Avtar Singh Sandhu

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Avtar Singh Sandhu whose pen name was Pash or Paash (September 9, 1950 - March 23, 1988), was one of major poets of the so-called jujhar (naxalite militant) movement in the Punjabi literature of 1970s. His early, strongly left-wing views were reflected in his poetry.

He was born in Talwandi Salem, Jalandhar, Punjab, growing up in the struggle between the Naxalite movement and the working class, poverty-stricken Punjabs, during the so-called Jujharu (rebellious era). He published his first book of revolutionary poems, Loh-Katha (Iron Tale) in 1970; his militant and provocative tone raised the ire of the establishment. At the young age of 21, he was tried on a framed up charge of murder because of his active sympathies with the Maoists. He spent nearly two years in jail, before being finally acquitted.

On acquittal, he became involved in Punjab's Maoist front, editing a literary magazine, Siarh (The Plow Line). He became a popular political figure on the left during this period, and was awarded a one year fellowship at the Punjabi Academy of Letters in 1985. He toured the United Kingdom and the United States, working for awhile at a California gas station, the following year; while in the U.S., he authored a piece for the 'Anti-47 Front', opposing Sikh nationalist violence; in retribution, he was murdered by a group of 'communal terrorists' in Jalandhar on 23 March 1988.

His Literary works

  • Loh-katha (Iron-Tale) (1970),
  • Uddian Bazan Magar (Behind Flying Hawks) (1973),
  • Saadey Samiyaan Vich (In Our Times) (1978), and
  • Khilre Hoey Varkey (Unorganized Papers) (1989)

Khilre Hoey Varkey was posthumously published in 1989 after his death, followed by his journals and letters. A selection of his poems in Punjabi, Inkar, was published in Lahore in 1997. His poems have been translated in many languages including other Indian languages, Nepali and English.