On March 24, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly announced the imposition of a complete lockdown in the country to check the spread of pandemic Covid-19. The lockdown was so severe that normal life came to a standstill. There was curfew and movement of people had been halted.
The normal business activity was also closed. It was felt that the lockdown would be lifted after a few days but the Covid continued to spread and the people had to stay indoors for a very long time.
As the business activity came to a standstill, the migrant laborers from UP and Bihar, and other states were left at the mercy of God. They started moving to their native places on foot and through bicycles since no transport facility was available as even the railway operations were suspended.
The migration of the laborers to their home states reminded me of the migration of 1947 when the country witnessed partition at the time of independence. This was a very distressing scene. Since I had led a very active life as a journalist and felt concerned while sitting home idle.
Fortunately, I had started writing my second book on the developments in Punjab during the past few decades. I took it up earnestly and completed the same. The book is now with the printing press and it would be out in a period of three months.
But still, it was difficult to kill the time and instead of going into depression, I took to reading books on the latest political developments and spirituality. First of all, I completed the reading of the book ‘Walking with Nanak’ written by a Pakistani writer Haroon Khalid.
This book depicts the travels of Guru Nanak Dev within Pakistan and is a very thorough book. After this, I read the book written by Tavleen Singh a senior journalist titled ‘Modi Messiah’. Tavleen Singh has been a strong critic Gandhi family and a supporter of Modi. But in this book, she has hit at Modi and stated that Modi has developed ‘Messiah Syndrom’.
After this, I read the book written by Rajdeep Sardesai, another senior journalist- ‘Modi 2019’. In this book Sardesai has described the victory of the BJP in 2019 and the emergence of ‘Modi-Amit Shah’ duo as the new heroes of the country.
I also read a book titled ‘Saffron Colours from Vajpayee to Modi’ written by Saba Naqvi the former Political Editor of ‘Outlook’ magazine. In her book, Saba Naqvi has taken pride in getting the beat of covering the BJP being a Muslim. She was allotted this beat by her then Editor Vinod Mehta.
The other books which I have read include Absolute Khushwant by Khushwant Singh. GBS Sidhu a retired RAW agency officer has written a very sensational book entitled, ‘Conspiracy Khalistan’.
He has exposed the leadership of Giani Zail Singh and Sanjay Gandhi who brought Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale into limelight. He has served in Canada and when he was posted in Canada, there was no mention of Khalistan there. He heard the slogan of Khalistan only when he arrived in India.
Regarding the Ghadar Movement, the author of the book has hailed martyrs like Kartar Singh Sarabha, Lala Hardial and Vir-Savarkar who were very active in America and Canada. But the Punjabis in India betrayed these freedom fighters and Kartar Singh Sarabha was hanged by British in India at the age of 19 years. The author alleges that the Punjabis were working as informers of the British.
At present, I am reading a book titled, ‘The Anarchy’ written by William Dalrymple who took six years to write this book. He has exposed the corruption in Britain and the arrival of The East India Company in India.
I am now 80 and have completed six decades in journalism. I still continue to write articles on the political scene in Punjab which appear in English magazines and online newspapers. I hope to continue writing articles as long as my health permits. I am grateful to God almighty who has given me the strength to write and serve the people of my beloved Punjab.
KS Chawla is a senior journalist based at Ludhiana.
Can be reached at: [email protected]