On April 6, 1903, the city of Kishinev, the capital of the Russian province of Bessarabia erupted in violence. A horrific pogrom was organized, targeting the Jewish population of Kishinev in which 49 Jews were killed, 500 were wounded and 1300 homes and businesses were destroyed.
The Hebrew poet, Haim Bialik, wrote one of his most famous poems, In The City Of Slaughter in response, using searing, powerful imagery to describe the horror that descended upon the Jewish residents of the city.
Eighty one years later, Delhi, the capital of India, was witness to a horror of even greater proportions. On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards. In retaliation, an orgy of murder, rape and arson was unleashed upon the Sikh residents of Delhi in which more than 3000 lost their lives.
The poem, Kultar’s Mime, written by a young Sikh poet, drew upon eyewitness accounts of the Delhi pogrom to describe the sufferings of the Sikhs, through the eyes of young survivors.
There are uncanny similarities between the Kishinev and Delhi pogroms. Both targeted minority communities with violence following libel, innuendo and propaganda, designed to stoke fear and hatred.
Kultar’s Mime synthesizes the sufferings of innocent victims of organized violence, separated by thousands of miles, numerous years and insurmountable differences of religion, language and culture. Drawing upon the raw imagery of both poems, it tells a story of human suffering and courage, reminding us that in the end all innocent victims are the same, regardless of how they worship God and what tongues they speak.
Harinder Singh will be delivering a special lecture on at the Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan in New Delhi on 22nd February, 2024 @ 3pm IST.
Harinder Singh will be delivering a special lecture on at the Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan in New Delhi on 22nd February, 2024 @ 3pm IST.Learn more ⟶