One of the most unforgettable catastrophes in India’s history was the Partition of Undivided India- which led to the formation of two classes- Muhajirs in Pakistan, that is, the Muslims who migrated from India and the Hindu/ Sikh refugees who migrated from the present day India. While Muhajirs came to be treated as second class citizens, Hindu/ Sikh refugees in India especially those who migrated from the Punjab province in Pakistan have flourished in India across all walks of life, especially in the film industry.
I, with my Punjabi refugee ancestry, can vouch for the benevolence of the Indian State in soothing our pain and grief during the Partition in terms of both material and emotional State support. Sampooran Singh Kalra, popularly known as Gulzar is also one of those refugees who came to India.
Gulzar’s life is one of the biggest examples of India’s assimilative culture and the ethos of helping those facing oppression and persecution to flourish substantially.
As such he understands the pain and grief of the Hindu/ Sikh refugees who migrated to India from Pakistan. In such circumstances, he should be the last person in India to criticise the CAA, even if in a veiled manner, as it has been enacted to benefit Gulzar’s brethren who got left behind in Pakistan owing to financial and mobility constraints.
It is however utterly shocking and unconscionable has taken an indirect jibe at the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), when he expressed concern over “new laws” at a function on Saturday. He was the chief guest at a literary awards ceremony which was held to honour writers Gyanranjan and Bhalchandra Nemade at YB Chavan Centre in Nariman Point.
Gulzar said, “Doston (friends), I was going to address you as ‘Mitron’ but I stopped. I was afraid when my friend Yeshwant (Vyas) arrived to meet me from Delhi. These days one is afraid of all Dilliwallahs. One never knows what new laws they may bring… Even today, even in these circumstances, if there is one voice that is pure, speaks clearly and speaks the truth, it is the writer’s voice. It is like a flag.”
Gulzar is one of several Hindu/ Sikh Partition refugees who made it big in Bollywood such as the Kapoors and Manoj Kumar, who migrated to India during the Partition and became iconic stars. Gulzar was fortunate enough to be able to migrate into India during the partition and then become one of the most celebrated lyricists in India. He should have celebrated the CAA as a move which will now help those who could not migrate into India during Partition and were thereafter treated as sub-humans in Pakistan.
Gulzar has gone ahead with trend of Bollywood artists fanning flames by surmising and rumouring dangerously about the CAA and the NRC, which is particularly appalling and unsettling. This ocassion warranted Gulzar to check his privilege and highlight how the CAA is a crucial legislation to finally do justice with those unfortunate beings who got left behind during the Partition- those who were not as lucky as Gulzar to be able to migrate into India. However, he has joined the herd of sheep in fanning flames of paranoia and rumours concerning the NRC and the CAA.