Issue :   
Happy New Year 2020 to all Readers.          January 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Jan' 2020


Of Sikh-Muslim bonding

Humra Quraishi

Kartarpur sahib corridor

Khushwant Singh Correct me if I’m wrong but the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor has brought the Sikh and Muslim communities closer. The Partition and the aftermath had brought in friction and creases between the two communities and those continued till efforts of few individuals who tried to bridge gaps.
I recall Khushwant Singh telling me that when the Rockfeller Foundation gave him the Fellowship grant to write on the history of the Sikhs, he deliberately chose the Aligarh Muslim University. Why?
To quote Khushwant – “ I could have chosen the Delhi University or the Jawaharlal Nehru University but I chose the Aligarh Muslim University …Because I wanted to do my bit in bridging the gap that had come between the two communities, Sikhs and the Muslims, because of the Partition and the havoc it brought along…It was very important for me to write on the Sikh history and also important to write it from an educational institution like the AMU...

After I finished writing the two volumes on the history of the Sikhs I added in Latin - Opus Exegii - my life’s work is done…To write on Sikh religion and history was my life’s ambition …Having done that I felt like one living on borrowed time, at peace with myself and the world.It did not bother me if I wrote anything else.

And definite pointers to the Sikh - Muslim bonding can be witnessed in the Kashmir Valley. I have been a witness to this bonding and its always been heartening to see the hapless finding shelter and solace and food in the various gurudwaras of the Kashmir region…And even as one travels to the interiors of the region, one can be sure of spotting and meeting Sikh families who call themselves Kashmiri Sikhs.

They bond with the Kashmiri Muslims to such an extent that they are living in complete compatibility. Needless for me to write that the tough ground realities prevailing for decades in the region has only made the bond grow stronger, more connectivity than before between the Sikhs and the Muslims.

As the Srinagar based lawyer Hardev Singh Oberoi had told me – “Though my home was partially destroyed during the 2014 floods that hit Srinagar , I didn’t even think of moving out from here …We Sikhs will always be here…no one from my family moved out from here even during the turbulent 90s.”

He even went on to tell me that not just he but his entire clan has been at ease living in the Valley” Gently added , “ Mohammadans are better friends than your kith and kin. They can give their lives for you …the only thing is that they are very sensitive about their faith."

And in the backdrop of this, today there stands out much bonding and between the two communities in other locales of the country. This time with the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor …It got members of both the communities emotional to such an extent that several of my Sikh friends hugged me tight and others greeted me with Salaams and more salaams!

Its touching to see this bonding between the communities who share so much of common history and turmoil and uproot. And, of course, both the communities have been victims of communal violence. I recall that after the horrifying 1984 anti -Sikh riots , many of my Sikhs friends told me that they could visualize what the Muslim go through each time they are attacked and targeted during communal rioting.

In fact, Muslims were deeply affected by the 1984 anti- Sikhs. I recall the late activist Safdar Hashmi’s mother, Qamar Azad Hashmi, telling me that those riots had deeply affected Safdar .To quote her – “The 1984 anti - Sikh riots in Delhi had really affected him. For days we were witness to the horrifying carnage. It was shocking to see the brutality of it all.

What a voice

Shashi Bhushan Pandey Habib Jalib I recall when this summer I heard a young student of the Jawaharlal Nehru university, Shashi Bhushan Pandey, recite Habib Jalib verse in a video, I was immediately taken up by the voice and the passion with which he’d recited each one of those verse…
I didn’t realize that the young student was visually impaired, though I heard cum saw that video rather too often … in fact, whenever I felt low and disillusioned with the ways of the system and governance , I had to hear him. I felt my restlessness settling down after hearing him and seeing the other students sitting with him, hum along Habib Jalib’s intense ,passiondripping rebellious verse.
Its now, with the media focus on this student , after he was roughed up and beaten by the cops during the recent protests by the students of JNU, that I realized that he’s the same student whose voice had fascinated me all these months …Yes, he is Shashi Bhushan Pandey, a visually-impaired councillor of the university students’ union.

He hails from a middle class family of Eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and what’s astonishing is that he fends for himself on the financial front…From what I have gathered, again from the media reports, is that his father passed away and his mother is a home maker in Gorakhpur, so this young visually impaired student has taken upon himself the responsibility of fending for himself.

Instead of the State reaching out to him in terms of financial and placement support, its quite the opposite - it was horrifying to know the Delhi policemen roughing him up, passing unsettling comments.

Look what is happening to our g e n u i n e citizens! What treatment is meted out to the young of the country!

Students of the calibre and courage and conviction of Shashi Bhushan Pandey hold out hope. In fact, the only hope.

Leaving you with this verse of poet
Habib Jalib –
Crime /
‘Why did you allow yourself to be
killed?’ /
Is the charge for which I am billed./
Now lawyers are arguing amongst
themselves: /
‘This small trouble that the killer
had to take,/
This little dent that the dagger
suffered, /
Who should be made to