TNN | Jun 2, 2004, 02.56 AM IST
CHANDIGARH: He too is a Randhawa. Sans a turban. The long moustache compensates a bushy beard for this Randhawa. Sitting in the company of the rich and famous Sikhs of the city, some of them also sharing his last name, the question naturally comes to mind, "are there Randhawas in Pakistan?" "Why not?" pat comes a counter question from Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, member of Pakistan Constituent Assembly who participated in framing the first democratic constitution of Pakistan." The eldest son from the family embraced Sikh religion when it came into being, but the rest remained Muslims. "It is the same between Hindus and Sikhs," says one of the most respected authors from Pakistan. Apart from a strong wish to share "love and peace" with the neighbouring country,Randhawa shares a long association with the Sikh history.
Dating back to the times of founder of the Sikh religion Guru Nanak Dev. "When Baba Nanak visited Raiyza Khas, the village of my ancestors about 22 generations back, he offered them a land to settle down. Now this place is known as Kartarpur in Narowal district. This is the place where Guru Nanak settled finally, his grave, his smadhi everything is located on the same land. These things still exist at Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib on our ancestral land handed over by Babaji.
People know our family as Rakhon ke Randhawa. The sakhi of the Gurudwara have references to our family and ancestral place" recounts a proud Randhawa from across the border, in Chandigarh to attend the 10th World Punjabi Conference. "Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lived side by side, they never had any history of animosity before the partition. But, partition changed it all.
The myth of animosity had to break because families across the border shared the same lineage, despite difference of religion. Moreover whenever there is a war Punjabis of the same lineage die on the border," he says. He is not the lone Muslim with Sikh association in Pakistan, he claims. "All the Sikh shrines have been well kept in Pakistan. For Nankana Sahib Gurudwara (birth place of Guru Nanak Dev) 1,000 square yard of land was donated by a Muslim. The land of Gurudwaras rests with the Waqf property but the income is used by Sikh representatives," he informs. A lawyer by profession, Randhawa''s literary talents came to the fore under ten years of martial law imposition in Pakistan.
"I was banned from appearing in public, from radio, TV, from writing for newspapers. So I produced seven novels during my imprisonment. I am a lawyer so I know how to talk and what to talk. The secret behind the success of my books lies in the fact that governments are usually very foolish. They come to know about what you have written 5 to ten years later, by then the message is spread." The old man with a fiery spirit for change minces no words against dictatorship of any sort. "I don''t see any positive change coming to Pakistan. I can see only the hatred, the gap between haves and have nots increasing. Short of a revolution, Pakistan has no solution," says the veteran.