BJP attacks Punjabi Poet Paash

South Asia Post


Source: South Asia Post: ISuue 22, Volume I

THE bigoted mindset of the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party is full display these days. It had been trying hard either to communalize cultural issues by attacking artists and their creations or showing its intolerance towards any dissent. These are indeed the signs of not only perverted mindset but also extremely intolerant fascist tendency to attack poets, painters and artists. The latest to come under attack is the late Punjabi poet Paash who was killed by the Khalistani militants in Punjab when they found him opposing through his writings not only in Punjab but in Europe too.

Punjabi Poet Avtar Paash, who gave away is life like his ideal Bhagat Singh by confronting Khalistani terrorists, was subjected to most insulting treatment by BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad in Rajaya Sabha debate recently on NCERT books. Paasha’s poem ‘Sabse Khatarnak’, The Most Dangerous has been prescribed in Hindi book for class XI by NCERT from 2006. This is part of 20 per cent literature in translation from other languages. Paash did Punjabi language pride, when his poem was selected for all India syllabus of NCERT. It might be reminded here that Hindi translation of Paash’s poetry by Dr. Chaman Lal, a professor of Hindi at the famous Jawaharlal University was given Sahitya Akademi national prize for translation..

BJP MP told Rajaya Sabha that Paash was a Naxalite and how NCERT could teach a poem by a Naxalite. He also attacked writings of Dalit writer Om Prakash Balmiki, Sahitya Akademi award winner poet Dhumil and other major Hindi writers for being taught to students. He was also angry at internationally renowned artist MF Hussain’s biographical chapter being taught in Hindi text book. .

Many eminent writers of Hindi have expressed heir shock and dismay at such attacks on creative writings of distinguished writers. They include Naamvar Singh, Chancellor, Mahatma Gandhi international Hindi University, Ashok Vajpayee, former Vice Chancellor Mahatma Gandhi international Hindi University, Krishna Sobti, Rajender Yadav, Kamleshwar, Kamla Prasad and Chaman Lal..

Paash was the pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu, who was born in Talwandi Salem, Jalandhar (Punjab, India) on 9th of September 1950. son of Major Sohan Singh Sandhu, Paash as a young senstive person was highly touched by the poverty, deptivation , exploitation of the poor and a rutheless state aparatus exploiting and torturing the masses in India. He started writing revolutionary poetry quite early in his life to describe what he saw and felt. During his youth, Punjab’s students, farmers and workers were embroiled in an armed struggle against the establishment--called the Naxalite movement. This period in the 1970’s is also known as the Jujharu (Rebellious) era of the politics of Punjab..

Pash's first book of revolutionary poems, Loh-Katha (Iron-Tale) was published in 1970 when he was not even 20. Due to his sympathies with the militant movement and the provocative nature of his poetry, Pash, at the young age of 21, was falsely charged with murder. He spent nearly two years in jail, but was finally acquitted. After his acquittal, he became active in the Punjabi Maoist front organizations and edited a literary magazine Siarh (The Plough Line). Pash’s progressive poetry was widely published in the leftist media and was very popular amongst students, communists and the left-leaning intellectuals..

In 1985, the Punjabi Sahit Akademi (The Punjabi Academy of Letters) awarded him a one-year fellowship. He was well traveled and visited the USA and the UK in 1986. While in the United States, he produced a tract for the Anti-47 Front. He opposed the communal violence waged by the Sikh nationalists fighting for the creation of a separate country, Khalistan, during the early 1980s. This ultimately led to his murder at the hands of terrorists from his home village on the 23rd of March 1988, ironically the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, the revered patriots who were hanged by the British during the struggle for India’s independence. .

We publish below a translation Paash's poem Sabse Khatarnak by Dr.Satnam Singh Sandhu of Punjabi University, Patiala..

"The Most Dangerous."

”The Most Dangerous
Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.
Most dangerous is not the graft for the treason and greed.
To be caught while asleep is surely bad
surely bad is to be buried in silence
But it is not most dangerous.
To remain dumb and silent in the face of trickery
Even when just, is definitely bad
Surely bad is reading in the light of a firefly
But it is not most dangerous
Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,
Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.
Most dangerous is that watch
Which run on your wrist
But stand still for your eyes.
Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
The eye that forgets to kiss the world with love,
The eye lost in the blinding mist of the material world.
That sinks the simple meaning of visible things
And is lost in the meaning return of useless games.
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
But does not pierce your eyes like hot chilies.
Most dangerous is the song
Which climbs the mourning wail
In order to reach your ears
And repeats the cough of an evil man
At the door of the frightened people.
Most dangerous is the night
Falling in the sky of living souls,
Extinguishing them all
In which only owls shriek and jackals growl,
And eternal darkness covers all the windows.
Most heinous is the direction
In which the sun of the soul light
Pierces the east of your body.
Most treacherous is not the
robbery of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture of police
Most dangerous is not graft taken for greed and treason.”

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