ONCE IN LIMELIGHT, KAIRON’S LEGACY IS NOW IN EVIL HANDS
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MOVING FROM LIGHT TO DARKNESS: THE STORY OF VILLAGE KAIRON IS VERY SAD
On the night of June 25, five people were found murdered in Kairon. Four were a family and fifth was the driver in the service of family. Only four children survived who witnessed this gruesome act. It was not the first tragedy in the family these children had seen. Their grandmother Ranjit Kaur died in central jail Amritsar few months ago, where she was detained under drug peddling related case. Uncles were in de-addiction centre.
The family was known for drugs, some were drug addicts and other were the drug peddlers. With 49 drug related cases registered against them, they spent time either in jail or in de-addiction centre. Drug addicts swarmed around the streets of village to get a sure supply of drugs, even when there were hollow claims the drug supply chain was broken. But the customers arrived without any fear of police because they knew that they will not return empty handed. Customers arrived even when the family was lying in the pool of blood.
Such kinds of murders of drug peddlers are a routine in South American country Colombia. But Kairon is not Colombia. Why this tragedy at Kairon makes it more serious and worrisome than any other place in Punjab?
THE RISE AND FALL
Kairon is a medium size village of border district Tarn Taran. But more than the size of village, the name resonates in the collective consciousness of a generation. A generation which was witness to the making of post partition new Punjab. Post partition Punjab before reorganization in 1966, had seen its ablest chief minister in the form of Partap Singh Kairon. A post graduate in Economics and Political Science from Michigan University and University of Berkley, he was a political greenhorn who defeated veteran like Baba Gurdit Singh Komagata Maru in 1937.
A part of Punjab cabinet since 1947, Partap Singh served as chief minister from 1956 to 1964. Bhakra Dam, Chandigarh capital project, Land reforms, Punjab Agricultural University, Punjabi University Patiala, Kurukshetra University, Hisar Agriculture College, development of south Punjab, development of Lahaul Spiti, he was a force behind every milestone of Punjab development.
He was not like today’s ministers who can’t look beyond their constituencies. He gave nothing to Kairon. But his father Nihal Singh had already done much for the village. He had established the first boarding school for girls. Foundation stone was laid by Maharaja Bhupindera Singh on 14 March, 1916. The women associated with the school went as far as Malaya to collect funds. The school is great name in women education and sports today.
Nihal Singh Kairon was the first and last educationist who worked for the village. After him the village name almost became synonymous with power like I Safdarjung Road or 7 Race Course Road. With Partp Singh Kairon out of power in 1964, the village rendezvous with power did not become a thing of past. It flourished even after him. Kairon family became a political dynasty.
Partap Singh Kairon’s sons became MP or MLA from time to time. His grandson Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, four times MLA and three times minister, was third generation longest serving minister in Badal government. He is not MLA today but to assume that he is not in power is a serious mistake. The Congress government may announce any number of projects for the village, but the village belongs to the family, not to the party, neither to the government.
The village has kurhmachari (fathers of bride and bridegroom are called each other’s kurham in Punjabi) with the power. Kairon family’s daughter Gurbinder Kaur was the wife of Harcharn Singh Brar, Governor of Haryana and Odisha and chief minister of Punjab. Gurbinder herself served as MP, minister and leader of opposition in Punjab. Punjab’s longest serving chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s daughter is the family’s daughter in law. We assume that if a village has such a long connection with power, it must be a success story of development; the developments that power can bring.
But the village seems to be abandoned, gone to crows. Drugs dot the village landscape. Addicts are seen collecting syringes from the medical waste. Small things say more about the state of affairs than any big scandal.
People, who were given responsibility to run village CHC few years back, were known for borrowing basic medical equipment from private medical practitioners. And few years ago, policemen at village PS could be seen using toilet seats without the privacy of four walls. These were small things , but these were big gaping holes in the power image of the village, whose son, Partap Singh Kairon could inspire his people to donate 252 kg gold for China war fund in 1962.
Then, in 1962, Kairon village belonged to Punjab. Today it seems to be an address from Colombia, where drugs and violence is a routine affair. From light, it is going in to darkness. Such a sad reversal of “Tamso ma Jyotir gamay”, a Sanskrit prayer, that blesses for man’s passage from darkness, to light.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- Dr. Amanpreet Singh Gill teaches Political Science at SGTB Khalsa College, North Campus, Delhi University. Apart from short stories, he writes on Punjab politics and Sikh history. He has authored six books in Punjabi and English. Non-Congress Politics in Punjab (2015), 1708 Dasam Guru di Dakhan Feri (2017) and Kes History of Sikhs and other Essays (2020) are his better known works. He firstname.lastname@example.org