Archive for the ‘INDO PAK BORDER’ Category

India has no constant policy on Kashmir: Gen (retd) VK Singh… By Rashmi Talwar /Sify


Retd COAS Gen VK Singh

Retd COAS Gen VK Singh



EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Gen VK Singh

India has no constant policy on Kashmir: Gen (retd) VK Singh
By Rashmi Talwar

Gen (retd) VK Singh former COAS (Chief of the Army Staff), post his retirement has chosen to come into public life . The Army Chief, had once waded through thick layers of controversies. He first came into the limelight with the confusion of his date-of-birth, then bugging allegations of defense ministry’s office, pushing the panic button on inadequate ammunition in Indian army’s arsenal and others. Now out of power, out of office, secrets are slipping from him, baggages of silence have been shed and many a behind- the- scene, brasstacks are being readily exposed.

The former army chief is trying to wean the public towards the newly formed-Jantantar Morcha (JM) of which Anna Hazare is the patron, and the former COAS Gen Singh, the chairperson. How much militaristic experience in planning, precision, implementation he brings into this civil movement through the fledgling organization that he calls apolitical, is yet to be seen.

His take on National and International issues are thus gathered by RASHMI TALWAR in an exclusive interview with the former COAS, during his Amritsar visit, to announce the flagging-off of the JM from Amritsar’s historic Jallianwala bagh on March 31.

Q. Why have you joined hands with Anna Hazare?

Ans: Because I am equally perturbed about where our country is heading. I too can contribute much to arrest the nation’s current downslide, due to corruption.

Q. Having remained a COAS what is your take on India and Pakistan?

Ans: I am for peace between India and Pakistan. I favor good neighborly relations with trade, business, commerce and other soft channels, but in no way am I in favor of Kashmir being a condition for any forward movement towards peace. Next to its obsession with Kashmir since 1947, Siachen has been the biggest bone that is stuck in Pakistan’s throat since it lost the glacier to the Indian Army in 1984.

Q. Recently former Pakistan President Gen Parvez Musharaff talked about solving the Kashmir issue by revival of the 4-point programme, what do you make of that ?

Ans: In recent times, demilitarization of Siachen is being touted as ‘the’ ultimate solution to the Kashmir problem. Do you know who all were in the 11-member Indian committee formed for Track-II diplomacy? Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi , ‘Fauji’ Journalist Col Ajai Shukla. They were calling for demilitarization of Siachen Glacier in the Saltoro range. (Agitatedly), these are those people who have not visited nor have any notion of the reality of Siachen and the Indian position there. Pakistanis are on the west side of the Saltoro Range. Pakistan has a zero presence in Siachen and is fooling its people. All upper regions are under India’s control and Indian troops are well-entrenched. I wonder, if demilitarization has any scope of spreading this troop withdrawal by Pakistan, from Baltistan as also areas further in the west? Till now, there has been no move to arrive at an agreement by Pakistan to draw a ground demarcation i.e. AGPL (Actual Ground Position Line) to identify which side is where and here we are talking of demilitarization and troop withdrawal. I see no logic, it is ridiculous. In Siachen, Indian army is at an advantageous position sitting on strategic heights, why should we vacate it, for Pakistan to engineer another Kargil?

Q. It is being speculated that USA is bringing India and Pakistan closer to counter the growing power of China?

Ans: If USA is thinking that by bringing India-Pakistan together it can counter China’s growing power then US is ‘naive’. However this idea is too far-fetched. Does America not know that a country like Pakistan can do to it. How it is a complete supply chain for terrorism.


Q. And the Kashmir issue?

Ans: So far, Kashmir has served as a domestic gain for Pakistan. Kashmir is a like pinprick, albeit a large pinprick, that Pakistan uses on India when it wants or unwants something. Kashmir is merely being used by Pakistan. See how Pakistan has spent billions on its anti-India stance and jeopardized its economy. Club that with Pak’s multiple problems of Baluchistan, Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, judiciary, civil society; each of them is flaring. Pakistan army has a vested interest in keeping the turmoil along the border with India alive.

Q. What about India’s handling of Kashmir?
Ans: India’s drawback is that it has never had a constant policy on Kashmir. Its policies go up and down, governed more by political motives than by national interests.

Bad governance is the single major reason for the state of affairs in Kashmir today. Congress in coalition with present NC in J&K was PDP’s partner earlier. Look at the level of opportunism. The kind of money pumped into Kashmir, is unimaginable. As per the present regime’s record, see how the Shopian Rape case was handled, how stone pelters were handled? They had a successful Panchayat election, but do not want to empower them. How was the Amarnath issue handled? Corruption is so rampant and money hardly reaches the needy. I have been a commander, led a Battalion, a Brigade and a Division in Kashmir and I know the ground realities there.

Q. What about AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) that gives unlimited powers to army in Kashmir without answerability or trial?

Ans: AFSPA has been deliberately ‘demonized’ to deflect attention from main issue of misgovernance by vested interests. Kashmir is a highly emotional place. In one instance a rumor in Pattan had all Shias, chest-beating without a single one of them knowing the reason for it. There are hundreds of such instances that could be cited similarly in Kashmir. It is easy to manipulate a highly biased public. More hurt is caused by distrust and suspicion. Once such rumors spread, no one is willing to listen and no one can set the record right. It’s about hyperbole and all hell breaks loose, much like a chinese whisper or a spreading wild fire. In J&K, Pakistan has unleashed a proxy war and the situation has to be tackled by the army to safeguard interests of the nation.

Q What about Afzal Guru’s hanging?

Ans: I do not wish to go into legalities of Guru’s case. But concerning the political manipulation, there is no end to it. There can’t be appeasement of any sect or have double standards.

Q As former army chief do you think Op Bluestar was the right decision?

Ans: Operation Blue Star, in 1984 to flush out militants from the Golden Temple, was a ‘hastily taken political decision. The then COAS Gen AS Vaidya was unwilling to carry it out.

It is the manner in which it was presented that made all the difference. Gen Vaidya was not in favour of it .Gen Vaidya was against the whole plan of action including the timing of it (Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev). I was a major at the time and I know Gen Vaidya had said, “No” to army action against people belonging to the nation, but he had to follow orders.

Q Did Gen Vaidya follow orders reluctantly?

Ans: (Shrugs his shoulders!) Orders are orders! (Operation Blue Star was carried out at Golden Temple to flush out militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, holed up there, who had fortified the holy precincts. Bhindranwale was also killed during the operation by the army.)

Q. What is the plan of Anna Hazare’s Jantantar Morcha for the public?

Ans : Jantantar Morcha is an apolitical organization aimed to reach the grass roots level in villages and cities on a 25-point charter prepared by Anna Hazare .

Q. How can you clean up the filth in the well of politics if by not jumping into it? Will you support any party or individual in the political fray? What are the chances of Arvind Kejriwala’s ‘Aam Adami’(AA) party? Any hierarchy created for your JM?

Ans: We shall inform, create awareness and motivate the masses to rise in a peaceful manner to change the system. We need not be in politics to clean it up, because it is difficult to change the set of rules laid in politics for the past six decades. But yes, we will support clean individual candidates in the forthcoming elections. As far as Kejriwala’s political party is concerned, it would have a very limited success. Some of the party workers of AA met us here and are willing to support our organization to make village ‘leaders’. As of now there is no hierarchy or line of command created in the organization. We plan to take our yatra in the form of a public rally from the strongest symbol of Freedom Movement- the Jallianwala Bagh, covering most of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi . The last leg of this All India rally would be from the Punjab areas to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pardesh besides others.

Q3. Do you think you can replicate or expect a mass movement yet again, as was seen in Jantar Mantar supporting Anna Hazare ?

Ans: People are fed up, now is the chance for the people to make their voices heard, presence felt and act as a pressure group to change the rules that have brought ruination. This mass presence, this frustration and anger with the system was recently seen in the ‘Damani Gang rape case’.

Q4. Damini’s case aroused the public anger as they identified strongly with the security of their children? How does JM plan to trigger such a movement? Is there a plan to charge the masses? It could cause a law and order problem, what then?

Ans: The boiling process has already started and we are targeting the first time voter numbering 9 crore and the 2nd time voter numbering 19 crore. Youth is where JM draws its strength. Yes, we do have a plan but I am not about to share it. It will be visible at the right hour. Our aim is to carry forward this agenda peacefully with a mass movement and we have full faith in Anna ji who will flag the Morcha from Jallianwala bagh on March 31. JM wants the 25- point charter, to be progressed in this one year. Its moot points are ‘Right to Reject’, formation of ‘Gram sabhas’ as watchdog units at village level since panchayats too have become political, Criminals be disallowed to contest any election, besides others.

Post Script: Army Chief Gen Singh who at one time was refuting allegations of phone tapping of defense ministry during his ongoing ‘date-of-birth’ related controversy alleged that his phone was tapped .

FIRST PUBLISHED IN SIFY.COM at : http://www.sify.com/news/interview-vk-singh-on-anna-movement-kashmir-s-problems-and-afspa-news-national-ndfnvcajdei.html

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

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

FOLLOW–UP ON STORY OF —“22 HEP-C AND “1” HIV AIDS IN BORDER VILLAGE NARLI”



Villagers panic over death of one by AIDS in border village Narli ….50 infected with HIV AIDS, 70 with Hep-C
Eye hospital’s random testing opens Pandora’s Box on fast spreading deadly diseases in village

Rashmi Talwar

AMRITSAR SEPT -23, 2010———Awareness Camp by health department headed by Dr Swarnjit Dhawan in village Narli on Indo Pak border on Wednesday found a alarming situation, with a dozen deaths due to HIV+ AIDS in recent years while ‘three’ had succumbed to deadly Hep-C virus.
It is pertinent to mention that a routine test of 74 patients found with cataract by ‘Dr Om Parkash Eye Hospital’ had found 22 of them infected with Hep-C and one –HIV +AIDS, in this village near Amritsar recently .
This revelation by Director of the Hospital Dr Rohit Om Parkash had opened a Pandora’s Box about fast spreading deadly diseases in this border village.

During the camp by health department, village sarpanch Mukhtar Singh expressed his annoyance to the health authorities who had never taken any steps for health care in their village.
He revealed to them that about 50 persons were afflicted with HIV AIDS while 70 were infected with deadly with Hep-C.
There was poor attendance at the camp even though the announcement was made through a public address in village gurdwara .
Shocking details were let out by some who attended the camp (all names changed).

Parampreet Kaur revealed that she was married to a truck driver who died with AIDS and later she was married to her younger brother-in-law and now both have HIV AIDS.
One Kabal Singh and Harjit Singh also died due to AIDS. Sham Singh said his wife died of AIDS and he too is infected.

A 35 year said he did not come to know how he got infected with HIV AIDS and then his wife too got infected. The couple lost their son to AIDS as also a 6-month old daughter Aman. Later his wife also died with the same disease.
Sarpanch Mukhtar Singh said in recent years about a dozen persons had died of AIDS. Jagdeep Kaur wife of school principal died of Hep-C as also wives of two other persons. The sarpanch revealed that these deadly diseases were fast spreading due to quacks, drug addicts and drug peddlers in the village.
The village has 850 houses and a population count of 12,000 out of which 3600 persons were adults and 50 % were dalits.
The Sarpanch appealed to the Health authorities to conduct tests in the village to identify those infected with HIV AIDS and HEP-C and take urgent measures to arrest the spread of the diseases. He also urged the law enforcing authorities to nab drug peddlers and provide de-addiction clinics for drug addicts.

PS : Plz conduct your own verification with health authorities

22- Persons found with deadly Hepatitis-C , One HIV+ in Indo-Pak border village Narli,


Women too among effected

BY RASHMI TALWAR

Amritsar September 18, 2010—————-

In what seems to be an eye –opener , mandatory blood tests of patients suffering from Cataract (Eye Problem) diagnosed in a camp organized by “Dr Om Parkash Eye Institute” in Village Narli on the Indo Pak border, led to an alarming disclosure of 22 patients found to be afflicted with Hepatitis-C while one person was found to be HIV+.
The hospital team headed by its director Dr Rohit Om Parkash , Mr Maqbool and others organized a follow up camp in this village recently, after the alarming results of Hep-C and HIV+infection were found in blood tests of these patients.
In the earlier camp, the eye specialist medical team had detected a total of 74 cases of ‘Cataract’ and when routine blood tests of these 74 patients for HIV+ and Hep-C were conducted prior to cataract surgery in the hospital at Amritsar, 22 of them were found to be afflicted with Hep-C virus while one man was found with HIV+ status.
The age group of affected patients found with Hep-C ranged from 35 to 70 years including many women. A woman aged 70 years too was found to be affected by the disease.
At the follow up camp organized in Government Senior Secondary School, Narli, the Principal of the school Mr Lakha Singh and village Sarpanch Mr Mukhtar Singh were informed of the detection of this disease that caused severe liver damage and proved fatal in cases, if left untreated.
The principal while talking to the doctors disclosed that approximately 30 to 35 percent of village population and around, especially males had taken to drugs and 20 percent of these were using injections. Being a border village, the drugs are smuggled from the neighboring country of Pakistan and are easily available in the village.
He also stated that mostly RMP (Registered medical Practitioners) were handling patients in the village and reportedly some of them were using fake medical documents and were taking little or no precautions in administering injections or using other sterilization techniques to safeguard patients as well as themselves.
The doctors explained to patients at Narli village that Hepatitis C virus is spread by blood-to-blood contact especially by sharp instruments or coming in contact with infected blood from sharing needles or other household items like nail clippers, toothbrushes, tattooing, even menstruation, saliva , and nose bleeds. Unprotected sex too caused this virus to spread. In the early stages of infection patients may show signs of fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches or fever, later yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) are manifested as its symbols. The Principal of the school also revealed to the visiting doctors that a shrine “Sidh Baba Bodh Nath” widely believed to have divine powers in healing jaundice drew thousands of patients suffering from jaundice each Sunday in their village.
Dr Rohit urged the state authorities to take urgent notice of the fast spreading virus in this village and around to prevent it from taking epidemic proportions. “ It is a scary situation wherein we find that majority of these patients remain undetected. The risk factor thus for medical treating personnel has increased manifold and is alarming”.
Dr Rohit drew the attention of state wherein investigations for Hep –B, C and HIV prior to even minor surgery very a necessity for general well being of the public.

Queen’s Baton: Will Bonhomie at Indo-Pak border be replicated in participation by Pakistan at Commonwealth Games?


Queen's Baton Published in Pb Kesari on July 14, 2010

BY RASHMI TALWAR

Wagah-Attari Indo-Pak border never looked so bridal…..
The marigold rivulet like strings on the border gates–a witness to millions of passersby over the past 63 years to either side of the Radcliff line- today looked in ‘merry’ celebration, as if on the entry of the girl back to her ‘sasural’ (marital home).

Yes, the girl was the “Queen’s Baton” –shining in her elegant glory, handed over from the Pakistani side by Punjab (Pak) Governor Sulman Taseer to Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi at dot 9.30 am of a particularly pleasant morning of June 25 2010, amidst a colorful frenzy of emotions as the Indian side’s –’Sare Jahan se Acha …’ matched the Pakistani side with ‘Jea, jea Pakistan..’.

Taseer, Kalmadi walked alongside, crossing over the zero line into India with a team of 20 Pak members, to an equally euphoric welcome to the undisputed symbol of sports amongst onlookers and participants on the Indian side.
This was after all, the first time a South Asian country was hosting the Commonwealth Games and India was a front-runner!

Indian stands responded eagerly to the waves from Pak enclosures particularly to Beena Sarwar- Pakistan peace activists’ of ‘Aman Ki Asha’ –an Indo-Pak joint venture through the powerful medium of ‘words’– Now converted into an open display of bonhomie between the people of both countries.

A beaming Suresh Kalmadi petted his team for the excellent welcome, particularly Jagmohan Bhanot OSD Commonwealth Games, who conceptualized the idea of joining hands with “Aman ki Asha”, to march forward on this historic turf, in an effort aimed to clearing the detritus of past bitterness, of blood, wars and revenge, of shattered families and loot–Into emotions of undiluted joy and celebration!
All of the past, was forgotten momentarily, as rivals set aside differences in a collective effort to usher in the Baton – that perhaps would help ‘warring countries’, direct their energy flow in the playfields towards human endurance and team competitiveness, rather than policy-stands by Heads of countries with their formal nods & nays, swayed by pressures within or without.

A chain of gaily colored handkerchiefs with peace messages that flowed into India, made by Pakistani children, alongside the Baton Relay, was given a virtual ‘nuptial’ knot with similar kerchief chain by Indian children, bonding the two countries on a note of Peace in the region.

As the ‘new generations’ stood face to face smiling and in awe of this historic moment, the hope of having ‘different’ playmates from across the border, writ large on their glowing faces.

From either side of the gates they looked at each other- surprised, but found ‘no horns’ that have been fed about each other’s features since their senses took charge. The little ones took no time to gulp their initial inhibitions and animatedly responded to each other in all their pure innocence! -As children are wont to do.

Celebration started on the Indian side and Political compulsions did rear their head, but remained mostly unnoticeable. First, Punjab’s ruling BJP-Akali and congress MLAs sat in stoic silence next to each other feigning concentration on the jubilation of color, music and rhythm of Punjabi Bhangra, Rajasthani and of Jammu and Kashmir –all border states with Pakistan, sharing a common and composite cultural heritage.

CM Parkash Singh Badal from the dias, shared about his formative years in Lahore and claimed to know every nook, corner and ‘gali’ ‘especially the famous ‘lassi’ of Lahore. He cited some personal instances of his college as an under grad in arts at Foreman Christian College, Lahore and talked about removing the Indo-Pak Gates and walls between the two countries through sports.
In the last leg of the baton passing ceremony, Punjab CM passed the baton to Minister of External affairs Parneet Kaur wife of former CM Capt Amarinder Singh, ‘as if he was passing the reins of his government to her’… Badal addressed Delhi CM Sheila Dixit as his sister but reserved the ‘familial endearment’ only for her avoiding any reference to the other female lead- Parneet. Parneet on her part sat dignified in the VIP stands and avoided any glance towards the border gates ..that had caused much consternation in her personal life from a particular female enchantress.

But the crowd hardly noticed this ‘fee-fa’, lulled as they were by the unique audio-visual treat and the grandeur setting of this event.
If anyone could be singled out for thoroughly enjoying this moment it was the IOA Prez — ‘Tu Maane ya na Maane … Dildara …Asan tenu Rab Maneya by Puran and Pyare Lal Wadali (Wadali Brothers ) brought emotional bonding.
The Commonwealth Queen’s Baton carrying the message of “Peace through Sports” had landed a day earlier in Lahore at the ‘Allama Iqbal International Airport’ carried by A crew of QBR, including Ajay Chautala, Member of Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Raj Qadian, Avny Lavasa, Louis Rosa and Asokan.
Sheila dixit said she felt honored to be the chief minister of Delhi at the time when India would host its first Commonwealth Games.
Pure bonhomie between neighbors India and Pakistan gripped the occasion, that drew not only the youngsters to dance impromptu but also the IOA Chief Kalmadi was seen swinging merrily in the mood, created by Pak artists at the Wagah-Attari Indo Pak Border on “Ab jaan lutt jaye…. Yeh jahan chutt jave …saang pyar rahe, ……Mein rahun na rahun… Sajda ! Sajda ! tera Sajda !……” a peppy emotional number from ‘My Name is Khan’ sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan- Live On stage!
It was joined in equally chorus by a Fusion, by music troupes of ‘Wadali brothers’ (India) and ‘Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’ (Pakistan) and the climax through ‘Duma Dum Mast Kalandar…”–a popular folk song of both Punjabs. There was then no stopping the elation.

The baton has specially been designed on an 18 karat gold leaf and the relay was the largest of all the previous editions, covering a distance of 1,90,000 km during its visit to 71 participating nations across the world. It had started from Delhi to Buckingham Palace (England) and was formally launched by Queen Elizabeth-II to travel to all 71 Commonwealth Nations.
And the countdown of 100 days began…for the baton to reach back to Delhi–the venue of the XIX Commonwealth Games from October 3-14, after setting foot in 28 states and seven union territories of India.
It was passed on to the Indian sports greats Vijender Singh Olympics Bronze medalist Boxer and four-time world champion woman boxer M C Mary Kom at Indo- Pak Border and thereon to many a great Indian sportsperson.
However, it remains to be seen if only 70 countries or will the 71st country would also participate as enthusiastically as seen near the Wagah-Attari dividing line, …or was the ‘undivided’ feeling just a fleeting gesture…..

Amritsar born Farida Khanum– legendry Pak singer loves coming to India


FARIDA KHANUM


By SAANJH

The voice of Farida Khanum has enchanted listeners for decades, on both sides of the border. The legendary artiste, when she was in Delhi recently, said she had always got a lot of love from India, and that the arts made a huge difference to cultural relations – something that an initiative like Aman Ki Asha has reiterated often.

“Lijiye hum aa gaye, pahunch gaye aapke paas,” is what she says genially when the conversation begins. “Yeh pyaar mohabbat humein kheench laye. Bahut bhaag daud karke visa liya hai. ICCR and Roots to Routes ne bahut bhaag daud ki, bahut mehnat aur lagan se kaam kiya hai,” she says, in a heavy Punjabi accent.

Farida Khanum was born in Amritsar and spent the early years of her childhood in Kolkata before their family moved to Pakistan during Partition. How often has she come to Delhi? “Bahut martaba aa chuki hoon. Eighteen years ago, I came here for a performance for the Gymkhana Club. Getting an NoC was a big problem at that time. That was my first time in Delhi,” she says.

Narrating the story of her years in India, she says, “Meri padaish Amritsar ki hai, belong toh hum Punjab se hi karte hain, par hamari family ka rehna Kolkata mein ho gaya. My elder sister worked in theatre and films there. “Waise hum Punjabi hain, par asli soch toh meri Bengal ki hi hai, uske liye bahut kashish hai mere dil mein. Dono mix hoke kuch achha hi ho gaya ki Allah ne fankar bana diya, aur aap bachcon ko sunke khushi hoti hai,” she says.

“We left home at first because it was announced that India and Pakistan were to be partitioned and so was the state of Punjab. Uss waqt kashmakash hui, ghar jalne lage, maramari ho gayi. Toh hamare logon ne kaha ki Pindi (Rawalpindi) chalte hain, paas hai, mahine mein wapas aa jayenge. We took just enough stuff for a month, but we could never come back after that. Announce ho gaya ki Amritsar Hindustan mein chala gaya. Bachpan ka time tha, humein laga ki yeh kya hua. We started living in Pindi and then moved to Lahore. Hamare liye toh Lahore bhi naya tha, Pindi bhi naya tha. Iss wajah se do-teen saal uljhan rahi. Jo gaana seekha tha usmein difference aa gaya. Then I joined Radio Pakistan. Jab Allah Taala ko izzat deni hain, kisiko naam dena ho, toh aawaz mein bhi khoobsurti daal dete hain, aur logon ko achha laga. Naam toh mera Farida tha sirf, radio ke liye Farida Khanum kar diya.”

In the context of Aman Ki Asha, what difference to bilateral ties does she think art and cultural exchange can make? “Bahut farak padta hai beta, government ka bhi mood cool ho jaata hai, artiste ke aane mein ijazat de dete hain. Usse artiste bhi khush hota hai – unhe mauka milta hai ki Hindustan jaa ke apne fan ko sunayenge, apnon se milenge, tarse hote hain Hindustan dekhne ke liye, sochte hain sair hogi, dosti hogi, mohabbat badhegi. Zahir hai, aapki mohabbat mein koi kami hai nahin, woh yaadein bahut hi khoobsurat le ke jaate hain, woh kehte hain ki hum dobara aana chahenge. Yeh mel-jol, pyaar-mohabbat purana hai, lekin ismein zara si jo rukawat hoti hai, uske baad jo ijazat milti hai, usmein aur hi mazaa aata hai,” she says emphatically.

And what sort of response has she got from her fans here? “Jab bhi main aayi hoon, pyaar ke lafz hi likhe hain aapne. Artiste ka dil bada ho jaata hai ki itna toh main gaati hi nahin jitna inhone likha hai. Bahut achha lagta hai. Allah ka shukr hai, haalaat behtar se behtar ho rahe hain. Duayein hi dete hain hum bhi.”

The listeners here in India have always been connoisseurs of music, and regard for the arts is only growing. “Ustad Amjad Ali Khan sa’ab ke sahabzade kitna khoobsurat performance dete hain, mausiki toh yahan ki zindagi hai. Abhi ki baat nahin hai, purani baat hai ki Hindustan mein gaana hoga toh uska aur hi rang banta hai. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sa’ab bhi issi pyaar se yahan aa gaye, ki fan ko bhi aage badhana hai, naye bachchon mein,” she says.

And which younger performers has she heard and liked? “There are many, so many!” she exclaims. “Nazia Hassan and her brother did some good, light music, their kind of pop was very different and did so well. Lekin jo humara idhar ka kaam hai (classical music and ghazals, etc), ismein bhi bachche dilchaspi le rahe hain, zahir hai usmein bhi unka riyaz badhega, ismein bhi tarakki hogi.”

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