1.When A Tree Shook Delhi: 1984 Carnage and its aftermath, Manoj Mitta & H S Phoolka, 2007 first ed., Rolli Books Delhi, Pages 220, Price 275/ Rupees
I have read this book after ten years of its publication, though it was in my list of reading and I was closely involved with the events mentioned in the book. Of the two authors of the book Manoj Mitta was Times of India reporter in 1984 and H S Phoolka was budding lawyer. Book is divided into two parts-Part one is Uncovering the truth authored by Manoj and part two is-The struggle for justice: An inside account is authored by H S Phoolka, apart from Preface, Epilogue and Annexure. In Preface we are told that despite occurrence of the event in 1984, official papers of more than 1000 files came to light only between 2001 and 2004 during second commission of enquiry-Nanavati commission conducted enquiry and whose reposrt was submitted in 2005. In Annexure extracts from some of VIP testimonies have been reproduced such as of I K Gujaral, Khushwant Singh, Ram Jethmalani, Patwant Singh, Shanti Bhushan, Madhu Dandavate and Justice R S Narula etc. Some black and white photographs of that period have also been reproduced in between two sections of the book.
First part of the book starts with the title-Dateline New Delhi-
The statement given by then Prime Minister and son of slain Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is quoted from his 19th November-Indira Gandhi-birth anniversary rally at Boat club, where he refers to-‘When a mighty tree falls, earth shakes a little’, in a way justifying Delhi Sikh massacres early that month from 1st November to 3rd November in Delhi and some more cities in India. The same has been taken as a title of the book by two authors with slight change of language! The chapter lists important tragic events till August 2005, when then Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh renders unconditional apology in Rajya Sabha for these riots.
In the second chapter the morning of 31st October situation is described graphically by Mitta, when President Giani Zail Singh landed up in Delhi and came straight to AIIMS, where Indira Gandhi’s body lay after being shot dead by his Sikh bodyguards. His car was attacked and damaged by unruly crowd gathered there. Author contrasts Delhi mob violence with Calcutta mob violence where it started at 11 am itself, but army was called by 2.30 pm and it was quelled in no time, whereas in Delhi it was allowed to fester In Delhi it was called much later that too without direct authority to them, the army functioned under Delhi police control. The curfew in Delhi though imposed in 1st November was not forced for 48 hours effectively and only after nearly 3000 killings, law and order was brought back. Rioting started on 31st October afternoon itself. I was working with Jansatta daily then published from Express house at Bahadaurshah Zafar marg and I had direct experience of facing the drunkard mob at 3 am on 1st November night after completing my night shift from 8 pm to 2 am. As in express Maruti van we were 6-7 journalists including Raminder Singh, senior Indian Express reporter we were being dropped at residences in different areas, we saved Raminder Singh with some tact by covering him under seats with all of us over him. Later I did not go to office till 4th November from JNU campus, but participated in peace march etc and seeing JNU students sheltering few hundred Sikhs in JNU hostels.
I myself went to Tirlokpuri and Kalyanpuri to cover the killings which were not covered by media till then and which have been refered to by Manoj in great detail and which a biggest massacre in one place was during those days. But what he has not underlined is that those Sikhs were backward and low cast poor working class Sikhs, which I mentioned in my two reports in Jansatta then. Manoj Mitta has listed data of killed people from government sources, which under counted the killings and also indicated the names of those officers and politicians who had encouraged and shielded killer mobs. How two commission, many action suggesting committees were formed, how non govt. bodies like Citizens committee or PUCL-PUDR joint report Who are the guilty came up, have been described in great detail.
H S Pholka in second part has described his own sufferings during those days as well as his fight for justice for sufferers of Delhi riots, which he is still fighting even after he had become Punjab MLA from AAP party. He resigned his positions earlier as well as now to fight for the cause of Delhi victim families of massacred Sikhs.
Although there is not much new in this book, yet it is written from secular angle and reminds society about the level of communal poison spread in Indian society, which has even worsened in last three years since RSS inspired Modi government has taken over power of central government. Such books serve as conscience keeper for society, which are needed more in such times.
Books on Punjab
- Prachin Punjab te usda aala duala(Ancient Punjab and its surroundings)-Punjabi, Jai Chander Vidyalankar, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala, Translated by Gurbachan Singh Sethi, 1970/1989, pages 36, price 10/Rupees(Paperback)
Jai Chander Vidyalankar was a well-known historian and supporter of revolutionary movements for Indian freedom. He was teacher of Bhagat Singh and his comrades in National College Lahore and given him references, when Bhagat Singh had left for Kanpur in 1923. After 1947, Vidyalankar lived for long and authored many books. This small book translated in Punjabi seems to be taken from his larger books, may be from his Hindi book-Bhartiya Itihas ki Rooprekaha, published by Hindustani Academy Allahabad, a reprint of his 1933 book. Booklet includes four maps of India of ancient times. Book is divided into four chapters, first being-Bhumi di banavat-Shape of the land. Author says there are two belts of North India-Gangetic belt and Sindh belt-both rivers. Punjab is part of Sindh river belt. He describes it geographically-from Kurukshetra to Prayag or Bihar border is middle area, called Madhesh also, as in Nepal now. Rajstha, Gujarat and Sindh were its western areas, it was Uttrapath. Till Mogul age Afghanistan was part of India. Ghaghar and Saraswati river area is Punjabi speaking area. Potohar and Hazara were its part. As per author Tibetan and Burmese are part of one branch. North west is Kalat-Baluchistan.
In second chapter-Bhumi da Vikas, Manukh da pargat hone-Development of land and appearance of man-author describes earth to be like one of planet like sun. It split about twenty billion years ago from it and went through ages of Early Palaeolithic, Neolithic, ages about fifty thousand years ago to become man in modern sense from about 10 thousand years ago. Author thinks Aryans were first inhabitants of North India, but no ancient signs are found of civilisation.
In third chapter author discusses early civilizations-Sindh civilization, Aryans appearing in North West India. While in Sindh civilization, there were no horses, whereas Aryans were expert horse riders. He discusses Punjab in Vedic age.
In fourth and last chapter author discusses early republics and imperialism. He refers to grammarian Panini, who was from Gandhar area, whose capital Texla was biggest education centre in those days. He refers to Alexander attacks and later Maurya kingdom, Chankya and Chandergutp Maurya. He concludes the book or chapter with this comment that end of Maurya destiny was the end of first half of ancient period. He refers to emerging Buddhism.
Some of the formulations about ancient India have been challenged by late historians, yet it is good introductory booklet on ancient Punjab geography.
- Tarikh-e-Punjab, Kanhaiya Lal, Translated by Jit Singh Sital, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala, 1968/1987, Pages 470, price 52/Rupees
Punjabi University in its early period, got lots of classical books from other languages translated in Punjabi, as is this book from Urdu been translated by himself an eminent Punjabi writer Jit Singh Sital. The book was originally written in Persian in 1875, which was translated in Urdu by author himself. Kanhaiya Lal lived in Lahore and worked with Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, but kept his writing continued in his off time.
This history of Punjab is divided into seven parts with one appendix. First part of the book is-About writing the book-, in which he starts with description of ten Sikh Gurus and Banda Bahadur. Second chapter is focussed on twelve Sikh misals-feudatries, which include-Bhangis, Ramgarhias, Kanhaiya Sardars, Nakai Sikhs, Ahluwalias, Dallewalias, Nishanchi Sikhs, Faizlapariye Sikhs, Krodi Sikhs, Shahid Bungians, Phulkians and Shukarchakias. The last missal produced first Sikh king of Punjab-Maharja Ranjit Singh, while Phulkian missal had feudatories of Phul, Jind, Nabha and Patiala. Ahluwalias had Kapurthala state. Third chapter focusses upon Maharja Ranjit Singh rule in Punjab. Fourth is of continuation of Ranjit Singh family rule by Kunwar Kharak Singh, Naunihal Singh and Sher Singh. Fifth chapter is on betrayal by Ranjit Singh darbaris and abdication of kingdom by Duleep Singh to British colonialism. Sixth chapter is based on 1857 first war f independence situation in Punjab and seventh last chapter is on state of Jammu and Kashmir from Gulab Singh rule. In appendix, writer wrote on completing the book with one of his poem and another Persian poem.
For students of Punjab history it is valuable source book. Interesting part of the book is about 1857 rebellion. General impression is that Punjab king supported British and there was no disturbance in Punjab. But Kanhaiya Lal has referred to disturbances in Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kangra , Lahore, Amritsar, Sialkot, Gurdaspur, Gujranwala, Jehlam, Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Jhang, Multan, Peshawar, Hazara, Kohat and almost in eveyr part of Punjab, except present Malwa region.
- Gulshan-e-Punjab, Pandit Debi Prasad, Translated by Harmandar Singh Kohli, editor Fauja Singh, Punjabi University Patiala, 1979, pages 244, price 15/ Rupees
Pandit Debi Prasad was a Deputy collector in North-west province. Book was written in two parts, first when author was a student in Barailee college in 1850. Second edition with addition os second part was published in 1872 from then most important Urdu publishe-Munshi Naval Kishore Press Lucknow. Author knew Persian, Urdu and English. His background is not known, but it seems he was from a Brahmin family of UP. Introduction to the book is by Dr. Fauja Singh. In the end book contain sketches of Sikh rulers of Punjab in many pages, including rulers of Jammu and Kashmir later. Book is history of Sikh rule in Punjab. It begins with Banda Bahadur, then moves on to Ranjit Singh, Kharak Singh, Kanwar Naunihal Singh, Gulab Singh, assasinations of rulers, including of Rani Chand Kaur, Sher Singh, Dhian Singh, Naunihal Singh. Moves on to Duleep Singh, Gulab Singh conspiracies and betrayals, Anglo-Sikh wars of 1845-49. Second part of he book focusses upon British rule in Punjab till 1872, the writing of the book time. Appendix to second part is interesting, it gives details about Sikh religion, Kuka movement, census of Punjab, income-expenditure during 1850-51 etc. Details of neighbouring states are also given.
It is data and document rich book, it also gives details of 1857 rebellion impact in Punjab. The book is critical of Ranjit Singh rule and says there was no law and order in his rule, all his life was spent in fighting wars.
It is an interesting book and source material for historians.
- Punjab di Sair(Sair-e-Punjab), Rai Kali Rai Sahib and Munshi Tulsi Ram, Translated from Urdu-Giani Lal Singh, ed-Fauja Singh, Punjabi University Patiala, 1988, pages348, price 50/ Rupees
In introduction Fauja Singh underscores that first census of Punjab was taken in 1854, whose details are included in this book. He argues that despite its historic aspect being week, book is useful for historians for source material.
Book is divided into two parts and four chapters each in both parts. The book describes the conditions of post British occupation of Punjab. Gives details of rivers, Sikh gurus, Ranjit Singh rule it, gives the family tree of Ranjit Singh with her three queens-Mehtab Kaur-Tara Singh/Sher Singh, Jind Kaur-dDuleep Singh and Nakain-Khark Singh-Naunihal Singh. Punjab festival, Hindu marriage rituals are also described. Hindi-Persian-Punjabi vocabulary is given in second part of book.
This is a very documentation rich book-both authors were brothers, there are some moree authors of districts, whose names are acknowledged. Book was first published from Patiala in 1872 from Munshi Naval Kishore Press Patiala(It was in Patiala too!) The book needs a thorough study, I have not even scanned it properly.
- Punjabi Shatabdi(Punjabi Century)-1857-1947, Prakash Tandon, Punjabi University Patiala, Translation G S Khosla, 1978/95, pages236, price 65/ Rupees
Punjabi Century by Prakash Tandon was one of popular books when it was first published in English in 1961, later its two more parts were published as Beyond Punjab and Return to Punjab. All three volumes were put into one volume by Rupa publishers’ as The Punjabi Saga-1857-2000. Punjabi University Patiala gor Punjabi Century translated from G S Khosla, himself a known Punjabi writer and published in 1978 and brought many editions later. Maurice Zinkin wrote its foreword. Book is autobiographical in nature and the author became one of first Indians to succeed in corporate world. He lived long for 93 years, born in 1911 and died in 2004.
Book is divided into 17 chapters with brief conclusion. Tandon starts with saying that they are Khatris of Punjab rural side. Born in Gujrat of now west Punjab, family records of Tandon family are preserved in Haridwar, Pehowa and Muttan-Kashmir by family Pandas. In Tandon school education times, History of India was taught as –Hindu, Muslim and British history, British being the ‘best’! That is how James Mill, British colonial historian distorted Indian history on religious grounds. Prakash grandfather Mayya Das born in 1840 was first to join British service. Prakash father Lala Ramdas was born in 1876 in Jehlam, who joined civil engineering course in Roorkee after matriculation. In 1898, he joined irrigation dept. as engineer and served at various places in large state of pre-partition Punjab. Tandons lived in Guru Nanak birthplace Nankana Sahib also. Author has given detailed description of composite culture of pre-partition Punjab-its festivals, rituals etc. Urdu was medium of instruction in schools and author tells that Hindi in Devanagari script was used by Brahmins and women only. Author gives sociological description of Khatri and Aroras, and Brahmins, who were more important. Author considers Gujrat and Kala Sarai to be his ancestral places. Like Pran Nevile in Lahore, Prakash Tandon also narrates stories of love affairs in Mohallas. He describes marriage fixation of his uncle by his mother and related rituals. His aunt Savitri died soon after marriage. And within one year her parents also died, as they got so shocked by her early death. Writer gives description of newly built Sargodha city, where his father was transferred. Author observes that Punjabi fascination for fair colour might have started from Aryan times. Muslim state of Bahawalpur is also described in detail. His description of Lahore is more passionate, he says it is believed that Lahore was set up by Ram’s son Lov, there were two Lahores-one of outside new colonies and the other of walled city. Hira Mandi has got attention in every writer on Lahore, the red light area.
Writer travelled to London from Sargodha at the age of 18 years in 1929, after graduation, to become Chartered accountant, a new profession. He travelled by ship and spent next eight years in London, travelling to Europe also, marrying a Swiss girl Byard, he spent vacations in her home in Swedan-from Stockholm to Gottland. On his return to India on ship, Tandon was worried about job, which was difficult to get for an Indian on higher post. In the meantime Tandons made house in Model town Lahore after retirement.
In India Prakash got job and in 1947, he got wire from his uncle Dwarka to rescue them. Writer describes 1947 conditions of partition and twenty lakh people moving in kafilas. His uncle did reach India and started life anew in Karnal, but he died of his own bitch bite. Though all three Tandon brothers had taken plots in Lahore but partition changed it all. All three were working outside Punjab-In Bombay, Bihar and Delhi, later two brothers made houses in Bombay. With the death of Prakash father in 1955, this saga comes to an end.
This is good narrative autobiography –cum-social history, it might have been popular due to migrated Punjabis could see their stories in this and their nostalgic memories of the left Punjab.
- Punjab di Veer Parampara(Punjabi-Bravery tradition of Punjab), (Ancient to Modern Period), Lal Singh Giani-Gujranwalia, Punjabi University Patiala, 1976/1988, 3rd,pages268, Price 20/Rupees
In the name of Punjab bravery tradition, Lal Singh Giani has focussed more on Sikh community bravery in history of Punjab from ancient to 1971 war period. 1976 first edition preface is by then VC Inderjit Kaur Sandhu. Punjabi University published six books on bravery tradition of Punjab in history. Bidh Prakash wrote on ancient Punjab, Shamsher Singh Ashok wrote on 17th century Punjab, on 18th century Satbir Singh wrote, 19th century covered by Fauja Singh and Satya Rai wrote on 20th century. Sixthe book post-independence tradition was written by G S Deol. Seventh is this book, which tries to cover the whole period in abridged form. May be except for Satya Roy book, all other books perhaps focus on Sikh bravery more rather than Punjab in general, which has nearly 3/4th population of Muslims in united Punjab. Covering vast period of ancient to sixteenth century in just one volume and then focusing one book each on each century, shows the bias of historians related to this project.
Apart from introduction to present volume, book is divided into six chapters. First chapter of 45 pages covers the period from ancient to 1500 AD, the chapter is based on just two texts-Vedas and Mahabharta, in a way Hindu interpretation of history. Mahabharta’s interpretation is interesting as it shows that most of Punjabi kings of that time sided with Kaurvas and not Pandavs, except one of Poonch-Rajauri. Writer has also blamed both sides-Kaurvas and Pandvas of unfair practices in war. Punjab was called Uttrapath geographically in ancient times. Punjab has been ruled by various rulers, even Greeks and Iranian, s, the impact of Persian language has come from Iranian rulers. Vedic period was marked by tribal lords. Some names of Punjab kings during Mahabharta period are- Jaidrath of Sindh-Sovir, Susharma of Kangra, Shakuni of Gandhar, Sadikshan of Kamboj, Sall of Madra etc. Iranians ruled after sixth century, then Alexander the Greek made many attacks and his war with Porus is famous in history. Porus ruled for long time. Chandergupt Maurya established Maurya empire, Punjab was also under it. Ashoka the great was Maurya emperor. Kushans, Huns also ruled for many ears, before Chandergupt set up Gupt empire. Harshwardhan was considered best king of Punjab in Pushapbhuti clan. Before Moghuls won over Jaipal and Anangpal were major kings, who had capital in Bathinda also.
Second chapter focusing on 16th&17th century is called-Renaissance period, which is focused upon ten Sikh Gurus alone.
Third chapter from birth of Khalsa panth-1699 to 1799 ad is called Neo-Bravery period. Fourth chapter-Expansion of self-rule is focused on Maharaja Ranjit Singh rule in Punjab, before British annexed it. Next hundred years 1849-1947 is description of freedom struggle in fifth chapter and sixth and last chapter focuses upon post-independence wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971 with Pakistan and 1962 with China.
In freedom struggle chapter-Bhai Maharaj Singh, 1857 first war of independence, Kuka movement-1862-1872, Peasant movement-1907, Dhingra martyrdom-1909, Ghadar movement-1913-16, Jallianwalabagh-1919, Gurdwara movements of Nankana Sahiib-20th February 1920, Guru ka Bagh morcha Ajnala-1923, Jaitu Morcha-1923-25, Violen and terrorist movements-1921-31, which include-Babbar Akalis-1921-25, Naujwan Bharat Sabha-Bhagat Singh-1926-31, INA-1941-45, Partition of Punjab and rehabilitation are listed. Very little mention is made of any Muslim participation and partition related riots are directly blamed on Muslims.
This is an example of biased history writing.