Home > Bengal, British Raj, Democracy, Partition, Politics, Southasia > ‘Yeh woh sahar tou nahi’

‘Yeh woh sahar tou nahi’


Extracts from this wonderful, wonderful book that I’m currently reading (this is among the things that I love about my job here – free books!).

This is not that dawn‘ is an English translation of Yashpal’s ‘Jhoota Sach‘. I’d heard of the book before, but what I hadn’t known was that Yashpal was a comrade of Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad.

Now for the extracts (I’ll keep updating this post until I finish reading the book).

Puri had written twice in Pairokaar, ‘A storm of sectarian-inspired politics and of sectarian violence and hatred is gathering on the horizon. This storm will end civic peace and security. No one will remember these sermons for Hindu-Muslim unity when the storm breaks.’

And after the Railway workers began to join the protests:

Puri wrote in Pairokaar, ‘… The change in the mood of the processions will give some comfort to peace-loving citizens. We do not oppose a democratically constituted ministry or even a coalition of two political parties. Nonetheless, we want to warn the political parties involved in the movement that the demand for Pakistan is based on a sectarian division of the country. At the root of such a demand are religious intolerance, enmity, and hatred for other communities. Such tendencies will neither foster unity nor bode well for civic peace.’

Jaidev Puri is one of the central characters of the book, which, until where I’ve read, is set in pre-Partition Lahore. Jaidev is a young writer from a lower-middle class family whose talent is appreciated and sought but not paid for. Out of compulsion, he goes to an influential Congress man to seek a job. The politico sends Jaidev to the editor of Pairokaar who hires him as a sub-editor and later gets him to write editorials.

The two extracts above are from Puri’s editorials during the time when Khizr Hayat’s Union government in Punjab was in trouble, the demand for Pakistan had just reared its head and riots in Bengal had left a huge deficit of trust between Hindus and Muslims.

Gyadevi continued, ‘The Muslim League declared open war on 16 August in Bombay on Hindus. Those damned people say that they want Pakistan, want to carve half of Hindustan into Pakistan. Want Punjab to be a part of Pakistan. Will throw Hindus out of here.’

Basant kaur said, ‘Throw us out! Punjab is not their father’s property; it has always belonged to Hindus and Sikhs! The rotten Muslims ruled in Delhi, Agra and Lukhnow. Punjab was always ours.’ She was the wife of the postal clerk Birumal, and had studied up to the tenth grade.

And so began a series of events which culminated in what Faiz lamented as ‘Yeh woh sahar tou nahi‘ (This is not that dawn). Not only is this not that dawn, it is not dawn at all. The red in the sky is from random lights reflecting off pools of blood on the streets – and in hearts and minds.

[To be continued…]

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