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Avtar Singh Sandhu "Pash" (1950-1988)
Avtar Singh Sandhu "Pash" (1950-1988)
Pash (ਅਵਤਾਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਾਸ਼, sometimes spelled Paash) (September 9, 1950 – March 23, 1988) was the pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu, an Indian poet. His strongly left-wing views were reflected in his poetry.
He was born in Talwandi Salem, Jalandhar, Punjab, growing up in the midst of Naxalite a revolutionary movement waged in punjab against the landlords, industrialists, traders, etc. who control the means of production. He published his first book of revolutionary poems, Loh-Katha (Iron Tale) in 1970; his militant and provocative tone raised the ire of the establishment and a murder charge was hastily brought against him. He spent nearly two years in jail, before being finally acquitted.
On acquittal, he became involved in Punjab's maoist front, editing a literary magazine, Siarh (The Plow Line). He became a popular political figure on the left during this period, and was awarded a fellowship at the Punjabi Academy of Letters in 1985. He toured the United Kingdom and the United States the following year; while in the U.S., he became involved with the Anti-47 Front, opposing Sikh extremist violence.
Pash, who was in Punjab for a holiday from the U.S., was shot dead by a group of Khalistani terrorists.
- Loh-katha (Iron-Tale) (1970),
- Uddian Bazan Magar (Following The Flying Hawks) (1973),
- Saadey Samiyaan Vich (In Our Times) (1978), and
- Khilre Hoey Varkey (Scattered pages) (1989)
Khilre Hoey Varkey was posthumously published in 1989 after his death, followed by his journals and letters. A selection of his poems in Punjabi, Inkar, was published in Lahore in 1997. His poems have been translated in many languages including other Indian languages, Nepali and English.
Quotes about Pash
"The best known name in the Left and progressive movements in modern Punjabi literature, Pash followed an old Punjabi tradition of fighting against oppression and it was almost as if he were a reincarnation of one of the renowned Punjabi freedom fighters.""He took the banner of the Naxalite movement to actively participate in radical politics that landed him in jail for a couple of years on a trumped up murder charge, and finally got him brutally murdered in broad daylight at the age of 38."
"The intensity of his passion gave some of the best revolutionary poetry to modern Punjabi literature and an alternative to the romantic poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, whom he had admired as a teenager and then challenged by confronting him personally and in writing, creating a fascinating legend of the clash of two major schools of thoughts of Punjabi poetry.""Paash, a famous revolutionary cultural poet combated communal terrorism through the anti-47 Front. Paash fought till the last breadth against the terrorists, till he fell to their bullets in Jalandhar in 1988."
Samartha Vashishtha says in his essay "Politics in Poetry"--"I'd perhaps have accepted the logic put forward by the veteran writer without doubt, had I not spotted earlier a glaring paradox right in his camp. I translate below part of the prefatory note that Paash (1950-1989), one of the leading poets of the Jujharu (rebel) era of Punjabi poetry; and arguably one of the finest poets (pro-people, should I say?) of the 20th Century, wrote for his third book of poems Saade Samiyaan Vich (In Our Times), 1978: "Of those whose poetry has influenced me the most, Kamala Das is still alive. Kalidas left for heaven long back. As for now, I would like to thank Kamala Das. Neruda and Nazim belong to our own camp. So no need to thank them at all."
Sam Thompson said of the subject 'love this pash' and many academic figures such as Alan Harrigan, Niall Harrigan, Greg Calvin and Chris O'Kane.