(Revolutionary Naxalite poet of Punjab, Avtar Singh Sandhu ‘Pash’, was killed on 23 March 1988 by Khalistani terrorists. In tribute to his memory, here are some excerpts from his poems.)

From ‘Their Insecurity’ (Apni Asuraksha Se)

If ‘National Security’ means that a life without

conscience is the price for living,

And anything that is not a blind ‘yes’ to its dictates

is considered obscene,

And the mind learns to prostrate before adversity,

Then we are all endangered by ‘National Security’.

From ‘Most Dangerous of All’

Being looted of one’s labour is not the worst thing.

Nor is police torture.

Even betrayal out of greed

And arrest without warning

Are not the most terrible.

To be frightened into silence is bad

But not really dangerous.

To be drowned in the noise of corruption

Even when one knows one is right is no doubt bad.

Reading in the feeble light of a glow worm

Going through life with a frown are also no doubt bad.

But they are not the worst.

Most harmful to oneself is to reduce life to passivity

To lack intensity of desire

To bear everything

To become a creature of routine.

Most dangerous of all is the death of our dreams.

(All translations are from ‘Pash: Man and Poet’, by Tejwant Singh Gill, in Manushi. Manushi either adapted Gill’s original translations or re-translated the Pash poetry in this article from the original Punjabi. The article is here

Liberation Archive