A Study About The Role Of Media In Punjab:
A Nationalist Perspective Of Indian Mass Media
By Jaspal Singh Sidhu
29 January, 2014
As a natural corollary to the process of ‘transfer of power' initiated by the British before they left the Indian sub-continent in 1947, the Indian rulers continued to follow the existing policies towards newspapers circulated in both English and Indian languages. It was being pursued by the British and other advanced Western liberal capitalist democratic countries. Barnes (1940) examined in details about establishment of the press in India and revealed about the growth of Indian press as a parallel entity along with the British press. ( Deol) On the pattern of socialistic societies, particularly, the then Soviet Union, the Indian state, however, retained All India Radio, a country-wide communication net-work, later, to be added by Television, known as Doordarshan under the government control. Together, this entire communication and information dissemination network, known as mass media can be broadly categorized into two models of media organizations as described by Noam Chomsky (a leading philosopher, linguist and critic) as —(a) Corporate Oligopoly and (b) State-controlled. ‘ The third model of a democratic communication policy as advanced by the Brazilian bishops has largely been remained untried till today, just as a sociopolitical system with significant popular engagement remains a concern for the future. Further, elaborating this aspect, Chomsky says that ‘the first model reduces the democratic (people's) participation in media to zero just as other corporations are, in principle, exempted from popular control by workforce or community. In case of state-controlled media, “democratic participation might vary in line by the forces that have power to dominate the State, and by an apparatus of cultural managers who cannot remain far from bounds the forces are set”. In case of India, some media houses were owned by the business families before the entry of the corporate media in 1990s. Broadly, at the beginning of 21st century, the corporate media-- as a ‘natural system for capitalist democracy- limited and marginalized the scope and impact of the public radio and television'. With the coming up of advance digitalized communication technology, 21 st century avatar of Information Age, aptly described as ‘new media'- a replacement of the past media weaponry—has put an enormous capacity at the disposal of media establishments for ‘making the media a (potent) medium to shape the mind of the audience (public) and to maintain the hegemony of the ruling classes by providing ACCESS to primary definers of the crisis—‘legitimate spokespeople' such as the police, the courts and the politicians” (Stuart Hall- Cultural Studies and Policing the Crisis).
Newspapers and electronic media outlets, rightly categorized as “Newspaper and Entertainment Industry'' in India have been functioning, more explicitly, as the commercial enterprises since the liberalization of the economy. And, the State controlled AIR and Doordarshan , running in loss, have been getting allocation of funds from the Exchequer. But, with mounting of price-war in 1990s by Times of India on national dailies by reducing the rate of its daily paper to mere one-two rupee, thereby forcing others to follow suit. No doubt, slashing of price of a copy by dailies including those of language newspapers led to a spectacular rise in their circulation. Since newspapers are supplied at throw-away prices, they ceased to show much concern and accountability toward the subscribers/readers and got overwhelmingly attuned to requirements of the industry and business for advertisement support as their main source of revenue. Even the electronic media outlets vie one another for the TRP enhancement to fetch more advertisement revenue from the business houses. Broadly speaking, the media outlets got squarely tied up to the market ( bazaar ) for their sustenance. This has resulted in ‘a remarkable growth in advertising-related editorial features' and ‘rising convergence between editorial and advertisement content' which reflected “the increasing accommodation of newspapers to the selective needs of advertisers and the business community in general. This was also found in ‘news coverage and interpretation ”.( James Curran in The Essential Chomsky). Unbound by any sort of ethics or norms, the media establishments have gone in for crash commercialization which,ultimately, took diabolical proportions as ‘paid news' practice.
But in the Indian context, the advertisement support extended by the government, holding a large expanse of publicity material generated by the fast developing Indian economy, has never been less attractive for the media industry. Advertisement doles along with various kinds of other facilities, extended by the successive governments in shape of land, telecommunication and import subsidies always enticed and forced the mass media to become supportive of the official policies and politics of the ruling party of the day. Earlier, during the olden days of scarcity of newsprint in India, the granting of its official quota made the pliable newspaper managements to subscribe to policies and programs of the rulers and became tools for promoting their propaganda campaigns. Likewise, the media managements, being the part of the big business have no hesitation in aligning with the ruling elite comprising the political class and top bureaucracy.
Even otherwise, in theoretical terms, the capitalistic democracies based on the Western model have been projecting the media' (the Press) as ‘Fourth Estate' which is supposed to keep a ‘watchdog eye' on the functioning of three main organs (pillars) of the State governance - Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. Since the three pillars work within certain parameters, set by the State, the functioning of the Fourth Estate (not being a pillar of the State governance) also falls within that framework. And it is assigned to keep an eye on the performance of three pillars of State governance and is supposed to highlight (report) any deviation or violation in norms set for them. As in the case of India, if the three pillars are engaged in or oriented towards the nation-building, mandating the homogenizing of distinct identities by subsuming cultural plurality and diversity to the majority community's way of life within the State territory, the media have to submit to the State's ideology and invariably, succumb to the pressure of the forces that have power to dominate the State and have to follow bounds set by these forces for ‘cultural managers of the State apparatus.'
How the media fared in Punjab-- both located within and Delhi-based national outlets-- needs to be examined in context of the above given theoretical and applied premises. The Congress emerged as a sole party of the country, inheriting the ‘State power' from outgoing colonial power-- the British and succeeded in projecting the Muslim League and its leader Mohammad Jinnah as ‘culprit' of dividing the united Indian sub-continent under the British administration by carving out a separate country of Pakistan for Muslims. The Indian newspapers (the media) also began toeing the political line of the rulers. The then prime minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Home Minister Patel initiated the process of consolidation of the Indian sub-continent (Pakistan sliced away only 20-25 per cent of its territory) as an ‘Indian nation' by merging the 500 odd princely states and the areas inhibited by population vividly distinct in historical, cultural and religious terms into that of the majority Hindu community of the country. The ‘nation-building' project of Nehru and Patel further firmed up the nationalistic perspective of the ruling Congress to be followed and internalized by the media too. And, the big business and industry, which the media houses have been part of, always hankered for a wider united market of Indian expanse for their free and unhindered operation. Hence, since the dawn of Independence, the media, virtually joined hands with the ruling elite at New Delhi and at other power centers of the country in implementing a New Delhi's mandate of centralized polity , oriented towards the consolidation of a nation on the pattern of late 19th century Western nation model .
In early 1950s, there began re-demarcation of erstwhile provinces, created by the colonial rulers from administrative point of view, on basis of language and cultural contiguity. But, this process initiated by the regional political pressure was first resisted and then reluctantly conceded by the recalcitrant New Delhi-based central authority. But, the country's peripheral areas including Punjab were finding difficult to get adjusted to the centralized politics of the ruling Congress. And, the Sikh minority, suffered heavily in the Partition of Punjab in terms of life and property (10% of Sikh population got killed in Pakistan areas- Ajit Singh Sarhadi ) had been nursing a deep anguish and feelings were ruffled over what was then expressed by the Sikh leaders as “getting politically robbed and receiving a bad deal' in new political dispensation in free India. “That the Sikhs did implicitly believe in the legitimacy of their claim to a special status in independent India, howsoever repugnant to the spirit of democracy it would appear to others, is clear from the refusal of the two Sikh members of the Indian constituent assembly to affix their signatures to the final document stating that the Sikhs do not accept this constitution. The Sikhs rejected this Constitutional Act, can be seen as a gesture which dissociated the community from the future constitution of the country” (Identity and Survival, the Sikh Militancy in India---- Kirpal Dillon , former DGP, Punjab). During the freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress had verbally assured the Sikhs of granting them in free India “an area where they could feel the glow of freedom”. The Sikhs and their leadership, highly perturbed over human and property losses, later, came to confront a political scenario which was openly hostile to their aspirations. The ruling Congress, which have jumped onto the bandwagon of creating a ‘strong Indian nation' explicitly spurned the Sikh claim to ‘a special status' thus ending short and fragile bonhomie between the Sikh leadership ( Akali Dal ) and the Congress in 1949.
Caught in peculiar and unexpected adverse political situation, the Sikh leadership began pulsating for carving out a Sikh majority Punjabi suba (province), a separate Punjabi language based entity out of Punjab, then a Hindu majority state. The Akali Dal 's demand for Punjabi suba was projected by the ruling Congress as ‘separatism and threat to unity of India'. As Punjab is bordering Pakistan perceived as inimical to India, the Congress charge found a ready reception among the majority of Indians. And, it became handy for the Indian elite and media to sow seeds of suspicion against the Sikhs in mind of the countrymen. Besides that, the State- controlled media and public relation network, and the newspapers also took up anti- Akali Dal stance in reporting its struggle for the Punjab suba .
The English language press, though influenced by the Western liberal discourses, initially served as a vehicle for propagating the policies of the colonial authorities, later, began subscribing to political ideology of the rulers of nascent Indian State after independence. And, the newspapers interpreted the Sikh community's tardy political adjustment as a ‘Sikh problem' for Indian nation instead of suggesting some measures for the Sikhs' accommodation. In this respect, what an acclaimed journalist/editor Prem Bhatia wrote in the Statesman on 5 January, 1949 is the ample testimony to the anti-Sikh mindset of the Indian rulers and that of mainstream media, reminiscent of what views they held against the Muslims only two years before:
“ Akalis repeatedly claim that they are the real representatives of the Panth (the Sikh community) and true Sikh do not stand outside the party's fold. Congress leaders have not forgotten that a somewhat similar argument used to be advanced by the Muslim League in India before Partition. ….Objection is also taken to the Akalis demand for reservation for the community in the legislatures and appointments in government services. This again is reminiscent of recent history .Concessions on such lines would be dangerous precedent as other minorities may also tempt to press their claims………. Hindus (Punjabi Hindus) are unwilling to support the Akali move for a linguistic state as …. The Hindus are guided by two considerations --- (one) new State would injure their (Punjabi Hindus) cultural interests by subordinating Hindi to Punjabi. Secondly, many (Punjabi Hindus) fear, though without much reason, the possibility of Sikh ‘oppression' in a territory where this community (Sikhs) would have an increased voice in administration……… Having vacillated between demands for a “Sikh Homeland” and a Punjabi state, the Sikhs have undoubtedly been guilty of arousing suspicion of communal separatism…………. The solution to the Sikh problem (lies) that a many moderate Sikhs, advocate an ‘elder brotherly' attitude by the Congress towards the Sikh community…….. Even if this approach does not result in liquidation of separatist feelings among the Sikhs, it would help to promote understanding by assuring an essentially emotional (for) a proud people that they are not regarded in New Delhi as a backward race beyond redemption.”
This sums up the whole gamut of the Central government's approach towards the Sikhs and its projection and propagation through newspapers. But the rendering the government policy assumed an extreme stance in the vernacular press of being a ‘crusader, offensive and palpably communal'. The vernacular press was then mainly in Hindi and Urdu. The official language of Punjab was Urdu just after the Partition.
Such perceptions, however, had a historical background. In the middle of 19th century when united Punjab, known to be lying between Indus river in West and Yamuna river in the East, came under the control of the British after the fall of Sovereign Sikh State ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh , Urdu replaced Persian as the official language of the province. But, the Maharaja took some steps to develop Punjabi language in Gurumukhi script by getting some literary classics translated into Punjabi. “Punjabi women who could write at that time, including Muslims, evidently wrote in the Gurumukhi character. Women education in Punjab, a contemporary historian point out, owed a great deal to the Gurumukhi script. Apparently, the process began in the Ranjit Singh's time. While the Tribune and some other papers endorsed the call from Punjab university Chancellor P.C Chatterji, supported by governor, Louis Dane, was successfully vilified, in Paisa Akhbar ( A Muslim family owned newspaper) and elsewhere as a Hindu stratagem to bludgeon Urdu …the paper( pleaded) that Hindu had spurned Urdu in UP…. After cementing Hindu nationality (basing on Hindi language and Hindu culture), they (Hindus) are proceeding towards ‘injuring the nationality of the Muslim community”. (Rajmohan Gandhi) However, there were no Punjabi newspapers in Gurumukhi script worth noticing till Independence even as “the vernacular press born in Punjab partly in response to the religious reform movements of the 1880s among the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. Because of three separate religious revival movements, the press in Punjab remained multilingual. Of three major newspapers in Punjab, the English daily, the Tribune, is the oldest. The two vernacular newspaper groups, the Ajit and the Hind Samachar , first published in Urdu from Lahore before partition of India in 1947 and later shifted their base to Jallandhar where a Punjabi daily, Ajit started its publication in 1955. Hind Samachar group also having its base in Jallandhar first published its Hindi newspaper, Punjab Kesri , in 1965 and later its Punjabi newspaper, Jagbani , in 1978. The Tribune group also launched its Hindi and Punjabi publications in 1978. The Punjabi edition of these groups came into being after Punjabi became the official language of the newly carved out language state Punjabi suba in 1966 and Punjabi was made as the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. By the time, another well-known Punjabi newspaper, Akali Patrika was dying gradually because of its internal managerial squabbling. Thereafter, the circulation of newspapers rose sharply as the literacy rate of mere 27% in 1961 in Punjab (24% in All India) galloped to 60 % and then near universal by the turn of the 20th century.
The Tribune is oldest newspaper of Punjab, whose appearance was also “part of an all-India trend connected with the end in 1880 of Lord Lytton's viceregal term. Lytton had raised a storm then with his Vernacular Press Act, which authorized magistrates to confiscate the printing presses of any Indian language newspapers preaching disaffection. In response, some vernacular became English language ones and Madras saw the emergence of new daily “Hindu' and Lahore the Tribune”( Rajmohan Gandhi). The Tribune is being read by ‘the English-educated, affluent and largely professional section of the population, both Hindus and Sikhs'. It was launched by Jat Sikh aristocrat Sadar Dyal Singh Majithia, whose father was governor of hill territories in Maharaja Ranjit Singh's kingdom. Inheritor of wealthiest estates in the province, Dayal Singh came under influence of Bahmo Samaj , which emerged out of Bengali ‘ Bhadralok ' collaboration with the British rulers in 1870s. During the same period in Swami Dayanand hailing from Gujarat came down to Amritsar and then stayed for a long time in Lahore and founded a Hindu reformist movement there, known as Arya Samaj that preached monotheism based on Vedas and equality of women while opposing the idol worship. Arya Samaj attracted the educated Hindus and it also emerged as a platform for the anglicized Punjabi Hindu intelligentsia collaborating with the British. This bonhomie resulted in establishment as well as spread of ‘Dayanand Anglo-Vedic' (DAV) educational institutions in Punjab and other places.
Dayal Singh Majithia was also an anglicized Sikh with a great admiration for Western education system and he identified himself with Oriental construct of ‘Indian nation'. And, the Tribune was established to “campaign for liberal education system in Punjab with special emphasis on learning Western literature and science. The immediate reason behind the emergence of this paper was, however, to campaign against establishing a university in Lahore which was to give ‘predominant position to classical oriental languages, Persian, Sanskrit and Arabic with English relegating to the status of secondary language”. (Deol). As a part of its campaign, the Tribune published twenty selected works about education that strongly opposed the Orientalists, insisting on adoption of Indian vernaculars as a prominent alternative to English.
At the same time, the Tribune campaigned for a united India, countering the assertion of a section of the British officers like John Strachey “who espoused that there never been an Indian nation and people of different Indian regions do not feel that they belong to one nation”. (Ibid)
For advocacy of a united India, the Tribune editorial on 19 March, 1981 declared:
“We do not believe in the theory that India is an assemblage of countries and that her people are assemblage of countries and that her people are assemblage of nations. The vast continent from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, and from the Brahmaputra to the Indus, form one great country, and Bengalis , Punjabis and Marathas , the Rajputs of Mewar, the Nairs Travancore and the Gurkhas of Nepal, the Hindus , the Sikhs and the Mohammedans , all constitute members of one great nation, bound together by affinities of language and similarities of manner and customs, and by community of intellectual, social and political interest…..”
In earlier decades of its existence, the Tribune employed majority of Bengalis in the editorial section and the above given editorial represented the views of the then Bengali intelligentsia influenced by the utterances of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda , Bankimchandra Chatterjee and Aurbindo Ghosh and other educated Bengali elite who formed the core of ‘ Bhadralok ' of that period. Coincidently, Arya Samaj also held similar views and perceptions about the unity of India and Indian nation. Staunch Arya Samajist and Hindu Mahasabha leader Lala Lajpat Rai revealed this fact in his autobiography, ‘My Life Story” (page 99) that during Dayal Singh Majithia' s life, the Arya Samajist did not had any complaint against the Tribune since in the official circles the newspaper was considered as part of Arya Samaj movement. Till today, by and large Arya Samajists have been controlling the Tribune group's management. In those days, the Tribune ran a series of articles supporting the Arya Samaj's contention that the ‘Sikhs are part of the pan-Hindu society'. In those days, eminent Punjabi writer Bhai Vir Singh attempted to present a rebuttal to the Arya Samaj's contention in his magazine, published in Punjabi ( Gurumukhi script). Viewing against this background, Rajmohan Gandhi underlines that “many Muslims saw the Tribune as a Hindu organ, as did some Sikhs”.
Again, a deep historical analysis is required in order to trace the roots of these troubles in Punjab . With coming of Christian missionaries on Punjab's scene in 1870s, “ Muslims, Arya Samajists and the Sikh representatives strove to establish that theirs was the soundest faith to offer and the Raj took comfort that three Punjabi communities were not on a common platform. Thus, religious effervescence led to emergence of many new journals in English, Urdu and Punjabi. By 1905, the province had 263 of them—promoted the opposite of harmony. Punjab's press apparently contributed to the frequency of riots, stalking the urban areas. While no sparing the Tribune or Muslim-owned papers like Rafiq-i-Hind, Rehbar-i-Hind, Chaudwin Sadi and Paisa Akhbar, the study of communal riots, offers a good word for the Hindu-owned (and Urdu press) Akhbar-i-Aam which in 1888 admitted the press's role in publishing ‘ inflammatory material' and asked the Hindus to be reasonable in their anti-cow-slaughter campaign. The gulf between Hindu and Muslim elite continued in Punjab and heightened some time for (safeguarding) the ‘communal interests'. Urdu newspapers owned by Hindus (Hindustan, Punjabi, Jhang Sial and Akash) attacked and were attacked by, Muslim-owned papers like Watan and Paisa Akhbar . Hindus as a community were at times targeted and Muslims likewise”.(Rajmohan Gandhi). Unlike the urban area, rural Punjab was peaceful which seldom made news. And, the British developed the rural Punjab by promoting agriculture there. The British set up eight canal colonies in the western arid zone of the province with a view to harness the raw farm produce for export to their native country. The increased farm production also led to the emergence of an urban middle class comprising mainly the traditional Hindu merchant castes who, too, received a share of colonial appropriation of surplus from rural area. In villages, the cultivators were the Sikhs and Muslims whose remained producers of crops (raw material) for the market with low return. This can be traced from the following observation:
‘‘This (agriculture growth) led to expansion of an indigenous mercantile interests combining both Punjabi merchants and moneylenders located in cities and towns and (they) had assumed a new corporate identity. Punjabi high-caste families-mainly Khatri —also became Western educated professionals and civil servants lending force to the Arya Samaj movement” (Richard Fox 1984: 467)
The Arya Samaj 's insistence that the Sikhs are the part of the pan-Hindu society and launching of its campaign for bringing them back into the fold of Hinduism, evoked a strong reaction among the Sikhs and led to the rise of the ‘ Singh Sabha movement', a Sikh religious reform movement came up in 1870s . And, the Singh Sabha repudiated the claims of the Arya Samaj leaders and asserted a ‘separate Sikh identity' later to be interpreted as ‘ Sikh Qaum ' (nation) by the SGPC in 1978. The era of confrontation between Punjabi Hindus and the Sikhs, thus, began in the last quarter of 19th century with serious consequence extending to the post-colonial period. During chequered political developments, Punjab's urban Hindu politicians, disliked the Unionist leaders like Fazl-i-Hussain who stood for rural interests and often colluded with the Muslim League. And Hindu leaders even distanced from the Congress when Gandhi attempted to woo Fazal. In 1924, the antagonism accentuated prompting Lajpat Rai, by the time a member of the Central Assembly, to write a series of articles in the Tribune (November-December 1924) and argued that since Punjabi Muslims were unwilling to grant weightage to Hindus and Sikhs, Punjab should be partitioned into Muslim-majority and Hindu majority portions. (He proposed similar solution for Bengal) –Rajmohan Gandhi. So Lajpat Rai had pleaded for division of Punjab, two decades before Jinnah agreed to. Throughout this period, newspapers owned and run by three different religious entities served virtually as ‘mouthpieces' of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Even during the days of impending partition of Punjab entailing heightened communal passions “an ominous pen-dagger nexus threatened life on the streets. Even as the production and sale of knives, daggers, metal-tipped lathis, swords and acid went up, newspapers---Hindu, Muslim and Sikh- printed lurid accounts of the smallest incident. Bands of volunteers, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh emerged for ‘defence'.” (Rajmhoan Gandhi).
With the elimination of the Muslim factor after the creation of Pakistan in 1947 in Indian Punjab, the Punjabiat (Punjabiness) could not become a common emotional chord for the Hindus and the Sikhs. Even though, both communities had suffered together enormously and fought together against their common adversary- Muslims, the newspapers in Indian Punjab, mostly owned by the Hindu families, could not break away from their roots and past style of ‘crusading for communal interests'. Besides the Tribune group of newspapers coming under the sway of Arya Samajist s, the Hind Samachar group and Vir Partap (Pratap Group) newspapers- two vernacular media groups- were also having direct roots in the Arya Samaj movement. “The Punjabi press, Ajit , being sympathetic to the Sikhs, emphasized the existence of a composite Punjabi identity including both Hindus and Sikhs whereas the Punjabi Hindus repudiated this plank of ‘ Punjabiat '(Punjabinss). The vernacular press continues to play a critical role in reinforcing linguistic basis of religious identity in Punjab. Punjabi became associated with the Sikhs and Hindi with Hindus in Punjab.” ( Deol)
Thereafter, Akali agitation began demanding the creation of the Punjabi suba which was aggressively opposed by staunch Arya Samajist Lala Jagat Narain, owner-editor of the Hind Samachaar group of Newspapers and also in the capacity of a Punjab Congress leader he followed his party's strategic program of persuading and inducing the Punjabi Hindus to enlist their mother tongue as Hindi (not Punjabi) in the censuses of 1951 and 1961. “Interestingly, the proportion of Punjabi –speaking people in Punjab had been showing a decline since the Census of 1891, with Arya Samaj doggedly campaigning in favour of Hindi against Punjabi. So a large number of Punjabi Hindus were in any case recognizing Hindi as their first language. By recording Hindi as their mother tongue the Punjabi Hindus wanted to effectively counter and disprove that the Punjab was a unilingual state. The Arya Samaj 's contention of Hindi being the mother-tongue of Hindus , aimed at countering the Akali demand of Punjabi suba , was also picked up by the rightist Hindu party, Jan Sangh , later to be born as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also it launched a state-wide ‘Save-Hindi' agitation in undivided Punjab soon to be flopped.”( Dhillon)
During that period, besides the Hind Samachar group, another Jallandhar -based group bringing out Pratap and Vir Partap, Urdu and Hindi newspapers , owned by another Arya Samaj Punjabi family (known by names of Verindra and Yash) were also vocal opponents of Punjabi suba . Owners of these newspaper establishments were also the leaders of the Congress and actively followed the party's ‘Hinduist view of Indian nationhood” (Ibid). Although outwardly, the Congress party is still claiming to be a secular one and speaking for all Indians for its being ‘dominant party' of freedom movement, but under the pressure of central Hindi-speaking states it had deviated to ‘soft- Hindutva ' even during fag end of the Nehru regime. And, Nehru remained dead opponent of demand of Punjabi suba till his death and the demand was accepted by New Delhi only under compelling circumstances in 1966 when New Delhi needed the support of Akali Dal to mobilize the Sikh peasantry of Punjab bordering Pakistan for unquestioned backing of the Indian army during war between India and Pakistan in 1965.
With the Congress party ruling both in Punjab and at the Centre, pro-Congress Arya Samajist media, known as the Mahaasha press, became a ‘tool of official propaganda' against the Akali s and Sikhs all through the agitation for Punjabi suba , that lasted for 16 years. During that period, the Mahaasha press together “represented the urban Hindu community in Punjab”. Hindus in Punjab have historically supported more radical form of Hinduism. The Punjabi Hindus identified themselves with the Hindus outside Punjab and seek protection from the Central government.” ( Deol) . With this mind-set the presentation of news by the Mahaasha press was “slanted, biased and even concocted one meant to create wedge between Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs and to cement the Punjabi Hindus loyalty beyond Punjab with New Delhi and Central Hindi states rulers.” Revealing the news distortion and sensationalizing of the editorial content in these newspapers, eminent Punjabi writer Prem Parkash , who had worked in the Jallandhar -based Mahaasha press for more than two decades, writes in his autobiography – ‘ Meri Urdu Akhbaarnabisee ' ( My Stint in Urdu Journalism) as an insider that:
“70 per cent of news was far from the facts for their being subjected deliberate distortion, misrepresentation and slant”.
Divisive role of the then ruling Congress in favour of Punjabi Hindus is amply reflected in the observation of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made in her autobiography, ‘My Truth' (1981). “She went to express the Congress view that the formation of the Punjabi suba amounted to letting down the Punjabi Hindus, who had been voting for the Congress party all these years.”( Dhillon )
Interestingly, with Arya Samajists controlling the management of the Tribune, the newspaper has always been remained vociferous advocate of a united India and mainly subscribed to the ruling Congress ideology of creating a ‘strong Indian nation state'. Viewing against this background, it was natural for the newspaper to smell ‘separatism' in Akali Dal demand of Punjabi suba on the lines of the then ruling Congress . The paper's pro-New Delhi establishment line got further impetus with its editorial staff was, invariably, being headed by a non-Punjabi editor from Southern states in the first half of 20 th century, as against the previous practice of recruiting Bengali editors only. The English daily too resorted to news slanting and spreading of misinformation/ disinformation by giving more credence and undue display to official statements and Congress leaders speeches. But, going by liberalism, a hallmark of the English press, the Tribune was not as rabid propagandist against the Punjab suba and the Sikhs as was noticed in case of the Mahaasha press.
The Left-controlled Jallandhar -based newspapers in Punjabi, published in Gurumukhi script, Nawan Zamaanaa and Lok Lehar , later to be published as Des Sewak could never acquire a sizeable circulation and remained confined to the party cadres and sympathizers of CPI and CPI (M) in Punjab. They too reported the Punjabi Suba agitation from nationalistic angle and opposed the Akali Dal demand dubbing it as ‘Sikh communalism'. Notwithstanding the Left parties claims, their newspapers rarely adopted a ‘balanced approach' by vehemently opposing the Punjabi Hindus' crusade against their mother tongue, Punjabi language. Rather, they, in the first place, charged the Akali s with ‘a separatist agenda' on the similar fashion as was being done by the Congress and Arya Samaj . And their vociferous and unflinching campaign for ‘unity and integrity' of India rendered the Left's practical politics in Punjab almost similar and congruent to that the Congress and other Hindutva parties.
In the face of preponderant existence of the Tribune and the Mahaasha press, the Punjabi press in Gurumukhi script represented by Daily Ajit , Akali Patrika and short-lived Qaumi Dard et.al fades into insignificance if we view them in terms of circulation and advocacy for Punjabi suba and support of the Akali Dal / Sikh politics. Though Daily Ajit , known as the largest circulated newspaper, supported by Punjabi suba in lukewarm manner .And its long-time founder editor, Sadhu Singh ‘Hamdard' continued to suffer from his divided political loyalty , supporting the ruling Congress and Indira Gandhi particularly and at the same time pleading for ‘ Punjabiat ' (Punjabiness). Unlike the Mahaasha press, Ajit always pursued a ‘moderate line' and prepared itself to “cater needs of emerging affluent Punjab peasantry, partly as consequence of the Green Revolution which began in Punjab in 1970s. Growth of Gurumukhi script newspapers has implications for the Sikhs since Gurumukhi being script of their sacred literature. After creation of Punjabi suba , circulation of Ajit increased to 34,000 in 1967, crossing two lakh mark in 1979 to become highly circulated newspaper in Punjab today. ( Deol)
The Ajit (for that matter any Punjabi newspaper worth the name) never been an effective counterpoise to the Mahaasha press as being deliberately by projected by some vested interests to scotch the venomous and communal role of the latter. Unlike the Mahaasha press, a vocal supporter of the Hindu Rashtra , the Ajit never advocated the Sikh radicalism. Ajit has always played its moderate cards best explained in long-term proximity of its owner- editor-in-chief Barjinder Singh Hamdard with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his party. Spurning his past politics representing the Sikhs and their regional aspirations, Mr. Badal lapped up the Hindutva forces represented by the BJP for acquiring power in the state. An appeal made by Ajit on 15 April, 1983 to all sections of Punjabis involved in ‘ Dharamyudhmorcha ', the second phase of the Akali agitation began in 1982 on the Punjab demands, is characteristic of the newspaper's political and journalistic approach in Punjab. “Since the day the agitation was announced all opposition parties have condemned it. According to Mr. Badal, agitation does not concern a particular community but the demands are relevant to all communities….. Utmost caution must be exercised ( by the Akali s) in controlling the irresponsible elements and the Akali s should refrain from giving provocative speeches or statements which the rival press , the central government or opposition parties can take advantage of..Inclusion of Punjabi speaking areas, just share of river waters for Punjab, second language status to Punjabi in Haryana other adjoining states and a federal structure of Indian polity et al ( Punjab demands) besides them some demands (pertaining to the Sikhs) .”(Ibid)
In contrast to this soft approach of Ajit , “the Punjabi Hindu leadership based mostly in Jallandhar and controlling the Mahaasha press, continued to directly and indirectly oppose what they still considered the demands as “merely that of the Sikhs rather than belonging to the state as whole. Stimulated by such mindset, Virendra, a prominent Arya Samaj leader of Jallandhar and along with Lala Jagat Narain of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers, widely known for his anti-Sikh biases, wrote an article in the Indian Express affirming that the Punjabi Hindus had nothing to do with the river waters dispute. He and his colleagues did not realize the full impact (adverse) of Indira Gandhi award on river waters for Punjab's economy and agriculture. With bulk of Sikh population depending on agriculture, nothing could be more provocative to them than Verindra's article.” ( Dhillon)
Provocation of pro- Arya Samaj media leaders was not confined to the rejection of the demands raised by the Akali s, Lala Jagat Narain, who had begun publishing Punjabi newspaper Jagbani in the Gurumukhi script to rope in the Punjabi-knowing urban Hindu readership, went to the extent of meddling in the Sikh religious affairs penning down provocative editorials in his newspapers. During the clash between the Sikh and Nirankaris in Amrtisar in 1978, which is known to have been the root-cause of the Sikh clash with the Indian State resulting in the Indian Army attack on the Golden Temple and a decade-long bloodshed in Punjab thereafter, Lala was a star speaker at the Nirankari conference there on the Baisakhi day. Besides vociferously writing in support of the Nirankaris against the Sikhs, Lala became ‘defense witness' for Baba Gurbachan Singh, Chief of Nirankari Mission, accused in the killing of 16 Sikhs in the Sikh- Nirankari clash in Amritsar. The clash was blatantly misreported by the Hind Samachar group as Prem Prakash underlined this fact in his autobiography that the Hind Samachar gave a totally an opposite picture to what happened in the clash by reporting that '16 Nirankaris (instead of the Sikhs) were murdered'.
Again in early 1980s, Lala wrote long-winding editorial notes dubbing Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdial Singh Ajnoha and SGPC president Jathedar Gurcharn Singh Tohra as ‘traitors' ( gadaar ) of the Indian nation and the government should not allow them to leave the country for abroad and their passports should be impounded. Both Sikh religious leaders were invited by the Sikhs abroad in the US and Canada. And, Lala tried to impress upon the government that these Sikh leaders would make anti-India propaganda during their stay abroad. A general impression went around in those days in Punjab that these writings were behind the murder of Lala. On the 9 September 1981, Lala Jagat Narain was assassinated near Ludhiana and on 12 May 1984 his son, Ramesh Chander was murdered. So, a section of the Sikhs took to violence which spilled to gory bloodshed in Punjab. The repeated provocation in media by the Arya Samaj leaders made the Sikh leaders to pass comments ‘off and on' that “the Mahaasha press has been running anti-Sikh crusade thinly veiled as journalism and invariably painted the Sikh reaction as an ‘attack on freedom of the press”.
Describing the murder of Lala as “foul and senseless”, the Tribune in its edit on 11 September 1981 hailed him as “veteran journalist and eminent citizen of Punjab, the assassins have provided further evidence of a growing intolerance in this country of published comment which some people find unpalatable…. Lala Jagat Narain was known for his forthright opinions on certain issues, one of which was the anger to communal peace arising from political and religious extremism ….. The murder itself a warning to two principal communities in Punjab …. The government should ensure that its patience is not misunderstood to mean the lack of ability to put down crime…… (by those who are in) the mistaken belief of (doing) service to religion or political ideology.”
All the newspapers unequivocally condemned the murders of Lala and his son Ramesh and Punjab Kesari , a highest circulated Hindi newspaper of the Hind Samachar group “blamed the murder on those who oppose the newspapers approach to religious identity (Hindu identity). After that, the subterranean (hidden) antagonism of the Punjabi Hindus against the Sikhs came to the surface and got further pronounced. And, it was pointed out then that “they (Punjabi Hindus) have not shed their basic prejudices against the Sikhs and their institutions nor has shown any inclination to soften their resolute rejection of a shared language and heritage. Secure in belief that the majority status they enjoyed at the national level will always enable them to speak from a position of strength, the Punjabi Hindus are engaged in a resolute process of religious revivalism for past many years”. (Ibid ) With Indira Gandhi again coming at the centre-stage of power in 1980s, the Mahaasha press became more vocal against the ‘ Dharmyudh ', the second phase of Akali agitation after the Punjabi suba struggle. The Hind Samachar group newspapers gave out-of-proportion display to news and views of the Hindu Samitis which were financed and patronized by the rich Hindu business persons. In showering legitimacy and prestige on diverse Hindu organizations, the Tribune group of newspapers did not lag behind. “The parallel communalization of both Sikhs and Hindus in urban Punjab set off Hindu-Sikh clashes Ludhiana, Patiala and other urban area, thus, preparing grounds for the Army operation in the Golden Temple complex”. ( Ibid)
The pitch of violence was mounted in Punjab in 1983, thanks to a number of shady mysterious events enacted by the undercover agents in the run up to the Army action in Amritsar. These traumatic incidents included the killing of bus passengers at Dhilwan village in Kapurthala district and at Nauchhehra Pannua near Amritsar. But, Surya India, a English magazine published by Maneka Gandhi in its report under the title “Dead men tell no tales” in September 1984 issue quoting a highly placed intelligence sources underlined that “ the total Punjab drama , was scripted, enacted and closed by the intelligence agencies, under the directions of the ruling Congress (Indira) and that a special intelligence unit under the name of ‘Third Agency'.”( Ibid) The Surya India's report is debatable but the facts, revealed later on, firmly suggested that the Army action was more of Indira Gadnhi's political expediency than oft-repeated the Akali leaders' intransigence.
But it is a popular perception that “developments in Punjab must correspond to those of Indian establishment and all this was achieved through deft media management by political manipulators, available in plenty to the ruling party. Besides, projection of the Punjab problem as communal, the media, official and non-official, branded the Sikhs as “communal, terrorists, separatists and disintegrationist's et al as those who want the expulsion of the Hindus from Punjab and want India's dismemberment at the instance of its enemy Pakistan .”(Ibid ) The media acted as a willing tool in resorting to “foul image building and demonizing the Sikh community as a whole. These projections legitimized the excessive use of force and state repression to settle the problem in Punjab. The Hindu organizations- RSS, Hindu Suraksha Samiti and the BJP and other professedly secular national parties joined the Congress leaders in asking a determined action in Punjab”.
Such was a political consensus avidly demonstrated by editor of Times of India, Giri Lal Jain , known to be close to Rajiv Gandhi, in his venomous writing on 27 march, 1984, that:
“To be candid, I do not have much sympathy for the Akali agitation, which has gone on and on in the process acquired extremist, violent and openly communal overtones. I sincerely believe that the agitation is misconceived because Sikhs cannot, in my opinion, have any genuine grievances”.
And the Hindustan Times made more terse remarks a few days later on 4 April:
“Get the killers…. The extremists have taken over the bogus agitation …. It is imperative that forces of law and order make their presence felt ……. They ( Akali s) are deliberately making the whole thing communal just as Muslim League did in pre-partition India”. A delegation of Arya Samaj called on the Prime Minister on 30 May (1984) those days to suggest that either Punjab be put under the Army control or an emergency be declared there.
Against the above given background, the entire media with rare exceptions, hailed the ‘operation Blue Star' despite the fact that the armed forces used excessive force demolishing the Akal Takht to rubble and damaging the sanctum sanctorum of the Sikh faith and burning the Sikh Reference library housing rare Sikh manuscripts and edicts besides killings several hundreds of innocent pilgrims including women and children. Later, The Tribune editor V.N. Naryanan confessed in his book, ‘Tryst With Terror—Punjab's Turbulent Decade' that “ After the Tribune's approving nod for Operation Blue Star (a grievous error…) in June 1984 , resulted in a reader revolt of a magnitude never before experienced in its over 100-years' history”. The Tribune's circulation fell down sharply after the Prem Bhatia's editorial described Operation Blue Star as a ‘Clean Operation'. The Army authorities highly exaggerated the fortification within the Golden Temple by the militants and recovery of arms used by them to justify the excessive use of force and killings of innocents. By a tactical media management, the army authorities kept the local media persons, who had been covering every minute developments within the Sikh shrine for several months till the army action, were kept away and brought pliable journalists from Chandigarh and Delhi to so-called on-spot briefings in the Golden Temple after the Operation and made them (visiting journalists) vehicle of a orchestrated propaganda campaign valorizing the Indian army and ruling political establishment of the day.
Demonizing of the entire Sikh community continued thereafter too, thanks to the shrewd media-management by armed, political and civil authorities with supportive media outlets dominated by upper caste background journalists with nationalistic perspective. Because of these factors, instead of critically investigating ‘Operation Wood Rose' immediately following the ‘Operation Blue Star' launched to mop up from villages the suspect Sikh youths having ‘future potentiality' to militancy , the media also hailed it as another ‘success story'. The second Operation further shaken to the core the already emotionally and religiously disturbed Sikhs in rural society and the parents made their young boys leave their home fearing for their lives in the wake of wide-spread mid-night swoops by armed forces.
Exactly because of the building of such ‘demonic and seditious image' of the Sikhs by the media throughout the country , the ordinary and innocent Sikhs came under murderous attacks in everywhere after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in first week of November 1984 with New Delhi capital taking a lead in the mayhem. Thereafter, for several years to come, the media did not look critically to the New Delhi sponsored political moves in Punjab, slapping of black laws like TADA and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) there and conferring of absolute powers on police and paramilitary forces in name of curbing terrorist activities there.
Eminent writer Patwant Singh summed up the style of news reporting in national papers under the title, Journalism of a Third Kind' ( 15 December, 1986, the Forum Gazette, Delhi)'. “On random picking, take the Statesman, the Indian Express, and the Times of India of August 24, 1986. The first had a news item under the heading, ‘Terrorists kill one in Punjab' which ran all the way across three columns. The second featured the same news in two columns under the heading “ Terrorists gun down one in Punjab ”. The third also used two columns with heading “One shot dead in Punjab”…… The press, on other hand make it sure that the words ‘terrorist and Sikh are synonymous in public mind… so people are not very interested in knowing if the Sikhs killed in ‘encounter' are in fact terrorists.”
The Mahaasha press and the Left parties' newspapers particularly had been more crude than the English press in attributing every small-small crime to the “Sikh terrorists” and acted as a willing tool for raising ‘propaganda and disinformation (campaign) in news and (through) columns at the instance of the official and intelligence agencies which, invariably, carried the input like that of impending terrorist threat from across border, Pakistan. Newspapers and media outlets as a whole have been treating official version nearly a ‘Gospel Truth', particularly in the troubled areas like Punjab thereby building an hegemonic narrative of the New Delhi rulers. So, every stage-managed killing of the Sikh youth in Punjab turned out to be a ‘police encounter' in the media columns. And Police chief K.P.S Gill was, unquestioningly, hailed as ‘Super Cop' and a ‘national hero' by the awe-struck media and it conferred accolades on him for ‘eliminating terrorism' in Punjab unmindful of a large scale human rights violations the police resorted with blatant, degrading and inhuman use of covert agents as “ CAT” operations. The police disposed of bodies of hundreds of Sikh youths, killed cold-bloodedly after taking into custody, as ‘unclaimed bodies' in urban graves under the control of the Hindu organizations. Human Rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra who investigated the records of three urban grave yards at Amritsar and Patti in 1990s claimed that bodies of at least 25,000 Sikh youths were disposed of as “unclaimed ones' in Punjab by the police. And he himself met the same fate at hands of K.P.S Gill after the expose. Khalra was picked up by the police from his home at Amritsar in 1995, not to be heard about him later on. At initiative of some human rights from outside Punjab, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI inquiry into ‘Khalra disappearance and unclaimed bodies' episode. The CBI found the truth in the claims of Khalra and indentified more than 500 bodies completely and several hundreds partially which were disposed of as ‘unclaimed' ones. News of regarding such brutality rarely found space in the columns of national and regional English and vernacular press while valorizing of ‘Super Cop' got undue display. The above fact was ascertained when a group of Delhi-based intellectuals and politically enlightened people came down to participate in a seminar on “ Disappearance of the Sikh youth” organized by the ‘Punjab Initiative,' a human rights group at Jallandhar in 1998. The participants expressed their ignorance about ‘disappearance of youths' in Punjab and affirmed that they never heard about and read the news pertaining to the disposing of ‘unclaimed bodies' by police in any newspaper and media outlet in Delhi. The state controlled radio and Doordarshan are not supposed to broadcast such news.
The Indian public continued to be fed the news on supposedly raging ‘terrorist violence' which could safely be interpreted as ‘media design and manipulation' aimed at suppressing the police excesses and a large scale violation of human and civil rights of people in Punjab. This exercise was heralded by the news agencies – UNI and PTI which were feeding for several years an ‘evening report' to all newspapers carrying an assemblage, a tally of daily small crimes, under the heading of ‘Punjab Round-up'. This practice continued till early 1990s.
As part of media management, the Punjab government enticed and won over field journalists by extending them various facilities and monetary benefits including allotting of housing plots at highly subsidized rates in urban colonies. When the retaliatory gun of Sikh militants began booming around from 1985 onward, the owners and editors of the media establishments took official security cover which rendered their media outlets further cowed down and completely aligned to the government policies and programs. Then, they turned out chiseled tools for carrying official propaganda and disinformation campaigns. As the vicious cycle of ‘police repression versus militant gun' got accentuated in 1986-87, the militants also resorted to terror tactics forcing the media outlets to carrying their version too. But, most of the media managements chose to go in for a more strengthened official security umbrella. And, the Hind Samachar group went to the extent of virtually handing over the distribution of its newspapers to the security set-up of the state. Police parties were deployed at its newspaper distribution sites in Punjab. In the process, at the state- power centre , Chandigarh the media persons such a compromised lot that they came to be known as officially ‘more pampered ones' than their counterparts in any other part of the country in terms of enjoying official freebies of every kind. Ironically, the media persons themselves nurtured some sort of ‘arrogant notions' that they have been championing the cause of preserving the ‘unity and integrity' of Indian nation, presently under threat from ‘the Sikh separatists aided and abetted by neighboring enemy Pakistan'. The very name of Pakistan (for that matter Muslims) has been suffice to generate feeling of being ‘staunch Indians' among the majority of working journalists having upper caste Hindu social background and they would turn a blind eye to what security forces were doing in Punjab.
Of late, when the US army took along 600 media persons while attacking Iraq in 2002 and fed the global media outlets with the information orchestrated by the army generals from the battlefield, a new term for such media-management came into currency. The media persons reporting from the Iraq battle theatre were called as “embedded'' journalists. So, the media persons who covered Punjab developments could succinctly be described as ‘'embedded journalists'' and alignment of their media houses with New Delhi and Chandigarh establishments as an assorted engagement in ‘embedded journalism'. The New York Times whose reporter Judith Miller, the first to report(in fact, implant) that Saddam Husain was having ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction –WMD) later to be carried by all major media outlets in the world including Indian national newspapers, never bothered to report after the defeat and destruction of Iraq that no WMD were found from there. Similarly, the media in New Delhi and Chandigarh never bothered to analyze what harm they have done to the Punjab society and how they contributed to the vandalizing of the Sikh minority having made a proud contribution of the freedom struggle of the country. The press, invariably, projected the ‘victimhood' of the Hindus at the hands of ‘ aggressive Sikhs' in Punjab to justify the killings of innocent Sikhs during November 1984 anti-Sikh riots and trampling of their civil and human rights in Punjab later on.
Overwhelming impression gave by the media and which a majority of Indians carrying till today that the ‘Sikh separatism and militancy' was behind the entire bloodshed and the government, anyhow, succeeded in bringing peace to the troubled area and maintaining of the unity of the nation. The media unabashedly allowed itself to be used for building of a narrative for hegemony of Indian state and exonerating it of inhuman and foul politicking and blatant use of repressive measures. And, Noam Chomsky aptly describes such joint exercise of the state and ruling elite and the media as “manufacturing of consent and dissent”. Because of this maneuvering , Indian state still enjoys kudos for its ‘timely actions' in Punjab while those who got trampled under ‘heavy boots of security forces' still groaning with pain. And the victims of the State repression who got trapped in the wicked and opportunist politics, are still being painted at ‘aggressors, terrorists, anti-national and what so-not' deserving all that maltreatment at the hands of security forces while perpetrators are gloating in glory. Eminent human rights activist, late Ram Narayan Kumar who had “19 years of human rights involvement in Punjab” during 1980s and 90s searching for ‘what constituted the Sikh grievances?' and ‘why have the Indian institutions been so adamant in denying the benefits of rule of law to the victims of State violence?' came to the conclusion that the Punjab imbroglio reflecting “brutalities, tragedies, anger and despair” have least “possibilities of resolving within the paradigm of plural dialogue”. Conveying his anguish over this, Kumar quoted a stanza in Mahabharata, “To those who fall in war, victory or defeat makes no difference. All the good people—the courageous, the upright, the humble and the compassionate—die first. The unscrupulous survive. Victory becomes the defeat of the good”. And he further referred to Vasudeva's frank admission that ‘without my (Vasudeva) devious methods the Pandavas could not have acquired victory…”
“The candid confession of Vasudeva, as a technique of narrative, restored the defeated people a measure of self-respect. Such contrapuntal juxtaposition of victory and defeat are alien to the modern trends of hegemonic discourse of war' witnessed in the past when from Alexander to the British conquerors of Punjab praised, very liberally, the fighting abilities of vanquished adversaries. Before the advent of neo-imperialist ideologies, conquest and victory were regarded as matter of superior sources, military organization and ingenious leadership. These values of historical narratives are on wane . The methods of thought-control and manipulation of public opinion through MEDIA, which would have been inconceivable in earlier epochs, are now available to modern states …..Such capacities at the disposal of a Hindu majoritarian democracy have moulded identities, disseminated stereotypes and resulted in a global demonization and stigmatization of the Sikhs as people………”.
Deol Harnik –Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of Punjab (Routledge Studies in Modern History of Asia)
Earnest Gellner—Theory of Nationalism (1964)
Patwant Singh —Journalism of Third Kind (Seminar Magazine- December 1986)
Shashi Kumar--- Manufacturing Dissent- Frontline, 5 October, 2012
Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen-----An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions
Narayanan V.N--- Tryst with Terror—Punjab's Turbulent Decade
Sarhadi Ajit Singh---- Punjabi Suba Gatha (Punjabi)
Robert W. McChesney, John Bellamy Foster --Capitalism and Information Age (edited)
Anthony Dimaggio----When Media Goes On War (Hegemonic Discourses, Public Opinion and Limits of Dissent)
Dhillon Kirpal (Ex DGP, Punjab)-- Identity and Survival : Sikh Militancy in India (1978-1993)
Pritam Singh –The Role of Media and Class, Nation and Religion: Changing Nature of Akali Dal Politics in Punjab, India
Witness to History—A Collection of Editorial Writings of Prem Bhatia, a veteran journalist
Anthony Arnove ---Essentials of Chomsky (edited)
Prem Prakash – Meri Urdu Akhbaarnavisee ( My Stint in Urdu Journalism)
Kumar Ram Narayan—Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge and Truth (Shipra Publications, Delhi)
Gandhi Rajmohan—Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten
Jaspal Singh Sidhu retired as a special correspondent, with United News of India, New Delhi in 2000s. Since then, writing on media, politics and social issues. And can be accessed at email@example.com
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