The Colour of Pain: Five Punjabi Poets

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On Diwali day this year Gufatgu-online journal of Indian Writers Forum has come out with its fifth issue, which is focused more on poetry from many languages and five poems are from award returning and other radical Punjabi poets.

With Diwali greetings

http://guftugu.in/

This selection is dedicated to the first death anniversary of Professor M.M. Kalburgi on 30thAugust 2016. The day was marked by a gathering in Dharwad of cultural activists, as well as many of the writers who returned their awards in 2015 in protest against the murder of Kalburgi and the rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. Of the five poets in this selection, Surjit Patar, Darshan Butter and Jaswinder were among the writers who returned their awards in 2015. Returning his award, Patar said, “The murder of writers, scholars and thinkers in this diverse country is painful… Even more painful is that these murderers get away…”

 

Lal Singh Dil

Wordslal 1

Words have already been said
much before us and
much after us.
Cut off every tongue of ours
If you can,
But words have already been said.

Read more by clicking at the Gufatgu link given above

 

Why Che Guevara and Bhagat Singh are most loveable youth icons!

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Few days ago Indian and Pakistani youth celebrated Bhagat Singh’s 110th birth anniversary on 28th September and few days from now the whole world youth will be remembering Che Guevara on 9th October, completing 49 years of his martyrdom at the hands of US supported Bolivian reactionary regime in 1967.

While Che Guevara became symbol of resistance to US imperialism from early seventies in the height of Vietnam War and by the passing of time and with publication of his writings became more and more fascinating hero of the youth world over. Bhagat Singh phenomenon among Indian youth was there since his martyrdom in 1931, but it is only in digital times that his image as hero has travelled beyond India. Pakistan youth and liberal intelligentsia are now equally enamoured of him and claim him to be Pakistan’s hero. Left intelligentsia world over is now recognising Bhagat Singh also as much a hero, as Che Guevara is!

How both these youth icons have sustained and expanded as hero image among youth? Bhagat Singh lived between 1907 and 1931 for just twenty three years five months, whereas Che Guevara lived from 1928 to 1967 for 39 years. Bhagat Singh got seven years plus political life, whereas Che’s political life was started from the age of 23 years, when as a student of medicine, he travelled around South America on his motor cycle with a friend Alberto Grenado in 1951 for 8000 kilometres.  Journey took Guevara through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Miami, Florida, for 20 days, before returning home to Buenos Aires. They spend nine months in this travel and spent some time in leper colony in Peru. The sight of crushing poverty, hunger in rural areas made him think of liberation of South America. Prior to this he took a solo journey in Northern Argentine for 4500 kilometres alone on an engine fitted bicycle in 1950. In 1953, he completed his medical studies and officially became Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara!

Ernesto Guevara was born in Argentine on 14th June 1928 in a well to do family. But he got enlightened atmosphere at home to grow intellectually. He got asthma from his childhood, which did not leave him till the end of his life, yet he excelled in swimming, football, golf and was untiring cyclist! Ernesto was born three years before Bhagat Singh was hanged by British colonialists.

Bhagat Singh also got political awareness from his family, whose grandfather, father and two uncles were part of freedom struggle of India and there were lot of books and journals at his home in many languages, which made him grow into a multi lingual personality. Bhagat Singh’s early life was also shaped by Punjab peasants suffering from debt, against which his Uncle Ajit Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai were organising resistance movement. Bhagat Singh became full blown political activist at the age of 16 years only when revolutionaries formed Hindustan Republican Association(HRA), which five years later turned into Hindustan Socialist Republican Association/Army(HSRA) due to ideological colour given to it by Bhagat Singh by his deep study of Marxism and Soviet revolution of 1917.

Che Guevara after 1951 motor cycle trip, started again on July 7, 1953, Guevara this time to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. On December 10, 1953, before leaving for Guatemala, Guevara sent an update to his Aunt Beatriz from San José, Costa Rica. In the letter Guevara speaks of traversing through the dominion of the United Fruit Company; a journey which convinced him that Company’s capitalist system was a terrible one. In Guatemala he saw the overthrow of democratically elected President Arbenz’s government by American supported local right-wing forces in 1954. Guevara himself was eager to fight on behalf of Arbenz and joined an armed militia organized by the Communist Youth for that purpose, but frustrated with the group’s inaction, he soon returned to medical duties. Following the coup, he again volunteered to fight, but soon after, Arbenz took refuge in the Mexican Embassy and told his foreign supporters to leave the country. Guevara’s repeated calls to resist were noted by supporters of the coup, and he was marked for murder. He had to seek shelter in Argentine embassy, before he could get safe passage to Mexico. He worked as doctor in Mexico, where he met Castro brothers in 1955, who were trying to organise Cuban revolution from Mexico. Castro had attempted revolution in Cuba in July 26th 1953 movement by attacking military garrison in Moncada and were sentenced for long jail terms. They were released after two plus years and had come over to Mexico. Che Guevara joined with them here and they set out on leaking cruise Granma with 82 fighters for Cuba through sea on 25th November 1956. While reaching mountains of Sierra Maestra in Cuba, Cuban dictator Batista forces had killed most of them, only 22 remaining met after many days in mountains and Che Guevara was put in command second to Fidel Castro and within two years they made the world’s most amazing revolution and captured power on 1st January 1959. Batista and his supporters fled to Miami in US. Che himself liberated Santa Clara with just 400 hundred soldiers from ten times army of Batista! This is world’s only example of 82 men army throwing 80 thousand army of Batista regime in just two years time!

Che Guevara helped Cuban revolution succeed, he was one of senior minister in Castro cabinet, yet his heart was in revolution, he wished to make in whole of Latin America. Most of all he wished to make in his birth country Argentina, where one of his Cuban comrade went but lost life too soon. He was feeling restless and went to Congo and other African countries to help national liberation movements. Later in 1966, he decided to go to Bolivia and try Cuban like revolution, where a Communist party already existed, but which was divided in Moscow and Beijing camps and did not help Che. Che tried on his own to organise the guerrillas force, despite suffering from his asthma all the time, but failed due to heavy odds. US supported Bolivian dictator Barrientos got him killed brutally after he was captured on 8th October. One day Che was in captivity, he was tortured most cruelly, but he kept his head high all the time and it was his manner of facing death, that made him immortal and hero of the world youth. He wrote his own epitaph earlier-‘Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this our battle cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons.’

Che Guevara was true internationalist, born in Argentina, fought in Guatemala and Congo, made revolution in Cuba and died in Bolivia while making revolution.

Che Guevara in his sixteen years active life did so much, apart from making Cuban revolution and trying revolution in Congo, Africa and Bolivia, he wrote so much. His Motorcycle Diaries, Bolivian diaries, Guerrilla Warfare, Congo Diary, Cuba and the road to Socialism, Che Guevara Reader-which included number of his speeches, letters and interviews, Global Justice, n Marx and Engels and many more writings show the remarkable mind of Che. Five of his children survived him, some of them are now known figures in Cuba. Che’s personal collection of books included books by Jawaharlal Nehru as well, whom he met during a visit to Indian and Pakistan. He was probably not aware of Bhagat Singh’s writings, whom he would had loved like he loved Castro!

Jail Notebook of Bhagat Singh from 12th September 1929 to undated time before 23rd March 1931 and Bolivian Diaries of Che Guevara from 7th November 1966 to 7th October 1967, just a day before his capture, though different make interesting reading. While Bhagat Singh was taking notes of world classic books on literature, history and political economy, Che was taking critical notes of his revolutionary activities. Both were voracious readers and would be found reading in most odd conditions of underground life. Both faced death in a most honourable manner. Bhagat Singh writing to Lieutenant Governor of Punjab to shoot them being ‘war prisoners’ and Che exhorting the killer to tell-‘shoot coward…’! Both were warm hearted and friendly personalities. Memoirs of comrades and friends of both have narrated number of incidents of their warmth.

Both were the best sons of humanity produced so far-that is why both still inspire love and respect among youth!

 

*Chaman Lal is retired Professor of JNU, New Delhi and author of few books on Bhagat Singh. He can be reached at prof.chaman@gmail.com

09868774820/09646494538

  1. no 2690, Urban Estate, Phase-2, Patiala(Punjab)-147002

 

The Last Rebel-Chittagong revolutionary memoirs

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How a new book on Chittagong revolt keeps the forgotten war alive

The Last of the Rebels: Ananda and his Masterda is a teenager’s eyewitness account of the 1930 uprising.

POLITICS

|   Long-form |   09-09-2016

CHAMAN LAL

@profchaman

The Chittagong revolt of 1930 has been one of most important revolutionary movements during the freedom struggle. It exploded on April 18, 1930 and, by 1934, it had given the country many a martyr, the last being the leader of the movement Master Surya Sen, who was executed in January 1934.

But several revolutionaries lived long lives, like the Ghadarite Babas of 1915. Incidentally, both got together in Andaman’s Cellular Jail and other prisons for long incarcerations. Survivors of both movements – Chittagong and Ghadar – mostly joined Communists and few affiliated with the Congress party, but none embraced the so-called “nationalist” RSS!

A teenager’s eyewitness account of the Chittagong Uprising.

Many survivors of the movement wrote their memoirs, helping historians analyse the movement with authentic documentation. Anant Singh, Kalpana Dutt and a few more had memoirs, though some remained untranslated, But Kalpana Dutt’s memoirs were translated to English and few other languages. Two films, Chittagong and Khelenge Ji Jaan Se were based on the memoirs and other works.

Ananda Gupta’s memoir is the latest addition to works about the Chittagong rebellion. Gupta, who joined the movement as a teenager like the others, had lived abroad – mostly in the UK – to get treatment for the illness that followed a prolonged jail term. He had spoken to his family members, who gave the memoirs shape in the form of a bilingual volume written in English and Bengali – a rarity in the publishing world.

It is co-authored by the mother-daughter duo of Nivedita Patnaik and Piyul Mukherjee. While Patnaik has wrought the Bengali text, her daughter Piyul has reproduced it in English.

The Foreword of the memoir is written by Subrata Bose, the nephew of Netaji Subhas Bose, who carried forward Netaji’s ideas of a Forward Bloc and remained member of Parliament from the party.

Subrata Bose quotes Sir Samuel Hoare, British secretary of state for India between 1931-35, in the Foreword: “In the battle for India’s freedom, the Chittagong uprising of 1930 turned the tide, and brought in its wake a rising and a clamour for immediate Independence.”

Subrata calls the Chittagong heroes as “youthful revolutionaries, who in their love for the freedom of their nation, allowed their own lives to be put at stake, facing the most vindictive torture imaginable without complaint. Their sacrifice has just no parallel anywhere. They are the unvanquished children of Mother India.”

The English text offering an insight into Ananda Gupta’s struggles describes him as one among the “clutch of teenagers” who participated the Chittagong armoury raid in 1930.

Chittagong is called Chattogram in Bengali and falls in present-day Bangladesh. A young Ananda Gupta was caught in the French territory of Chandannagar by the notorious police commissioner Charles Tegart with noted leaders of the movement like Ganesh Ghosh and Loknath Bal, while one of their youngest comrades and Anand’s closest friend Jeebon Ghoshal lost his life to British bullets.

Ananda was sentenced to transportation for life to the Andamans after two years in 1932, though he was not even an adult then. He spent 16 years in jail and was released in 1946, just a year prior to Independence.

During the jail term, asthma had wrecked his body from inside and he was forced to move to England for treatment, supported by his wife, who had laboured hard to get her husband treated. Gupta later recovered from his serious ailments.

Born on September 26, 1916, the revolutionary was just 14 when he joined Masterda Surjyo Sen’s army. He passed away in December 2005 and the volume was brought out on his birth centenary as a dedication to his many struggles.

The memoir’s Introduction describes the Chittagong revolt as “A Forgotten Chapter” and Ananda Gupta as disciple of Masterda – Surya Sen.

Fifty years after Independence, Gupta had visited the Andaman prison, a second time in his life, at the invitation of then president KR Narayanan. Only now, he was an “honoured prisoner”!

The memoir opens with an account of Ananda Gupta’s meeting with Master da. He was interviewed by Surya Sen after his recruitment to the revolutionary group in 1929 at the age of 13 years! Surya Sen is said to have explained to the young rebel the world vision of revolution, inspired by Irish nationalists and the Easter uprising.

The second chapter recounts the details of April 18, 1930, the day of Chittagong armoury raid. Ananda remembers how he would drive revolutionaries to the target, who destroyed a telegraph machine led by Ambikada. Ganesh Ghosh was designated as “Field Marshal” at the time. Then begins the famous Jalalabad battle, which Gupta recounts as another historic event in Masterda’s life. Most touching is the description of the young revolutionaries’ martyrdom, the first to fall was Hargopal (Tegra) Bal, then the youngest martyr Nirmal Lala, his young voice calling out “Vande Mataram” before it fell to silence. There were many others.

In “Feni Encounter”, Gupta recounts how Ganesh Ghosh escaped the police by posing as rural folk – “dehati log”. Another chapter describes the savage killings at Chandernagar, close to Calcutta, where Gupta and the others had sought refuge.

Among the four revolutionaries – Ganesh Ghosh, Ananda, Lokenath Bal and Jeebon Ghoshal, the last fell to bullets, while the rest were arrested by Charles Tegart on  September 1, 1930 for illegally attacking foreign territory.

Gupta details life in incarceration and how brutal torture could not break the spirit of freedom in Ganesh Ghosh, Anant Singh. How, at such a young age, Ananda refused to eat the food offered by jail authorities, unless his comrades were afforded the same.

He also narrates the corruption inside the jail’s walls. The rigorous imprisonment meant the revolutionaries were made to do hard labour – from morning till evening and served a tasteless coarse meal. Gupta describes the 1933 hunger strike of prisoners following which conditions changed for the better; how Karl Marx’s Das Capitalreached the jail also comes with a humorous take.

The news of Masterda’s hanging in 1934 grips the comrades with sadness. The humanist nature of Irish doctor Colonel Fischer is also underlined, the same doctor who sent him to England after his release, as he had set up private practice in Calcutta after he left Andamans.

The overwhelming personality of Netaji Subhas Bose and how it somewhat overshadowed his elder brother Sarat Chander Bose’s role in freedom struggle also finds a mention in the memoir. Sarat was stronger than his younger brother in many respects and a more committed socialist.

It was he who defended Chittagong revolutionaries in courts, and helped them in various other ways, by liberally funding them, even offering to help them escape prison.

Sarat was member of Bengal legislative Assembly at the time of Partition and he stood for a united Bengal with the then chief minister of Bengal, Suhrawardi. Their resolution of United Bengal was defeated by the Congress and the Communist party at the time as they voted for the division of Bengal on communal lines, against the principles of language and culture and the unity of people.

In fact, Jinnah was prepared to accept Bengal and Punjab as unified independent nations. Punjab’s chief minister Khizr Hyat Khan Tiwana and Congress leader Gopi Chang Bhargav too were in favour of a united Punjab. Had the two nations come into being at that time, the political climate in South Asia would have been different!

The communal cauldron in South Asia would not have gained steam. Had Subhas Chandra Bose been present in the political scene, the history of Bengal would have been different today.

Another interesting chapter focuses on a meeting with Charlie Chaplin, who had met Gandhi in London. Gupta was so impressed by the showman that he arranged for a private audience with him during one of his journeys.

The meeting proved to be pleasant and much longer than the fixed five minutes, as Chaplin was keen on listening to the Indian revolutionary!

After release from jail, Gupta joined Jyoti Basu and the others in a prisoner release movement. All his life, Masterda’s flame was kept alive by Gupta and, at the age of 81 years, he is said to have said that given the chance, he would join the rebellion. Gupta harboured no regrets in the aftermath of the failure of the Chittagong movement.

Along with moving accounts of his family, the book’s appendices trace the history of Bengal, starting from the 7th Century AD, focusing more on twentieth century and renaissance movement, as well as the role of radical nationalists in successive rebellions. The third appendix is a sketch of Master Surya Sen.

Another focuses on the American war of Independence and Irish rebellion, which impacted the Chittagong revolutionaries. The book also underlines the differing views of Gandhi and Tagore on social issues and the latter’s concern for revolutionaries.

In bringing Gupta’s witness of the rebellion to life, the translators have done a commendable job of preserving the memories of their kin, which are crucial to understand the participation of teenagers in India’s revolutionary movements, which continue to this day.

2 h

 

 

  by Taboola 

#Bengal#The Last of the Rebels#Chittagong

Writer

CHAMAN LAL @profchaman

The author is a retired professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the author of Understanding Bhagat Singh.

 

Gurvinder’s Punjabi film ‘Chauthi Koont’ based on Waryam Sandhu stories

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      Chauthi_Koot 

           10th August-Vasant Kunj Mall-Delhi-Film ‘Chauthi Koont’-Gurvinder/Waryam Sandhu

This is Gurvinder’s second film based on Punjabi literary classic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fourth_Direction

This is Gurvinder’s second film based on literary Punjabi classics. First was ‘Anhe Ghode da Daan’based on Gurdial Singh’s novel. Novelist created a modern meeting of a mythical story, but which turned into a complex film. The film got international acclaim but few audience. His second film based on Waryam Singh Sandhu’s two stories-‘Chathi Koont’(Fourth direction) and ‘Main Hun Thikthak Han’(I am all right now) has earned both international acclaim as well as good number of audience in cinema houses. Film begins with screen shot of story Chauthi Koont, in which two Hindu and one Sikh passenger trying to travel back to Amritsar through only late evening train going from Ferozepur but having no passenger in it. As is common in Indian society’s ‘jugad’ system, they all three are able to push into guard room, which already is having few more passengers. It seems through Guard dream or one of Hindu passenger narrating earlier story of his life, which begins the screen shooting of second story, a longer one-‘ Hun Main Thikthak Han’(I am all right now), in which common people in rural areas of Punjab getting crushed under both Khalistani and state terror is depicted in powerful manner. Joginder, a well-built Kabaddi player is reduced to a beggar state by both terrorists and state armed forces. He is ordered to kill his pet dog by terrorists, as his barking affects their night movements. The dog is loved by all family members-particularly Joginder’s son and daughter. Joginder has tried many times to leave the dog at faraway places, but he finds back his home and returns! They ask veterinary hospital staff to poison the dog, but the concerned Khalsa Sikh employee refuses to kill ‘innocent’ dogs, even if he has to leave his job. They take poison home but not able to kill and if in night terrorists come to terrorise, day comes and comes the armed forces to insult who are attacked by loyal and faithful dog to pin the officer down and dog is just saved. In night time when dog does not stop barking, Joginder in a spur of moment, hits him with farm belch which kills the dog, while dog is being taken by the family out of village, story returns to Chauthi koont as Amritsar station is nearing and guard instructs passengers to get down few yards before the station. When two Hindu passengers rush to go to the Sikh passenger resents their letting him alone by not waiting for him.

  Stories and film both faithfully depict the Punjab reality of 1970’s, which shows that Punjabi people-both Hindus and Sikhs and before 1947-Muslims-Hindus and Sikhs all have lived in peace and harmony and helped each other in time of need. It is only vested political interests which create Bhindrawales and Hafiz Saeeds or Togadias to divide people on religious basis and fight each other to serve these anti-human forces. State armed wing does not protect the common people, they rather harass them as much as the terrorists of religious fundamentalists harass them.

        Film is almost faithful recreation of stories and is realist to the core. One may say Waryam Sandhu is lucky to have got Satyajit Roy of Punjabi cinema in Gurvinder. The way Satyajit Ray immortalised Vibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhya’s novel ‘Pather Panchali’, later the trilogy of the same, Gurvinder has recreated Waryam stories into that realist model of Ray. Of course two situations are entirely different. Pather Panchali was scenic depiction of rural poverty of 1950’s Bengal, whereas Chauthi Koont is recreation of 1980’s terror of common people of Punjab, particularly in rural side at the hands of both Khalistanis and state armed forces!

   Film has good music composition without songs and the language part and acting is so naturally depicted that one does not feel the film is being played by actors, the Majhi dialect of Punjabi has come so naturally from all actors, as if film is being just shot in day to day routine life of people.

    Waryam Sandhu has made no major departure from the text of his stories in film and the dialogues are almost reproduction of stories itself. Both writer and director deserve audience compliments for this marvelous Punjabi film. Gurvinder has brought Punjabi cinema to not only national map, but international as well, but this cinema still is waiting for audience, which could make producing such films financially viable. Till now these are being produced by some official or non-official support. Hope it is produced in Hindi as well for larger audience!

 

 

 

 

 

After Mahashweta—Gurdial Singh….2 Letters

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In my 45+ association with Punjabi novelist, we may have exchanged hundreds of post cards and few inland’s/envelops,, but I preserved few for records. In early seventies, when I spent nearly two months in Jaitu, we had evening walk almost every evening at Jaitu canal just at outskirts of the town. His close friend Balbir Singh will also be accompanying mostly. I had translated Manmathnath Gupt’s book ‘Bharat Ke Krantikari in Punjabi which was serialized by ‘Desh Bhagat Yadan’ fortnightly edited by Ghadarite revolutionary Baba Gurmukh Singh, during my Jaitu days at the suggestion of Gurdial Singh I started translating his novel ‘Rete di Ek Muthi'(A Handful of Sand) in Hindi and left the manuscript with him. This was published much later but without my name as translator, but I was happy. Gurdial Singh’s two page letter in envelope mentions about its publication plans. Sharing here his letter of 1985 about the translated novel and one post card written after a programme in Jalandhar on Hindi novelist Jagadish Chander in 1995, which makes an interesting reading for literary people.

   Gurdial Singh was well connected with leftist movement of Punjab, even radical groups remained in touch with him, though he was rather careful not to highlight this aspect of his life like Gursharn Bhaji. Punjab’s leftist peasant and other unions joining his funeral procession is not out of nothing. My last meeting with him took place this very January, when we were together at DAV College Abohar function, along with Dr. S S Johl and Dr. Ronki Ram. He also attended Pash memorial annual functions in Jalandhar few times. Hindi critic Naamvar Singh, Punjabi critics-Dr. Attar Singh, Dr. Joginder Rahi and Dr. T.R.Vinod-all three predeceased him, were great admirers of his novels. 

Gurdial Singh letter (4)

Gurdial Singh letter (3)

Gurdial Singh letter (1)

Gurdial Singh letter (2)