Author Archives: sarojini52

Kashmir. Perpetually in the news, for the wrong reasons.

‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’. I have heard this line parroted by leaders of all political hues. It has always sounded like an arbitrary statement designed to rebuff Pakistan, and to reaffirm India’s military might over a coveted geographical area.
Recently I came across facts that have changed my perspective on Kashmir totally. Facts that have astounded me. But more than that baffled me, for they reveal glaring lacunae in the history we have been led to believe so far.
Understandable that the British established a syllabus for us that was designed to obliterate our glories and inculcate shame in us for all things Indian. But, 70 years past independence, we are guilty of still toeing their line. Why?????
The facts I speak of are proof that Kashmir is the fountainhead from which flows our culture, in fact everything that defines our identity as Indians.
Due to my education in an elite school, i had considered myself reasonably well  informed. Yet, i had no clue at all about the significance of Kashmir vis a vis Indian history and that it was home to Panini, whose Ashtadhyayi is considered the most scientific and flawless treatise on grammar in the world.
Patanjali, who gifted to humanity his Yog Sutra..
Sharangdev, considered the father of both Hindustani and Carnatic music.
Acharya Abhinav Gupt, one of the greatest scholars of all times, who wrote 46 literary classics, including the renowned Abhinav Bharti. His principles of ras are being taught in 80 universities around the world.
Kashmir was considered the abode of Saraswati, the highest seat of learning in India, and was also referred to as Sharda Peeth. So much so that when students graduated from Kashi, they took 4 symbolic steps towards Kashmir, denoting their aspiration for higher learning.
Almost the entire body of Sanskrit literature has its origins in Kashmir.
Rajtarangini, an authoritative historical tome on the royal lineage of Kashmir, written by Kalhana in the 12th century, outlines the greatness of King Lalitaditya, possibly the most powerful Indian Emperor of all times, whose kingdom in the 8th century extended from the Caspian Sea in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south, and included Assam in the east.
How many Indians have even heard his name???
How many of us know that Srinagar was established by Ashoka ?
That Mahayana Buddhism was spread across Mid Asia, China and Japan by Kashmiri monks?
Who are these educationists who are deliberately withholding such vital slices of history from our text books?
How will the present as well as future generations realize that Kashmir is the keystone of our heritage through millenia, finding mention even in our oldest scriptures?
It is not a piece of land. It is the abode of the soul of India.
“Kashmir is an integral part of India” now  has a new meaning for me. It is no longer a statement, but an impassioned avowal!
Source Correction :
The article was incorrectly attributed to Ira Pande through groups on Whatsapp ..
On another google group, it is attributed to a different writer, Amit .
However, we are retaining the post for the fresh perspective it gives on the issue.

Vanchinathan – Remembering the Great Hero on His 106th Death Anniversary

 Vanchinathan Iyer, popularly remembered as Vanchi, was a fearless freedom fighter, who participated in Bharat’s independence movement and gave up his life as a symbol of the uprising of Swatantra Bharat against the British and the atrocities committed by them in the name of governance. At the age of 25, he assassinated Robert Ashe and embraced brave death.

Hailing from Tamil Nadu, he was born to parents Raghupathy Iyer and Rukmani Ammal in Shenkottai (then part of the Travancore Kingdom) as Shankaran Iyer in the year 1886. He completed his schooling and higher education in Shenkottai .

Vanchi is notable as being one among the first and prominent Tamils who took part in the struggle for freedom and in some instances initiated the fight against the British Raj.

While working in Travancore, he came under the influence of many nationalists like V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Neelakanta Brahmachari, Subramaniya Siva and Subramaniya Bharathi. They were his mentors and together they belonged to the Bharatha Matha Assocation (1900).

Robert William Ashe was the collector and district magistrate of Tirunelvelli district in year 1911. He was engaged in activities that were largely favourable to the ruling British class , ignoring and ensuring that the interests of the locals are never addressed nor issues pertaining to them redressed. He is also accused of propagating missionary activities of forcible conversion. Ashe was also instrumental in working against V. O. Chidambaram Pillai’s shipping company (established as the first indigenous Bharatiya shipping company between Tuticorin and Colombo) which led to its liquidation, and later in Pillai’s arrest.

On 17th June 1911, the Maniyachi Mail left Tirunulvelli Junction for Maniyachi with Ashe and his wife Mary Lillian Patterson aboard. They were on their way to Kodaikanal with their four children. At 10:38 AM the train pulled in at Maniyachi. The Ceylon Boat Mail was due to arrive at 10:48 AM. As the Ashes sat facing each other in the first class carriage, waiting for the Boat Mail to arrive, a neatly dressed man with tufted hair boarded the carriage and pulled out a Belgian made Browning pistol and shot Ashe at point blank range in the chest. The bullet hit Ashe and he immediately collapsed. Vanchi ran along the platform and took cover. After some time he was found dead having pulled the trigger in his mouth. The pistol was found to be empty, indicating his intention to shoot only Ashe and himself and nobody else, not even Ashe’s wife.

A letter with the below words was recovered from his pocket,

The mlechas of England having captured our country, tread over the sanathana dharma of the Hindus and destroy them. Every Indian is trying to drive out the English and get swarajyam and restore sanathana dharma. Our Raman, Sivaji, Krishnan, Guru Govindan, Arjuna ruled our land protecting all dharmas and in this land they are making arrangements to crown George V, a mlecha, and one who eats the flesh of cows. Three thousand Madrasees have taken a vow to kill George V as soon as he lands in our country. In order to make others know our intention, I who am the least in the company, have done this deed this day. This is what everyone in Hindustan should consider it as his duty.    –

                                                                          sd/-, R. Vanchi Aiyar, Shencottah

 The letter clearly indicates the motive behind the assassination was the removal of English mlechas (who eat the flesh of cow) who were destroying Sanatana Dharma. This clearly goes parallel with the common statement, “Poisonous weeds have to be removed at the earliest or else they could prove to be fatal.”

This brave and selfless act of Vanchi acted as the much needed adrenaline rush for Bharat’s independence movement. The assassination and contents of the letter caused great apprehension and unrest.

Ashe was the first and only colonial British officer to be assassinated in Dakshin Bharat throughout the freedom movement. The British were left shocked and rattled by this incident.

The Maniyachi Railway station was later renamed as Vanchi Maniyachi station. But it is greatly sad and shameful that this is the best act of secular government of Bharat to recognize the brave act of Vanchi and that this is the highest honour given to his bravery. And it is immensely angering that even this little gesture has become a thorn in the flesh of Dravidians and evangelists. It is unfortunately being used as a catalyst by #BreakingIndia forces to fulfil their agenda by demoralizing and demeaning Bharat’s history and belittling the valour of our brave heroes.

One such dangerous trend started by them is to brand nationalists from upper castes as casteists forgetting their contributions and sacrifices – this can be equated to the insult of our army jawans fighting to safeguard our borders. Falsified stores are being spread to tarnish the image of these brave warriors. One such illogical story is currently being floated around by the Periyar followers of Tamil Nadu where Ashe is eulogized as the champion of downtrodden people.

According to this fantastic spin, Ashe apparently angered Vanchinathan by taking a poor woman in labour pains to hospital via driving through agraharam. Yes, agraharam, the area around the temple where Brahmins live. Since Vanchi supposedly had so much hatred towards the lower castes, this is the reason for him assassinating Ashe.

Now this story is not only ridiculous but also completely devoid of any sense and logic. Ashe was a tax collector for the district of Tirunelvelli in the Madras Presidency, which was under British rule. Shenkottai was in Travancore state (a sovereign state). It can be clearly seen that Ashe had no business whatsoever to be in Travancore. Even if for argument’s sake we accept this falsified theory, geographical location and the city’s plan do not support this theory. In Shenkottai, the agraharam was located in a remote area outside the town. Now why would Ashe drive a woman in labour pain through the remote agraharam outside the town to the hospital inside the town? This clearly shows the baseless allegations made by these sectarian groups to tarnish the image of our freedom fighters.

Are we going to stay silent and let these fringe groups hijack the achievements and sacrifices of our freedom fighters by sullying their names with ulterior motive to break Bharat on the lines of caste? If no, then it’s high time we started teaching our children the real history which has always been ignored in our school.

Note: This article first appeared at and is being republished here with the permission of the author


DNA study junks Aryan invasion theory 


Harappan site of Rakhigarhi: DNA study finds no Central Asian trace, junks Aryan invasion theory

The Aryan invasion theory holds forth that a set of migrants came from Central Asia armed with superior knowledge and arms and invaded the existing settlements to establish a more sophisticated civilisation in India and pushed the original inhabitants down south.

The much-awaited DNA study of the skeletal remains found at the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi, Haryana, shows no Central Asian trace, indicating the Aryan invasion theory was flawed and Vedic evolution was through indigenous people.

The lead researchers of this soon-to be published study — Vasant Shinde and Neeraj Rai — told ET that this establishes the knowledge ecosystem in the Vedic era was guided by “fully indigenous” people with limited “external contact”.

“The Rakhigarhi human DNA clearly shows a predominant local element — the mitochondrial DNA is very strong in it. There is some minor foreign element which shows some mixing up with a foreign population, but the DNA is clearly local,” Shinde told ET. He went on to add: “This indicates quite clearly, through archeological data, that the Vedic era that followed was a fully indigenous period with some external contact.”
According to Shinde’s findings, the manner of burial is quite similar to the early Vedic period, also known as the Rigvedic Era. The pottery, the brick type used for construction and the general ‘good health’ of the people ascertained through the skeletal remains in Rakhigarhi, he said, pointed to a well-developed knowledge system that evolved further into the Vedic era. The study has, in fact, noted that some burial rituals observed in the Rakhigarhi necropolis prevail even now in some communities, showing a remarkable continuity over thousands of years.

Shinde, who is the vice-chancellor of the Deccan College, Pune, was the lead archaeologist in the study while Rai, who is the head of the ancient DNA laboratory at Lucknow’s Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, did the DNA study.


According to Rai, the evidence points to a predominantly indigenous culture that voluntarily spread across other areas, not displaced or overrun by an Aryan invasion. “The condition of the human skeletons, the burial…all show absence of palaeo-pathology symptoms which could indicate ailments due to lack of medical care. The persons here were healthy; denture morphology showed teeth free of any infection; bones are healthy, as is the cranium,” Rai told ET.

He also discounted the notion of any violent conflict. “There are no cuts and marks which would be associated with a population subjected to warfare. All this indicates that the people were receiving well-developed healthcare and had full-fledged knowledge systems.” The excavations in Rigvedic phase, he said, corroborate this. “This points to greater continuity rather than to a new Aryan race descending and bringing superiorknowledge systems to the region,” Rai said.

The Rakhigarhi study, he said, while showing absence of any Central Asian/Steppe element in the genetic make-up of the Harappan people, does indicate minor traces of Iranian strains which may point to contact, not invasion.

The Aryan invasion theory holds forth that a set of migrants came from Central Asia armed with superior knowledge and arms and invaded the existing settlements to establish a more sophisticated civilisation in India and pushed the original inhabitants down south. Rakhigarhi is one of the biggest Harappan civilisation sites spread across 300 hectares in Hisar, Haryana. It’s estimated to be 6,000 years old and was part of the mature phase of the Harappan period.

Rai disclosed that 148 independent skeletal elements from Rakhigarhi were screened for the presence of DNA molecules at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. Of the 148 skeletal remains, only two samples yielded any relevant DNA material.

Meanwhile, hectic last-minute efforts are on to get additional genetic details of the DNA material. One of the DNA samples recently faced contamination in a Seoul laboratory and efforts are on to segregate it. Samples were sent to laboratories in Seoul and Harvard for establishing accuracy. The contamination, Rai said, is unlikely to have any major bearing on the study’s primary findings.


Read More on BBC and the Aryan Invasion Myth






How My Views on Sangh and Swayamsevaks Changed Overnight

Zafar Irshad, a Lucknow-based journalist narrates that how his views on Sangh and Swayamsevaks changed overnight

As a journalist, I’ve covered many events of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, I never knew about their ideology and activities much. After the visit of the former President Pranab Mukherjee, as we witness a media storm now, I find it surprising that people do not know about the social works and selfless service of the Sangh at all. I didn’t know about that as well. But, I am a witness to the same and the story must be told.

In those days, I was with a newspaper agency and was posted in Kanpur as their principal correspondent. On July 10, 2011, my phone rang and my editor informed me that a serious train accident has taken place at Malwa near Fatehpur. I called my sources, got confirmed and left for the ground to report the mishap.

What I Saw, Changed my Views Forever

When I reached the spot, I was taken aback by the horror of that accident. I was trying to calm me down before I start reporting, and then I saw something. Men dressed in white shirts and khaki shorts were volunteering in taking the corpses out of the train and then covering the dead bodies by a white sheet- the kafan. It took me a while to figure out that who these men were? I went ahead and inquired. They didn’t reply and continued with their work.

After a while, the same men started serving tea and biscuits to the passengers and the families of those who were killed and injured. The same was also offered to me. While busy in my reporting, I took a sip. Now, I was fixed! I so wanted to find out about these men who were endlessly serving without doing much talking.

I chased one of the volunteers. I asked him about his identity. With a very calm face, he turned towards me and said, “If you need more tea, please come near that peepal tree.” I didn’t need more tea. I needed to find out about these selfless volunteers. I went near the tree to find a kurta-pyjama clad old man who was giving directions to men and women under the tree. I asked him about the volunteers. He smiled, didn’t reply and got busy with his work.

I left without my answers and started reporting again. At dusk, the same old man appeared from somewhere and he handed a plastic bag to me. I asked him about its contents. He calmly replied, “It has some four chapattis and vegetables. You are reporting for a long time. Eat your food first.” This time I became adamant. I replied that until he doesn’t share his identity with me, I won’t eat the food. I introduced myself as Zafar Irshad. The man said they were Swayamsevaks of the Sangh (RSS). I was taken aback. I had never realised that those who are affiliated with Sangh can have such humanely faces as well. It was new for me!

I requested the elderly person to tell me more about their work so that their social service can become a part of my news story. He sternly said no. When I insisted he told me about their arrangements but on the condition that I won’t ever tell people about it. He informed me that women who were making tea and who cooked food are from their families only. And the kafan which was taken here for the dead bodies was contributed by a Swayamsevak who owns a cloth shop. He reminded me of the promise again that I must not report it, and he left.

After almost seven years, I remember that incident which showed the human and loving face of the Swayamsevaks, not as a report but as another human being. Yes! Selfless service is what the Swayamsevaks do.

Courtesy: Organiser

Telugu Translation

– జాఫర్ ఇర్షాద్

నేను జర్నలిస్ట్ గా అనేక ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ కార్యక్రమాలకు వెళ్ళాను, రిపోర్ట్ తయారు చేశాను. కానీ నాకు ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ అంటే ఏమిటో ఏమాత్రం తెలియదు. ఇటీవల మాజీ రాష్ట్రపతి ప్రణబ్ ముఖర్జీ ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ కార్యక్రమానికి హాజరుకావడంపై వచ్చిన విమర్శలు, వాదోపవాదాలు చూసి నాకు ఆశ్చర్యం కలిగింది. ఈ విమర్శలు చేసినవారెవరు ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ చేసిన, చేస్తున్న సేవా కార్యక్రమాలను ఎప్పుడు చూసినవారుకాదు, తెలుసుకున్నవారుకాదు. కానీ ఒక జర్నలిస్ట్ గా నేను వారి సేవాకార్యక్రమాలను దగ్గరగా చూశాను. అందుకే ఇప్పుడు వాటి గురించి కొద్దిగా చెప్పాలనుకుంటున్నాను. ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ ముస్లిములకు వ్యతిరేకమా, హిందువులకు అనుకూలమా అంటే నేను చెప్పలేనుకానీ అది మానవత్వానికి విరుద్ధంకాదని మాత్రం చెప్పగలను. నా 24 ఏళ్ల జర్నలిస్ట్ జీవితంలో అనేక సందర్భాల్లో ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ కార్యకర్తలు ఎలాంటి పేరు, గుర్తింపు కోరుకోకుండా ప్రజలకు సహాయపడ్డం చూశాను కానీ ఏ మత ఘర్షణలో, దొమ్మిలో పాల్గొన్నట్లు చూడలేదు. అలాగే ఇతర జర్నలిస్ట్ లు లేదా నాయకులు కూడా మత ఘర్షణల్లో వారి పాత్ర ఉందని చెప్పగలరని నేను అనుకోవడం లేదు. అయితే ఇక్కడ ఒక విషయం స్పష్టం చేయాలనుకుంటున్నాను. నాకు ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ తో గాని, బిజెపితోగాని ఎలాంటి సంబంధం లేదు.

అది 2011 జులై 10. నేను కాన్పూర్ లో ఒక న్యూస్ ఏజెన్సీ తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నాను. ఆదివారం కావడంతో కాస్త విశ్రాంతిగా ఉన్నాను. హఠాత్తుగా మా ఎడిటర్ నుంచి ఫోన్ వచ్చింది. ఫతేపూర్ దగ్గర మాల్వాలో రైలు ప్రమాదం జరిగిందని, వెంటనే వివరాలు సేకరించమని చెప్పారు. నేను వెంటనే రైల్వే అధికారులకు ఫోన్ చేసి విషయం అడిగాను. వాళ్ళు రైలుప్రమాదం జరిగిందని, అదికూడా పెద్ద ప్రమాదమేనని చెప్పారు. నేను వెంటనే ప్రమాద స్థలానికి బయలుదేరాను. గంట ప్రయాణం తరువాత ఘటన స్థలానికి చేరాను. మాల్వాకు 10-12 కి.మీ. దూరంలో ప్రమాదం జరిగింది. ప్రమాద స్థలానికి చుట్టుపక్కల ఎక్కడా జనవాసాలు లేవు. అక్కడికి చేరాలంటే దాదాపు 4కి.మీ లు పొలాల్లో నడిచి వెళ్ళాలి.

అక్కడికి చేరుకోగానే నేను పని ప్రారంభించాను. ప్రమాదం గురించి డిల్లీలోని మా ఎడిటర్ కు, న్యూస్ డెస్క్ కు సమాచారం అందించడం మొదలుపెట్టాను. పూర్తిగా దెబ్బతిన్న బోగీల నుంచి శవాలను బయటకు తీస్తున్నారు. గాయపడినవారిని ఆసుపత్రికి తరలిస్తున్నారు. దగ్గరవారిని కోల్పోయిన వారి ఏడ్పులు, గాయాల మూలంగా బాధితులు పెడుతున్న  పెడబొబ్బలు ఆ ప్రదేశాన్ని భయానకంగా మార్చాయి. శవాలను దగ్గర ఉన్న పొలాల్లోకి చేర్చారు. బాగా ఛిద్రమైన వాటితోపాటు ఇతర శవాలపై కొందరు తెల్లబట్ట కప్పుతూ కనిపించారు. వాళ్ళంతా ఖాకీ నిక్కర్లు వేసుకుని ఉన్నారు.

తమవారిని కోల్పోయి బాధలో ఉన్నవారు కూర్చున్న చోటికి వెళ్ళాను. వారిని ఆకలి, దప్పిక కూడా బాధిస్తోంది. అప్పుడే కొద్దిమంది అక్కడికి వచ్చి బాధితులకు టి, బిస్కట్ లు ఇవ్వడం చూశాను. నాతోపాటు మరో 24మంది జర్నలిస్ట్ లు అక్కడ ఉన్నారు. ఒక వ్యక్తి నాకు కప్పు టీ, రెండు బిస్కట్ లు తెచ్చి ఇచ్చాడు. ఆ నిర్మానుష్యమైన ప్రదేశంలో నాలుగు గంటలుగా పనిచేస్తున్న మాకు ఆ టీ అమృతప్రాయంగా అనిపించింది. అప్పుడే నాకు ఒక సందేహం వచ్చింది. ఇంత నిర్మానుష్య ప్రదేశంలో టీ, బిస్కట్ లు ఉచితంగా ఇస్తున్న వీళ్ళు ఎవరు? వీళ్ళు ప్రభుత్వోద్యోగులా? వెంటనే వాళ్ళలో ఒకరిని అడిగాను -`భాయిసాబ్ మీరు ఎందుకు ఇవి పంచుతున్నారు? ఎవరి తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నారు?’ అందుకు ఆ వ్యక్తి `మీకు మరికొంత టీ కావాలంటే ఆ చెట్టు దగ్గరకి రండి’ అన్నాడు. నా సందేహం తీర్చుకునేందుకు నేను అతను చెప్పినట్లే చెట్టు దగ్గరకి వెళ్ళాను. అక్కడకి వెళితే నాకు ఒక ఆశ్చర్యకరమైన దృశ్యం కనిపించింది. కొద్దిమంది మహిళలు అక్కడ కూర్చుని కూరగాయలు తరుగుతున్నారు. రొట్టెలకు పిండి తయారుచేస్తున్నారు. ఆ పక్కనే కట్టెల పొయ్యి మండుతోంది. దానిపై టీ మరుగుతోంది. అక్కడే కొన్ని వందల బిస్కట్ ప్యాకెట్ లు ఉన్నాయి.  మరోపక్క కొందరు బాధితులకు అందించడం కోసం మంచినీటిని కవర్ లలో నింపుతున్నారు.

కుర్తా, పైజమా వేసుకున్న ఒక వ్యక్తి పని త్వరగా చేయాలంటూ అందరికీ సూచనలు ఇస్తూ కనిపించాడు. నేను అతని దగ్గరకు వెళ్ళి `మీ పేరేమిటి’ అని అడిగాను. అతను నవ్వాడుగానీ సమాధానం చెప్పలేదు. నన్ను నేను పరిచయం చేసుకుని ఏ సంస్థ తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నారని అడిగాను. బాధితులకు అందిస్తున్న సేవ గురించి నేను రాస్తానని చెప్పాను. ఎప్పుడైతే నేను జర్నలిస్ట్ నని చెప్పానో వెంటనే అతను అక్కడ నుంచి వెళిపోయి బాధితులకు టీ అందించడంలో నిమగ్నమయ్యాడు. టీ అందిస్తూ అతను ఎవరిని నీ మతం ఏది? నీ కులం ఏది అని అడగలేదు. నేను కూడా చనిపోయినవారు ఎంతమంది, గాయపడినవారు ఎంతమంది అని తెలుసుకుని, సహాయ కార్యక్రమాల గురించి మా ఆఫీస్ కు సమాచారం అందించడంలో పడిపోయాను.

అది అర్ధరాత్రి సమయం. శవాలను బోగీల నుండి తీసే పని కొనసాగుతోంది. అప్పుడే మధ్యాహ్నం నేను కలిసిన వ్యక్తి నా దగ్గరకు వచ్చాడు. నాకు ఒక ప్లాస్టిక్ కవర్ ఇచ్చాడు. `ఇందులో నాలుగు రొట్టెలు, కొద్దిగా కూర ఉన్నాయి. మీరు మధ్యాహ్నం నుంచి పని చేస్తూ అలిసిపోయి ఉంటారు. ఆకలిగా ఉండిఉంటుంది. తినండి’’అన్నాడు. నాకు నిజంగానే బాగా ఆకలిగా ఉంది. అయినా మీ పేరు, మీరు ఏ సంస్థ తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నారో చెపితేనే ప్యాకెట్ తీసుకుంటానని షరతు పెట్టాను. అప్పుడు అతను తాము రాష్ట్రీయ స్వయంసేవక్ సంఘ్ కార్యకర్తలమని చెప్పాడు. రైలు ప్రమాద బాధితులకు సహాయం అందించడానికి వచ్చామని చెప్పాడు. వెంటనే నా జర్నలిస్ట్ బుర్రకు ఇది చాలా మంచి స్టోరీ అవుతుందనిపించింది. అతని పేరు చెప్పమని పదేపదే అడిగాను. అయినా అతను తన పేరు మాత్రం చెప్పలేదు. పైగా ఇది ఎక్కడ ప్రచురించనని నేను అంతకుముందే చేసిన వాగ్దానాన్ని గుర్తుచేశాడు. అప్పుడు రోజంతా అక్కడే ఉండి, అందరికీ టీ, టిఫిన్ తయారుచేసిన మహిళల గురించి అడిగాను. వాళ్ళంతా తమ కార్యకర్తల కుటుంబాల నుంచి వచ్చినవారు అని చెప్పాడు. శవాలపై కప్పిన తెల్ల బట్ట గురించి అడిగితే అది బట్టల దుకాణం ఉన్న స్వయంసేవకులు స్వచ్ఛందంగా ఇచ్చిన బట్ట అని చెప్పాడు. రొట్టెల పిండి, నూనె కిరాణా దుకాణం ఉన్న వాళ్ళు ఉచితంగా ఇచ్చారని చెప్పాడు. ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ హిందూ సంస్థ కదా, మీరు ఇతరులకు కూడా సహాయం అందిస్తున్నారేమిటని అడిగాను. అందుకు అతను `భాయిసాబ్, ఇక్కడ బాధితులందరికి మేము సహాయం అందిస్తున్నాము. సహాయం అందించడంలో కులం, మతం చూడకూడదని మా సంస్థ భావిస్తుంది’ అని సమాధానమిచ్చాడు. శవాలపై బట్ట కప్పుతున్నప్పుడు కూడా చనిపోయినవారి మతం ఏమిటో, కులం ఏమిటో తమకు తెలియదని, అది పట్టించుకోమని చెప్పాడతను. ఈ మాటలు చెప్పి ఆ నిజాయతీపరుడైన `భగవంతుని సేవకుడు’ తన పేరు చెప్పకుండానే అక్కడ నుంచి వెళ్లిపోయాడు. నేను ప్రమాద స్థలంలో 36 గంటలపాటు ఉన్నాను. అంతసేపూ వాళ్ళు బాధితులకు, జర్నలిస్ట్ లకు, డ్యూటీలో ఉన్న ప్రభుత్వాధికారులకు కావలసినవి అందిస్తూ కనిపించారు. ఆ మర్నాడు ప్రమాద వార్తను పత్రికలన్నింటిలో చూసిన నాకు బాధితులకు నిస్వార్ధంగా సేవ చేసిన ఆ కార్యకర్తల పేర్లు గానీ, ప్రస్తావన గానీ ఎక్కడ కనిపించలేదు.

(రచయిత లక్నోలో పిటిఐ వార్త సంస్థ సినియర్ కరెస్పాండంట్ గా పని చేసారు)

  • Translated by Sri Keshav Nath Khandavalli

War Veteran Lt.Gen Zorawar Chand Bakshi

Zoru bakshi

New Delhi: Lt Gen Zorawar Chand Bakshi popularly known as Zoru Bakshi, India’s most decorated General passed away in New Delhi last night. He was 97. He is survived by two daughters and a son.

Bakshi was battling a lung infection over the last two days and breathed his last on Thursday.

The General is credited with playing a key role in the historic capture of the strategic Haji Pir pass in the 1965 Indo-Pak war for which he was awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC). It is important to note that back then, there was no direct route to Haji Pir which stands at an altitude of 9000 feet, except over difficult mountain terrain. General Bakshi, who was then a Brigadier was entrusted the challenging task of capturing Basali, Kahuta and Haji Pir Pass to create an arterial network on the Uri-Poonch route.

One of the highlights of General Bakshi’s career which made him stand out as a front ranking officer with an aggressive approach in terms of strategy is the battle of Chicken’s Neck in the 1971 war which he commanded. What is known as the Chicken’s Neck is a dagger-shaped islet between the Chenab and a minor tributary called Chander Bagha which General Bakshi captured from enemy control in a high-risk operation. Incidentally, the name Chicken’s Neck was given by General Bakshi to what was referred to as the dagger by the Pakistanis. He is reported to have taken one look at the map of the area and remarked: “It’s a chicken’s neck and I’m going to wring it.” It was of strategic significance because it provided Pakistan immediate access to Akhnoor over the Chenab for it to launch operations on troops flanking the sector.


General Bakshi also headed a special United Nations Operation during the ‘Congo Crisis’ in the early 60s.

Bakshi has been decorated with Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), Vir Chakra, Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM). As far back as 1949, he was awarded the MacGregor Medal given to Indian Armed Forces Personnel for exceptional reconnaissance. In General Bakshi’s case, his legendary secret mission to Lhasa in 1949 disguised as a Buddhist monk earned him the prestigious medal. He was the first Indian recipient of the medal in the post-Independent era.

He was not just a highly decorated officer, but was known to be a master strategist with phenomenal tactical skills. He is renowned for his ability to lead his troops from the front and was always known to be ‘one of the boys’ when he was with his men which endeared him to them.

General Bakshi was born in 1921 in Gulyana village near Rawalpindi in Pakistan and was a true soldier’s son in that his father Bahadur Bakshi Lal Chand had served in the British Indian Army of the time and was a highly decorated officer too. He was awarded the Order of British India.

General Zoru Bakshi went to Gordon College in Rawalpindi from where he graduated in 1942. He was commissioned into the Baloch regiment the next year and in his first major mission against the Japanese in Burma in World War II, he fought valiantly to overcome a well-defended Japanese position. After Burma was liberated, he took part in the operations to free Malaysia from Japanese control which fast-tracked him up the ranks to a Major. He was transferred to the 5th Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army after Partition and as it turned out was caught in thick of action during the Indo-Pak War of 1947-48. His gallantry earned him the Vir Chakra in July 1948.

General Bakshi served the Army for 36 years and retired in 1979. He also served at the Army Headquarters holding the key position of Military Secretary.