NOT FAIR ENOUGH
By Ranjit Butani
The sigh of relief was short lived. The controversy over the deletion of “Sindh” from the National Anthem had just been dealt with fittingly with the acknowledgement from the highest echelons of power of its absurdity; when out of the blue came another missive. Is there some kind of a conspiracy brewing against the Sindhi Community?
At a conference of Ministers of Tourism of various states held in Delhi recently the Hon’ble Minister of Tourism Renuka Chaudhry proposed that the name of ‘SINDHU DARSHAN UTSAV’ being held since 1999 on the banks of river Sindhu in Leh (Ladakh) be changed to ‘SINH UTSAV’.
According to the Hon’ble Minister the people of Ladakh believe that the river originates from the mouth of a lion (Sinh) in the remote hills of Tibet and the local residents, mostly Budhists, feel offended by events like Sindhu Darshan and resent it as a threat to their culture.
It was way back in 1997 when a Defence Committee expedition to Mansarovar Siachen Glacier realized that the mighty Indus river flowed in its pristine glory for about 600 km through the Leh Ladakh region. Deprived of any cultural monument to identify with after partition; it was a godsend opportunity for Sindhis to develop this as a pilgrimage centre. A Sadhu-Bela type of shrine was envisioned to be established here where Sindhis could come with their ‘Bahrana Sahib’ after the ‘Chaliha’ during July every year.
During the past 5 years 1999-2004 Sindhis from India and overseas have participated in the Sindhu Darshan Utsav. It has been established that the celebrations have been a source of inspiration for the Ladakhis enabling their integration with the rest of the Country.
Let it not be forgotten that the mighty Sindhu, on whose bank the Vedas originated is a source of inspiration not only to Sindhis but to the entire Indian Nation. The river Indus is known as Sindhu all over the World and not just in Pakistan. It is also borne by history that the Budhists ruled Sindh for 2 centuries before Raja Dahir and there is a sentimental bond and attachment between the Sindhis and Budhists and it is not possible for the Budhists to feel offended as claimed by the Hon’ble Minister.
“The songs of Rig Veda, composed from 4600 BCE echo and resound as they chant with ecstasy and delight in reverence and devotion of Sindhu River.”, says Mr. Bhagwan S. Gidwani, formerly India’s Director General of Civil Aviation and Additional Director General of Tourism. Further “for the Rig-Vedic Sages, the rivers par excellence were the Sindhu and Saraswati which are mentioned repeatedly, devotionally and glowingly in the Vedas. In fact no other river has been mentioned in Rig-Veda as often as Sindhu River itself.”
“Taking only this into account” Gidwani reiterates “how can anyone accept the assertion of the Tourism Minister that the local Budhist name of the River is Sinh and the river is known as Sindhu only in Pakistan.”
SURELY, Enough is Enough. Stop these Affronts.
Note: Reproduced below is the text of the letter to Hon’ble Minister of State Tourism (Independent Charge).
23rd April, 2005
Mrs. Renuka Chowdhury
Hon’ble Minister of State Tourism
76, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi – 110 003.
Dear Mrs. Renuka Chowdhari,
Sub.: Sindhis demand that Annual Sindhu Darshan Programme at Leh Ladakh get back its original name.
May I invite your kind attention to my letter on the subject matter. You are kindly aware that on April 18th over a thousand Sindhi volunteers led by Shri Ashok Anshwani, Shrikant Bhatia and Shri Jaikishan protested before the parliament and courted arrests on their opposing the changing of the name of the Annual Sindhu Darshan Programme at Leh Ladakh to “ Singhe Darshan”.
On 21st April Mr. Thupstan M.P. from Leh Ladakh said that it was not true that the change in the name of the programme was demanded by people of Leh Ladakh. He said people of Leh Ladakh in fact want Sindhis to come to Leh for Sindhu Darshan from all over the World.
He further said that people of Leh Ladakh were infact opposed to the change of the name of the Programme from its original name of “Sindhu Darshan”. Mr. Thupstan M.P. came along with me to meet Hon’ble Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad who is also M.P. of Rajya Sabha from J & K. Region to reiterate his full support for continuing with the name of” Sindhu Darshan” programme.
We are finally informed that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi had also not approved of this action and she had also expressed that the written request made by me to you to restore the original name “ Sindhu Darshan” to the Annual Programme of Tourism Ministry deserves to be expeditiously considered with due Priority.
May I request you to kindly help us and announce that the Programme would be known by its original name of Sindhu Darshan.
Suresh A. Keswani