Posts Tagged ‘LAHORE’

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


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Ahmed Javed Hassan owner Servis shoes in his Palatial home in Lahore

Ahmed Javed Hassan owner Servis shoes in his Palatial home in Lahore, Pakistan

Gun & Warlords, Biggest worry of Pakistan: Ch Ahmed Javed Hassan

Army in Pakistan may have fewer weapons than civilians

RASHMI TALWAR

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 scion of the Servis Industries has held high the flag of his company. Chaudhary Ahmed Javed Hassan owner of ‘Servis Shoes’ is a popular figure across both partitioned borders of India and Pakistan. His Dahlia flower saplings come in hundreds from India during the planting season, people bring him Amritsaris fish, ladoos and mathees from India and as a grand patriarch, he distributes the goodies among all his friends and relatives. As he talked about their multi-billion dollar company that still rules the local and international markets, he also revealed to RASHMI TALWAR in his palatial home in Lahore, Pakistan, how unlicensed guns were the biggest trauma and challenge of Pakistan.

Q: What is the success story of Servis Industries more popularly known as Service Shoes now?

Ans: The story of ‘Servis’ began with three freshers from college, who set up the Servis Industries before partition in 1941 in Lahore. They were Ch Nazar Muhammad, Chaudhary Muhammad Hussain (my father) – both from Gujarat and Chaudhary Muhammad Saeed from Gujranwala. They flourished and their products of handbags and sports goods became popular all over India.
Then partition happened and only Bata was there in the shoe industry when we entered. Initially we started with military boots for the army as well as canvas beddings and hold-alls in 1948-49, soon after partition. Then came daily shoes and later fancy shoes. The material for footwear was imported from Europe and it used to be very costly. I joined the family business in 1966 by which time Servis shoes had arrived and established.

Q: How do you describe your company’s presence in terms of global status?

Ans: From a single retail footwear outlet, our brand has more than 400 stores in Pakistan. More than 2000 dealer-base, and a growing international footprint in Europe, Middle East, and many other regions of the world. Today, the the company produces world-class shoes, tyres, tubes, and rubber in its units in Gujarat and Muridke. Servis is an exporter of footwear has also developed brand partnerships with international brands like Hush Puppies, Nike, Urban Sole, Pierre Cardin. Our proudest moment was that Servis won FPCCI Trophy for six times for ‘Best Export Performance’.

Q: Your Lahore factory faced closure in Pakistan under President Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law?

Ans: We took on governments during all martial law regimes in Pakistan. We did not abide by any instructions that went contrary to law. One particular incident is when we preferred to close our Lahore unit instead of bowing down to pressure.
This was during the reign of Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan who was then the 14th governor of Punjab province during the military rule of President Gen Zia-ul- Haq, when we defied and eventually declared a shut down of our unit.
Gilani started issuing us instructions about whom to employ and whom to dismiss. When Gilani ordered us to take back 15 employees out of the 200 we had dismissed. We told him we shall re-employ 185 back but would not take back the select 15 he had specified. Eventually we sold off the Lahore unit after the closure and set up at Muridke.

Q: How do you describe the period from Gen Ayub Khan to Bhutto’s times?

Ans: Gen Ayub was the military dictator from 1958 until he was forced to resign in 1969. During Gen Ayub’s times, earlier, things were cheap and rather peaceful.

Post the 1965 war and during 1966, street protests started due to general scarcity following the war. Instead of appeasing the public by some benevolent means, Gen Ayub started making petty money and became unpopular. I too became a student leader then and led a street demonstration in Gujarat.

Then came Yahya Khan in 1969, Yahya dissolved the Ayub government and declared martial law for the second time in Pakistan’s history. Eventhough in 1970 he held the first free elections, that saw Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s political party Awami League party in East Pakistan win the majority but Yahya was pressured by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whose party had won in West Pakistan but had less votes. Under this pressure, Yahya decided to delay handing over the reins of power to Mujib. Thus, civil unrest erupted all over East Pakistan, Yahya tried to smother the rebellion and also fell into disgrace over the defeat in 1971 war against India and Bhutto came to power and formed the government with his Pakistan’s People’s Party and placed Yahya under house arrest. This is of course history. but on the economic front Bhutto nationalized industries such as Ghee manufacturing, foundaries, banks; healthcare, educational and therefore new entrepreneurs were discouraged to set in new industry or other service facilities. Hence unemployment rose sharply. Bhutto’s aura fell and he was dethroned by Zia-ul –Haq in a bloodless coup by alleging rigging in elections that Bhutto won. Since it was the case of ‘my (Zia’s) neck or his (Bhutto’s) neck’. Zia got Bhutto executed.

Q: Did any emotional wave of sympathy come after Bhutto was hanged?
Ans:
Not much because then as Bhutto had become unpopular and Zia ruled with an iron hand. Later Benazir unleashed the emotional quotient by reminding people of the Bhutto legacy of sacrifices. Later she too was assassinated and that catapulted her husband Asif Ali Zardari to power, as the world knows.

Q: How did you manage during Zia-ul-Haq’s regime?
Ans: Zia was no maulvi. He was a liar and never stood by his words. It was the worst period for Pakistan. He exploited religious sentiments to fight the war against Russian occupation of Afghanistan for America. He created the Punjabi Taliban, exploited youth and made them fanatics by saying ‘Jihad karo, Jannat mein Hurrein hongi tumhare liye’ (Fight the Jihad and you will be treated to beautiful women in the Heavenly Paradise). He deliberately created illiteracy to exploit youth. America used him and then lumped him off in an air crash along with one of their own Ambassadors.
During Zia’s reign came the ‘weaponry’. As America provided arms and ammunition to Pakistan to fight the Russians, the guns found their way into homes of warlords and private armies came into power especially in the rural belts. Every house had guns including automatic or semiautomatic. Obviously these guns went into wrong hands. Even though government can try but these guns will never be surrendered now or ever. They are used freely and the assailants dare and slip away. If police or security comes after them, they give them back in a formidable fight.
Even in villages they have Uzis’, Kalashnikovs, AK series, anti-tank guns and shoulder missiles and launchers. Fighters from Chechnya also joined in the fight. That time ISI too got a free hand. It was not reporting to anyone and was getting back channel support from America.
Zia always had double standards. Today Pakistan faces the biggest challenge of domestic arms and ammunition. In Pakistan, cities have smaller sophisticated weapons and crime is abundant. The availability of arms is not an issue. They are easily available to whosoever has the price to pay for them. The general feeling is if one doesn’t keep arms and ammunition one becomes vulnerable to those who do. This is the vicious circle that Pakistan faces and no solution can be found to it. The arms are hidden, whenever government announces civilians to surrender weapons. These very guns from America were diverted to fight in Kashmir. Interestingly army in Pakistan may have fewer weapons and civilians may have more.

Q: Do you also keep guns? (I ask sheepishly)
Ans: I do not wish to comment on that.

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


Pak Punjab CM Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif addressing a gathering in his ancestral village Jati Umra district Tarn Taran, Punjab

Pak Punjab CM Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif addressing gathering in his ancestral village Jati Umra district Tarn Taran, Punjab

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Stepping across the Radcliff line… beyond the Pappis and Jhappis !

Rashmi Talwar

I have dragged my strolley suitcases across the Radcliff Line that divides the two Punjabs and the rest of India and Pakistan. Notwithstanding the number of times, each time emotions overtake me during the crossing, even though I am not of the era when the Indo-Pak partition took place. Surprisingly I’m not alone and neither is this feeling exclusively mine. Anyone who crosses the ‘Sarhad’ Line experiences ditto emotions, and memories thereafter become fevistick locked.

The Pappi-Jhappi Punjabi Ishtyle is a sure-shot formula that has always raised the  emotional quotient among Punjabi masses and spread its infection to the entire South Asia region.Although, younger Sharief came to watch the finals of International Kabbadi – a game that emerged from the ‘Akharas’ of both Punjabs- his visit to Jatti Umra, the ancestral village of the Shariefs as an honoured guest took center stage. The government sponsored event saw the village roll out the proverbial red carpet, the traditional flower showers and bugle welcomes, with Gidda- Bhangra for the asal flavor of Punjab. This was matched by the Pakistani CM’s emotional Punjabi speech, that reinforced the high notes felt whilst border crossings.

Of course huge benefits are in place with both countries engaging in large scale trade which by proxy is anyhow going on, through Dubai giving the third party an added benefit. However adversaries in both countries play a sinister role to thwart all attempts at peace.

While the civilian authorities in Pakistan has always played a subservient role to both its army and the ISI given the history that both these stakeholder institutions were aided by America, the government in India is seen to be too mindful of the media wave. Many
diplomatic, administrative, investigative, legislative and political decisions are seen to be taken due to popular sentiment aired by private TV channels or deliberate media hype. At times it feels as if the media is dictating the ruling powers who are kowtowing to its
lines. Media on both sides had already spoiled the broth and quashed all chances for a breakthrough during the Indo-Pak Agra Summit.

Shabaz ShariefShahbaz Sharief is being seen as an emissary of Pakistan PM and his
meeting with Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh reinforces this, despite being on the invite of state CM Badal. His meeting is being visualized as an overture to formulate something as big as Vajpayee’s Indo-Pak first bus ‘Sada-E-Sarhad’. A formal invitation to the Indian PM to visit his birthplace in village Gah in Chakwal district that falls in the domain of Pak CM’s Punjab, is part of it.

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 played a larger than life role. This time Congress is looking out for something really spectacular to give a turnaround to the anti incumbency trend on a national level, after their poll debacle recently.

The fresh advances by Pakistan are also being seen by experts as something to smoothen frayed furrows after ‘The Dawn’ newspaper’s reported the Pakistan PM Nawaz Shariefs statement in Pak Occupied Kashmir – that ‘Kashmir dispute could trigger a fourth war with
India’. The Indian PM shot back –‘Pakistan could never win a war with India in his lifetime’. The recent elections and Congress’s dismal performance has already closed doors for any third term for the present incumbent to retain the PM’s seat. Pakistan is seeing this as an opportunity, to persuade the Indian PM, who is set to vacate his
two-term seat, to set foot, at last on the Pak soil, as something of a historical gesture and of much significance in global circles for Pakistan to redeem its image.

The PM’s childhood Pak friend Raja Mohammed Ali arrived in India in 2009 and an emotional bond was struck, and an atmosphere of bonhomie and shared history was strongly felt despite year 2008’s horrendous Mumbai attacks. But many provocations thereafter lead to things coming to a naught. Most recent being violations of LoC, beheadings of soldiers, attacks on security forces in Kashmir by militants and the
reaction in India after Indian prisoner Sarabjit’s killing in Pak jail.

Eventhough Congress may have started the first Jhappi –Pappi with Pakistan during Capt Amarinder Singh’s rule, this time, the overture of friendship is being extended by Shiromani Akali Dal, the coalition partner of BJP. Even as BJP’s traditional rhetoric against Pakistan after Kargil remains and the party emerges with Narinder Modi taking
on the Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, but strangely in Punjab the BJP’s rhetoric for strong retaliation to Pak does not work. Instead Pakistan is seen as the region’s robust partner for massive trade exchange despite Punjabs being the biggest sufferer of partition and being in
each other’s line of fire.

During my visit early this January to Lahore, Shahbaz Sharief had thrown a sumptuous and tastefully done dinner for members of SAFMA participating from 8-SAARC countries. This was in sharp contrast to one by then PM of Pakistan- Raja Parwez Ashraf in Punjab Governor’s premises where a free for all ensued over –‘dinner plates’. Shahbaz’s
standing is definitely stronger with his brother as Pak’s PM. The brothers-combo has helped bring back Nawaz back in the PM’s seat, despite popularity of cricketer turned politician Imran Khan.
However, it still remains to be seen if Pappis and Jhappis – the Punjabis hugs and kisses- turn into something concrete and consuming or may be just a hummable teasing line of a hit Punjabi number with Bhangra beats in Punjab’s cocktail circles!
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FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON DECEMBER 24, 2013

URL: http://www.risingkashmir.com/stepping-across-the-radcliffe-line/

Artist understands no Boundaries: Pak’s Arif Lohar..By Rashmi Talwar


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

ARIF LOHAR / 'RISING KASHMIR '

ARIF LOHAR / ‘RISING KASHMIR ‘

Artist understands no Boundaries: Pak’s Arif Lohar
By Rashmi Talwar

Pakistan’s folk musical great Arif Lohar’s soft eyes and childish tongue poking is just a tip of his rustic moorings. It gives no glimpse of his immense talent that comes alive just as he takes on the stage, not only as a singer, but as a class performer. His entry in Coke Studio as a folk singer of Pakistan with his ishtyle of ‘Jugni’ catapulted him to the world stage. This one folk music score, endeared him across seven seas, yet his repertory of music has several gems that he unfolds during his performances. Casual and in jet black he arrives, opens his jacket to reveal his richly embellished black kurta, takes off his black ‘turley walli paag’-turban, to unleash his black locks, sings so full throated that his jaw quivers with the loud throw and at the end of it closes all glitter, returns to his original roots, as if the tamasha box has been closed tightly shut. With his rustic humor, innocence and wayward village pranks, and mast chimta he entices, he revolts and establishes his moment in the cosmos with an upbeat energy and holds the audience enthralled and swinging, winning hearts of the elite and the foot-soldier alike found RASHMI TALWAR about Pak’s folk marvel during a recent musical extravaganza ‘Amrit de Sur’ in Amritsar.

ARIF LOHAR'S UNIQUE STYLE OF THROW

ARIF LOHAR’S UNIQUE STYLE OF THROW

Q: Your favorite musical instrument?

Ans: I am the son of Alam Lohar a revered folk singer and I inherited the ‘Chimta’ or tongs from him. Since then the Chimta is my ‘Ishq’ –my Love, and my bread earner and my father is my ‘Zewar’ – my jewel. I have no other wealth worth anything other than my mother’s blessings, my mother-tongue my father’s musical inheritance.

Q: Were you a good student and what were some of the best moments in life?

Ans: (With a coy smile) I was a nalayak – a poor student. And as you know a good son is overlooked but a nalayak one is watched with a hawk’s eye. So I was watched closely by my mother and father besides elders in the family as to what I did. Irrespective of my zilch academic prowess, I took to music like a duck to water from my father and that became my destined path. Whether I sing for a crowd of 25,000 in New York or 100 people in a village, all these are my best moments. Other than that was being awarded the Pride of Performance award by the President of Pakistan in 2005. I grew up amongst folk instruments and flavors of folk rustic singing. Not only did my bearings give me the sound quality so typical of our tribe-kabila it also gave me a taste of earth and soil that held the fragrance of my village Achh in Pakistan.

Q: Where do you get the humor streak in your dialect, gestures and actions?

Ans: Humor is in our blood. As an entertainer, humor comes as part of the Punjabi package. If a performer is unable to involve the audience then he has failed. I love live performances just as my father did and now my son Ali Lohar whom we lovingly call ‘Laddoo Lohar’ who started performing with me from the age of 3 ½ years. “Assi lok geet tey sufi vich bhijey hoye hain. Chimtey tey hor saaz jiven algoza, ek Tara, tumba, dhol hee saadi zindagi hai” (We are soaked in folk and Sufi music. The chimta (tongs) Algoza, Ek Tara (one string) Dhol are our life).

Q: Your style of ‘throw’ is unique and unbeatable?

Ans: ‘Phenkna’- or ‘throw’ is of two types. Throw amongst musicians is the quality of voice, like how loud or far it reaches and Phenkna in the modern world also means ‘bragging’ or ‘false boastings’ (he pokes his tongue). The first one is for me as my voice has a mass throw that I needn’t use a loudspeaker during village gatherings. But what you are talking about is the action-of-throw, as if throwing a dice isn’t it? No I didn’t learn it in a bowling alley to hit nine pins (smiles sheepishly) but this is part of our folk culture and I picked it during my days in street theater and this became my signature style.

Q: Which song brought you into the limelight on the world stage?

Ans: Of course Pakistanis all over the world in more than 50 countries, enjoy folk and Sufi fare that Lohars have presented but it is the ‘Jugni’ created by me in Pakistani Ishtyle that brought me world wide recognition. ‘Jugni’ was also used in Indian film ‘Cocktail’ but was first aired by Coke studio. On the internet site ‘youtube’ the Jugni video went viral with hundreds of hits per day and then came the Bollywood film Cocktail. Following this was the hit Indian film title song of ‘Bhaag Milkha bhaag’ which had an Indo-Pak flavor as it dealt with the burnish of Partition of 1947.

Q: What is your take on hot and cold relations between India and Pakistan? Does it affect artists?

Ans: An artist’s mind is boundless. He understands no boundaries; He has no climate (smiles). His climate is created with his stage and his audience. ‘Fankar layi hawa waken ussda chimta atey tumbi hey, tey Pani Wargey uhde sunnan walley Ne. Eh Hawa-Pani da jor nal uhh rujhiya rehnda hai . Ussda ki lena-dena siyasiyat atey siyasdaan nal’ (For an artist his air is his musical instruments and water is his audience. With this combination of air and water he remains satisfied and replenished. What does an artist have to do with anything political)?

Yes, it affects artists as paths are blocked but just as you cannot block air and water so can’t you block music, more so in modern times, where music wafts through cyber space. Music is unstoppable and will play unhindered. If you have an ear for it, it will be heard in the mundane things of daily life. Music has served only to bond people and so have other arts like dance, theater, poetry. Every time something untoward happens between the two countries, I feel pained.

Q: How did the new Jugni came alive? Were you not scared that it would get a beating from the original, traditional Jugni?

I was not ready to accept that I should only follow and continue my father’s legacy in folk music. I wanted to create something of my own, my own brand -If only one can become a ‘fakir’- lost beggar, that one can become attain the stature of a real ‘fankar’- artist. If I was to follow only what has already been played then what have I added to the music world. Fired with this passion I composed the new Jugni. It became a turning point and it was like- in an ocean of music I filled my own special color. Jugni in Punjab is a mythical figure of a woman who is a rebel while I made the Pakistani Jugni as someone who is a blessing of the Almighty.

I have made my own little world, according to my likes and dislikes, I live in my world where I don’t ever give up, I keep searching. Even while sleeping I remain awake. When alone at night my mind is charged with a fire inside to do something extraordinary. And then I feel the Almighty lays his benevolent hand on such a person. Duniya ke thaperaian toh sikhyan ( I learnt from the slaps from this world) … my mother’s face is visible to me smiling and that urges me on . Her beauteous face is like a Prasad or blessed offering that I partake in blessing before I go and perform on stage.

Q: It is well known that you were a street actor before taking to singing full time. Which do you like more?
I did street plays mostly comical in the entire countryside of our Punjab called nukkar nataks and nautanki. Besides that I used to be mast singing into nights. Village folk used to bring some food that they would eat through the night while listening to me and would go to feed their cattle early morning from this mehfil and I remember it was my guru Master Ismile of theater who taught me the nitty-gritty of theater and catching the audience’s attention. I use those rustic knick-knacks liberally in my performances.
The recognition, the money, the accolades were of no consequence. To please my audience was my goal. My mother told me you have to search your own path and then I shall be proud of you. So I took the fakiri path and sang in trucks and even in village trolleys. People hardly paid and then I started to include antics of theater which turned the tide and established me as a singer-performer along with my father.

Acting added to my performances and then I acted in more than 40 Pakistani films. Syed Noor’s film Jugni (film) was the highest grossing Pakistani film of 2012 with three of my songs. 150 albums and more than 3000 songs have been recorded, mostly in the Punjabi language and I still feel charged to do more.

Q: As a child which was your favorite song? Share something about your childhood

Ans: “Kookla chapaki jumey raat ayi hai, Jera agey pichey dekhe uhdi shamaat ayi hai” was my favourite which was typical Punjabi sung in Punjabs of both India and Pakistan.

Q: Your favorite numbers other than jugni?

Ans: ‘Ankhon toh bhul hoyi, pyar kar beethey hain’ and ‘Ek phul motiye da mar ke jagah soniye!’ both are my own creations.

Q: How do you describe yourself?

Ans: I am a mauji, a faqir as my mother wanted me to be. Yet I follow asool-discipline. My life is tough and rough and I can take the rough and tumble with a pinch of salt.

Q: Who is your favorite singer?

Ans: My Favorite singer is India’s nightingale Lata Mangeshkar Ji. On the Pakistani side other than my father’s melody, I love Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh, Atif Aslam, and Reshma. I identify with them.

Sarabjit’s lawyer, Awais Sheikh in Dock! ….By Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir


sarabjit lawyer

(Right) Awais Sheikh Sarabjit's Lawyer releasing book- 'Sarabjit Singh- A case of mistaken Identity

(Right) Awais Sheikh Sarabjit’s Lawyer releasing book- ‘Sarabjit Singh- A case of mistaken Identity


Sarabjit’s lawyer -Awais Sheikh, in dock !

Letter to caretaker Punjab CM for security to Pak lawyer

By Rashmi Talwar

AMRITSAR May 3, 2013——————

Awais Sheikh, the Pakistani counsel for deceased Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pak jail, is a scared man. Although having a slight physical stature, he has guts of steel and has never felt frightened while supporting Sarabjit’s case. He took over as lawyer of Sarabjit after 26/11 Mumbai attacks from Mr Rana another counsel of the Indian prisoner, during the time when hatred between the two countries was at its peak and the Pak SC had announced an ex-parte decision due to the absence of Sarabjit’s counsel in court.

Even when Awais was thrown out of his rented place by his landlord, labeled an Indian agent and during the time when protests were held against him outside Lahore Press on the announcement that Sarabjit was to be released but was retracted within six hours and another prisoner Surjeet singh was released in his place; Awais did not cow down and never backtracked, he held on to his courage. He came to India more than 25 times without fear of persecution from intelligence agencies of Pakistan.

In a letter today to the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab- Najam Sethi (in view of forthcoming elections in Pakistan) the Human Rights Watch has written that Awais was subjected to an attempt at kidnapping at Wagah border besides receiving threatening letters and phone calls from organizations that claim to have strong links with Taliban. They have urged the government to provide him clandestine (invisible) security so that he does not become a visible target of those who want to eliminate him.

Awais has addressed umpteenth press conferences since 2008, in both India and Pakistan, even garnering support of celebrities to urge both countries to repatriate their prisoners after their prison terms were over and has mounted an attack on both countries for their callousness, time and again especially in the case of Sarabjit.

But after Sarabjit’s death in Lahore, it was the first time that fear was in Awais’s voice. After the attack on Sarabjit he said, he was fearful that he too may be eliminated. He related to me over phone from Lahore – “I came to see off Dalbir Kaur and Sarabjit’s family at Wagha Indo Pak border after they met Sarabjit in hospital, and this time the intelligence sleuths laid a trap me, of which I was pre-warned, so I managed to sneak out in a private vehicle.” And further, expressed his fear that after Sarabjit’s slaughter –“This time, they will come after me and kill me too!”

Awais has written a book titled “Sarabjit Singh- A case of mistaken identity” published by Indian Publishers Rajkamal Prakashan, that was released in Delhi and Amritsar in January 2013. The book has complete details on Sarabjit’s case as well as many other prisoners in jails of India and Pakistan belonging to either country.

Besides this he has copies of documentations to prove Sarabjit’s real name was Sarabjit and not ‘Manjit Singh’ as filed in the FIR. He had earlier penned another book –Samjohta express”- The train between India and Pakistan. Awais was last here in India, to release the book on Sarabjit Singh, in Delhi and Amritsar in January 2013.
Justice Markandey Katju Chairman of the Press Council of India, former Supreme court Judge and chairman of the ‘Free Sarabjit Committee had commented on the book –“The prosecution evidence in the case of Sarabjit Singh is very weak . His name was not even in the First Information Report”.

The winner of USA’s ‘Global Media Award for Excellence’ Zubeida Mustafa had stated on the book –“Sarabjit has not received a fair trial. That is the irony. The quirks of international relations and a flawed legal system have combined to determine the unhappy fate of this man.”

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR RK

URL:http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/sarabjits-lawyer-awais-sheikh-in-dock-46560.aspx

Sarabjit’s autopsy shows clear motive of murder : Doctors / by Rashmi Talwar /Sify.com


Indian Prisoner Sarabjit Singh killed in Pak Jail

Indian Prisoner Sarabjit Singh killed in Pak Jail

Sarabjit autopsy shows clear motive of murder: Doctors

By Rashmi Talwar

AMRITSAR May 3, 2013———— “Sarabjit was attacked by multiple people, with the clear motive of murder” commented Dr Gurmanjit Rai, HoD Department of Forensic Medicine, Government Civil Hospital, Patti District and heading the five member team to conduct post-mortem, formed on the
instructions of the Punjab government.He commented during a press conference here today, after the team conducted the second post mortem, on Sarabjit Singh- the Indian prisoner attacked in a Lahore jail, who succumbed to his grievous injuries yesterday.

“There were six to seven injuries on Sarabjit’s head caused by heavy blunt objects, hit multiple times by more than one person in multiple attacks and it is being presumed by whatever viscera we could collect that the cause of death could be due to head injury. “Yes the object of attack could be bricks!” the doctor admitted.

“The injuries are 6-7 days old and the time of death 00.45 am May 2, 2013 is correct, but the one-page Death certificate sent by the Jinnah Hospital’s medical board in Lahore, Pakistan is quiet insufficient.” And added, “Sarabjit was a healthy, tall person and it was not possible that the attacker could have been only one!”

Answering a query Dr Rai explained that in medical lingo, the organs of the deceased Sarabjit were considered ‘not present’ and were wrongly mentioned as ‘missing’. “We have found clear cut incisions and roots of the organs of the heart, the stomach, gall bladder and both
kidneys.” This is a routine exercise in the first post mortem, that organs from the body are removed for forensic and other examinations. Since the heart and other organs cannot be cut in parts the whole has to be sent for examinations, he explained.

The post mortem in India was done on other organs -spleen, brain, lungs and overall body. There is also suspicion that severe head injury may have been the cause of death and not a cardio pulmonary
arrest as mentioned in the death certificate, the doctor stated.

Other than the brutal head injury causing skull fractures Sarabjit’s body bore wounds of fractured ribs including ribs number 3,4,5 with fractures in three on the left side and two on the right side, while the central bone to which the ribs are attached was also found fractured, as also the ‘mandible’ or the jaw bone.

There were dark bruises on the back of his shoulders, lips, left ear and left side of the head. Some stitched wounds were also found. In answer to whether the treatment to the deceased was proper the doctor said -“We are awaiting treatment records and want to see what medicines and other treatment was imparted to him”.

India would await the report from Jinnah Hospital Lahore, Pakistan to conclusively arrive at the final answers for Sarabjit’s custodial killing. The reports of the second post mortem would be sent to the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA).

URL: http://www.sify.com/news/sarabjit-autopsy-shows-clear-motive-of-murder-doctors-news-national-nfdsxcdgcfc.html
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sarabjit sify_1
Pak’s Chishty versus India’s Sarabjit

By Rashmi Talwar

AMRITSAR, May 3, 2013 ———-
When Dr Mohammad Khalil Chishty, was discussed at the lunch meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during the latter’s one-day India visit to pay obeisance at Ajmer Sharief , in early April on a Sunday, a wheelchair bound Prof Chishty’s case was not only expedited but was also released, soon after.

Zardari had urged the Indian PM to follow up the case of Dr Chishty, an 80-year-old Pakistani virologist, accused in a brawl that killed one person while Dr Chishty was on a visit to meet his ailing mother in India. The doctor had pleaded innocence. Chishty was booked in 1991, almost the same time as India’s Sarabjit in Lahore, Pakistan.

Chishty’s trial took 18 years. In year 2010, he was awarded life-imprisonment for murder. An appeal in the High Court was rejected, while he did get bail, his passport was impounded and he was forced to stay in Ajmer for nearly two decades, the 80-year-old Pakistani scientist was allowed to return to Karachi by the Supreme Court of India in May last year after a more than 20-year-long legal battle. For many years Dr Chishty lived alone in his ancestral home near Ajmer in Hatundi growing frail and suffering heart attacks and finally had to be put on a wheelchair. When Chishty was to be released, Hope elevated about Sarabjit’s release in exchange, on the forthcoming Diwali that year.

“But our PM did not do anything to affect that exchange and gave Pakistan its Chishty without any returns or even assurances of release of Sarabjit” cried Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit who had fought for years to secure her brother’s release from Pak prison and who succumbed to the murderous attack in Pak Jail.

“All hopes were dashed when Chishty’s wheelchair strolled down the Radcliff line separating the two neighbours, to his home country, Pakistan, without any one bringing back Sarabjit” and added –“ The entire Bhikhiwind village was euphoric and hopeful that an exchange would take place . But nothing happened! While Zardari managed to bring back his Pakistani citizen to his country our PM’s voice was too weak to be given any weightage by a minion country like Pakistan.”

“You (government of India) failed to protect your citizen…They (Pakistan) got (Pakistani scientists Dr Chishty freed.” Dalbir accused a mum PM.
http://www.sify.com/news/pak-s-chishty-versus-india-s-sarabjit-news-national-nfdwbHadiig.html?source=sifyhome&slot=c1s2#disqus_thread

Sarabjit was sent to Pak by RAW :Hindustan Times

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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BOX- B

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

Equal – Inequal ? By Rashmi Talwar


Rising Kashmir

Rising Kashmir



Equal – Inequal ?

By Rashmi Talwar

Apropos the article “Mr President: All is not well in Kashmir” written by Mr Shujaat Bukhari dated – 2nd Oct 2012, is timely and well thought. The writer has talked about ‘inequality’ in terms of the address made by President Pranab Mukerjee during his recent visit to Kashmir presiding over the convocation of Kashmir University espousing ‘equal rights and opportunities for Kashmir’. The writer’s demand for equality comes as a welcome shift in the focus of Kashmiris, from separatism to demanding rights as citizens of this country without indulging in stone pelting or other violent means, that has been the norm in Kashmir, not so long ago.
As Mr Shujaat points out about the ‘ the trust deficit between the people and the state’, which exists. But this cannot be wished away in a day or even months. Significant time is required besides the willingness of both parties to erase this deficit, which still lingers on and as stated in the article “embers of ‘Azadi’ have still not died” .

This sudden bursts of rebellion, became starkly clear during the Indo-Pak cricket match recently in which Pakistan lost to India. It was so strange to see that those few Kashmiris I knew, who had voiced their anger towards Pakistan and were openly castigating the fruitless support by Pakistan, calling it a failed country on crutches of US, were cheering for Pakistan! When asked about it, one of them replied –“We know all that, put that aside for the time being, but the general ‘Jazbaa’ is for Pakistan to win.” In other words ‘it has become more like a tradition’!

On one side people in Kashmir want to share the opportunities and rights extended to them by the Indian government but on the other hand, the ‘Jazbaa’ factor for Pakistan remains intact. This paradox of emotions smacks of double-play. “Demand rights but continue indulging in anti-state activities”. In other words “Keep crying”!
Arun a Kashmiri now in St Jose USA questions Kashmiris : “Is Islam so weak a religion, that is can be defiled by some fool who makes a worthless film, worthy of ridicule? Or is Islam a religion whose message is so loud and clear, whose truth is so self evident that a million such movies can do nothing?” and answers “I am sure it is the latter. Then why not ignore the film and let it sink into hell? Why have a bandh, which hurts the common man? I can see why Geelani wants a bandh. He wants to re-assert himself as a leader. Without these bandh’s many like him could sink into oblivion, especially when Kashmir is getting peaceful. So he demeans Islam by giving importance to this film. Just what I would expect, from politicians who uses Islam to increase their own importance.”
Another Kashmiri believes “Give Kashmiris freedom of speech but not taxpayer’s money for waging a war against the Indian state.”
Given this scenario of a state- that is just a juvenile step into normalcy and continues to be potentially eruptive, some harsh measures need to be taken to douse the adrenaline of mischief mongers to stoke the embers of distrust once again and bring in chaos , anarchy and grave loss of life.

In normal circumstances and conditions, people behave in a ‘normal’ fashion wherein dissent co-exists with assent “correction- through evaluation, criticism, protests or demonstrations.” But these choices are not adequate for those sitting on the sidelines of Power in Kashmir. “They would wind up the toy uptil its last string and let it loose in a distorted but new pattern and then watch the drama play, clapping their hands in glee”.

Ban on social networking sites should be time bound, but the apprehensions of the ruling government are genuine, in my opinion. The dreadful video could be downloaded and uploaded on multiple sites to incite violence. ‘What has till now not been seen (even by those who screamed their lungs out, killed and ransacked public property even in Pakistan) maybe broadly broadcast on massive screens, their ill-gotten intent succeeding with emotional appeals on sites like Facebook or Youtube .
Would those who are suffering the ban on such sites merely miss their daily dose of interactions and would they be able to justify the havoc created by the misuse of these very sites?

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING kASHMIR

Remembering Lahori YASH CHOPRA By Rashmi Talwar : RISING KASHMIR


Yash Chopra’s SILSILA — A casting Coup

Lahori-Yash Chopra

By Rashmi Talwar

The swish of chiffon Sarees had already mesmerised our generation of teenagers or those in their early 20s. Yash Raj films had introduced us to ‘Tulips’ and ‘Windmills’ of Amsterdam for the first time in Silsila – a film that took much from the real-time high profile romance of Rekha with the most handsome baritone voiced Amitabh Bachchan.
The fragrance of mountains from Kashmir to the Swiss Alps, the lakes and flora had seemed like the stars in his films were floating on whispering clouds, endless rainbows, the bluest waters.

RISING KASHMIR: Remembering Lahori YASH CHOPRA

Kabhi Kabhi, Chandni, Lamhe, Darr had the leading lady so dreamlike, that one wondered if such creatures actually existed. We, as young girls then, all wanted to emulate them. So, school and college farewells, saw girls in sheer chiffons with a swaying paalu following them. Never mind if some of starry-eyed ones tripped on the edges, but they had to be one amongst the exalted queens of Yash Raj films, to be able to garner a tall-dark-handsome, Mills and Boons, type of guy.

During my journalistic years much later, as women journalists were often saddled with soft beats- like it or not, I too was put to task on film personalities. I do not feel any guilt in saying, I enjoyed it thoroughly, much to the smirks of fellow women journalists, who felt it was a page3 type story. Hardly journalism! as they called it. In, came a chance to interview Yash Chopra, the King maker of Romance.

He was here in Amritsar with his wife Pamela Chopra and was conferred the degree of Doctorate of Philosophy (honors causa) for his contributions to art and culture by Guru Nanak Dev University, in 2004.
The then Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr SP Singh was more like a father figure to me. He invited me, individually to have special lunch with the awardees at the 30th Convocation of the Univ.
As I saw Yash ji and his wife holding a plate, Dr Singh, a bright glint in his eye, egged me on to interview him there and then. “A journalist must never lose a chance. I know this, because I too was journalist at one time,” he urged.
But I couldn’t bring myself to barge in upon a couple, cosily eating lunch together. I told Dr Singh, that I shall do the interview only after, he is over with his lunch. Later the honoured VC even related this incident to my Bureau Chief, as all laughed at me, in our office.
Perhaps Yash ji had heard our conversation and quickly finished his lunch and joined us. “Tell me what do you want to ask?” ‘Sirrr! I wanted to talk to your wife’, I blurted out in confusion. ‘About what?’ he asked. Sirrr ji! I want to know how she views your films, your profession and your success.’ I said.
He gave a coy smile and said, ‘ No, Pamela doesn’t like to talk to the media’, as I stole a glance at his wife enjoying the lip smacking Amritsari cuisine, in a world of her own. I remembered that they had a love marriage. Soon, we reached an unoccupied cane sofa and Yash ji, made me sit beside him. The rest of the media persons too had been let in as the lunch was almost over.
We all sat with him, some at his feet glancing at him, some standing over his head and others surrounding the little sofa. Once on the route to queries, I asked him if he would ever make an Indo-Pak film as he was connected to Lahore as his birthplace. Yash Chopra said his forthcoming film would be exactly that but categorically ruled out taking his film troupe and artistes to Pakistan. He expressed his apprehensions over security issues. However he said he did not like to project any Anti-Pak sentiment in his films. He had not named his film at the time but ‘Veer Zara’ was already in the pipeline. On being asked if he would ever make a Punjabi movie, He smilingly retorted ‘but I always bring Punjab in my films’. Well, DDLJ, Silsila, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Veer Zara had plentiful of Punjabi flavor in them. About getting the Rekha, Amitabh and Jaya in love triangle in Silsila which was a seen as scoop of sorts, Yash ji said, I signed them and the next day flew off to Switzerland. Those were the times of only landline phones’ he laughed. We all understood and looked gigglingly at each other.
Yash Chopra, who was then on the advisory board of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, showed no qualms about taking on the government on censorship issue for their leniency in passing vulgarity in films and TV programmes. He said remixed songs were jarring to him as they mutilated a beautiful composition and made it like a ‘Hijra’neither man nor woman. ‘No one can see these vulgar videos with their family’. Over reports of a nexus between films and International Mafia raging at the time in 2004, he said he was unaware of it, if it did exist.
Interestingly, I was one of the first ones to cover the story of Indian Prisoner Sarbjit Singh still imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Pakistan which is known to be a case of mistaken identity and by some strange coincidence another case of mistaken identity was also underway at that time in the sessions court in Amritsar and I had minutely studied it and verily reported it even as it was a sub-judice case , but had led to release of the accused, a 70 year old .
It was, but a wild thought then, that Yash ji too would be including a twist of ‘mistaken identity’ in his forthcoming Indo Pak movie. Lo and Behold! This hunch came true in Veer Zara. Later, I covered the entire shooting of the film in Amritsar at Khalsa College, Attari International Railway station, Samjhauta Express, Harike, Wagah Land route and various other sequences shot in Amritsar and around.

Scene from Veer Zara

When I went to Lahore the very next year in 2005, for the first time . People there were thrilled over this very Indo-Pak romance. However, some said the language used was not authentic lahori and petulantly pointed out that the sets too could have been improved had Yash ji come to Pakistan and noted the minute details as he is wont to do in all his movies. One elderly lady in Pakistan had a question to ask –‘Why is the boy from India and the girl from Pakistan in the movie?’ She asked sweetly, ‘Why not vice-versa?’ I gave her beaming smile, How could I have an answer about the storyline of one of the topmost Directors of Bollywood in whose honor the government of Switzerland named a lake as ‘Chopra Lake’ in a place called Alpenrausch.

A Clip from Film SILSILA

True to the title of his last film-‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ Yash ji passionately took on his work.
In Yash ji’s sad demise, I feel as if the Heavens had their quota house-full for this ominous year 2012, wherein many greats in performing and other arts, musical legends and now even the most loved comic- Jaspal Bhatti of ‘Ulta Pulta’ fame has his Powerlines cut, true to his forthcoming release ‘Power Cut’. Along with Amritsaris heavy weight Dara Singh – the benign grandfather figure, Rajesh Khanna the ultimate in romantic hero, Jaspal too has journeyed to the Gods to provide the endearing comic touch, to the Grand Play being mastered in the World Beyond.
First Published in RISING KASHMIR after Yash Chopra passed away ….

Wagah wonder: Border melts on a platter here…………..By Neha Saini


Amritsar, September 10
Days before External Affairs Minister SM Krishna reached Lahore to shake hands with chief minister Shahbad Sharif on Sunday, the warmth in this part of Punjab was being gently stirred up, gastronomically. Near the Attari-Wagah border, the best of cuisines from both sides of Punjab waited to tickle the taste buds. Diplomacy could wait, after all, with Punjabi ‘tadka’ ready to serve up a preamble.

The idea is simple: move on with peace with food as an essential ambassador. So, here it is: ‘Lahori Dum Biryani’, ‘Chapali Kebab’, ‘Miyan-ji-ki-daal’, ‘Lahori bhindi’, ‘Amritsari daal’ ‘Amritsari fish’, ‘bhuna gosht, lassi, kheer, rasmalai, jalebi, firni and what have you.

You are right; a distance of 30km (how far is Lahore, youngsters on this side often ask) isn’t much to proffer a flavour switch. Conceptually, it does. Here’s how.

Walk inside ‘Sarhad’, a stone’s throw from the border. “Our chefs have carefully put together ‘Lahori Thaal’ using spices and flavours from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” says Aman Jaspal, the owner. Since fish and mutton are a favourite on both sides, these form the basis of many recipes at ‘Sarhad’.

Aman knows Lahore and its by-lanes. “Amritsar and Lahore share a rich culinary tradition. We want engrossing conversations on cross-border cultural exchanges over a sumptuous meal,” he says.

He has already hosted special guests such as Pakistani filmmaker Ayesha Akram at ‘Sarhad’. Aman quotes her: “It is a simple and an impressive way to bond. Most conversations happen at the dining table.”

The marquee on Sarhad also flaunts a ‘Museum of Peace’. “There are many multimedia displays from the Partition and Pre-Partition days besides pictures, maps, renditions and writings by famous people who witnessed the Partition. Our collection has been sourced from scholars in London researching Indo-Pak relations,” says Aman.

From Lahore
* Mian-ji-ki daal (a medley of five lentils), tawa gurda kapoora, dil, maghaz, chaamp and ‘khusrey de kebab’

From Amritsar

* Kulchas and puris, Amritsari fish, parantha, tandoori chicken, bhuna gosht, lassi, kheer, ras malai, jalebi, firni

THE WRITER IS A CORRESPONDENT WITH THE TRIBUNE

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

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

Honeymoon again, Tulips again —-By Rashmi Talwar


In Year 2012
Honeymoon again, Tulips again!
Rashmi Talwar

It wasn’t a joke. Advertisements offering honeymoon packages to Kashmir have started to pop on our virtual windows. Charles Darwin had once said ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’

It has taken nearly a quarter of a century for Kashmir to be mapped once again as a honeymoon destination and it could not have happened without an almost aggressive and aggrieved population’s fervent desire for change. The demands of the people too is witness to a shift from protests to demands for basic amnesties of -power, roads, water supply, gaining ground daily, relegating the flarings, stone-pelting to the back burner.

Once again, the scenario has emerged craving for normalcy of honeymooner’s dream of a water-stay at the dancing houseboats on the languorous Dal/ Nagin lake with Shikara’s playful rides thrown in for romantic rendezvous on unhurried waters, rippling off and on by paddles, amidst a surreal view of mighty Himalayan ranges.

Floating shops of flowers and fresh fruit to enrapture and steer moods to fulfil longings. With beauteous nature drawing in the rainbow trails, romance would indeed be as natural as a winged creature taking a zig-zag glide in the bluest skies.

Kashmir’s emerged as a natural sprint to win the march; as the choicest destination– to sow the seed for a progeny ; when the concept of honeymoon was conceived amongst couples married in 60s and 70s.

Interestingly and invariably one found photos on mantel pieces of couples in postures of  hugging, in Kashmiri outfits holding a flower basket or a baby goat or gaily decorated pitcher, kangri, samovar, looking deep into eyes or finger pointing to a Chinar grove or a flowing river, clicked by roadside photo studios along Pahalgam’s Lidder river. And one guessed that the immediate first child of the couple came from there, to the delight of parents who pushed, coaxed and hurried newly-weds to graduate them to be grandparents.

I, am not shy to say and delighted to discover that I too am one of those products conceived in these romantic locales, after surreptitiously investigating whereabouts of my parents post wedding and the count of months therein. Some fragrances are haunting never peacefully evaporating, just lingering, lying and awaiting a sliver of coincidence to trail a flashback. Perhaps they are the ones that a child absorbs in the womb. My father was so much in love with Kashmir that he would often travel to Kashmir with his friends in college albeit secretly, as parents those days were too protective and demarcating for their ‘only’ sons or for sons in general and daughters were of course held captive in homes.

After 24 years, after the last in 1987, when I stepped into Kashmir last year in year 2011,  it was to cover the ‘First Comedy-Fest’ in Srinagar, held after bitter turmoil for years since 1989. It felt like time stood still, traces of turmoil had vanished and mirth filled the once-tensed air. It was as if realms of media had faked Kashmir’s turmoil. Stories about bloodshed sounded hollow, concocted and the familiar lilt of music from whooshing winds- whistling in trees, flip-flapping waters and an air of spring filled the merciful air.

I started my lines for Comedy-Fest thus “-Myon Shoosh–My Love, whisper the majestic Kashmir mountains to me, opening their tessellated imposing arms, in a bear hug. I immerse into their beauty. The prickly needles of emerald hued conifers outlining their conical bodies, hurt me no more, they bring tickles at first, a smile and then a rolling laugh. It has been a quarter of a century since I last set foot in this wondrous land. ‘Maayi Barut Istaqbaal’ – Warm Welcome, ‘Khush Aamdeed’ – Happy Tidings, they murmur softly in my ear.”

I am convinced that this year too would be no joke and the undulating mountains, punchy clouds and swooshing waters known for their fabulous hospitality would be ‘Ashiqana’ lover-like, wondrous , inviting, embracing and enveloping .

Honeymooners would once again traipse on flower bedecked meadows of Gulmarg, watch the Gold topped peaks of Sonmarg,  touch waters of emerging Jhelum in Verinag or could lazily stroll or float along the Dal lake just like me, past midnight, listening to Bollywood number “Bol na halke Halke ..” on their mobile, and many a ‘tulip’ would be conceived, thus. Maybe, one ‘litlu’ one, under the mighty shade of a Chinar. And parents would be too embarrassed to divulge the secrets of the one, from a river bank or the from behind the ferns and bushes, still another may have a story to tell about the deadly strike of ‘Bichchu booti’ during a coiteus .

Saffron would break into blooms, slopes be emblazoned with wildflowers, Snow-laden mountains inviting and amidst them, honeymoon Houseboats ‘Nishat’ or ‘Kushdi’ – touted as the best for Honeymooners in the package- would boast housefuls ! And many a new love would retrace their footsteps to ‘shikaras’ under the stars and moon, oozing that truest promise of love, maybe on a night of Shab-e-Miraj, the night when the Koran is sung only in Kashmir.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON APRIL 17, 2012

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Lahore’s Rashid Rana Puts Us In Our Place….. BY NAYANTARA KILACHAND


Graphics by Rashid Rana


Viewers find a certain delight in the works of Rashid Rana. The Pakistani artist is primarily known for his style of stitching together thousands of digital images of deliberate provocation to form a single image of seeming innocuousness. Take for instance, his “Veil Series”, where pixellated images of porn were placed mosaic-style to form images of women in burkhas. The delight, of course, is partly in discovering the deception afoot, which saddled with all the socio-political implications of porn and Islam and feminism, make for a titillating message.

It’s something that the viewer is likely to “get” whether or not he’s versed in current Pakistani politics, and such is their intrinsic appeal that the Lahore-based Rana has managed to remain both immensely popular and critically loved. Here, in Mumbai for his two-gallery show “Apposite/Opposite”, the 44-year-old Rana lures the viewer in with the same sense of familiarity—we see his mosaic images, recognise the larger form (it’s a horse!) or the smaller stich (it’s a Caravaggio!)—but then having earned our trust, he proceeds to screw with us entirely.

We’re subject to this, for instance, in “Anatomy Lessons Series 3”, which is on display at Chemould Prescott Road gallery (the Chatterjee & Lal leg of the show will open later this week): art history students might recognise it as a detail from Michiel Jansz Van Miereveld’s “Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Willem van der Meer” (everyone else, take a gander at the original here), which shows a naked male body, dissected by a doctor and his students. The work flickers gently on a flatscreen TV, its canvas made up of hundreds of moving images culled from CCTV footage, films and documentaries.

You can just about make out grainy scenes of violence, some of people in an arid landscape of no discernible geographic location, some Big Brother-ly shots of people on streets, doing apparently nothing more than walking. It’s a weird mix of a kind of academic butchery and violence of a more insiduous kind, which through the placement of surveillance presupposes our nature to be bad.

Whatever you do, don’t leave without spending some time with “Desperately Seeking Paradise II”, a mirrored grid installation that from a certain viewpoint reveals itself to be a skyline. Rana says the buildings are an amalgam of various American and European city skylines that are in turn composed of thousands of images of houses in Lahore. It’s the recognition of one kind of trope—the physical might of Western architecture and in turn its economy—layered on a trope of another kind—of something distinctly homegrown, situated in a distinctly Islamic context—that tugs at the conceit that it’s the subcontinent that’s always at the mercy of a Western lens.

In fact, it suggests quite the reverse, that we can’t always be sure who falls under whom in the hierarchy of world order. It also confronts us with the possibility that even though Pakistan, and indeed India, might peg their future prospects on turning into the swanky first-world countries they aspire to become, they’re still just specks, part of the same global mass of humanity