Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chak 19 GD Haripur (Pakistan) -Fazilka Border Visit by Dr.K.K.Pujara

I was just 8 when in 1947 I with my parents had to leave our village Chak 19 GD Haripur in Okara, Pakistan. I lost everything including my friends and my colourful 'lattoos'. This resentment at being thrown out was suppressed because of struggles which like other refugees we had to undergo. Fortunately I was able to get good education. Sometimes I realize that my displacement was responsible for my increased awareness (among other factors) which made my higher education possible. Later in life, I had opportunities to interact with Pakistanis in various countries of the world and earlier resentment gave way to a desire to revisit my village or at least to know the present state of my village, my school and my house there. I knew the name of the village and that it was near Okara. I did not know how distant it was from Okara. I surfed the internet repeatedly and the only reference I could get was that it had a voter booth in its Govt primary School Chak 19 GD. No reference to Haripur. I was hooked on to get some picture of the village. I searched Haripur but the most known Haripur in Pakistan is elsewhere. Then it occurred to me that these chaks got established in the wake of irrigation canals in Okara. Then I searched irrigation canals in Okara. I was lucky. In the details of one of these channels there was a list of populated places in the vicinity. One of these places was Haripur. On clicking Haripur I could see Google satellite picture of the village. I could recognise the pond and the school and my house. What a great achievement and tribute to technology! I was greatly excited and a desire to talk to somebody in the village gripped me. I thought for many days to achieve this possible goal. I came across a website Yahoo Answers where you can ask questions and give answers. I asked appropriate questions and one Punjab da Jat gave me a mobile number where I could make enquiries. With great excitement I made a call and a kind old wise man answered. He told me about himself and that he was asked by a relation to answer my questions regarding my village. He was in an adjoining village. He invited me to go, stay with them. They would make me comfortable. Since then I have phoned him six times but my search to talk to a phone in my village could not be satisfied through this wise old man for whom I have developed great admiration. I have a great regard for school teachers. In villages they are the most informed people and ahead of other residents. I took a print of the satellite picture of the village and posted with it a letter to the Headmaster of the village. I did not know his name but after ten days a blank call was received. I immediately phoned him and we made a conversation very satisfying to me and I am sure to him. He verified that it was indeed the village I was looking for. He told me about himself, his family etc in the manner of a forthright Punjabi. I could hear children talking in the background and told him that I would call him in the evening. (The thought of sending toffees to these 170 children crossed my mind). This I did and he told me more about the village and about his brother who is to get married on Aug 24. Congratulations. Asaf Ali, BA, 30, Headmaster of my chak indeed impressed me. I told him that I am also a teacher and despatched to him by post a photo of the main building of IIT Delhi. He phoned to say he received it and said he liked it. A strong outcome of my quest for my village is the reinforcement of my belief that people on both sides of the line by Radcliff (May curse be on him!) are similar and everything should be done to satisfy their desire to enjoy their common cuture together. This belief of mine was further strengthened by my visit to the Fazilka border (recently on Aug 15) where people from the two sides of the border did their best to communicate in the no man land. As a modern unbiased man, I believe this communication can be further encouraged. At the border we must employ technology to enable people to communicate in dignity and enjoyment. Social interaction at the border can be televised live. In fact this offers a great opportunity waiting to be exploited by a dedicated channel. I mentioned this to the Indian DIG Border Security Force Sharma but then his chief concern is security. Others should come forward for other interests. He said this much and justifiably so. Both countries have made progress since independence. For many reasons India has advanced more in Technical Education. There is a talk of our setting up IIT like institutions in Middle East and Singapore. Why not in Pakistan? Advances in Technology are promoted by international interaction. India has gained by international interaction. And Pakistan also will. My old friend Dr. Bhupinder ex-Professor IIT Roorkee learns that Guru Nanak Trust in Pakistan (or such other organisation) is in a position to arrange land in Pakistan for an international university. India should help taking of course Pakistani sensitivities into account. People have talked of people to people interaction. All people are only grown (or overgrown) children. Asaf Ali Headmaster of my village in Pakistan would, I guess, like to interact with similar school here in Indian Panjab. Schools (and therefore children) in Indian Panjab and Pakistani Punjab must interact naturally. Then Radcliff (or whatever his name) would become irrelevant. Walls WILL come down. I would then be happier. I have talked above of my efforts to locate my village. I learnt from my further research that the kind person who referred me to the helpful mobile had in fact descended in some way from Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Maharaja had married into the family which organised and commanded Nakai Misl. They were Jat Sikhs one of whom somewhere along the line had converted to Islam (thanks to the charms of a Muslim beauty). This Nakai family gave a chief minister to Pakistani Punjab in relatively recent times. The Maharaja and the chief minister obviously had some common genes. Some present Nakais are members of National and Provincial Assemblies. The governing experience it seems lasts quite a while. Even a nonbloodline Gandhi would testify to that. A sojourn in areas near my chak (yes, MY chak) should delight any intelligent tourist. The spirit of Heer and Ranjha should be alive. A German NGO is exporting locally made beautiful dolls. And there is Harappa! You can get a taxi from Okara to Chak 19 in two hundred rupees. Take me with you. I promise you a plot eminently suited for a Bollywood thriller. The local Raberas and Pirs will provide inexpensive but genuine and credible character actors. Any one?

KK Pujara

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busy roads 'mean fewer friends'

People living on streets with a lot of traffic have 75% fewer friends than people in quieter areas according to research carried out in Bristol.

The University of the West of England (UWE) study claims people living on busy roads experience a "considerable deterioration of local social lives".

Researcher Joshua Hart investigated three streets with light, medium and heavy traffic.UWE is recommending more investment in public transport, walking and cycling.Mr Hart, who carried out the study as part of an MSc in transport planning, said: "Many residents revealed that they experience sleep disturbances, no longer spend time in the front of their homes, and curtail the independence of their children in response to motor traffic.

"This study shows that the deterioration of neighboring in this country may well be down to our own travel habits.

"We created this problem, and now we have a responsibility to solve it."

One of the interviewed residents, from Muller Road in north Bristol, said: "Traffic is like a mountain range, cutting you off."

A similar study was carried out in 1969 in San Francisco and reached similar conclusions, but UWE say this is first time such research has been carried out in Britain.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Fazilka that once sailed the seas

Aarish Chhabra

Chandigarh/Fazilka, September 12 Fazilka, the namesake of a small town in Punjab, was once a steamship that dumped Indian labourers at Fiji.

Not many, including the inhabitants of this sleepy little town tucked away in a corner of Punjab, will know that there was once a steamship that not only dumped Indian labourers at Fiji, the country they starting ruling half a century later, but the ship even carried the name of their town - Fazilka.

The story behind the name is a mystery, though. Henk Jungerius, a Holland-based ship enthusiast and historian, says the ship was named after a town in Sirsa district of northern India.

Adds Navdeep Asija, a researcher based in Chandigarh, “More information about how the name came about is not available, but the town of Fazilka did have a special place in the Britishers’ heart. This is because Fazilka was as far as they could go inside Punjab, before the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.”

In British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd, the practice of naming ships on places in India was common enought. Joseph Conrad, in his book, ‘Lord Jim’, refers to ‘The Patna’ and ‘The Rawalpindi’.

‘The Fazilka’ is listed in the book, ‘BI The British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd’ by W A Laxon and F W Perry. It is stated to be a 4,152-ton single-cylinder steamship, built by William Doxford and Sons in 1890. Fazilka made six trips to Fiji, carrying a total of 4,972 passengers.

There’s more. Fazilka SS (Steam Ship) has some terrific and terrifying tales associated with it. It was first used to carry troops from India to South Africa, during the Boer war. During a return trip from South Africa, a shaft of the ship broke between Mauritius and Colombo on February 6, 1900. After some excruciating days of hard labour, the Fazilka was able to make her way to Colombo at a reduced speed of 9 knots on March 3, a total of 48 days after the breakdown, with all hope of rescuing the ship long lost.John Macdonald, the third Engineer, received a gold watch and the sum of £30 for steering the ship safely - something that his grandson Ian Macdonald still proudly boasts of possessing.

After repairs, the Fazilka found itself ferrying soldiers to China for the Boxer Rebellion. It ran aground on the east coast of the Great Nicobar Island while sailing from Penang to Calcutta on October 31, 1919. No deaths were reported, though some peg the number of casualties at six.

“There were some odd tales about some of the crew involved in skullduggery and gold bullion too,” writes J B Hollingworth in his article ‘Sail, steam and seaplanes’ . Hollingworth’s grandfather Vivian Lockyer Wiles was in command of the ship at the time of its wreckage, and was rescued. Records of it being in Australian waters are found in the state records of New South Wales of the 1890s. “Even the Lutine Bell was rung when it was wrecked,” claims Ian Macdonald.

Whether this is true or not needs confirmation, but The Fazilka’s place in Indian history will forever be derived from Fazilka, a town more than the proverbial thousand miles away from shore


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Railyway Overbridge in Dispute

¥×Ú ©ÁæÜæ yØêÚô

ÚðÜßð ·ýæç⢻ ÂÚ çÙ×æü‡ææÏèÙ ¥ôßÚçÕýÁ çßßæÎô´ ·ð ƒæðÚð ×ð´ ¥æ »Øæ ãñÐ àæãÚ ·ð °· Ùæ»çÚ· ·ô âê¿Ùæ ¥çÏ·æÚ °vÅ ·ð ÌãÌ ¥æÏè-¥ÏêÚè ÁæÙ·æÚè ÎðÙð ÂÚ Øã ×æ×Üæ ¿¢Çè»É¸ çSÍÌ SÅðÅ §¢ÈæòÚ×ðàæÙ ·ç×àæÙ ·ð Âæâ Âã颿 »Øæ ãñ, Áãæ¢ §â·è âéÙßæ§ü 11 çâÌ¢ÕÚ ·ô ãô»èÐ ¥æà梷æ ãñ ç· çßßæΠܢÕæ ç¹¢¿æ Ìô ·ÚôǸô¢ LÂØð ·è Üæ»Ì âð ÌñØæÚ ãô Úãð ¥ôßÚçÕýÁ ·æ ×æ×Üæ ¹Åæ§ü ×ð´ ÂǸ â·Ìæ ãñÐ àæãÚ ·ð §¢ÁèçÙØÚ ÙßÎè ¥âèÁæ ·ð ×éÌæçÕ· ©‹ãô´Ùð ¿æÚ ¥vÌêÕÚ 2007 ·ô âê¿Ùæ ¥çÏ·æÚ °vÅ ·ð ÌãÌ çÈÚôÁÂéÚ çSÍÌ ÂèÇyËØêÇè ·æØæüÜØ âð ¥ôßÚçÕýÁ ·è Çþ槢» ÌÍæ ¥‹Ø ÁæÙ·æçÚØæ¢ ×梻è Íè, Üðç·Ù çßÖæ» Ùð Øã ÁæÙ·æçÚØæ¢ §â âæÜ ¿æÚ ¥»SÌ ·ô ÖðÁè ãñ´ ¥õÚ ßã Öè ¥æÏè-¥ÏêÚèÐ ÙßÎè ¥âèÁæ ·ð ×éÌæçÕ· 800 ×èÅÚ Ü¢Õæ ÕÙÙð ßæÜæ ¥ôßÚçÕýÁ ¢ÁæÕ ·ð ¥‹Ø ¥ôßÚçÕýÁô´ ·è ÌéÜÙæ ×ð´ ·æÈè Ü¢Õæ ÕÙæØæ Áæ Úãæ ãñÐ ¥ôßÚçÕýÁ âð »éÁÚÙð ßæÜð ßæãÙ ¥ÙæÁ ×¢Çè ·ð »ðÅ Ì· ·æ âÈÚ ÂêÚæ ·Ú·ð àæãÚ ×ð´ Âã颿ð´»ðÐ §ââð ÖÜð ãè â×Ø ·è Õ¿Ì ãô»è, Üðç·Ù ÅþñçÈ· ·è °· ¥õÚ â×SØæ ÂñÎæ ãô Áæ°»èÐ §ââð âǸ· ãæÎâô´ ÌÍæ ÂýÎêá‡æ ×ð´ ÕɸôÌÚè ãô»èÐ §â·ð ¥Üæßæ ßæãÙ ¿æÜ·ô´ ·ô ÅôÜ Åñvâ ×ð´ Â梿 LÂØð ¥çÌçÚvÌ ÎðÙð ãô´»ðÐ ¥ôßÚçÕýÁ çÙ×æü‡æ âð ×ÜôÅ ÚôÇ, ¥ÕôãÚ ÚôÇ ÌÍæ Õâ SÅñ´Ç ÚôÇ ·ð ·ÚèÕ 150 ·æÚôÕæÚè ÂýÖæçßÌ ãô´»ðÐ §Ù ·æÚôÕæçÚØô´ ·ð ÕæÚð ×ð´ çßÖæ» Ùð ·ô§ü ØôÁÙæ Ùãè´ ÌñØæÚ ·èÐ ¥æÏè-¥ÏêÚè ÁæÙ·æÚè ÎðÙð ·ð çÜ° ·ç×àæÙ Ùð çßÖæ» ·è ·¢SÅþvàæÙ çÇßèÁÙ ·ð °vâ§ü°Ù ·ô ¥ÂÙæ Âÿæ Ú¹Ùð ·ð çÜ° 17 çâÌ¢ÕÚ ·ô ¿¢Çè»É¸ ÕéÜæØæ ãñÐ