Two veteran personalities known for their extraordinary work in promoting Punjabi folk music, language and culture, have died in Pakistan leaving the literary community on both sides of the border in mourning.
Veteran Punjabi folk singer Shaukat Ali (77) died after suffering from liver related issues at a Lahore hospital Friday, while a known crusader for Punjabi language in Pakistan who taught it in Gurmukhi script, Dil Mohammad, died Saturday.
The passing away of both veterans from Lehenda Punjab (West Punjab), who were fighting for the rights of Punjabi language and culture in Islamic country Pakistan, was mourned by the Punjabi literary and folk community in Chadhda Punjab (East Punjab) too.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from Lahore, Imran Ali, son of singer Shaukat Ali, said that his father was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis almost a year back and was undergoing treatment since then.
“He had recovered but four months back his condition again deteriorated and his liver stopped working completely. He died at a hospital in Lahore Friday,” said Imran, adding that his father was being treated at the hospital since 18 days.
Belonging to Mandi Bahawaldin in Pakistan’s Malaqwal, Shaukat Ali was equally popular for his songs in India too.
His father, Faqir Mohammad, was a tabla player and his maternal uncle, Mehtab Ali Khan, was a classical singer and both used to perform in Amritsar, Ludhiana and other cities in pre-Partition Punjab.
Imran said that his father had started singing in 1962 and had recorded his first song when he was just 17. “It was a song ‘Pagdi Utaar Chora’ from Punjabi film ‘Tees Maar Khaan’ and it was released in 1963. He was also given silver jubilee award for it. Since then he never looked back,” said Imran.
Shaukat Ali composed and wrote his songs, and most of his songs were self-written. His hit songs, which created a wave in both India and Pakistan, were ‘Kyu door door rehendey o huzoor mere kolon’, ‘Jab bahaar aai to sehar ki taraf chal nikla’, ‘Challa’, ‘Kadi tey hass bol ve’, ‘Tera sone da koka’, ‘Saif ul malook’, ‘Kanwan udd kanwan maa jannat da parchawaan’, ‘Main sapna sa mainu bhul jaween’, ‘Dass ve wakeela..’ among others.
As a tribute to Shaukat Ali, a bust of the singer was also installed some time back by Moga-based sculptor Manjit Singh Gill at a park in Ghal Kalan village.
Meanwhile, Dil Mohammad, known as the crusader for Punjabi language and Gurmukhi script in Lehenda Punjab of Pakistan, also died Saturday.
He was the ‘mukh sewadar’ of Baba Bulley Shah Punjabi Satth in Kasur of Pakistan and was teaching Punjabi to children since years at the school he had opened in his village, Chakk 17.
Eminent Punjabi poet Gurbhajan Gill from Ludhiana, while mourning Dil Mohammad’s loss, said that he used to say that Punjabi language cannot be written in any other script except Gurmukhi and people from both Punjabs should come together to save their mother tongue and preserve it.
Despite the constant questioning and investigations that he had to face against him by Pakistan government for teaching Gurmukhi Punjabi in Pakistan, he did not stop and continued to fight for the language till his death, said Manjit Singh Rajpura, a Punjabi writer.
Rajpura said that Dil Mohammad, who fought for Punjabi language, till his end and would always say that for him his mother tongue Punjabi was supreme, adding that he would always hum these words of Kanwar Imtiyaz which he wrote for Punjabi language: “Baani main Farid ji di, sukhan mian Waaris da.. Bulley di sarangi di, mitthi mitthi taan haan.. Main haan sehra boli.gaun haan main giddhiyan da.peedhi dhaa ke pirh vich.baithi main rakaan haan.saun mainu laggey miyaan raanjhane di vanjhali di.main haan Punjabi jo Punjab di zubaan haan…”
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