Harchand Singh Longowal was a former president of Akali Dal, during the most turbulent times in Punjab’s history i.e., the insurgency of the 1980’s. The inadequate recognition of Punjab’s people language and their heritage were the prime drivers behind the insurgency. The collision course of the revolutionary Punjabi’s and the Congress government led to some bitter moments in recent Indian history. In the most troubling times of Punjab’s history, Harchand Singh Longowal would provide commendable leadership qualities to steer the movement in a peaceful manner before putting an end to the collision course with a Peace accord signed between Harchand Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi. The peace accord would, however, infuriate a few radical Sikhs who go on to kill Harchand at point blank range.
Early Days & Emergency
Harchand Singh Longowal, from a small village of Punjab, got exposed to political activism during his formative age and he eventually became an important part of the Punjabi struggle for recognition when he became the president of the Akali organisation in Sangrur district and a member of the working committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The imposition of the emergency forced the people of Punjab to rise against the suppression of civil liberties and during the struggle as the senior leaders courted arrest, Harchand Longowal rose up the ranks of Akali movement.
Unfruitful negotiations with Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi’s efforts to paint Sikhs as seditious and anti-nationals proved to be disastrous wrt the negotiations between the Akali’s and the government. Despite the malicious campaign by the government, Longowal steadied the ship by categorically stating that Sikhs as much Indians as anybody else were. The lack of fruitful negotiations would result in multiple agitations that would result in multiple arrests, burning of article 25a of the Indian constitution and civil disobedience by means of not paying the dues to the government. What followed were some of the darkest days in Indian history which started with the Indian Army’s attack on Golden Temple.
Longowal’s accord with Rajiv Gandhi and death
Rajiv Gandhi ordered the release of Akali prisoners and thereby calming things down beside Rajiv Gandhi went on to take measures that would ease the economic woes of Punjab by establishing of the rail coach factory that would employ 20,000 skilled workers. These measures follow the memorandum which Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi signed. The Punjab accord as it is called was criticized by many Sikhs terming it disgraceful. Some Sikhs chose to vent out their anger by pulling the trigger on Longowal, the individuals named Leela and Halwinder Singh went on to assassinate Longowal.
It’s so easy to say, “Follow your heart” or “Follow your dreams” but when one actually tries to take that leap of liberty, the society reinforces its shackles. In myriad ways, the age-old traditions come to stop the dreams of the youth. This is more manifest in the case of girls and women. However, passion can’t be contained and restrained for long.
This is the story of Roshni Misbah. Breaking stereotypes, she aspires to be a professional racer. Her journey has been tough, to say the least. Consider this, a hijab-wearing woman riding a sports bike with panache on the Indian roads amid stares, taunts and jeers.
The parents at home know too that society will be unkind and hesitant to accept someone who is flouting the age-old norms. Perhaps, this is why the parents resort to worry and scoldings. However, if the fire of liberty has been lit inside an individual, then it’s only a matter of time before they will rise like a phoenix, gloriously new-born from the ashes.
Roshni has covered over 15,000 km riding more than 60 bikes. She shares, “The sight of a girl on a sports bike deeply dents egos of some men and the taunts start.” It’s not easy to follow one’s dream if there are self-proclaimed proprietors of ‘decency’ at every nook and corner. Yet, Roshni stands tall.
It’s not easy to stand up to your parents and then face the issues they warned you about from society. Is it not right to follow one’s dreams and one’s own heart? If people do not break stereotypes, then all the potential for achievement and innovation will die unfulfilled. If doing something does not break a law, then what gives the right to anyone to comment and object to it?
This is the 21st century. Till when we will allow ourselves to be controlled by the whims and desires of those whose opinions deserve no merit or consideration. If this is not the right time for talented and courageous women to take a stand, then when will that time come.
“When I will walk, you will stare. When I will lose, you will laugh at me, taunt me. But, at the speed of 234 km/h, I wouldn’t hear all this,” says an undaunted Roshni. It’s time we show our support to their leap of liberty and as a society, we come together and say #ChalBadhChal.
The Logical Indian commends the passion and spirit of Roshni Misbah and appreciates Leap 7X by Liberty Shoes for bringing up this story.