‘Land of my ancestors not hell’


Punjabi playwright praises ‘part of India . . . now known as Pakistan’

Atamjit Singh . . . took exception to Parrikar statement

Chandigarh: Joining issue with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, eminent Punjabi playwright and director Atamjit Singh said Pakistan could be hell for Parrikar or some people from Goa and Maharashtra, but for him “it is the land where my cultural and religious values are rooted deeply”.

“My mother was born in Peshawar and father in Lahore. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born in Nankana Sahib. Baba Farid, the first great poet of my language, was born in Multan. When so much in that land belongs to us, how it could be hell for me and other Punjabis like me?” said Atamjit Singh.

He said: “There would not have been great literature in the absence of legendary poetical narrative of Heer Ranjha written by Waris Shah, who was born in Jandiala Sher Khan. Half of my creative and spiritual strength comes from that part of India which is now known as Pakistan.

“Some immortal songs of my language are sung by legendary singers such as Reshma, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali who belong to the Punjab of the other side.”

On Parrikar’s statement, he said: “I will not mind you battering the ISI, the military junta and the politicians of Pakistan, who are sowing the seeds of hatred for their vested interests. I will gladly join you in doing so. But please have mercy on me and don’t call the whole land of my ancestors hell.

“I wish our leaders to be sensitive in making such statements as millions of people might silently listen to their insensitive comments but can’t digest them so easily,” he said, supporting the stand taken by Ramya, a Karnataka-based actress and former Congress MP, with regard to Pakistan