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With Malice Towards One and All...

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    With Malice Towards One and All...

    With Malice Towards One and All...
    (Khushwant Singh)

    End of a nightmare

    At long last the nightmare of terrorism seems to be over — or so I think.

    There are sporadic acts of unprovoked violence by terrorist gangs in Kashmir, by the ULFA in Assam, by Nagas and Mizos, by Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Tigers in Tamil Nadu, but they are on a much reduced scale than in the 1980s. Of course, if conditions which nurture unlawful activities return, so might terrorism. It is best to prevent them from recurring: the only way to do so is to learn the lessons from our past experience and observe the adage “prevention is better than cure.”

    Many books on the phenomenon of terrorism written by policemen who had to deal with it have been published in recent years: among the more distinguished are — Julio Ribiero, K.P.S. Gill and Ved Marwah. All three held top positions and were the brains behind strategies designed to eliminate this menace to civilised society. The best example of what should have been done and at what point of time, what mistakes could have been avoided but were not, is provided by the experience of Punjab where terrorism erupted on a massive scale. It took a toll of over 10,000 lives before it petered out. Ved Marwah in his book Uncivil Wars: Pathology of Terrorism in India (Harper-Collins) has analysed its origins, expansion and its ultimate collapse with scholarly objectivity.

    The first lesson we have to learn is that idle hands inevitably turn to mischief. At the end of the Green Revolution there were many idle hands in Punjab. Boys coming out of schools and colleges could not be absorbed in farming ancestral lands. There was no industry to give them employment. They became willing tools in the hands of unscrupulous politicians and preachers of hatred. That’s what happened to the Sikh youth in Punjab. They lent ears to Bhindranwale’s hate-filled speeches.

    The second lesson we have to learn is that politicians should never be allowed to exploit religious, linguistic or regional passions in order to score over their rivals. In Punjab both the Congress and the Akalis did precisely that. Zail Singh (Congress) propped up Bhindranwale against the Akalis. When the gambit failed, Akalis propped up Bhindranwale against the State Congress Chief Minister Darbara Singh. When Darbara Singh arrested Bhindranwale, Zail Singh (then Home Minister) had him set free. In the process the Congress, Akalis, Zail Singh and Darbara Singh lost out. The only winner was Bhindranwale.

    The third lesson we have to learn is that the army should never be brought in to settle domestic unrest: the police is better equipped for the task. Marwah does not mince his words in condemning army action in “Operation Blue Star” followed by “Operation Wild Rose” which resulted in enormous loss of life and sacred property and only gave a boost to terrorism. On the other hand, “Operation Black Thunder” masterminded by the police was a total success. The army is meant to guard our international frontiers and should be deployed to prevent infiltration of terrorists and arms from neighbouring countries.

    The fourth and final lesson we have to learn from the Punjab experience is that till the people turn against terrorists and refuse to give them shelter, there is little chance of eliminating them. In Punjab the peasantry turned against terrorists who became no more than gangs of dacoits, extortionists and rapists. The peasantry cooperated with the police and helped it to nab them. Yet another lesson we learnt from Punjab is that politicians who first consort with terrorists and then back out pay a heavy price for doing so. Terrorists killed Sant Longowal, Akali Minister Balwant Singh and almost got G. S. Tohra and Talwandi. Those who play with fire are often consumed by it.

    Majrooh Sultanpuri

    It is said that at a mushaira held in Delhi in 1953, Kanwar Mahinder Singh Bedi, who was presiding, introduced Majrooh Sultanpuri as “the famous lyricist from the film world of Bombay.” Though the description was correct, Majrooh resented being known as a filmi poet and by way of retaliation addressed Bedi as Sardarji instead of the usual Kanwar Sahib. He then proceeded to recite a couplet which became his best known composition:

    Main Akela hee chala tha Jaanib-e-Manzil Magar Humsafar miltey gaye Aur kaarvaan banta gaya

    (All alone I took the vagrant path Towards my destined goal But people kept joining me And it became a caravan.)

    Baidar Bakht (a nephew of our ex-Cabinet Minister Sikandar Bakht) who lives and teaches in a Canadian university is also into translating Urdu poetry with a colleague Marie-Anne Erki. Their latest joint effort is a selection of couplets from the ghazals of Majrooh Sultanpuri, Never Mind Your Chains (Rupa).

    Asrar-ul-Ihasan Khan born in Sultanpur (UP) in 1919 was trained to be a Hakim and practised Unani medicine for a year. When he took to writing poetry in 1939, he took on the poetic pseudonym Majrooh Sultanpuri. He received acclaim at every mushaira in which he participated. Mushairas did not earn him enough money, so he migrated to Bombay in 1945. He got involved in trade union activities and had to remain underground for a year. Then he was arrested and he spent another year in jail. His ghazals were instant hits and he became the most sought-after lyricist of Bollywood. In 1993, he received the Iqbal Samman; in 1994 the Dada Sahib Phalke Award.

    Majrooh deserved to be better known to people who do not know Urdu. Baidar Bakht and Erki have done well to publish a selection of his best-known pieces in Urdu, Devnagri script and English transliteration and translation. Though their translations are accurate they have not laboured enough to infuse lyricism in them. It is a great pity because it is the music in his words and delicate sentiments that make Majrooh a great poet. As one example, I quote my favourite lines:

    Mujhey sahil ho gaeen manzilen Yeh havaa kay rukh badal gaye Teyra haath haath mein aa gayaa Keh chiraagh raah mein jal gaye

    (The winds changed their course to ease my way My goals appeared in easy sight your hands I took in mine Lamps along the route turned bright.)

    To Pakistan with love

    Government of rogues, by rogues, for the dull-witted Is what you call the government of the people, A government in which fools rule Fools who can make others fool, A government of the corrupt and the smart A government in which the votes are bought, A government in which anarchy reigns, A government in which the neck pains; In its place we’ll make a sincere bid To give you a truly democratic government As Zia and Ayub and Yahya did.

    (Courtesy: Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

    After writing and reading so much on the seriousness of the situation in Pakistan, for reprieve one is reminded of the couplet by Ustad Daman, a Punjabi poet, who said on a similar situation earlier:

    Pakistan dey do khuda La-illah tey Martial Law (Pakistan has two Gods First Allah, second Martial Law)

    The irrepressible poet goes on to recount further by saying:

    Pakistan diyaan maujan hee maujan Chaarey passey dekho faujan hi faujan

    (Life in Pakistan is great fun All around are soldiers and guns)

    (Contributed by Col. P. N. Khera, New Delhi)

    It would help if you summerize it!!!


    Till next time***K_I_S_S***