LIVE FROM AMRITSAR – Day 1 on Punjab Bandh

rajoana2.jpgThe following are daily live reports we have been receiving from a friend in Amritsar. This came from yesterday (March 28, 2012) on the Day of the Bandh. So long as we hear from them, we’ll keep posting. We’re posting this exactly as they wrote it – spelling, capitalizations, and all.

Hi guys, a friend asked and I know a few others might be curious so here is what i’m seeing today. Sorry for being somewhat terse and possibly rambling, I’m kinda taking a break when i dont have time for it:

Outside my door is loud and rowdy as its a shutee for everyone and the kids are running around playing with the adults sitting and drinking cha…

Beyond my street, in Amritsar Khaas, its not nervous, its not calm either, but everything is shut down. it is quiet and more deserted than i’ve ever seen. Patiala is pretty much entirely shut down, Ludhiana is half open, half closed. Here, around Darbar Sahib, everything is closed and there is less sangat. It is definitely the quietest Amritsar i’ve ever seen.

Most ppl wandering around are ppl in orange paghs and dupattay, not to make it sound like there are mobs of them however, there are some groups, and many people going about as individuals in orange. the army has been making short marches around the city mainly to show that they are here and to give non-sympathizers a feeling of security. but there are also short marches of supporters.

It does not feel like any kind of revolution or w.e. the heck ppl are calling it on facebook and twitter. its mostly a political ploy, and the events that have occured up to Punjab Band in Siyasat and the folks leading these efforts make me want to throw up at their farce.

they won’t hang Rajoana. they’ll commute it to life and cut off our legs at the knees by doing so, and by ‘our’ i mean the panth and Rajoana’s qurbani that landed him in jail to begin with and his wish to kiss the noose and go out with a jakara.

i’m also sickened by how much of twitter and facebook doesn’t get the idea of “Shaheed” with their stupid petitions.

The most exciting thing that happened personally was an argument I and a friend got into with some bhaiyay at a juice stand. they didn’t know why ‘some guy was being hung’ and when we interjected with an explanation, we discovered two of them were patriots. at this point, the juice stand guy (who had an om tatoo on his hand and tikka on his forehead) told them to ‘dafaa ho’ and heartily declared that Rajoana was a Sher and they should have sharam before they speak without knowing what this man experienced first hand at hands of police and that he had more ijjat and drarirtaa than any of them would ever have combined.

Of course that anecdote is not to make sweeping generalizations about people with Om tatoos and forehead tikkas. Our kothi is bordered by two streets. One street is lined with Kesri Jhande. It’s a street of farmer/landowner Sikhs. The other side is all Hindu with 1 Sikh family who own one of the larger kapra stores in Amritsar. None have raised Jhande. I asked one of the sons of that 1 Sikh family why they were conspicuously quiet and they hinted that it wouldn’t look good/appropriate as their street was Hindu and so were many of their customers. Please note that I’m not making any kind of judgement on caste or religion, but rather making another observation of what I’ve seen/experienced.

I’ve spoken to some members of the police as well over past few days. CID (Punjab Intelligence) waleya’n te bha dee ban gayee hai (they’re srsly on edge, for those who dont understand my majha boli). there is definitely a sense of anticipation that something may happen. They have gotten orders to issue orders to disperse to any group that is too large or too loud or more than 5 ppl, or really any fucking excuse. Not surprising not only because its India and its Punjab Police, but also lets take a minute to consider recent developments. Some of you may not be aware but usually after the Punjab election, a new DGP (which is the highest Punjab police force office) is selected. The new Punjab DGP appointed by Badal is Sumedh Singh Saini, who was a Superintendent during the Decade of Disappearances and his name shows up in multiple Ensaaf interviews and affadavits as a tough cop who committed countless heinous crimes, for which he climbed police ranks, as did all cops who stand in high police positions today. Amritsar’s streets have about 3-4 times as many security forces roaming around… at checkpoints where i usually see 2-3 punjab police drinking cha on kurseeyan, there are now 12-15 Army + Punjab Police milling around and standing alert, and stopping larger vehicles.

I’m also seeing Singhs carrying rifles, which isn’t out of ordinary, but i’ve definitely seen more them and in groups.

Some buses are still traveling trans-city but not seeing much traffic beyond the Bus stand. Very very few autos and rickshaws compared to before. There are more rickshawalay and shopowners who are not in service, that I’ve politely inquired from over the past few days, in hiding because they fear possible mobs than those who are voluntarily participating in the Bandh. Of course, I have to note that many of the rickshawaley did not know who or why he was being hung.

I don’t want to give you the idea that Punjab cares en masse. No. In fact, and as expected, most people want to stay out of it. Politics is uncomfortable, and we’ll wait out the Bandhs and see what happens IS the general consensus.

Lastly, since about 10 days ago, Amritsar has also been PLASTERED with posters with Rajoana’s picture in a gathra and white kurta pajama standing confidentially frontal with his public letter (from right after his death warrant came out) in punjabi. Literally I can’t walk 10 feet in Amritsar Khaas without seeing several more posters. This is bold and very beautiful.

Rabh Rakha.


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2 Responses to “LIVE FROM AMRITSAR – Day 1 on Punjab Bandh”

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