July 10, 2014 | By Ajmer Singh
S. Ajmer Singh is a renowned Sikh historian and author. He has penned three books on 1984 and it’s historical background. He is working on fourth book of this series. In his book “1984 – Unimagined Catastrophe” | unbelievable, unforgettable, unforgivable (in Punjabi) he presented a consolidated analysis of the events of June and November 1984. S. Ajmer Singh has analysed the “content and intent” of Punjab 1984 movie. His views are being shared as follows:
Before analyzing the movie, one question that really needs to be answered is, how ‘well thought’ was the name of the movie; ‘Punjab 1984’?
With all fairness to the hardworking team of this project, let’s safely presume that it was pretty well thought out. And, after that presumption, my immediate reaction is that the contents, the story line and the message of this film has no relevance to its title what so ever. It is, perhaps, manipulatively misleading.
The movie tries to portray the ‘Punjab Problem’ as a regional disturbance stemming from foreign infiltration, discreetly orchestrated by power driven corrupt politicians, executed by greedy and atrocious local police and manipulatively fuelled by social animosities, land disputes, family problems and petty issues of college youth. Finally, the movie leads to the conclusion that the explosively dangerous amalgamation of all the above mentioned factors spun way out of control in all fronts, leading to mass killings of innocents, execution of personal vendettas, disappearances of numerous innocent youth, torture of countless people, destruction of scores of families resulting in unbearable and incurable scars on the people affected by it; all happening on the pretext of the so called ‘Sikh movement of freedom’ on one side and the so called ‘efforts of the administration to restore law and order’ on the other. And, of course, the story line is built around emotional outbursts of a son after the killing of his father, the trauma of a mother running from pillar to post in the search of her missing son, the tragic ruin of young love and yearning of a son to return to his disillusioned, lonely, aging and fading mother. All this leaves the viewers crying with pain at many points, struck with haunting revelation of “wholly Mother God…is it this that really happened??”, and leaving with a fearful payer that “may this never happen in our land of Punjab again.”
In its justification, the most dangerous (and deceitful) argument that movie makers along with their supporters and admirers put forward is that everything shown in the movie is based on true facts and incidents that actually did happen in Punjab. Well, that is true! But the point is that all the facts shown in the film which are projected to present the ‘entirety’ of the movement, do they really present the complete story and that too, in a historically true and chronologically correct timeline? It should be remembered that Truth is only ‘The Truth’ if it is complete. Incomplete truth with missing patches of time and maliciously permuted presentation of facts can create a document which would be rendered as a grossly misleading historical blunder.
After showing one (just one!) scene from Operation Blue Star, the story line of the movie shifts to the time line of incidents that happened in the early 90s. It focuses on the mass level of atrocities that happened in those years in which all and sundry was targeted by the police and innocents were butchered. The real struggle for seeking justice for the Sikhs in India, which began as a peaceful movement after the historic Ardass done at the Akal Takht by the gallant warrior and Saint Soldier, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and which was turned violent by the unprecedented atrocities of the Indira Gandhi government and the Punjab Police, ultimately leading to the darkest chapter of modern Sikh History, Operation Blue Star, resulting in the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi, followed by the valiant armed guerrilla war in Punjab by inspired youth of the brave Sikh Nation to seek justice from the Indian State, had unfortunately, got derailed to the great extent by the beginning of the 90s. This downfall happened due to many factors, which demands comprehensive and deeper analysis. But infiltration of intelligence agencies on a large scale was one of the major factors which lead to large scale arrests and killings of Sikh revolutionaries, many of them highly committed and ideologically motivated. There is no doubt that some sections of the leadership of Sikh militant struggle did commit some strategic mistakes which facilitated the downfall of the movement. It provided the malicious Indian state good opportunity to mount full scale brutal attack on the movement. The era of the early 90s was the era where police committed inhumane torture and murders which were, mostly, but not solely, influenced by local vendettas, politicians, land feuds, local animosities and bounty killings. Police had been blessed with the complete freedom to do anything and everything. They were not accountable to anyone and after the elimination of prominent and valiant Sikh militant fighters, they feared no one.
It is mainly this phase that is shown in the movie. The core problem and the actual reason of Sikh militant struggle was the Genocide of the Sikh Nation, of its History and its Spiritual Zeal, which roots back to post 1947 history but practically started in the late 70s, had its prime in June 1984 and continued until the mid-90s. This was not even touched in the movie.
This movie was cleared uncut by the censor board and is being widely propagated by strange sections, unlike the two movies that came out in the recent past on the Punjab Movement, which were banned to begin with. Why so? Both the previous movies tried to present the portion of the history of this movement in a truthful perspective and were well accepted by the Sikh masses.
Whenever there runs a school of thought, which is propagated in the masses with popularity but does not fit well with the powerful opponents and cannot be challenged openly by them due to its historical and philosophical truthfulness, the only lame option left for the opposition, is to counter float a parallel yet subtly misleading school of thought in order to create confusion in the masses. This seems to be the motive behind this movie and it was so pathetically apparent. It’s not going to work though!
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Related Topics: Diljit Dosanjh, Punjab 1984 Movie, Punjabi Movies, Sikh Author and Political Analyst Bhai Ajmer Singh