IT SPELLS DOOM

Desecration ⁠— How we Treat The Dead?

Amandeep Sandhu

Amandeep Sandhu

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

There are many kinds of desecration: of symbols (Hitler using inverted Swastika), of Holy Books and places of worship (Partition of India and Pakistan, 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, sacrilege in Panjab 2015-2017), or words which are dishonoured  (a parent’s request, a lover’s vow and the like).

In my view the greatest desecration is when we do not honour the dead. That is because how we treat the dead displays our attitude to life.

Desecration AntigoneIn 441 BCE the Greek Sopholces wrote the play Antigone on precisely this theme.

Rebel Polynices dies in the Thebes civil war. King Creon orders his body will not be sanctified by holy rites and will lie unburied on the battlefield, prey for carrion animals and vultures. Polynices’ sister Antigone takes it upon herself to bury his body, grant it funeral honour.

In the 1990s, during my Masters, I read the play and had opportunity to participate in the staging of it. The experience came to bear on me when a quarter century after its militant guns fell silent, I went to look at Panjab.

I wanted to know if peace had returned. That is why my book PANJAB starts with the line: ‘If you want to understand Panjab, be ready to count its corpses.

One way of looking at Panjab today is as a graveyard full of carrion animals and vultures precisely because its dead have not been honoured.

punjab farmer

Whether they were those innocent pilgrims who died in Operation Blue Star – mass cremations by the Army and civic authorities, many of those who died in militant violence, many militants whose numbers were claimed by police but bodies were never returned to families, thousands of innocents who went through enforced disappearances and were killed in extra-judicial killings. Their bodies cremated with no rights.

Or after the militancy period, during supposed peace, thousands of farmers and labour whose suicides were not acknowledged, who never came up on state rolls, whose families still suffer. I saw this desecration in the eyes of widows, of old mothers and fathers.

Modi tweetThat is why I feel unless this desecration is not addressed, real peace can never come to the land. Such desecration has also happened in the North East, in Kashmir, in Bastar, recently in UP, in every place where rebels have not been acknowledged by the state.

Besides politicians and judiciary, the Army, the police, the civic authorities constitute the state.

When I asked many soldiers, policemen and women, government officers, what was their fascination for sarkari naukri, they said because the state provides a system to which we can belong. The state cares for them – whether through salaries, pensions, post retirement benefits, and also if they lay down their lives in the line of duty.

In fact, in most cases the allegiance is not to the state per se but to the warm network of which a recruit becomes a part, a sense of bonding, a sense of family.

Desecration Modi ChinaThis is precisely why when the PM said yesterday that China did not intrude into India’s borders, he did not tell us the location where the combat happened, and did not explain how our soldiers died brutally, he committed desecration. His hiding the truth is desecration.

He throws the brave soldiers out of the system of the state, the nation, their own network and sense of family. They are rendered expendables. They died, were not even martyred, for the cause of not the nation but to enable BJP win the Bihar elections, to save businesses which rely heavily on China for their survival.

This is how greed takes over morality. It spells doom.  After all, how we treat the dead displays our attitude to life and in this case nation.

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Amandeep Sandhu

Amandeep Sandhu

Amandeep Sandhu is the author of 'Panjab: Journeys Through fault Lines.'

Disclaimer : PunjabTodayTV.com and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors’ right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabTodayTV.com or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

Author Related Post
Related Post

Copyright © Punjab Today TV : All right Reserve 2016 - 2022