Monday, November 04, 2019

Inderjeet Singh Jaijee Dona Suri - The Legacy of Militancy in Punjab- Long Road to Normalcy

I lived my life in Gujarat though I am a Sikh. I returned to Delhi/Patiala/Chandigarh in 1979 after completing my schooling. I was looking for a job and reuniting with my family in Chandigarh. I was in Patiala in 1981 when newspapers were splashed all over with the killing of Lala Jagat Narain, owner of Punjab Kesri. To me that was the introduction to what would soon be known as the era of militancy in the region. There were numerous times when I held my breath when seeing blanket clad men. Militants usually traveled that way. My husband's boss and another friend were gunned down by militants. There were bomb blasts in Sector 22 market. Earlier, working at a newspaper office, I was privy to the news of Golden Temple being raided, Mrs. Indira Gandhi being gunned down. All employees of the office were pressed into attending phone calls that were flooded in. We had to parrot out the official line given to us. Militancy is history we have lived though.

Yet, reading this book was an eye-opener to me. I was perhaps aware of the official version, certainly nothing about what went on behind the scenes, how the police behaved, the number of innocents dead and how humanity could die a sudden death when faced by power hungry, money mongering individuals.

Punjab was the bread-basket of India, one of it's most prosperous states. I had the seen the sad plight of farmers in Gujarat. In comparison, Punjab looked so well to do. No more, alas. Militancy has taken its toll.

I am not the one to read non-fiction. I surprised myself by devouring the book in a single sitting. It was amazingly well written. Despite its grim topic, there are dollops of humor in it, especially while describing the shenanigans of the politicians. No one is spared the acerbic wit of the pen, not the Akalis, not the Congressis. That is the heart of the matter. Politicians who took the side of the populace did so more to snub their rivals. In the end, the sore and complete losers were the residents of Punjab and also those of India.

As a citizen of India, as a human rights believer, it is essential to read such books and try to understand the power that is vested in us as a voter.

Inderjit Singh Jaijee is a human rights campaigner and Dona Suri was a journalist and they both have impeccable credentials to author this book. All the claims made and reported have been meticulously backed with documentation.