nankana Sahib, the next day, I found that the Gurudwara is much improved. The mud inner compound is elegantly marbled. There are many double storeyed rest houses for pilgrims and a Sarovar. There is also an excellent Guru Nanak School nearby, where a thousand students study. My wife and I had lunch, with the family of Haroon Bhatti. He is the 16th descendent of Rai Bolar, the Zamindar of the area in 1469, when Guru Nanak was born. Rai Bolar took to this miracle child, and Sikhs have plenty of stories of Rai Bolar’s great love for Guru Nanak. So do the Bhatti family. The family were gracious and kind, the final proof, Saag and Makki Roti in a big spread.

I went to Aitcheson College and spoke to the boys. I visited the Lahore School of Economics, set up by my friends, the two Chaudhary brothers, both Cambridge alumni. This outstanding school, is putting a thousand boys and girls into Pakistan society every year. Girls and boys were in equal numbers, the girls better dressed than our Delhi ones. There were many Libraries and cafeterias. They had tried to give a Cambridge atmosphere. I believe this school will impact, Pakistan’s future in a positive way. Someone on my side should have a look, and start something similar in the Punjab.

Since 2004, I have been campaigning at every level, for direct and free access to Kartarpur, from Dera Baba Nanak, without visas etc. The idea is simple. We can walk barefoot, two kilometers across a boat bridge over the Raavi, built post monsoon, do our prayers and come back. The path could be cordoned on both sides, with barbed wire, with police in attendance. Security will be satisfied, and the Sikh people of India, will have full access to their Mecca as all other faiths, have to theirs. In the 21st Century, it is time good and caring people in both countries, looked at this, to give comfort to the Sikhs.

Dr. Manohar Singh Gill
Member of Parliament
Contact No- 011-23792953
/ I thank Dr MS Gill for sending this write-up for Saanjh.wordpress.com… Regards Rashmi Talwar for Saanjh-Amritsar Lahore Blog

Bol- ‘Bold’ By Rashmi Talwar /Film Review/ Pak film Tops in India


Bol-'Bold' By Rashmi Talwar /Film Review /

Bol- ‘Bold’

By Rashmi Talwar

Bol is bold, brash and banshee … Every time one tries predicting; a new twist fevicols (glues) one to the seat. At the outset it seems just another stereotype sob-story but its inner mazes – wraps and unwraps- you in a blind-hole, wherein you search the light out of the mysterious tunnel.

Writer-Director Shoaib Mansoor’s second inning’s outstanding production after the much acclaimed Khuda Kay Liye, Bol rains questions on Pakistan’s society on retro practices, hollow honor, patriarchal modes and the sufferance of innocent humankind as puppeteer controlled dolls.
In flashback mode, Shoaib takes a dig at society’s claim on male heir, while queuing a dozen daughters to attain the elusive son. Told through a compelling narrative as Zainab (Humaima Malick) narrates her life history, to the watchful media, minutes before being noosed to death- the eldest of the many daughters of conservative Muslim family of Hakim saab (Manzar Zehbai) reveals all in her journey to death’s rope.
The elusive son-chase ends with birth of Saifee (Amr Kashmiri).

A storyline so amazing, no mumbo-jumbo to those of the Indian sub-continent but shocking for western farers, the film explores the depths of deep-rooted bias and exploitation born out of systemized centuries-old drilling, about the role and place of a woman in society. The scene of ‘currency–note washing and ironing’ to purify is an unmistakable gesture, worming from debased superstition.

Saifee’s artistic development, his closeness to his sisters is the mystery in the movie owing to its ‘queer’ storyline . However, Saifee being admonished by his protagonist sister for donning lipstick and wearing duppata et al, sees him raising a vital question ‘ Is being a man –Means to be stiff-lipped, beat women and treat family like scum?
Saifee’s eventual destiny is that which connects you the angst over something that human being is hopeless to rectify .

A murder twists the plot into a complete shredding of ideals and age-old pretext values and as they say –‘Allah’s rage looms large’- of father taking a complete dirt-road, out of his predicament.

Hakim saab’s trot to the house of Saqa Kanjar (Shafqat Cheema), a tout of Lahore’s infamous Heera Mandi –And then the ‘strangest agreement’ – –seen as money-spinner for Kanjar and Hakim’s sole face saver. Hakim hits rock bottom with his association with Heera mandi’s tawaif Safina (Iman Ali), who calls herself Meena after the legendary leading lady of Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah.

Safina’s or Meena’s role is a gem. Posturing, a simple conversation in Royal dialect, the next moment elapsing into true crass form of brothel dialect, throws one. Her eventual melting point is a peep into motherly emotions winning over in contrast to her environmental pressures.
Sets and acting of each character including Kanjar’s slurping – dipping finger licks, Punjabi abuses of Meena or that of Kanjar’s wife, the wandering chicken in courtyard, Lahore’s signature trucks makeover into bridal-like contraptions, narrow watchful streets, old family haveli, four-poster antique beds, true-blue lahori dialect and occupations to match, dialogue delivery and gestures, all point towards a piercing eye to detail and authenticity.
I could compare the details of Bol to ‘Tere Bin Laden’ another movie set in Pakistan, though shot on sets in India, which too entrenched the same quality unlike top of the charts film ‘Veer-Zara’ of Yash Chopra which lost out on vitals of lifestyle, language , décor and many other aspects.

The plot, spins, twists and turns lend a very authentic storyline to Bol. The Film’s narration, cinematography is brilliant.
A whiff of soft music that doesn’t necessarily gel in the story, by Atif Aslam otherwise adds lightness in his signature style ‘Hona tha pyaar..’ and proves a breather in the haystack.
The question at the end by the protagonist daughter is at seen as throw on burgeoning population in a mad race in her country “If it is a crime/sin to kill, then why is it not a crime/sin to give birth?” leaving one with a lingering feeling of children as a head-count or herd gathering mechanism .
Overall the film leaves one thoughtful, enthralled and in complete wonderment.

“Jashan-e-Faiz” Indo-Pak poetry flows under Faiz’s benevolent umbrella/ By Rashmi Talwar


Kashmir Times Front Page Magazine – ‘Jashan-E- Faiz’/ By Rashmi Talwar on Jan-1-st 2012

Indo-Pak poetry flows under Faiz’s benevolent umbrella / By Rashmi Talwar

Published on Front page Magazine in Kashmir Times on January 1st 2012

“Jashan-e-Faiz” Centenary Celebration of Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Day –I
Indo-Pak poetry flows under Faiz’s benevolent umbrella

By Rashmi Talwar

Were I to compare, the Urdu-Punjabi poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the greatest poets of the subcontinent –it would be to a ‘Blue-Blooded Horse’. The poetry of Faiz possesses the free spirit, the depth –a hallmark of the Graceful Stallion, thus …:
Its star speckled forehead –-satire,
Its pointed-ears– perfectly attuned to the murmurs of meadows,
Its gait –- majestic, regal, undeterred,
Its upright flashy tail– of words whipped and blazing their own path,
Its spirit– mystifying and unshackled,
Its power- -untamed, gazelle-like,
Its energy– boundless, astir with rebellion,
Its fodder-graze– an outpouring emerging from hunger of untold human sufferings,
Its water–nectar- the unmatched adulation of those he took up for…
Its hoof-marks –inscribed in Mighty Earth for ever….

Then when they tried to tame, bound or incarcerate this spirited soul, he galloped free, emerging more powerful, fearless and unbridled, his poetic insignia shaping popular public imagination and infusing fear in Aakas of ill-gotten empires, self-declared Lords, assuming the role of God Almighty.

To the oppressor, Faiz addressed thus: ‘Qafas hai bas mein tumhaare, tumhaare bas mein nahin/ Chaman mein aatish-e-gul ke nikhaar ka mausam’ (‘To his captors, a garden-bird booms: A cage is all that you have in your power. But, nothing and no one possesses the power to keep the garden from blooming when the time comes for lush flowerings.’)

In the backdrop of the cascading umbrella of this mellifluous, lilting poetic rhythm of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, poets, artists transcended boundaries of oppressive borders of India and Pakistan to confluence at Zorawar Singh Auditorium of Jammu University, for the two-day Festival organized by Jammu Civil Society for Art and Literature (JCSAL) in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), for the ‘Jashan-e-Faiz’ –the 100th birth anniversary of one of the greatest poets of the sub-continent. This, in celebration of his free-soul, his haunting words, weaving the stark reality of upheavals, of pain, of human values combined with nature and its connotations, in its truest form.

The grand Fest opened by comperers of the evening essayed many couplets of Faiz, while the chief guest of the evening, Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, sat enraptured after lighting the traditional lamp inaugurating the extravaganza.

As Faiz’s enormous and potent emotions of poetry combined and mingled with contemporary, original artistic structures of ghazal, dance, drama, the poetic symposium rekindled the bonds of a cohabitation torn apart, as Salima Hashmi, Faiz’s daughter, the guest of honor, sat moist-eyed watching the galaxy of Indian and Pakistani artists , poets who stood tall in their respective countries, churn out the best of original poetry covering aspects as banal as corruption and as soft as hands folded in prayer.

The stage came alive with Ustad Hamid Ali Khan, Pakistan’s finest exponents of classical singing and ghazal.
His vibrating, variegated pitch adding magic to the famous couplet ‘Laagi re, Tau Say Laagi…, najar sayyian laagi ..’ . Jammu’s jam-packed audience too matched the tempo of the song, that they may have loved on television, internet or savored on radio channels, giving a resounding ovation to the maestro, unseen in these parts.

Their response turned feverish with ‘Mainu Tera Jiya Sohna Hor Labda Nahi….’ and ‘Honthon Pay Kabhi Unke Mera Naam Bhi Aaye’ as Hamid‘s son Nayab Ali Khan joined in a raga jugalbandi, courting a frenzy of incessant applause.

Earlier, Ch. Masood Ahmad, former Vice Chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University delivered welcome address while JCSAL President, Aslam Qureshi presented memento to the Chief Minister who stated that ‘building bridges between two warring nations, India and Pakistan, could fructify not with mere government efforts but with civil societies of both pitching in their might for forging friendship’,
Richa Jain of India took the stage, presenting one of the most graceful performances of Kathak on Faiz’s poetry “Aaye kuchh abr kuchh sharab aye/ Isske baad aaye jo azaab aaye…”(let the clouds come, let the wine flow, If then trouble comes, so be it ..) And followed closely with rendition of Faiz’s poetry, Jagir Singh Punjabi sang “Rabba Sachiya, tu tay Akhiya si, Jaa Oye Bandiya Jag Da Shah hain Tu, Sadian Naimtan terian Doltan Nain, Sada Naib tay Alijah hain Tu…” raising the hackles of the common man who implores the Almighty about His promise of bounties, but left him at the mercy of a corrupt and cruel setup with .. ‘Kithay Dhons Police Sarkar di, Kithay Dhandli Patwar Di …. Changa Shah Banaya ei Rab Sayiaan…’ or the soulful …Jadoon diyaan, tere nal lar gayiaan ankhiaan , Allah di saun odo-diyaan, Rab di saun odo-diyaan , sau vi na sakiyaan ..”

Thus, galloped the horse in wild abandon, unto the vast horizons….of poetry, melody, dance….to the resounding applause of kadardaans of his poetry.
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BOX- A


Anwar Masood’s spice :

No one could have brought the curtains down on the grand mushiara as aptly as the best Urdu- Punjabi poet of Pakistan Anwar Masood, a humble soul with a maverick touch of comic poetry that could stir and lend guffaws to the most cynical of critics as also bring tears in turn with his sweeping emotive genre of poems, with equal aplomb. When asked about his matchless command in wit and sad poetry, he replied, “I have seen the worst spells of poverty and suffering from which emerged the sad poetry, but that I did not give up and held my faith with a smile is what produced the mirth in comic situations that I observed.”

Anwar who is not only a accomplished poet but also a star performer, brought the house down of the Jammu audience in the jam –packed Zorawar Singh auditorium of Jammu University with his well known witty poetry such as ‘Bunyan’(vest seller ) – Bunyan len jande ho/ Bunyan le ke aande ho /Paande ho toh pendi nahi /Pey jaye te lendi nahi /Le jaye te dooji vari paan jogi rehndi nahi / Bunyan mein diyanga !/ Pao gaye te peh jaye /Lao ge te leh jaye / Le jaye te dooji vari paan jogi reh jaye/ Bunyan meri vadiya bunyan meri top di !/ Vadeyaan nu pori ave niikyaan de naap di /Cheez hove asli te muhon pai boldi / Dhup nal gori lage, rassi ute doldi / Jine vare chaho tusi ais nu handa lao/ Pher bhavein bachcheyaan da jangia bana lao .

His other poems include Aj Ki Pakayiey, Anarkali diyan shaanan, Jehlum de pul te, Pit Sayaapa,
Hun Ke Keray, His most famous comic was a comparison –‘Lassi Te Chaa’
And those that highlighted the social, parochial scourges and brought teardrops ‘Meli Meli Dhoup’ and ‘Ambri’(about a mother beaten by her son).

His couplets too were poignant –‘Mera Lakhaan da vickda Takiyaa, Je Hanjooan da mul penda!’(My pillow would have sold for millions, if Tears had a price!) Or one –‘Tujhay Nahi Hay Abhi Fursat-E-Karam, Na Sahi…Thakay Nahi Hain Mere Hath Abhi Dua Kartey…!’
(If, You O Lord, have no time for blessings, never mind/ My hands are still not tired of offering prayers!).

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DAY- II
New Beginning: Jammu’s Indo –Pak Mushiara undivides the line of divide
Poets turn ecstatic on response by Urdu connoisseurs
By Rashmi Talwar

Jashan-e-Faiz carry-fwd from front page of Kashmir Times /By Rashmi Talwar

Aaiye haath uthaayein hum bhi
Hum jinhen rasm-e-dua yaad nahin
Hum jinhen soz-e-mohabbat ke siwaa
Koyi but, koyi khudaa yaad nahin

Aaiye arz guzaren ki nigaar-e-hasti
Zaher-e-imroz mein shirini-e-fardaa bhar de
Wo jinhein tabe garaanbaarii-e-ayyaam nahin
Un-ki palakon pe shab-o-roz ko halkaa kar de

(Come, let us raise our hands, /We, who have forgotten the ritual of prayer/ We, who do not remember anything other than the searing of love/ Do not remember any idol, nor any God/Come, let us beseech that the Creator of existence may fill sweetness in the morrow, from the poison of today/Those who cannot bear the burden of the passing day/May their eyelids be unburdened of the night and day.)
Faiz’s poem ‘Dua’ recited by Ayub Khawar a prominent Pakistani poet, writer and director of Geo TV, was a befitting tribute to the inaugural Indo-Pak Mushiara on the second day of ‘Jashn-e-Faiz’.

Poets from India and Pakistan escorted their poetry onto the vibrant stage, rekindling the bonds of brotherhood in an amalgam of varied genres of original thought, facing the current situation in both countries, of love, hate, suffering and laughter. The programme coursed through compere Anwar Jalalpuri adding spice with a spoof on poets and their poetry in a light banter, making it more enjoyable.

The extraordinary event as an apt tribute to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the greatest poets the South Asia has produced, brought Indo-Pak artistes and poets together in the winter capital of J&K. It was sheer delight to hear the first Indian poet an IPS officer from Ludhiana, Fayyaz Farooqi who made simple ideas so profound in his poetry – “Itna aasaan nahi hota kissi ka hona/Seekhna padta hai bande ko bhi banda hona/ Yoon bura hona to duniya mein bura hai, lekin/Itna achha bhi nahi hota hai, achha hona”.

Poets from both sides commanded rapt attention from the discerning Jammu audience on issues of corruption, gender bias and poverty that plague both countries. Ayub Khawar recited his own creation –Saat suron ka behta dariya, tere naam/ har sur mein hai rang dhanak (rainbow) ka , tere naam/ Tere bina jo umr bitai, beet gayi/ ab iss umr ka baaki hissa, tere naam’ that endeared him to the audience who took it as a bonding , Khawar added – “Instead of suspending the dialogue process or the confidence-building measures because the bigger issues are not being sorted out, both countries should start resolving smaller issues to develop mutual faith.”

Another couplet reinforced the brotherhood, post partition as Aizaz Azar a Pakistani poet recited -“Bichhadne waale ne waqt-e-rukhsat kuchh iss tarah se palat ke dekha/ Ki jaise woh bhi ye keh raha ho, tum apne ghar ka khayal rakhna” (At the time of separation, the parting one, turned to look back as if to say, you too, keep your home safe).

Noted Indian poet, Nida Fazli of–‘Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahaan nahi milta, kaheen zameen to kaheen aasmaan nahi milta’ fame- regaled with his couplets (Doha) that hit the target of corruption through the eyes of a child -“ Naqsha le kar haath mein bachcha hai hairaan, Kaisay deemak kha gayi uss ka Hindustan.”
Or one upon disparities between the rich and poor as well as paucity of accommodation in Mumbai like city “Bachcha bola dekh kar, masjid aalishan/ Allah tere ek ko, itna bada makaan”. Taking a dig at politicians Nida recited, “Issa, Allah, Ishwar, Sare Mantar Seekh, Jane Kab Kis Naam Par, Miley Ziyada Bheekh..”

Ashok Sahil also took up the baton on corruption with “Chaman ke vaaste kuchh bhi nahi kiya jisne/Ussi ko sab se ziyada hawas bahaar ki hai”. Another stalwart, Nawaz Deobandi, who has written some unforgettable ghazals sung by Jagjit Singh mesmerized the audience.
Two feminist Pakistani lady poets Kishwar Naheed and Ishrat Afreen shook the edifice of society of its gender bias, with the poignant rendition of poetry. Ishrat recited – ‘Kheton Men Kaam Karati Hui Ladakiyan/ jeth ki champai dhup ne/jin ka sona badan surmai kar diya/jin ko raton men oas aur paale ka bistar miley/ din ko suraj sarron par jale/’

A wave of myriad emotions swept over the connoisseurs of poetry where 20 noted poets recited their poems amid shouts of ‘encore’ and ‘wah wah’.

Another poet from Punjab, Panchhi, regaled with his romantic poetry, with beautifully used allegories like wine, women and youthfulness. He recited, “Ghul rahi hai sharaab, pani mein, jal raha hai shabaab, paani mein. Khat ka meray to yoon jawaab aaya, Uss nay fainka gulaab, pani mein.”

But it was Anwar Masood, who brought the curtains down at the mushaira, and stole the show in his inimitable style and his satirical brilliant poetry, making people both laugh and cry. His witty classic: “Yehi To Dosto Le De Ke Mera Business Hai/ Tumhi Kaho Ki Main Kyon Iss Se Tod Loon Naata/ Agar ‘Corruption’ bhi Chhod Di Main Ne/ Mujhe To Aur Koi Kaam Bhi Nahi Aata.”

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BOX-B————
HIGHLIGHTS :

• The J&K CM Omar Abdullah tweeted a day before the start of the Fest : “Jashan-e-Faiz in Jammu to celebrate the centenary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. 2 days of some of the best Urdu poets and performers from India & Pakistan”.

• Sound system fumbled during the Kathak recital of Richa Jain

• When Ustad Hamid Ali Khan announced the entry of his son Nayab Ali Khan, lady compere who otherwise was flawless, apologized for want of time to the ghazal maestro, not once but twice. The situation was saved both times by Ravinder Kaul a global critic of music and co-compere in the programme wherein the crowd that was intoxicated with the ghazals demanding encores, were on the verge of venting their ire, in ways unknown, on the lady compere.

• During a formal dinner by J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for participants and organizers, Anwar Masood , one of the best known contemporary poets in Pakistan for his comic poetic style, left the CM in a state of ‘rip roaring laughter’ drawing a comment from a guest, that ‘never have we seen the CM laugh so in a long-long time’.

• Many felt the dress of Kathak dancer could have been more up-market and dainty in sync with her graceful rendition.

• During a private dinner hosted by Aslam Goni, former advocate general of the State, wherein ‘wazwan’ was served in traditional Kashmiri style, shared by four in one large container. The joke went that if Pakistanis were able to finish the last morsel served they could take Kashmir, but the Pakistanis raised the hands in surrender and said India can have Kashmir, as well as the rest of the Kashmiri delicacies inviting applause from the host side.

• Many who were laughing and clapping during the grand finale comic poetry of the matchless Pakistani poet Anwar Masood were reduced to tears with his recitation of poem “Ambari’ (mother!) and his couplet –‘Tujhe Nahi Hai Abhi Fursatey Karam, Na Sahi/ Thake Nahi Hain Mere Haath Abhi Dua Karte ..’

• The president of the ICCR, Dr Karan Singh, could not attend the function and his message was read out by his son and former minister Ajatshatru Singh.

• The poets enthralled the audience with their couplets on love-hate relationship between the two neighbours, prevailing political scene and romantic verses.They teased, laughed and recited their couplets amidst loud cheers and echoes of mukarrar, bahut khoob, irshad and wah-wahs.

• Cultural Attache from the Iranian Embassy specially came from New Delhi to attend the Indo-Pak mushaira.
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AMRITSAR – Anna Hazare’s turning point/ By Lt Gen Baljit Singh (Retd)


Seem Eons past, a seasoned journalist of AMRITSAR told me that Amritsar has an uncanny distinction!—‘You will notice that Any significant event in the world somewhere has an incredulous connection with Amritsar”. Strange as it may sound his words are evolving to be prophetic and I am slowly starting to believe this gentleman.
I came across this write up –“Soldiering for village uplift”, a first hand account of Naik Anna Hazare by Lieut-Gen Baljit Singh (retd) published as ‘middle’ in The Tribune, recently.

Soldiering for village uplift
by Lieut-Gen Baljit Singh (retd)

HIS demeanor and emphatic, measured speech have not changed a whit since I first and last met him in 1989. The men I once commanded were from the Pune-Sattara-Ratnagiri region and in moments of informal interaction they would often talk of Anna “Sahib” who had led his village from dire poverty to assured prosperity.

Traditionally, soldiers reserve the “Sahib” appellation for their officers and JCOs only; so who was Anna? Well, he was one of the several thousand vehicle drivers of the Indian army. During the 1965 Indo-Pak war he had a close call with death. His was one of the 15-odd lorries ferrying ammunition in the Amritsar sector when this convoy was strafed by PAF Saber-jets.

All the lorries exploded, except Naik Anna Hazare’s. When he regained composure, he had a divine vision; “Bhagwan boley too ja, apney gaon ki seva kar”. And over the next two decades, village Raleagan Siddhi became the beneficiary of “faith moving mountains”.

Short of outright deifying him, his ideas and guidance were accepted by Raleagan citizens as “Dharma”. The women of the village emerged unconditionally empowered and enjoyed vis-à-vis their menfolk the Orwellian status: “All animals are equal but some are more equal than the others!” No more pregnancies after the second child and freedom to acquire skills both in aid of the community and their households.

Land holdings were miniscule but the collective agricultural output increased phenomenally because rain-fed cultivation was replaced by assured, well-water irrigation. Consumption of alcohol was ruthlessly rooted out and with the combined, energized labour force, open wells were dug and a water-usage roster was drawn for each family based on their acreage under tillage.

Every house became a brick and concrete structure with piped drinking water and cooking gas from two community sized, bio-gas plants, at fixed times. Community toilets were clustered around the bio-gas plants, the human faces supplementing its “gobar” feed-stock. Kitchen waste was dumped into community compost-pits.

Anna Sahib was able to convince the Houses of Tata and Kirloskar of the viability of his mission and obtain interest-free loans as also irrigation lift-pumps and diesel generators at concessional rates. Loan instalments were honoured post the Kharif and Rabbi harvests; the last being in 1986 !

Onions and pulses were the main cash crops. In 1986, the produce earned close to a whopping 2.5 lakh rupees. A Cooperative Gramin Bank was created and staffed exclusively by the Raleagan women. Each family had fixed deposits of five to thirty thousand rupees by 1989.

I cannot recall how the school was funded but free and compulsory education was provided to each child up to matriculation. At least two able-bodied youth enrolled in the Army each year.

I shared this experience with the late General B C Joshi and suggested that the Army ran an orientation course, for soldiers about to retire under Anna Hazare’s aegis. The General visited Raleagan and launched the initiative with the hope that many more soldiers would replicate the Raleagan template in their villages.

Let’s Riot with Colors….. BY ILMANA FASIH


This beautiful thought was penned by Ilmana Fasih ..I came across it on a FB page ‘Indo-Pak Peace Media’ …A write up with childlike innocence plays on ‘colors for construction’ …the scene therein of a fairytale where weapons of mass destruction are assigned a task unknown to them–of bringing smiles, happiness and glee in the lives of mortals who sing and dance to banish away the devils of destruction …Saanjh..
“Let’s Riot with Colors…”

BY ILMANA FASIH

I seriously think
We should develop
A bomb of crayons
As our next weapon-
Of mass ‘construction’.
A color bomb,
A beauty bomb.
Launched from -
– A happiness jet
-Or a unity tank.
As a peace missile.
And every time,
a crisis developed,
we would drop one.
It would explode
High in the air
– Explode softly
– and send hundreds
or thousands,
even millions,
of little parachutes
of colors, colors, colors
Floating down to earth
with splashes of colors
rioting into the air.
And we wouldn’t go cheap,
– not little boxes of eight.
Boxes of sixty-four,
maybe hundreds
with the sharpener built-in.
With silver and gold and copper,
magenta and peach and lime,
amber and umber and all the rest.
And cover the world with
colors and imagination.
And people would smile,
laugh, giggle and go hysterical.
Get funny look on their faces
twinkle in their tearful eyes.
Hope embedded in their dimples,
Peace sparkling from their teeth
And all one could have
Is hope and happiness.
As far as eyes could see.
With musical instruments
of peace and unity
playing in the background,
the music borne of them,
rocking in ecstasy and
dancing with the colors,
Until the dawn of ‘sanity’
Awakens this asinine,
‘sleeping’ mankind.
( Inspired by HOLI–the festival of colors, and with some colors stolen from it, & from a quote by Robert Fulghum, with some words taken from it).

Who is JUGNI ? By Indu Vashist Amritsar connection


Who is JUGNI ? By Indu Vashist
No Punjabi wedding is complete without the mandatory ”JUGNI”—What are the origins of Jugni -Folklore-Does it have an Amritsar connection …YES !

MARCH 2011

The character of ‘’JUGNI’’ has been featuring in Punjabi popular and folk music for well over a century. The most recent references of this rebellious, fiery female character have appeared in diverse productions like Pakistan’s Coke Studio , Punjab’s sensicore rocker Rabbi Shergill, and of course Bollywood in films like Tanu Weds Manu and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

In the various versions of this song, JUGNI is a spunky, rebellious character, who does not fit into the traditional feminine norms:
She wears western clothes,
Flirts with men in the streets,
Wants to drive (either a Bullet motorcycle or a Fiat car, depending on the era),
Is poor but aims for upward class mobility,
Speaks English,
Wants to travel all over (depending on the era she travels all over Punjab, Britain or Canada).

The singer, usually a man, sings of loving JUGNI, but feeling insecure by JUGNI’s defiant character (above): Mainu Kale chad Ke Jandi, Fir Vaajan Mar Bulandi (First she leaves me then calls after me).
The singer often laments that the pain of loving this rebellious character will kill him (below): Eh ladh di ae na darrdi phad ke daang mure khad di aa.
(She fights, doesn’t have fear, she always carries a stick as a weapon with her).

JUGNI Tap Tap Tap Tap Khoon Bahaundi (JUGNI, drip, drip, drip, drip, spills blood)
The first version of this song can be traced back to 1906, written and performed by Bishna and Manda.
Manda, as he was commonly known was born as Mohammad in Hasanpur, Thana Vairowal in AMRITSAR District, Punjab. Bishna was a Jatt from a village in Majha area, close to AMRITSAR Both men were illiterate poets who would roam from village to village composing songs and free-styling when given money. In 1906, they are said to have been around the age of 50.
In 1906, the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign, a Jubilee flame was taken across the British Empire to celebrate her rule. The flame, carried in a large gold container, was taken to the every district headquarters. As the flame arrived, the district government was supposed to greet it with pomp and ceremony.
When the flame reached Punjab, there was nascent freedom struggle anger against the Empire brewing. Bishna and Manda followed the flame from district to district, performing their own poetry and folk music parallel to the pomp of the colonial government.
Their versions contained references to JUGNI, the rebellious woman. Bishna and Manda had misheard the word ‘Jubilee’ for JUGNI and started writing verses that channeled the anger of the region against the British as symbolized by the Jubilee flame.
As they traveled behind the flame, their popularity grew; people from all around came to attend their performances. JUGNI became a metaphor for the growing unrest against the British.
Many other poets took on the ‘JUGNI’ metaphor and started composing their own songs with similar grammatical structures.
Following other Punjabi folk songs’ customs of mentioning specific villages, the specific village of JUGNI was meant to highlight either a specific site of struggle or just to contextualize the song. The basic structure of the song can be heard here in a pre-independence recording:
The early JUGNI songs had lyrics like:
JUGNI jaa varhi Majithe (JUGNI is from Majitha, i.e., the district of Bishna and Manda)
koi Rann na Chakki peethe (No pimp should have to go to the grinder – common hard labor in colonial prisons)
Putt Gabhru mulak vich mare (Our country’s young men are dying)
rovan Akhiyan, par Bulh si seete (Our eyes are crying, trying to forget)
Piir mereya oye, JUGNI ayi aa (Oh god, JUGNI is coming)
ehnan kehrhi jot jagaee aa (What kind of light is this?)
According to oral histories, as word of Bishna and Manda’s performances got around, large crowds gathered to see the performances, the police started to break up the shows.
The British started to get worried about the revolutionary undertones of JUGNI songs and the way that people began to talk of the British. The police finally arrested Bishna and Manda in Gujaranwala.
They are said to have been tortured and murdered by the police for inciting people against the Empire.
JUGNI as a concept still exists within popular Punjabi music today.
Rabbi Shergill’s recent version of the song follows the traditional grammar of the song. The character of JUGNI is rooted in defiance and rebellion, today that takes on not only Rabbi Shergill’s literal interpretation of the legacy of this folk form, but brings back a fiery woman character back into the popular lexicon.
tags: Bollywood, folk songs, Indian freedom struggle, JUGNI, Punjab

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Flickr Photos

Kashmir is Organic, not manicured: Imtiaz Ali…/ Rashmi Talwar

Sign of blessed tidings, water is milky at Kheer Bhawani…/ Rashmi Talwar

Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?..Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir

Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan/ By Rashmi Talwar

India & Pakistan/  Bonds of Culture / AG Noorani

Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team../Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir

Will AAP’s Delhi effect be felt in Jammu & Kashmir? …/Rashmi Talwar

Carrying forward a musical legacy..ABHAY RUSTUM SOPORI/ Rashmi Talwar

Beyond the Pappis and Jhappis …Stepping across the Radcliff line!../Rashmi Talwar

Real story behind the burning of Tydale Biscoe School, Tangmarg, Kashmir…/ By Rashmi Talwar

More Photos

http://saanjh.wordpress.com/press

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RSS Blog on Amritsar and Lahore

  • Kashmir is Organic, not manicured: Imtiaz Ali…/ Rashmi Talwar June 30, 2014
    Don't go by the Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali's golly-lock looks, neither by his humble demeanor, underneath lies a sharp mind and heart that not only explodes in cinematic best in such blockbusters like ‘Jab we met’, ‘Rockstar’ and recent ‘Highway’ but has brought Kashmir once again on the tourist circuit in more ways than one. Apart from highligh […]
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  • Sign of blessed tidings, water is milky at Kheer Bhawani…/ Rashmi Talwar June 11, 2014
    It wasn't as if the Pandits alone felt blessed by the water’s light tinge, Kashmiris in general, especially the older generation, too seemed to have prayed for pastel colors for the spring waters. Kashmiris can hardly forget the reddish and blackish hue of the holy waters in early 90’s that left them tattered and shattered, destroying almost everything […]
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  • Why Pak expelled Indian Journalists?..Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir May 26, 2014
    May 19th saw two Indian journalists working in Pakistan cross over to their home country from Pakistan. Snehesh Alex Philips of Press Trust of India came through Wagah-Attari Indo- Pak Joint Check Post land route in Amritsar, and Meena Menon from ‘The Hindu’ via Karachi to Mumbai flight. The two, Snehesh and Meena are completely baffled by their unceremoniou […]
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  • Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan/ By Rashmi Talwar May 17, 2014
    If any footsteps tiptoed in Pakistan with fancy footwear it was either from Bata or Pakistan’s foremost Servis shoes. While many became paupers due to Indo-Pak partition, Servis Industries never gave up and entered the newly born Pakistan’s market with its brand of shoes that competed with the only other brand existing at the time. Today into big time, the s […]
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  • India & Pakistan/ Bonds of Culture / AG Noorani March 25, 2014
    FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE FRONTLINE ON APRIL 4, 2014 URL:http://www.frontline.in/world-affairs/bonds-of-culture/article5787758.ece#testFiled under: INDIA PAKISTAN Tagged: BONDS, culture, india, INDIA PAKISTAN, Pakistan
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  • Kashmiris cheering Pakistan Cricket Team../Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir March 15, 2014
    It is hard to dig deep into the heart of any Kashmiri by others in India every time he or they commit a faux pas. In the current scenario, do we as self-respecting individuals need to introspect that duties, responsibilities and rights go hand in hand. “Why do the students accept the largesse if they detest the benefactor of these benevolent schemes. Do they […]
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  • Will AAP’s Delhi effect be felt in Jammu & Kashmir? …/Rashmi Talwar January 3, 2014
    There has never been a better time for general acceptance of a good candidate compared to a more popular name or party, than now. This time the traditional political players may have to either drastically change or make place for new entrants, emboldened by the victory of AAP in Delhi.
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  • Carrying forward a musical legacy..ABHAY RUSTUM SOPORI/ Rashmi Talwar December 25, 2013
    Abhay Rustum Sopori’s fusion composition emerged as one of the finest pieces of the concert. He stood undeterred in the midst of controversies raised by separatists. "Being a local Kashmiri, I could have developed cold feet due to the raging controversies but I stood my ground and fulfilled one of my greatest dreams of bringing Kashmiri music on the wor […]
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  • Beyond the Pappis and Jhappis …Stepping across the Radcliff line!../Rashmi Talwar December 25, 2013
    With both Punjabi Prime Ministers heading Pakistan-India and having ancestral cords in each other’s countries, the time may be ripe to make bold decisions and historical beginning with a clean end to hostilities. For long, both countries have tip-toed to each other’s lands with apprehensions and compulsions at the hand of their respective vote banks that pla […]
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  • Real story behind the burning of Tydale Biscoe School, Tangmarg, Kashmir…/ By Rashmi Talwar December 13, 2013
    Then what really took place that led to burning of Tyndale Biscoe's rural school located in Tangmarg? Shocking disclosure, of allegations against Tangmarg’s MLA Ghulam Hassan Mir alleged to be in cahoots with army and charged the winds of rebellion to oust the democratically elected government of NC- Congress headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has […]
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