Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) has presented a towering filmmaker and a lyricist from India with Life Time Achievement for keeping the flag of secularism high under a right wing Hindu nationalist regime.

Gulzar had made the first ever Hindi film on Sikh genocide, and has penned short stories and poems on related topics, often inviting the wrath of right wing trolls.

Released in 1996, Maachis is the story of Sikhs who had suffered state-sponsored violence during 1980s. This was the time when the Sikh militants were fighting an armed insurgency for a separate homeland.

It was a first honest attempt of any Bollywood Director to look into the inconvenient truth of 1984 and the subsequent events that devastated the Sikh minority.

In June, 1984 the Indian government ordered a military invasion on the Golden Temple Complex, the holiest Sikh shrine, on the pretext of dealing with handful of extremists, with a design to polarize the Hindu majority to win the forthcoming general election. The ill-conceived army operation left many worshippers dead and important historical structures destroyed. As a result, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Her murder followed state-engineered mob violence against the Sikhs in different parts of India. In the national capital of New Delhi alone, close to 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered.

Maachis had used the imagery depicting that violence. The story revolved around young Sikh men who were forced to join militant ranks in response to state repression.

Gulzar received a lot of backlash from the Indian police and right wing politicians at that time.

Formed in response to the growing attacks on religious minorities in India under the current government, IAPI had resolved to honour Gulzar on his first visit to BC after the release of Maachis.

In fact, he was intimidated on social media by the supporters of Hindu Right after he voiced his concerns over the present situation in India, where diversity is under constant attack.

IAPI members Parshotam Dosanjh, Rakesh Kumar, Sandeep Moudgil, Amrit Diwana and Gurpreet Singh, and IAPI supporters Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal and Preet Manpreet, presented him with the plaque on the sidelines of a civic reception organized for him by Kamal Videos in Surrey on Monday night.

In the meantime, Members of Parliament from Surrey-Newton and Surrey-Centre, Sukh Dhaliwal and Randeep Singh Sarai respectively, presented him with appreciation certificates on separate occasions. Surrey-Greentimbers MLA Rachna Singh also presented him with a letter of appreciation at the Monday evening event.



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