Indian writers’ team arrive in Pakistan
LAHORE, Oct 17: Taran Cour Gujral was in tears on Friday when she landed on the soil that she had left in 1947. She was one of the 10 writers who arrived at Wagah for a week long visit to Pakistan during which they would participate in a three-day seminar on Pen and Peace in Islamabad from Sunday.
The first-ever delegation of Indian writers had seven women and three men. It was welcomed and garlanded by Pakistani writers on the border. The aging Taran is a Punjabi poet and a short story writer who also sings her poetry. She hails from the famous Gujral family and is related to former Indian prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral. The family had been living at Gujar Khan before it left for India 56 years ago.
The senior-most member of the delegation, Ajeet Cour, chairperson of the Academy of Art and Literature in New Delhi, was the focus of attention as she talked of peace, love and fraternity among the people who continued to suffer at the hands of the oppressors the world over. “We have come with high hopes, though we understand that our governments do not want peace and friendship with one another,” Ms Cour told reporters at the border check-post between India and Pakistan. She said the people and the writers of the two countries wanted to live like brothers and sisters despite all the odds.
The elderly Indian writer talked of the repression in Palestine, Bosnia, Iraq and some other parts of the world and said this was not a ‘clash of civilizations’ but a conflict between the civilized and uncivilized people (Tehzeebe and Betehzeebe). Cour said: “We know ours is a very feeble voice, we are weak and helpless; they (oppressors) are powerful and mighty, yet we have confidence and commitment to peace and love; what we are doing today may not bear fruit, but we are sure that our effort will secure the future of our coming generation, our children and their children. What we are doing today is our investment in the future and we have reasons to believe that tomorrow will be very bright; we will defeat the gods of despair.”
Also included in the Indian delegation is Dr Jagtar Singh, who has worked on Pakistani literature and offered this subject to his six students as thesis for doctorate. He has also translated in the Gurmukhi language many books of Urdu prose and poetry by leading Pakistani writers. He sounded more optimistic than others in the delegation because he believed that peace and love would ultimately prevail over repression, terrorism and hatred.
Another important member of the delegation is Dr Gopi Chand Narang who has written the scripts of Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata which became top Indian TV plays in the recent past. Chitra Mudgal and Dr Kanwal Kumar are other members of the Indian delegation. They are scheduled to visit the Government College to have a talk with its students on Saturday morning and attend a reception at a local hotel in the afternoon. They leave for Islamabad on Sunday morning and participate in the seminar, which will begin in the afternoon.
Those present on the Wagah border to receive the Indian delegation included Kishwar Naheed, Dr Mubashir Hasan, Munno Bhai, Intezar Husain, Javed Shaheen, Saleema Hashmi and Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan.