Humility is not a peculiar habit of self-effacement...it is self-less respect for reality, and one of the most difficult and central of all virtues - Iris Murdoch in The Sovereignty of Good (1970) ///
Pain make man think. Thought make man wise. Wisdom make life endurable - Sakini, in The Tea House of the August Moon (John Patrick (1953)
Sunday, 21 September 2014
Amarjit Chandan: Remembering Gehal Singh, who gave his life for communal harmony
Gehal Singh: martyr to the supreme cause
On the face of it this
photograph of a withdrawn gentleman does not tell much except that it night have originated in an old family album. Rolland Barthes said that we
give captions ‘to sublimate, patheticise or rationalise the image’.
photograph does demand a long caption – a little story. The man in the
picture is a Sikh communist leader, Gehal Singh, of village Chhajjalvaddi in
Amritsar district in the Punjab. The year: 1947.
colonial operator Sir Cyril Radcliffe had drawn a dividing line to
dismember the body Punjab. A new country called Pakistan – the land of the pure
– purportedly on the basis of religion of Islam came into being. Migration of
population on the largest scale in known human history was taking place and the
Muslims and Sikhs were slaughtering each other. A full-fledged civil war was
on. In the total madness, there were some sane voices around. The Punjabi
communists of Sikh, Hindu and Muslim backgrounds were actively involved in
peace committees trying to save the lives of innocent people. Comrade Gehal
Singh was one of them.
Instigated by some Sikh
leaders of the Akãl Sena* who were behind the butchering of Muslims in the district
of Amritsar, Gehal Singh was abducted in a jeep one evening while he was
cycling back home. He was tortured in BurjPhoola Singh, His hair was cut and
body was hacked into pieces and later it was said to have been thrown in the
burning furnace in the langar
community kitchen of the Golden Temple.
That was the end of a great
humanitarian – a gurmukh – a true Sikh. The known culprits were never
brought to justice
*The Akãl Sena was led by Sohan Singh Jalãlusma, Darshan Singh Pheruman,
Udham Singh Nagoke, Ishar Singh Majhail and Sardul Singh ‘Advocate’. (Interview
with the family of Gehal Singh; Surakh Rekha,