M Jahangir Hayat
LAHORE: Credit of opening of the Kartarpur corridor must be given to the growing love and affection of people of both Pakistan and India.Pakistanis, especially those in Lehnda Punjab, love Indians. ‘My book My Journey Home: Going Back to Lehnda Punjab’ can be called a history of emotions.
Daily The Business’ Special Correspondent had the opportunity to interview Dr Tarunjit Singh Butalia who is the author of a landmark book: My Journey Home: Going Back to Lehnda Punjab (Mera Ghar Da Safar: Lehnday Punjab Wapsi).
He has been on his journey to Pakistan to explore his family roots. His family had been dwelling in West Punjab before partition in 1947.
The family was living at Butalia, near Gujranwala.
Following are some of excepts from his interview:
This was a great experience visiting Pakistan, Dr Tarunjit Singh said in an answer adding that “the best way to know about the people is to make a friend with the people of a certain religion you are interested in; you will ultimately reach the conclusion that they are just like yourself”.
Pakistanis, especially those in Lehnda Punjab, love Indians, he said, further adding they may not like the Indian government but they do love Indian people.
They are clear about this distinction between the government and the people. There can be differences between governments but there is no enmity between the people on both sides.
When asked why he was interested in exploring Pakistan, he replied that an uncle of his father used to tell him about details of his family and various places in Lehnda Punjab to which his ancestors had connections.
However, the real inspiration was his paternal grandmother who would always tell him stories related to Lenhda Punjab, he explained, speaking further that his mother used to share her memories with him.
“Interestingly, my father was not much interested in these things. Anyhow, I went to the United States and specialised in engineering. Since everybody would love to trace family roots, I was also encouraged and excited to go see the land of our Gurus and of my family,” Dr Tarunjit shared.
In answers to question about the emergence of the Butalia name he said that his family was called Butalias because it owned forty-two (42) jagirs in the Punjab.
However, he doubted but was surprised to see a document in the British Library Archival Section that contained details of exactly forty-two jagirs that his family had owned.
“That made me explore my family roots in West Punjab,” he said.
When asked how did you perceive Lahore, he said that most Indians who visit Pakistan are basically tourists.
“I was also a tourist interested to see the land of the Gurus, the Janamasthan of Baba Guru Nanak and then Kartarpur, where the first Guru had farmed his lands as a farmer, and written [parts of] Granth Sahib: so, this was my connection as a Sikh.
“Then my family had a long history of serving as leaders and marshals during the Sikh period and afterwards,”
Tarnjit Singh stated expressing his impression and expression on reaching The Mall.
“I saw the Aitchison College that filled my eyes. My father, grandfather and great grandfather had all been educated here,” he said.
“I also discovered and visited the Bedi House of my maternal family in Kallar Syedan, visited Sodhi House in the Walled City of Lahore and went to the shrine of Baba Farid.
“I was enthralled by the feelings I had not experienced in my life. For instance, when I visited Anarkali’s tomb, I could imagine the Kutchery located nearby where my grandfather had served as Attorney at Law during Maharaja Ranjit Singh,” he went on saying.
Explaining his connection with the shrine of Baba Farid, he said that he visited the place because his family had remained connected with this shrine for nearly 750 years as Baba Farid had himself granted the title of “bhandari” to my family as the family had been distributing langar (free meal) at the shrine for a long time, he informed me.
My Talking about his book he said that it can be called an account of emotions. “I have written it very emotionally as my writing often carry the reader along, ” he said.
Shedding light on Pakistan India relationships he said that there was an impression in India that Pakistan had opened up the Kartarpur Corridor to support the Khalistan liberation. “However, I have met thousands of Pakistanis but none had talked to me about Khalistan. I don’t believe this,” he added.
In answer to yet another question about the opening up of the Kartarpur Corridor, he said that Indian Sikhs had been using scopes to see even a single glimpse of the Shrine of the Kartarpur Sahib.
This was a great initiative on the part of the governments of Both Pakistan and India, he said, concluding that the credit of opening of the corridor must be given to the growing love and affection of people of both Pakistan and India.