In a controversial move, Punjabi University, Patiala, has dropped two stories by known Punjabi writers from its upcoming short story textbook for Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Computer Application (BBA/BCA) students due to "abusive slang" used in these stories.
"Do Talwara Badhiya" written by Jalandhar-based Punjabi writer late Dr Maninder Singh Kang and "Halala" by Jammu and Kashmir-based Punjabi-Urdu writer Khalid Hussain are two critically acclaimed stories in modern Punjabi literature. The university's Punjabi language department selected these stories along with 10 others stories for the first-year students of the BBA/BCA and BSc (agriculture) students.
The book - Katha Varta -will be out on Monday without these two stories, said head of the Punjabi department Dr Lakhbir Singh. He said the stories have been dropped to avoid controversy. The controversy started from the local Modi College earlier this week when a few parents objected to the slang used in Kang's story "Do Talwara Badhiya".
Since the syllabus book was out yet, the class teacher concerned managed to get its text from the university along with other stories and circulated the same among the students. Things turned worse when a portion of Kang's story, where slang was used, appeared in the BBA unit test.
After the college principal Khuswinder Kumar took up the issue with the university, the latter decided to exclude not only Kang's story but Khalid Hussain's story from the text book.
Khalid told HT over phone that there was nothing objectionable or obscene in his story. "The story is basically a satire on the wrong practices in the Muslim tradition, especially concerning marriages, and I think that students must understand such hard realities," he said adding that several stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, including "Khol Do" had crude text, but were never tagged obscene. "One must understand the context in the story. Even Halala has been taught in several institutions, including Panjab University, Lahore, and there were never any extreme reactions," he said.
Known Punjabi writer, Des Raj Kali, close friend of late Maninder Kang, said that Kang was a sensitive and intelligent writer of the present generation who died in a young age. "Dropping his story just because it has a few abuses was an insult not only to him but to the entire Punjabi literature."
He said: "I can say it with confidence that no portion of Kang's story is irrelevant. Such narrations are always demand of the character. If abusive words are criteria for academic selection, then how will we deal with the stories of reputed writers such as Ismat Chughtai?" he questioned.