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Baldev Singh Sadaknama Caught In Crosshairs On The Same Page As Gagg

August 7, 2017 | By

Chandigarh: After an SGPC official lodged a complaint against Punjabi poet Surjit Singh Gagg for hurting religious sentiments with his poem, Maite Nanak, Sahit Akademi Award winning novelist Baldev Singh Sadaknama is facing the heat over his recent novel on Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The raging debate can largely be classified between Leftist and Sikh activists, netizens, writers and commentators from Punjab as well as from the diaspora with a few writers’ organizations defending the novelist and his work from critics.

As reported by the media sources both the sides are trying digging up the past, lines between literature and political leanings have blurred, yet again. “Although I am not associated with any party but the debate has taken a Leftist versus Sikhs shape,” said Sadaknama, against who a few Sikh activists filed a police complaint in Jalandhar. Recently a complaint was submitted to Bathinda DC against Sadanknama’s critics.

While very few writers expressed support for Gagg, Sadaknama got comparatively wider support mainly from writers or netizens with Left leanings.

Ludhiana-based Punjabi Sahit Akademi issued a statement extending support to Sadaknama and even defended his novel. But this backfired as two former Akademi presidents, Central University, Bathinda chancellor Dr Sardara Singh Johl and Dr Surjit Patar came on record saying their consent was not taken before issuing the statement. Another former president and noted poet Gurbhajan Gill also said that he had not commented on the novel. Meanwhile, Patar called for a reasoned debate, media reports said.

Janmeja Johl, whose name was included in the statement, said his consent was not taken either. Akademi president Dr Sukhdev Singh Sirsa admitted their consent was not taken.

“The statement was issued as we have the tradition of mentioning names of all executive members and office-bearers but yes confirmation was not taken from individuals as we took their consent for granted,” he adds. “No one has any business abusing writers.”

Another writer, Jatinder Singh Aulakh came on record saying he never supported Sadaknama’s novel but a leftist story writer included his name in a statement issued in Sadaknama’s support.

Bathinda-based Sahit Sabhiachar Manch and a few other Leftist organisations submitted a memorandum to the Bathinda DC, seeking registration of a cyber-crime case against 11 persons who strongly criticised Sadaknama and his novel.

The memo alleged that they provoked others, who used abusive language for the writer. The so called Association for Democratic Rights which was the first one to defend Gagg is also among the complainants against Sikh netizens.


Leftist writers have been criticized for their knee-jerk reactions. “The leftist approach has been provocative in the past and in the present. I disagree with the use of abusive language but they need to be reasoned and honest in their approach. Isn’t it interesting that their stand suited the state in the past?” said Punjabi writer Rajwinder Singh Rahi, a leftist activist turned Sikh writer who has authored books on the Ghadar movement, Komagata Maru and one on Punjabi poet Pash. Despite his criticism of Leftist writers, Rahi said it is wrong to lodge a police case against Sadaknama.”Sikh scholars should debate Maharaja Ranjit Singh and other issues and this novel should also be critically examined but it’s wrong to lodge police complaints,” he adds.

Bathinda-based Gursewak Singh Chahal, who initiated the debate on Sadaknama’s novel and has also been named in the memo submitted to Bathinda DC as the one who started writing against the novel and the writer, feels Leftist writers are emulating the intolerance they condemn.”I pointed out flaws in Sadaknama’s novel and asked him to come out with supporting material as his work shows several prominent historical figures in bad light. It also shows prominent women indulging in infidelity, but he did not respond,” Chahal said. “Is it not ironic that those who defended Gagg now want to gag criticism by readers who questioned the writer,” he asked. Labeling dissenters Khalistanis, fanatics and communals is like BJP supporters terming dissenters anti-national, he said.

Note: Above news-story was originally published by the Times of India (ToI), under title: Another writer caught in spillover of Gagg row by I P Singh at source url It is reproduced as above for the information of readers of the Sikh Siyasat News.

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