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Naxalism too narrow a word to define Pash: historian

Taking a strong exception to popular perception about the famous Punjabi poet Avtar Singh Sandhu alias 'Pash', historian Chaman Lal, known for his work on the life of Bhagat Singh, stressed that Pash was not a naxalite poet.
By Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Hindustan Times, Bathinda
UPDATED ON SEP 11, 2014 12:32 AM IST

Taking a strong exception to popular perception about the famous Punjabi poet Avtar Singh Sandhu alias 'Pash', historian Chaman Lal, known for his work on the life of Bhagat Singh, stressed that Pash was not a naxalite poet.

"Naxalite is too narrow a word to define Pash. He was a product of Naxalite movement but he was not Naxalite poet," said Chaman Lal, who presented a lecturer on the life of Pash on his birth anniversary at Central University Punjab here on Tuesday. His lecturer was followed by a solo play on Pash's life enacted by actor Ranbir Rana.

"Punjabi poet Surjit Pattar was also a product of naxalism movement but we cannot call him a naxal poet. The same thing applies for Pash," said the historian, who has also translated Pash's book into Hindi.

When asked what he would call him, he said, "He was more of a progressive-revolutionary poet. He was radical in nature."

Pash strongly criticised the state and its structure and even called the Indian Constitution a 'Dead Book' in his work. His poems also sharply attacked the Indian policing system.

Despite criticism, Pash's work is not only part of syllabi in different universities across India, but Haryana Police too constructed a Library in his memory at Karnal police line.

"Interestingly Pash, who was killed by the Khalistani terrorists in 1988, has a library constructed in his name in Karnal. Four constables of the Karnal Police were also killed by the Khalistani terrorists. IPS Vikas Narayan, who was then appointed in Karnal, wanted to construct something in the memory of killed police officials. He decided there would nothing be better than constructing a library in the name of the poet," he said.

"You would be surprise to know that Pash had criticised a political leader of Haryana in one of his works and the same leader donated Rs 50,000 for that library," he added.

Interestingly Ranbir Rana, who played Pash in 'Khetan De Putt', also read the same poem in the play he enacted on the poet's life.

Rana Ranbir, who performed 70 minutes long solo play on Pash's life, also avoided to call him a naxal poet.

"He remained attached with naxalites and communists but later detached himself from them. He was poet of the people. He wrote for them in their language. It can be a reason that his work was translated into other languages as compared to other Punjabi poets," he said.

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