Bluestar Baby Boomers – Newslaundry

Published by Newslaundry:



Part I

Every time the topic of Operation Bluestar is touched upon in my family, one aspect which always dominates the discussion is my father’s chilling recollection of the events that unfolded in the scorching hot first week of June, 1984.

Then a young Flight Lieutenant in the Indian Air Force, trained to fly supersonic jets, my father had taken the abrupt and surprising decision of side-stepping to helicopters. The unit to which he got posted bore the proud history of being raised in the “resplendent heights of Leh” – it comprised of the rugged Cheetahs and Chetaks, and had been stationed in Jammu since long. He was regularly sortieing to the Siachen glacier, where the Indian government had got embroiled in a messy cartographic skirmish a year earlier.

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Love Sans Gurdwaras – Chapati Mystery

Originally published by Chapati Mystery:

The latent passions of this land are steeped in love and longing. If one sees Punjab solely from the perspective of its oral traditions, local continuities and folklore, then the picture that emerges is in complete contrast to the drubbed, kitschy monochrome making its way to the mainstream. It is the unquestionable faith and conviction of its peoples, which have often subverted the rigid precepts of religion and nationalism, to create identity markers that are more organically rooted in the mythos and geography.

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Hacking Indian Journalism for Fun and Profit – Seminar

Originally published by Seminar and National Interest:

An average Indian journalist is like a teat pipette which spills more than it can suck to wreak havoc on the contemporary narrative. That is how Hunter S Thompson would have opined, if the S ever stood for Singh, which, I believe, could very well be the case. There are times when my dehorned scalp itches like anything to unleash the mendacity that I have acquired lately. I am tempted to conduct elaborate cyber-infiltration operations on these batty little boobs, exposing their gooey underbellies and scaring them so much that they run out giving a synchronised Wilhelm scream. But, of course, things like these have never fallen under my moral purview and, moreover, they require some institutional backing. I do, nonetheless, wonder if Indian journalists need to be terrorised like that, especially when they are so good at bitch-slapping each other.

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Probe caste-based segregation in gurdwaras, panel tells Punjab DGP – The Hindu

Originally published by The Hindu:

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has issued a notice to the Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) to investigate and reply to charges about caste-based segregation in historic gurdwaras of the State.

The NCSC notice that comes on a representation by Abroo, a socio-political initiative working for empowerment of the marginalised in Punjab, was also studied by its own Atrocities and Protection of Civil Rights Wing.

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God Just Left the Gurdwara – Newslaundry

Published by Newslaundry:

A vignette of emotions, centered on a perverse ritual being practiced in a 350-year old Sikh seminary. How a search for the origins of “Chauthey Paurey Wale”, a spiritually sanctioned cussword for the low-caste Sikhs, also unearthed the true story of a folk hero, Bidhi Chand Chhina, in a village so old that it’s said to be the birthplace of Shiva. The mutiny of a renouncer that was Bidhi Chand and the lingering doubts it left about the politics of the Gurus.


THE SUN WAS BARELY OVER the yardarm, but my shopkeeper friends from Guru Bazaar had already bantered away for nearly an hour. The billowing clay oven, from the rundown corner shop across the street, spitted out Ambarsari kulche at a frantic pace, as the passers-by stopped for a quick brunch. Vendors and wayfarers from the nearby villages scouted for early trades, while the market was still waking up to the clanking of steel utensils, being rearranged on the pavements of two prominent stores.


My jaunts and jamborees in the city of Tarn Taran generally began by afternoon, but on an unusually crisp morning of December, we had gathered early at the behest of “Pardhaan” Balbir Singh. Though the slight readjustment of schedules had left everyone anxious and even imparted them with a certain sense of purpose, that group of shopkeepers couldn’t let go the customary tea, stretching the chitchat for so long—as if serious trysting would have taken away all the fun.

Pardhaan glanced at the watch and rose to fetch his bicycle.

Pukhraj ‘Sian’! Ajj tainu kujj kamm de bandeya naal milauna ai, naale o kitaab vi davauni aa!”

(We are meeting some important people today, Pukhraj “Sian”, and I have to get that book for you!)

Careening over the pedals, he addressed me affectionately in a melodic tenor exuding rural rusticity and religiosity. As every muscle on his face contorted to deliver that perfect ‘Duchenne smile’, I couldn’t help but think how Pardhaan ji had always reminded me of the popular folk singer, Pammi Bai. I was quite fond of the old man—a local milk distributor, the elected head of a small city gurdwara and, most importantly, a liberated Sikh who had time-and-again chaperoned me on the social suavities of Punjab’s countryside.
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A Day in the Life of a Sikh Prejudice – Kafila

Originally published by Kafila:

Part I

“The very ink with which history is written,” allegorised Mark Twain, “is merely fluid prejudice.” By that rationale, religion can often be the quill which defaces the truth with its broad strokes, perverting history than promulgating it. And like the bastard child of these perversions, a few counter-narratives manage to wade through the tides of public opinion, carrying the dim outline of the ossified ideas that led to its tragic pursuit. But one has to have the right kind of eyes, says Hunter S. Thompson, to “see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

A similar, horrid apparition of truth opened the floodgates of memories and angst very recently as a headline screamed through the Twitterverse—40 Sikhs Convert to Christianity in a Tarn Taran District Village: Gurdwara Management’s Treatment of “Low Caste” Sikhs Calls for Strict Action—in the particularly sultry month of August.

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Inside the Media Mafia of Punjab – Abroo

Originally published by Abroo:

“A single sentence will suffice for modern man. He fornicated and read the papers.” — Albert Camus



Trying to make myself comfortable in that dingy conference room, I couldn’t avoid inhaling the pungent and rather soothing smell of newsprint that permeated the place. Situated in a narrow bylane of Jalandhar, this cramped, two-room space acts as the makeshift office of a Punjabi weekly that proudly boasts to be a mouthpiece of the suppressed Dalit voices and the political organization avowing to represent their interests, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

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