What you refer to as 'hell', Mr Parrikar, was also Guru Nanak's birthplace

Harmeet Shah Singh
Harmeet Shah SinghAug 25, 2016 | 18:19

What you refer to as 'hell', Mr Parrikar, was also Guru Nanak's birthplace

The list of people born in what our defence minister Manohar Parrikar denounced as a "hell" is a bit too long.

Both my parents were born in Dera Ismail Khan in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). My next door neighbours had their origins in Multan.

Two houses further lives a family whose members of my age still speak Pothowari, a Punjabi dialect passed down to them from their father raised in Rawalpindi.


Right in the front is an entire lane of inhabitants who identify themselves as the "Attock Biradari".

This is just a microcosm of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who migrated to eastern Punjab after the bloody Partition of 1947.

Let's have a look at celebrities born in Parrikar's "hell" because celebrities catch instant attention instantly.

Manmohan Singh, LK Advani, Gulzar and Raj Kapoor (clockwise from top left) were some of the celebrities who had their roots to the place Parrikar termed as "hell". 

Two of the three biggest stars of Indian cinema of their times - Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand - also had their roots in that part of the world.

Kapoor, billed as the "showman" of Bollywood, was born in Peshawar and so was Kumar, formerly Mohammed Yusuf Khan - the "Tragedy King".

Legendary writer and poet Sampooran Singh Kalra, whom we better know as Gulzar, and Sunil Dutt came from Jhelum district, now in Pakistan.

Let's move on to other spheres of public life now.

Gah, a small village in Chakwal district of the Pakistani Punjab, is where the architect of India's economic reforms and the country's first non-Hindu prime minister, Manmohan Singh, was born.


The man who catapulted the BJP to national power on the back of the Ram temple movement, LK Advani, is a Sindhi.

"Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh's birthplace: Govindpura village in Pakistan.

One of India's best-known chroniclers of strife, Khuswant Singh, was born in a desert hamlet across the western border.

Forget the lesser mortals listed above for a moment.

With due respect, let me introduce our defence minister to Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvaṇḍī.

This township, near Lahore, is where Guru Nanak was born. Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvaṇḍī is what is now called Nankana Sahib.

In fact, the entire landscape of the Pakistani Punjab is dotted with Sikh shrines that stand as a testimony to the history of the faith.

Perhaps the defence minister had a select audience in his mind when he equated visits to Pakistan with trips to hell.

When I tried to find out what the hell a hell refers to literally, Britannica offered a curious insight.

"Hell, in many religious traditions, the abode, usually beneath the earth, of the unredeemed dead or the spirits of the damned," explains the encyclopaedia.

"In its archaic sense, the term hell refers to the underworld, a deep pit or distant land of shadows where the dead are gathered," it says.


Sigh! I have now no reason to be apologetic about my ancestral and cultural links to a geographical location just because our defence minister condemned it as the land of the damned. His is a blanket notion.

Last updated: August 26, 2016 | 14:02
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