Asma Jahangir: A Great (Punjabi) Woman

I had to face imprisonment and house arrests, but it made me tougher. As a lawyer, many a time I took up difficult and sensitive cases dealing with minorities’ and women’s rights. Yes, I constantly receive threats, and to be very honest, at times it is very scary. But I have to continue my work.’

Asma Jahangir is a lawyer (to say the least) defending the rights of women, children and men in Pakistan’s harsh climate of religious extremism, misogyny and child abuse. She does it in the courtroom, on the street, in the media, and on the international scene.

Since 1972, when she launched a case against the Government of the Punjab for the release of her father Malik Ghulam Jilani who was arrested for resigning from the National Assembly to protest the Pakistan Government’s military action in Bangladesh, Asma has been an honorable and courageous leader of Pakistan’s political, legal and social movements. She was one of the leaders of the long and often dangerous campaign waged by women activists against the Hadood Ordinances and the draft law on evidence; She forced the parliament to pass a legislation in favor of bonded child laborers of brick kilns. She is a founding/serving member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Women Action Forum (WAF), Punjab Women Lawyers Association (PWLA), and of the AGHS Legal Aid Cell that offers free legal services to vulnerable population groups.

In 2010, Asma was elected as the first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She is a former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and a UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions from 1998 to 2004, and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief from 2004 to 2010.

She is the author of Divine Sanction? The Hadood Ordinance (1988) and Children of a Lesser God: Child Prisoners of Pakistan (1992). She has received numerous international and national awards including honorary Doctor of Law degrees from universities in Switzerland, Canada, and the USA; the Right Livelihood Award or the ‘alternative Nobel prize’ in 2014; American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award in 1992; the Martin Ennals Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995.

Asma was placed under house arrest and later imprisoned for participating in the movement for the restoration of democracy against the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1983. She, and her family, has often been a target of vandalism, violent attacks, hate campaigns and character assassinations carried out by militant groups, political interests and their media representatives. Un-deterred, she continues to be a force to reckon with for each successive government, and for the interest groups who violate the rights of people.

More on Asma is here

Contact Asma Jahangir

View the above on its page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin

Years of unceasing democratic work against armed and unarmed adversaries, and in over four decades of active politics, Asma has refused to serve the interests of any colonial, hegemonic or familial power. At all times, she has taken a firm stand on the side of the people, often being victimized, and she has gone onto extend protection to them wherever and whenever possible. The local and international power brokers have introduced their own heroes who come backed with enormous resources and a wide international network of organizations, forums and media outlets. As is the nature of colonizing mind, they make it appear as if Pakistani women had no history of resistance prior to their presentation of it.

May be all this money, resources and influence will for some time sideline our real heroes such as Asma Jahangir, Hina Jillani, Hussain Naqi, Abdur Sattar Edhi and others. But sooner or later we will see through these schemes, and we will be able to acknowledge the ceaseless contributions to the betterment of our lives of our heroes like Asma Jahangir, and we will find deserving ways to nurture and honor them.

Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

Amrita Sher-Gil National Art Week – Chandigarh 18 – 24 Feb/13

Dedicated to Amrita Sher-Gil on her birth centenary year


Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi
Cordially invites you to

Amrita Sher-Gil National Art week
A week-long celebration of art
By Artists/critics/writers/historians/curators

Exhibition of
Photographs of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil

Re-take of Amrita by Vivan Sundaram

18 to 24 February, 2013

At the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Sector 10 C, Chandigarh

Kindly take your seats 15 minutes before the start of the events
Photography and Phone calls prohibited

Diwan Manna, Chairman

Slide lectures, exhibition, film screening and dialogues
Between artists/critics/historians/writers and curators

18 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

Making of a Mural and other works: Slide Lecture by Anjolie Ela Menon – Artist
J. Swaminathan: Decades of Transit: Slide Lecture by S Kalidas – Art Commentator/ writer
Dialogue between Anjolie Ela Menon and S Kalidas
Opening of the Photography Exhibition:
Photographs of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil
and Re-take of Amrita by Vivan Sundaram
Exhibition of photographs will be opened on 18th February after the slide presentations
and remain open from 19 to 24 Feb 2013 between 11.30 am and 7.30 pm

19 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

The Pseudo – Archive: Slide Lecture by Pushpamala N. – Artist
Loving the Arts : Lecture by Ashok Vajpeyi – poet/art critic/writer
Dialogue between Ashok Vajpeyi and Pushpamala N.

20 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

The Politics of Contemplation: Slide Lecture by Sheba Chhachhi – Artist
At Home With My Maharaja: Entering the Palace-Museum in India: Slide Lecture by Kavita Singh – Art Historian/ curator/editor
Dialogue between Sheba Chhachhi and Kavita Singh

21 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

Stay politically incorrect forever: Slide Lecture by Mithu Sen – Artist
Skoda Prize : Slide Lecture by Girish Shahane – writer on art, cultural politics and curator/ Director – Art of the Skoda Prize for Indian Contemporary Art
Dialogue Between Mithu Sen and Girish Shahane

22 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

A Sensualist of the Eye: Slide Lecture by Navina Sundaram- filmmaker and tele-journalist
§ Screening of short film: Amrita Sher-Gil – A Family Album – Directed and written by Navina Sundaram
Go Away Closer: Slide Lecture by Dayanita Singh – Artist

23 February 5.30 to 7.30 pm

The Colour of Doubt: Slide Lecture by Anju Dodiya – Artist
Art and Problems of Representation in Media: Lecture by Sadanand Menon – cultural commentator
Dialogue between Anju Dodiya and Sadanand Menon

24 February seminar in three sessions:
presentations and discussions 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Session One 10.00 am to 12.30 pm (including 30 minutes for tea)
Altering Perceptions: Contemporary Art in Historic Museums: Slide Lecture by Tasneem Mehta – Director & Managing Trustee, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
§ Center Periphery Constellations: Slide Lecture by Alka Pande – Consultant Arts Advisor and Curator
From Timbuktu to Cincinnati- Works 2012: Slide Lecture by Atul Dodiya – Artist
Discussion: Locating the Self – Other: Moderator – Alka Pande, participants: Tasneem Mehta, Atul Dodiya and Alka Pande

12.30 to 1.30 pm lunch

Session Two 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm

Introduction of the art magazine Take on Art by Bhavna Kakar – Curator and Editor of Take on art magazine
The Body in Indian Art: Slide Lecture by Kishore Singh – Art Commentator
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art: Slide Lecture by Roobina Karode – Director Kiran Nader Museum of Art. New Delhi
Discussion: In search of the body – Moderator – Anju Dodiya, participants: Kishore Singh, Roobina Karode, Anju Dodiya

(3.30 pm to 4.00 pm Tea)

Session Three 4.00 to 6.00 pm
Recent Works: Slide Lecture by Vivan Sundaram – Artist
The Indian Modernists: Slide Lecture by Nanak Ganguly – curator and critic
Discussion: Museum, Biennale, Art Fair – Moderator – Sadanand Menon, participants: Vivan Sundaram, Nanak Ganguly, Sadanand Menon

dedicated to Amrita Sher-Gil on her birth centenary year

Protect Mirza-Sahiban’s Mausoleum in Punjab

Photo by Sohail Abid, 2010

This is the burying place of Mirza Sahiban in Danabad. It is facing the worst neglect because of the stigma attached to the two lovers. There is also danger that there graves may be erased by, the now stronger, conservative section of the local community. It must be declared a National Heritage site. The following information is shared by Sohail Abid on Facebook. Uddari

‘The mausoleum of Miraza-Sahiban, in depilated condition, is located in Danabad union council in Jaranwala. Local men do not let their women visit the mausoleum fearing they might follow the footsteps of Sahiban. People were convinced that visits by women to the mausoleum increased their chances of eloping and thus they banned women from visiting the place.

‘Hayat Kharal, from 384 GB Jhandwali village said Akram alias Akri’s daughter eloped with her lover five years ago when she returned from Mirza-Sahibain’s shrine. Sahadat Ali Kharal, a resident, told Daily Times that their forefathers believed that the “dirt cemetery of Mirza-Sahiban” should be demolished because many women would become immoral. Qasoo Kharal, another resident, said the memory of Mirza and Sahiban must be erased.’

‘That’s from a 2006 Daily Times story. When I visited the place in Dec 2010, it was there. Erasing the graves is not a matter as simple in the muslim tradition of the sub-continent. But yes, the people don’t really want to visit the mausoleum. This photo was taken during my visit in 2010.’

Sohail Abid

Related content at Uddari
‘SahebaN’s Name’ by Fauzia Rafique
‘SahebaN’s Name’, Part 2

Sign This Petition to Protect Asma Jahangir‏ – Pakistan’s Prime Jurist and Rights Activist

Uddari fully supports this international online petition (signature campaign) launched by Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) to lobby for the protection of Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s former UN Special Rapporteur for Religious Freedom and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association. Please Sign and Forward.

Sign The Petition

The petition will be sent to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Government of Pakistan as well as international Human Rights organisations, forums, think tanks, peace activists, journalist bodies, lawyers, and members of the European parliaments and their relevant committees. Please sign the petition and send out to your networks and through social media channels.

Asma Jahangir has been an outspoken human rights activist for over 30 years. These threats come at a time when multiple forces are trying to create instability in Pakistan prior to the upcoming elections.

Sign The Petition

Every single signature is important
As said in the press release issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), ‘it is not the conspiracy against a single individual rather it is an effort to suppress the freedom of conscience, democracy and cultural diversity in Pakistan. Needless to say, we will fight back and, needless to say, we shall win’.

The URL address for the Petition to Protect Asma Jahangir

Global Human Rights Defence
Laan van Meerdervoort 70
The Hague
Shiraz Raj,
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Public rallies to condemn threats to Asma Jahanghir‏ – June 14-15

Two mass public protest rallies will be held in Okara and Lahore on 14 and 15 of this month to protest the recent threats to Asma Jahangir’s life. View details here:

14 June – Okara
Thousands of peasants will join a rally in Okara to condemn threats to Asma Jahanghir. Mehr Abdul Sartar General secretary Anjman Mozareen Punjab (AMP) said in a statement that ‘Asma has always helped our struggle for land rights. We will protest in thousands to tell the government that peasants are with Asma.’ In Okara, contact the local AMP office for more information.

15 June – Lahore
In Lahore, Joint Action Committee (JAC) For Peoples Rights will hold a mass rally at Aiwan Iqbal on 15th June at 3pm. For more information, contact JAC in Lahore.

Earlier, a JAC meeting was held in Lahore. Below find some highlights from the report by Mumtaz Mughal of Aurat Foundation.

JAC meeting at AGHS Office on Threat to Ms. Asma Jehangir’s life
Key decisions
1. JAC will organize a Seminar concerning threat to Asma Jahangir on Friday, June 15, 2012 at 3:00pm at Awan Iqbal or Alhamra Hall 1, Lahore

2. Participation of more than 2000 people will be ensured in the event

3. Participation of Significant persons will be ensured from provinces

4. JAC meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm to share the update and finalization of programme

More information
Farooq Tariq
Member federal committee Labour Party Pakistan
Tel: 03008411945
25 A Davis Road Lahore, Pakistan

From SPN Newsletter

A Great Punjabi Woman – Sushila Chayn 1923-2011

Sushila Chayn née Sharda, who passed away in October 2011 at age 88, was a Punjabi communist activist and leader of the [East] Punjab Istri Sabha. She devoted her entire life to the cause of national freedom, workers movement and the emancipation of women.

Born to Hindu reformist Arya Samaji parents of Pathankot she came into contact with Bibi Raghbir Kaur who was a Kirti-Ghadar Party member of Punjab State Legislative assembly, and became a political activist moving to the communist party headquarter in Lahore in 1941. At the time, she also worked amongst women in the district of Montgomery.

She displayed her organising skills in the kisãn peasants conference held in Fatehgarh Korotana in Ferozepur (now in Pakistan). Then she was deputed to work in Kangra district. This was the time when she got married to a party activist Chayn Singh Chayn. Along with Tahira Mazhar Ali, Vimla Dang and other Punjabi socialist women she worked day night collecting funds and other support for the victims of Bengal Famine.

A few yeas later in 1947 when the united Punjab was dismembered, Punjabi communists began to organise peace committees thus saving hundreds of Muslim, Hindu Sikh men, women and children from sectarian violence. Sushila was an important part of it, and later worked tirelessly in rehabilitating women victims of partition.

After 1947, the Chayn couple moved to Jalandhar and they both participated in the 1959 peasants’ anti-betterment levy agitation – Khush-hasiyati tax morcha.

She was the first ever woman panch of her village panchayat council in Daduwal. Till the end Sushila tackled the social problems at the grassroots level – dowry, domestic violence, casteism and inter-caste marriage.

Sushila is survived by her husband and their daughter Savita.

Sushila Chayn’s picture taken by Amarjit Chandan in Jalandhar, 1986.

On the sale of Amrita Pritam’s House امرتا پریتم دے گھر ویچے جان تے اک نظم

A Punjabi poem by Hasan Mujtaba

وارث شاھ ایتھے کیہہ کیہہ وکدا
وکدا وچ بزار۔

قبراں وکدیاں
قبراں وچوں بول وی وکدے
یار وی وکدا
اوہدے گل دا ہار وی وکدا
عشق دا ورقہ ورقہ وکدا
وکدے قول قرار۔
وارث شاہ ۔۔۔۔۔

ہٹیاں وکدیاں
جٹیاں وکدیاں
رنگ وی وکدا
جھنگ وی وکدا
ہیراں وکدیاں
رانجھے وکدے
وکدا تخت ہزار
وارث شاہ ایتھے۔۔۔۔

کھیڑے وکدے
گیڑے وکدے
ساہواں وکدیاں
رکھ رکھ تے
چھاواں وکدیاں
مجھاں وکدیاں
گاواں وکدیاں
وکدے سارے کھوہ
وارث شاہ ایتھے۔۔۔۔

توں لبھدی پھریں بازار کڑے
ایتھے کیہڑی شے جو وکدی نہیں؟
تیرے دل دا جانی وکدا
راوی دا سبھ پانی وکدا
اکھاں دے سبھ اتھرو وکدے
وارث شاہ ایتھے۔۔۔۔۔

ایتھے شکر دوپہری وکدی
شاماں وکدیاں نیں
دن وی وکدے
راتاں وکدیاں
ایتھے جگر! جگراتے وکدے
نندراں وکدیاں
سفنے وکدے
سفنیاں دے وچ
سجن وکدے
وارث شاہ ایتھے۔۔۔۔

ایتھے جنگل بیلے وکدے
منگل وکدے میلے وکدے
ایتھے چن چنا وی وکدے
سوہنی وکدی
ماہی تے مہیوال وی وکدا
ایتھے موجاں موجاں وکدیآں
بیلے وچھیاں لاشاں وکدیاں
فوجاں وکدیاں
وارث شاہ ایتھے۔۔۔۔

اوہدے گل دی گانی وکدی
ہر اک پیار نشانی وکدی
وارث شاہ ایتھے۔۔۔۔۔

گور پیا کوئی ہور وی وکدا
بکل دے وچ چور وی وکدا
ایتھے تخت لہور وی وکدا
کیہ جاناں میں کون کوئی وکدا
وارث شاہ ایتھے….

تو لکھ لکھ مارے وین
وارث شاہ
لکھاں روندیاں دھیاں وکدیاں
ایتھے جیوندیاں ماواں وکدیاں
نی مائے میں کنوں دساں
ایتھے مرگئياں ماواں وکدیاں
وارث شاہ

وارث شاہ میں تینوں آکھاں
ہائے وے میں وی مر گیاں
فیر میں مرگئی ہاں

صوفی! تو کیویں کہندا سی
پتر ہٹاں تے نہیں وکدے؟
پر ایتھے پال تے پالنے وکے
پنچھی تے فیر آہلنے وکے
ایتھے گھر گھروندے وکے
ایتھے بند تے بوہے وکے
ایتھے میرا کمرہ وکیا
کیہہ کیہہ وکیا نہیں
کناں سنیاں بول نہیں وکیا
اکھاں ویکھے ویکھ نہیں وکے
ہر اک دل دا منظر وکیا
اندر وکیا باہر وکیا
کیہہ کیھہ رنگ رتول نئیں وکیا
اوہدا برش کنواس وی وکیا۔

ہر اک رت دی لیکھا وکی
تیری پیار بھلیکھا وکی
تیری سبھ اڈیک وی وکی

اوہدے میرے ہاسے وکے
اوہدے میرے اتھرو وکے

اوہدا ہر اک چتر وکیا
میرا ہر اک اکھر وکیا
مٹی دا ہر ذرہ ذرہ
میرے گھر دی اٹ اٹ وکی
میری رات تے دن وی وکیا
میرا اج اجوکا وکیا
تے ایک میرا سورج وکیا

ایش ٹرے توں سانبھے ہوئے
سگرٹ دے اوہ ٹوٹے وکے
ساحر دی اوہ حوشبو وکی
اوہدی کو‏ئی رسید نہ منگی

اندر دا بس بانبھن وکیا
اوہدا پر پرچھاواں وکیا
تے میرا اکلاپا وکیا
ہر اک ملن والا وکیا
نالے وچھڑن والا وکیا

ہر اک نظم کہانی وکی
میری ناگ منی وی وکی
ویساکھی تے ہولی وکی
ماں وکی ماں بولی وکی

سارے پھل کھڑ ن وی وکے
رکھ وکے تے بوٹے وکے
وا دے سارے جھوٹے وکے
میریاں ساریاں ہوکا ں وکیاں
اہ کوئل دی کوکاں وکیاں
اور میرا ٹرنا وی وکیا
میری اج اخیر وی وکی
میرا ہر ایک ویس وی وکیا
دلی وکیا دیس وی وکیا
ہائے نی میں لوڑھے لُٹی
میرا وارث شاہ وی وکیا
وارث دا پنجاب کیہہ تکنا
تک اپنا پنجاب نی مائے
تک اپنا پنجاب۔

وارث شاہ ایتھے کیہہ کیہہ وکدا
وکدا وچ بزار

New York
July 12, 2011

Poem sent by Ijaz Syed

Heritage havoc
By Nirupma Dutt
Punjabi’s grand dame of letters Amrita Pritam had willed that her house in the Capital should be preserved as a memorial to her and that her partner Imroz should live there. However, just five years after her death, it has been sold by her son to builders, who have lost no time in razing it to the ground. While writing an ode to the house that Amrita built, Nirupama Dutt recounts the insensitive attitude we, as a nation, have to our cultural heritage…

View Nirupma’s article at Tribune India

Pakistan Shariat Court Delivers Sham Justice in MukharaN Mai Gang Rape Case

After nine years of ‘delibrations’, Pakistan Shariat Court comes up with a verdict that convicts only one perpetrator in a proven case of Punchayat-ordered gang rape. Below is a statement by Pakistan’s civil society organizations.

Reference to Supreme Court’s today verdict on Mukhtaran Mai’s case, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI) has joinly issued a press statement.

Wasim Wagha
Insani Haqooq Itehad Secretariat

Date: – 21-04-2011

Subject: – NCSW and members of IHI disappointed at the verdict of Supreme Court in Mukhtaran Mai case

The National Commission on the Status of Women and members of Insani Huqooq Ittehad, including PODA, Mehergargh, Aurat Foundation, Rozan, Sungi, Bedari, Ethno Media, Pattan and SPO convened an emergency meeting to express deep shock and disappointment at the verdict given by the superior court in the Mukhtara Mai gang rape case today. Although the judgment did prove that Mukhtaran was raped because one accused did get life imprisonment, while others were acquitted. We are surprised to see why only one accused was punished and others were acquitted on a charge of ‘gang rape’.

The Commission and members of civil society felt that this was the reflection of a biased and inefficient criminal justice system. This case has been a classic example of how the facts were distorted and documentation of the evidence was tampered with at all levels.

The group expressed concern at the long delays to dispense justice. The victim was raped in 2002 on the instructions of the local Panchayat. In 2005 the chief justice of the superior court took suo moto notice of the case. Despite the intervention it took more than nine years to come up with this decision, which is a source of concern for the women of Pakistan. It is feared that this decision might further strengthen the anti women parallel legal and judicial systems and mechanisms in the country. We feel that the criminal justice system too is not pro women and is patriarchal in nature. Impunity is the order of the day.

In cases of complaints women victims are burdened to provide series of evidences which is not possible for them. It is the responsibility of the police to do the investigation and come up with the requisite evidence. Currently, methods of recording evidence by police are biased against women; and that is one reason that they do not get justice from the courts.

There is also a need to look at the women’s representation in all those systems and mechanism dealing with matters of crimes and justice. Women’s lack of proportionate representation in lower and upper judiciary is paving the way for verdicts against women victims. There is dire need to start a rational discourse on the lack of women’s representation within the courts.

Today’s judgment has shaken the confidence and sense of security of women of Pakistan to stand up for their rights. It reflects a faulty investigation of the police and the loop holes that are left intentionally to side with the power brokers. The outcome of Mukhtaran case discourages survivors of rape and gang rape to report. However, we are proud of Mukhtaran Mai, who stood bravely against all intimidation and harassment and has refused to buckle under life threats. She has given a message of courage and hope to all women victims of our country. We consider her a role model for women of Pakistan.

At the end we also condemn the insensitive and pathetic attitude of some sections of media, who were grinning at the verdict and clapped after they recorded the responses on the judgment. The owners and editors of these media houses are urged to inculcate responsible and sensitive attitude in the practices of such chauvinistic reporters.

MukhtaraN Bibi: A (the) Great Punjabi Woman!



A Brave Woman of Substance: Sherry Rehman‏

Statement: Government’s Attempt to Black Out Sherry Rehman‏

We at Citizens For Democracy (CFD) and Socialist Pakistan News (SPN) must condemn the government’s attempt to completely black out parliamentarian and Human Rights activist Sherry Rehman on a day when her contribution to women’s struggle, in the fields of democratic politics, human rights and parliamentary legislation, as well as her personal courage and commitment, deserved special mention. Today, on March 8, beginning with the official PTV programmes, the Prime Minister’s speech, the video prepared and played at the PM’s event by the Ministry of Women’s Development on Pakistan’s outstanding Women of Substance, there was no mention of Sherry Rehman at all. This concerted attempt by a progressive political party and democratic government to completely black out one of its most outstanding women parliamentarians, is shameful.

We take this opportunity on the 100th International Women’s Day, to salute Sherry Rehman for her dedication and commitment to women’s struggle to fight for their constitutional rights to equality and justice. Today Sherry Rehman, who is facing death threats and is still refusing to leave the country, is a source of inspiration to millions of Pakistani women – and men. She is a courageous woman who has never hesitated to stand up and be counted for her principles and her democratic beliefs. We salute this Outstanding Daughter of Pakistan, this Brave Woman of Substance.

From Tahira Abdullah, Nasim Zehra and Aamir Mansoor

Jindan Kaur of Cheechon-ke-Malian

‘JindaN Kaur! Tere sadke, Bibi!
TooN vadh hyateyaN maanaiN
TooN uchi, tera naaN hai ucha
Aakh na pawan pleed-zubanaiN’

By Majid Sheikh
Sunday, 18 Apr, 2010

“Baoo, mera akhri saa barra mitha hoyay ga.”

On Friday, I went to attend the book launching ceremony of Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah and the Partition of 1947 at a local private golf club. As I had read the book when it was first launched, a question lurked in my mind about what the future held for the ‘sub-continent of hate’ that we live in.

As the book launch was consigned to `partial chaos’ as participants launched, on invitation, into tea and cakes before the ceremony began, it was best to quietly leave and ponder over the suffering the partition of 1947 had brought to the poor of our land. As the posh of Lahore tucked into sweet delights, outside the heat beat down harsh and fast. My thoughts swayed from my usual Sunday article to focus on the outcome of a remarkable person we are researching with regard to the events of 1947, a `holocaust’ the sort the world has seldom seen, definitely the largest exodus in human history and one that our elders are still ashamed to discuss openly. For this I condemn my elders, for they have not been truthful about our past.

That is why what Jaswant Singh has to say in his book needs much deeper and honest appreciation by all, especially Indians. Sadly, both have their eyes shut tightly to the reality of partition. Let me dwell on my research subject, and as she lives on the edge of Lahore, her story needs to be described. We must not make the mistake our elders have made. We must confront the truth, and face it for a better future.

Last month while on a research visit to a village near Cheechon-ke- Malian, just 18 miles outside Lahore to the west, I set off in search of an old woman a worker in my place of work described as `Sikhnee’. The description had an allure to it, and as we are researching the subject, it made sense to meet this `Sikhnee’. At first her son, the bearded village `mullah’, refused to let us talk to the old woman. After a considerable persuasion, we managed with the promise not to direct others to their house, and that we would not name him or his mother. To this promise we stick.

We met this old woman, aged approximately 78 if our calculations are correct, whose sun-tanned skin had freshness to it. The wrinkles on her face depicted her silent suffering. Maybe it was a thought in my mind. She was not bent as old women tend to be, but was a strong, well-set healthy woman used to working hard in the fields and in the house. Her name now is Fatima Bibi. Her husband was also the village `mullah’ and she married him in 1947. He died almost six years ago. “Jeth de pheli nu moya se,” said Fatima Bibi. She served me with a cold drink, and her great grandson also got one in the bargain.

Her story goes like this. Her real name was Jindan Kaur and her father’s name was Heera Singh Bhatti. They belonged to a village outside Sheikhupura just before Jandiala a hundred yards from the main `moogha'(water channel) as she put it.

In August 1947, their village was attacked by a Muslim mob. A few Sikh elders decapitated their daughters before the mob could reach the young girls. Ultimately, they were saved by the army, who came in two trucks full of soldiers. The entire village of Sikhs was taken to the Sheikhupura railway station and they were put into a railway bogey stuffed like animals and bound for Lahore, from where they were to go onwards to Amritsar in the new India, their new home.

Jindan then described the blood-curdling event of how their train was attacked near Cheechon-ke- Malian railway station. Every male member, including children, as well as old women, was hacked to pieces. “Tootay kar ditay sadday.” The young Jindan was taken away by the local toughs and they did what frenzied men do. “Javani lut lai. Kakh na chaddaya. Rool dita. Jeenday gee marya ve nahi.”

There were no tears in her eyes, for mine had welted on listening to her description of events. She looked at me and said: “Baoo, athroo da koi faida nai jaddon mera bapoo tootay ho gay.” The fate of her dear father had sealed time for her. She was the 15-year old Jindan when she talked lovingly of him. Her son was getting uneasy as she started to open up. I changed the topic to calm him. The ruse worked well. After a while I started off again to listen to what happened to Jindan Kaur alias Fatima Bibi.

The train had about 105 women, most of them young. Jindan was then a mere 15-year old. She was raped by a number of men, she does not recall the number. The young village mullah took her to his house after the `animals’ had satiated their lust. He nursed her to health. He then advised that she convert to Islam and he would marry her. It was a noble deed by any reckoning. He took her glazed eyes and her silence as acceptance for his offer. A year later, soldiers came to the village and offered all kidnapped Hindu and Sikh women to get on an army lorry to be taken to India. They, however, warned, that Sikhs were killing all their own women who had been dishonoured. Life continued to offer no choices.

Jindan was pregnant. She had no family to go to. Life did not offer a choice. For her life began and ended that fateful day. The rest has been mere existence and she waits for the day when she will be released from her mortal remains. The old Punjabi woman described her fate as only she could: “Baoo, mera akhri saa barra mitha hoyay ga.” Her son scoulded her for the remark.

The victims of 1947 abound in the villages of Punjab. In 2010 they are forgotten. The description `Sikhnee’ is a slur that she bears without malice. Her four sons and five daughters do not like the way people call her. Hate has an unforgiving element. Inconspicuous references hide a story, often one of pain and suffering. If only she could again call herself Jindan Kaur with pride and without feeling guilty. That day will surely come, of this I have no doubt.

There are thousands like her in Pakistan and India. They are the forgotten people our elders shut their eyes to. That is why preserving the truth of 1947 is critical if we are to claw our way back to normalcy. That is why what Jaswant Singh has to say matters too. That is why I left the `tea and cakes’ mob to think about Jindan Kaur. Life still does not offer her any choice.

Daily DAWN, Pakistan
From Ijaz Syed

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Vimla Dang rests in peace

Vimla Dang:  1926 – 2009

In Chheharta, this Sunday, a great Punjabi Kashmiri woman completed the journey of her magnificent life. She was a revolutionary activist from her student days who worked for social change with a singular determination, and was honored with many rewards including a Padma Shri award.

Vimla Dang was born in 1926 in Allahabad, and raised in Lahore where she married Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Satya Pal Dang in 1952, and moved to Chheharta the same year.

On May 10, 2009, after experiencing a brief illness, Vimla passed away. View her profile: A Great Woman from the Punjab.

Though expected, death is always unexpected in the moment of its appearance. On May 9, this comment was posted by Chitra, Vimla’s Grand Niece, on the above page:
Vimla Dang is Kashmiri, married to a Punjabi :) I’m proud to say she’s my grand aunt.’
In response, i had requested more information and photos.

The next day, yesterday, Amarjit Chandan forwarded an email message from Sukhdev saying ‘Vimla Dang is no more‘, and a few hours later, sent this photo titled ‘last Rites’.
.Vimla Dang. Last Rites

It is hard sometimes to feel gratified with the fulfillment of some requests. However, I was prompted again this morning with another comment ‘Vimla Dang passed away yesterday‘ from Bharat Bhushan.

Vimla Dang! What an inspiring life!
Thank you.

CPI leader Vimla Dang dead
She fought for downtrodden till her last breath

The Tribune Chandigarh May 10 2009


A pall of gloom descended on the industrial township of Chheharta, near Amritsar, when veteran CPI leader and former MLA Vimla Dang died at a private hospital here this morning after a brief illness. She was wife of Satya Pal Dang, also a veteran CPI leader.

Supporters and senior Communist and local leaders reached the house of the Dang couple to pay homage to the departed leader. She was cremated in the Naraingarh crematorium. The pyre was lit by Anil Dang, a nephew of Satya Pal Dang.

National general secretary, Communist Party of India (CPI), AB Bardhan, Joginder Dayal, national executive member, CPI, Bhupinder Sambhar, state secretary, Mangat Ram Pasla, state secretary, Marxist CP, Congress and BJP candidates for the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency Om Parkash Soni and Navjot Singh Sidhu, respectively, and other senior Communist leaders attended the cremation.

Awarded with Padma Shri in 1998 for her contribution to the social sphere, Vimla, along with her husband, had fought many relentless battles for the cause of the downtrodden. They took a principled stand against militancy in Punjab. She remained president of the Punjab Istri Sabha and took up the cause of women’s emancipation and 33 per cent reservation for women.

She belonged to a Kashmiri Pandit family and graduated from Kinnard College for Women, Lahore, before shifting to Mumbai after Partition. She got married to Satya Pal in 1952 in Mumbai after she returned from Prague, where she represented India in the International Union of Students.

After marriage, the couple shifted to Chheharta. They decided not to have a child as they did not want to divert their attention from people’s struggle.

Though the couple led “underground” life during the British rule and both were entitled to Freedom Fighters’ Pension, they never claimed the same till date.

The couple retired from the National Council of the CPI and decided not to contest the assembly elections with the plea that there must be an age limit for holding a political office.

The Tribune Chandigarh May 10 2009

Photo: Satya Pal Dang (centre), husband of Vimla, and other leaders pay last respects to her in Amritsar on Sunday. Photo by Vishal Kumar

Fauzia Rafique

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Most viewed Uddari posts 2008-2009

April 2008 – April 2009

In April 2008, Uddari Weblog was viewed over 600 times, by March 2009 the number had risen to 5000 views with the totals reaching 41000

Top Posts

Photo Album: Foto Mandli 2,361 views

Great Women of Punjabi Origin:
Punjab deyaN ManniaN PerwanniaN ZnaniaN

Punjabi Poems: NazmaN 1,758 views

Cultural Events: Rehtal Mehfli Varqa 1,670 views

Punjabi MaNboli Writers: Punjabi MaNboli Likhari 1,444 views

Punjabi MaNboli Publishers: Punjabi Maanboli Chhapay1,202 views

‘Sanjh’ A New Punjabi Literary Magazine 897 views

Slumbering Over Islamic Unity 887 views

All-Time Favorites
April 2008 – April 2009

Autobiography of the Great Dada Amir Haider Khan (1904-1986)

1. Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

2. Royalties for Punjabi Language Authors

Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A glass half full!

Amarjit Chandan’s Poem being Carved in Stone in Oxfordshire

3. Author Royalties Down to Definitions in the Punjab

Post Retirement Positions for Musharraf

Bhagat Singh Shaheed Statue

Kishwar Naheed to Ahmad Faraz

‘Identity Card’ by Mahmoud Darwish in Punjabi

Lost and (Not) Found: Teen Idol Afzal Sahir

Kikli 13 July

THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION: Looking at Hamerquist’s ‘Fascism and Anti-Fascism’ by J. Sakai

Yaar da Ditta Haar by Fauzia Rafiq

‘Porn Creation’ by Fauzia Rafiq

Most popular posts on Uddari pages

Sixty Years of Unflinching Beauty, 1948-2008

Kishwar Naheed: A Great Woman from the Punjab

Sophia Duleep Singh: A Great Punjabi Woman

Recent Raves
‘No Heer please, we’re Sikhs!’

Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-1

Fauzia Rafique

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Uddari is One

April 11, Uddari Weblog is one year new!

134 Posts


295 approved

First post
April 11, 2008

Photo by Partap Singh Ahdan, Lahore 1943

Photo by Partap Singh Ahdan, Lahore 1943

Aahu Chashm Ragini
Photo by
Partap Singh Ahdan
Sourced by
Amarjit Chandan

Post intended to be the first
Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

First Comment
‘It is so unfortunate that in the new provincial assembly there is no party/individual/group to voice the right of children to study in the mother tongue. maybe we need to start a signature campaign to promote the cause.’
Posted by
Home Uddari Mudhla Warqa
2008/04/07 at 9:19pm

First Uddari Page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin – Punjab Diyan Mannian Perwannian Zananian
Added on

Kewal Kaur, a Naxalite activist

Kewal Kaur, a Naxalite activist

First post
Kewal Kaur: A Great Punjabi Woman
Photo and information by
Amarjit Chandan

First Uddari blog site
Uddari Art

First work of art
Shahid Mirza’s ‘Kala MaiNdha Bhaes’

Modern Art by Punjabis
May 23 2008

Fauzia Rafique

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MukhtaraN Bibi: A (the) Great Punjabi Woman!


Yes, its hard for me to just say ‘A Great…’ for the likes of MukhtaraN Bibi aka MukhtaraN Mai, and its not just because she makes me unashamedly proud of being a woman, a Punjabi, a Pakistani, a South Asian, a human.

Her story is known to us but it is not certain if it has been told. We know that a woman was punished by a jirga for the actions of her younger brother, June 2002 in Meerwala. On the orders of the jirga, MukhtaraN Bibi was gang-raped by the men of the aggrieved (influential) family to avenge the sexual liasons of her (lower status) brother with one of ‘their’ women.

MukhtaraN Bibi would have taken the rap of justice however hard but not that forced play on the ugly set of a live porn show. As is usual in such cases, the set that was erected to mount that gang-rape was conceived, staged and protected by local male elders, politicians, and law enforcers. It was an ‘honour’ kill without the dead body.

In the pit of physical pain, shame and humiliation, MukhtaraN Bibi may have come to  know the meaning of many words but we are certain of one: ‘Ignorance’. (‘My slogan is to end oppression through education‘).

It is not unusual for women to receive punishment for the actions of their male family members in a country where ‘honour’ means ‘male revenge’ tied to property, and killing for it is an acceptable social practice. Even in that environment, the punishment given to MukhtaraN Bibi by that local court of ‘justice’ was unacceptable for the larger society. Yet this was not the most unusual thing about this case. The most unusual thing was what MukhtaraN Bibi did after the porn show was over. Instead of going insane with shame, despairing to the point of committing suicide or accepting the status of a whore in the area, MukhtaraN Bibi stood up, gathered support, fought the system-backed aggressors, and won!

Oh victimized she was and survive she did as she changed the meaning of both ‘Victim’ and ‘Survivor’!

Even when the real criminals have still not been punished, MukhtaraN Bibi is victorious at many different levels. She has reclaimed her honour in her area and beyond, opened schools in her community to fight ignorance with the money she had received for her strengths and leadership, has become a continual source of inspiration and strength for women, and is one of the major reasons for creating an atmosphere for the jirgas to be declared illegal in Pakistan.

Though jirgas still thrive and continue to generate an ‘official’ form of community violence against women and men of lower social groups, a strong blow to this entrenched system of religio-feudal oppression has been dealt by MukharaN Mai; and, here comes a Punjabi poem for her in roman:

Sohn MukhtaraN!
By Fauzia Rafiq

Terae pairaN haiThhaN jutti
jutti thallae nissaldi mitti
soohae rang vich ghol
mathae tae lawaN
Ek mitti Punjabi
utae tera parchhawaN
Inj laggae Bibo
ajjo dil.dlairee pawaN

Sources and Links to more information:
Chronology of Events
Mai’s Profile on Wikipedia
‘Whose Justice? MUKHTARAN MAI: Punishment of the innocent’: Amnesty International
Mai’s Blog: Poland Travelogue
Interview with Mukhtaran Mai
A film ‘Mukhtiar Mai: The Struggle for Justice’ by Journalist Beena Sarwar

Though women were being killed each day by jirgas to avenge male ‘honour’ and protect their properties prior to 2002, the demand to declare jirgas illegal had never gained centrality in the movements for protection of rights in Pakistan. Most women who get killed for male ‘honour’ belong to lower classes while the leadership of women’s and rights movements comes from middle and upper classes. MukhtaraN Bibi by taking a stand against the ‘ignorance’ of jirga-led perpetrators allowed rights activists around the world to support her case to the point where rights movements in Pakistan were enabled to put forward the demand to illegalize jirgas.

All through the years when MukhtaraN Bibi was fighting for her court case and against the value systems that have perpetuated such woman-abusing traditions, she never looked into the camera. It must have been hard to look at all that the world had come to represent to her.

Not here…

Or here…

mukhtar_mai_press1Or for the Press…

For Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year? Almost!


Leading protests… somewhat.

Now she may find that because of what she did and made other people do, the world has become better, and so, behold a glorious folk hero as she raises her eye at the world.

mukhtaranmai-smA folk hero raises her eye!

Fauzia Rafique

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Kishwar Naheed to Ahmad Faraz

Kishwar Naheed

An OPEN LETTER From Kishwar Naheed Looking back on a more than four-decade-old friendship with Ahmed Faraz, one of the best-known Urdu poets of Pakistan and of the sub-continent, now battling for his life in an American hospital.

24 Aug 08

Dear Faraz,
We met back in 1964, in the Peshawar office of Yousuf Lodhi (the great political cartoonist who died a few years ago). That night we talked about politics, literature and made small jokes about contemporary writers. That was the start of our friendship. You and my husband Yousuf Kamran grew closer. You were both too glamorous. I know the way girls used to write letters to the two of you. The phone was not common then. Yousuf was presenting PTV’s popular programmes such as “Sukhanwar” and “Dastan Go”. You were being introduced on TV as the Hero Poet. When a famous singer sang your ghazal “Yeh Alam Shouq Ka Dekha na Jai’, viewers still remember you looking like a shy adolescent, the singer with her ring-studded fingers, looking proud of her achievement. Yes, it was a small spark, which was quickly put to ashes by her mother.

Faraz, You were my colleague at the National Centre (a State-run cultural centre, now defunct). I was posted at Lahore and you at Peshawar. You opted for a transfer to Islamabad in 1974. Again, some love spark very intense, very absorbing. But despite being a majnoon, you were conscious that a writer has to be a person with status.

On one side, your popularity was speeding up after Dard Ashob, your second collection of poetry. On the other, you decided to build your own house. You were fortunate that poetry made you rich. As you often claimed, no other poet had been as lucky. You received the highest royalty ever paid to a poet for over 30 years. Your poems were bestsellers. You have roamed the world reciting your poetry, letting people from the crowd repeat lines. An old man enjoys your poetry in the same way as a teenaged girl or boy.

Sense of humour
Once, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, you and I were chief guests. After me, when you started reciting your poetry, the fiery Tahira Abdullah objected. We want poetry on women, she said. Abruptly, Faraz, you said “all my poetry is about women”. Your sense of humour is so remarkable that even eminent humorist Mushtaq Yousafi was impressed by your repartee and wit.

I can never forget 1977 for two reasons. One is the time you recited “Peshaawar Qatilo” (Professional Killers) at a function at Islamabad. Around 2.00 a.m., men in white clothes [I don’t know why they always come in white clothes] entered the house and threw you into an army jeep and drove off. After a few days we consulted with Abid Hasan Minto, the lawyer, and filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court, that for the last 15 days Faraz is missing.

Justice Zullah was in the chair; he ordered the army to produce Faraz in two days and asked me and Saif sahib to bring all the writers we could collect on that particular day. Nobody will believe, Faraz. Right from Qasmi Sahib, every writer of name was in the High Court that day. When I saw you, I screamed; so thin had you gone, so spoiled your complexion. You were brought in escorted by the army. The judge, judges could then still speak like that, asked you “why were you locked up, did you see some warrant?” When you said no, the judge, in a very angry voice, announced that Faraz may be freed immediately. The decision was presented before Gen. Ziaul Haq, who was army chief of Pakistan. It was June 27, 1977.

The General’s words
You remember, Faraz? The General spoke to you to convince you about how important it was to support Bhutto sahib. Less than two weeks later, the same General placed Pakistan under martial law on July 5, 1977. That is, of course, the other reason why 1977 is unforgettable.

Faraz, you told us that during your stay in Attock Fort, you were kept in a dark and dingy basement, where food was given to you in a thali, by a hand whose face you could not see.

During that crisis I talked to Begum Bhutto, as we came to know that your arrest had the approval of Bhutto sahib. She promised to talk to him. Next day when I again rang her, she too was angry; she said Bhutto sahib had said all of us were his supporters. So why had Faraz placed him in such a situation? All of us were perplexed, how to make Bhutto sahib agree to release you? With Masood Ashaar, I went to see Madame Noor Jehan, as she was your admirer. Also we knew that she was a close friend of the “Black Queen” (whose closeness to Bhutto sahib was known to every one). After a lot of discussion, Madame went to Karachi and persuaded Black Queen to request Bhutto sahib to order your release.

Faraz, In 1978, you were reciting your famous poem Muhasra at Karachi. Right there, in the middle of the night, you were made to get up and leave as you had been “exiled” from Karachi and Sindh with immediate effect. You were so dejected that you exiled yourself from the country, stayed with your brother for six years in London. When you returned from England and Fehmida Riaz came back from India, we celebrated with a function at Lahore. Again we were together, but the distribution of government jobs created a new horizon of relationships. You were appointed Chairman Academy of Letters, and Fehmida was made MD, National Book Foundation.

Remember you were earlier made Chairman of the same academy by its founder, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto? The urge for a job in the government remained in you until Pervez Musharraf got angry because you spoke against the Army and you and your luggage from the residence were thrown out like that of any low man. Despite protests by the press and writers, nothing happened.

Remember when we went together in the processions for restoration of judges 2007-08. Many junior but non-committed writers, following your instructions, joined the processions.

Faraz, You have had a tendency to create controversies about either yourself or about different issues. Remember you spoke against marriage and said this is also a sort of prostitution through a contract on paper. How many newspapers and fundamentalists spoke against you? Another controversy you started was about the Urdu language. You said Urdu is a dying language. The entire Muttahida Qaumi Movement (a party that represents Urdu speakers in Pakistan) and many writers got angry with you. You also spoke against the army but then changed your words saying “I am against the ruling junta, not against a sipahi”.

Internationally popular
You have been very popular internationally. You have hardly ever refused an invitation for a mushaira from anywhere in the world, but accept only on your own terms. You made writers conscious of getting royalty from the publishers; you made police crack down on illegal publishers. You made writers realize their self-respect. No one can accuse you of being a munafiq, a hypocrite. You have never been ashamed of your romances, never presented any excuse of your evening drink sessions.

Faraz, You have been the darling of singers, so much so that ghazals by others with the same name as you got popular. In all colleges, the girls who had never read poetry recited your couplets. Each one of them, even in Hijab, wanted your autographs. You, so conscious of your age, have never liked yourself to be called “Uncle”, especially by any women. You are Faraz Sahib for every one. But you did not object when my sons called you that. I, in turn, have been a darling aunty to your three sons and I have not seen any son so much fond of the father as your sons have been. But who is not fond of you and who will not remember you every evening with a glass in hand? Cheers my friend, your innings has never been without grace and glamour, and you are still our darling.

Love you,


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