Monday, September 11, 2006

BJP’s rant against Paash earns it intellectual ridicule

BJP’s rant against Paash earns it intellectual ridicule
Amrita Chaudhry

Ludhiana, September 8: PUNJABI intellectuals have severely criticised the Bhartiya Janata Party for its utterances against well-known Punjabi poet Paash. One of the most famous poems penned by the revolutionary poet Sab ton khatarnak hunda hain supneya da mar jana has been included in the new NCERT curriculum. This poem translated in Hindi will be taught to class eleven students. However BJP bigmouths like Sushma Swaraj and Ravi Shankar Prasad trounced Paash and his poem in the recent session of the Rajya Sabha claiming that he was a Naxalite and ‘‘promoted violence’’. But then the Punjabi intelligentsia begs to differ and very strongly.

Prof Chaman Lal, a senior faculty member at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University who is also a translator of Paash’s poetry to Hindi, commented, ‘‘This is one of the most derogatory and malicious things to say about Paash. The poem which has been selected for the students is a very beautiful poem which urges the youth to be fearless and dream. Paash’s poem says that the most dangerous thing for human being is the death of his dreams.

This poem for its literary merit is considered to be a landmark work. Poems with similar tones have been written by Rabindra Nath Tagore also. Calling this poem a Naxalite work amounts to sheer distortion of a great literary work which has arisen from nothing but total ignorance. I am sure none of the BJP leaders and specially those who spoke against this poem have even read it.’’

Prof Gurdial Singh, a Gyanpeeth Award winner said, ‘‘We simply can not talk about Paash’s work with such a narrow vision. He was a man who talked about the realities of those times and if his works for some are provocative then that is the reality of that time.”

Dr Surjit Patar, president of the Punjabi Sahit Akademy, said, ‘‘We are proud that through Paash the Punjabi language has achieved this national status. It is a shame that someone has opposed such a beautiful poem. I have known Paash personally and though some of his works may seem full of violence yet Paash himself was never the violent kind. He opposed the Khalistan movement in Punjab and paid for it by being killed by terrorists. There is nothing in this poem which can or will mislead the youth.’’

Paash, the poet
The man who wrote great verse was born as Avtar Singh Sandhu in the year 1950 at Talwandi Salem village, Jalandhar. Paash has four works of poetry to his credit — Loh Katha (1970), Uddian Bazan magar (1973), Saadey Samaya Vich (1978) and Khilrey Hoye Varke. The brilliant journey of poetry was cut short in the year 1988 when Paash who was in Punjab for a holiday from the US was shot dead by a Khalistani militant.

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