Pash (9 September 1950 – 23 March 1988) was the pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu,[1] one of the major poets of the Naxalite movement in the Punjabi literature of the 1970s. He was killed by Khalistani extremists on 23 March 1988.[2] His strongly left-wing views were reflected in his poetry.

Avtar Singh Sandhu
Personal details
Born(1950-09-09)9 September 1950
Died23 March 1988(1988-03-23) (aged 37)
Cause of deathKilled by Khalistan movement extremists
CitizenshipIndia, Canada

Early life and activismEdit

Pash was born as Avtar Singh Sandhu in 1950 in a small village called Talwandi Salem in Jalandhar district of Punjab, in a middle class farmers family. His father Sohan Singh Sandhu was a soldier in the Indian army who also composed poetry as a hobby. Pash grew up in the midst of the Naxalite movement, a revolutionary movement waged in Punjab against the landlords, industrialists, traders, etc. who control the means of production. This was in the midst of the Green revolution which had addressed India's problem of famine using high yield crops, but had also unconsciously led to other forms of inequities in Punjab.[3]

In 1970, he published his first book of revolutionary poems, Loh-Katha (Iron Tale), at the age of 18. His militant and provocative tone raised the ire of the establishment and a murder charge was brought against him. He spent nearly two years in jail, before being finally acquitted. In 1972, the 22 year old started a On acquittal, he became involved in Punjab's Maoist front, editing a literary magazine, Siarh (The Plow Line). He became a popular political figure on the left during this period, and was awarded a fellowship at the Punjabi Academy of Letters in 1985. He toured the United Kingdom and the United States the following year; while in the U.S., he became involved with the Anti-47 Front, opposing Sikh extremist violence. His words had a great influence on the minds of the people.


In the beginning of 1988 Pash was in Punjab for the renewal of his visa from the United States.[4] A day before leaving for Delhi, however, he was gunned down by Indian politicians along with his friend Hans Raj on the well in his village on 23 March 1988.[5]

Literary worksEdit

The original transcript of the poem Zindagi - by Parsh (a pseudonym of the poet Avataar Singh)
Original Transcript of a poem by Parsh (Avatar Singh) - a revolutionary poet of Punjab, India. Reproduced here under creative commons - original copyright remains with the author and his family.
Original transcript of Hakumat (By Parsh)
  • Loh-katha (Iron-Tale) (1970),[6]
  • Uddian Bazan Magar (Following The Flying Hawks) (1973),
  • Saadey Samiyaan Vich (In Our Times) (1978),[7] and
  • Khilre Hoye Varkey (Scattered pages) (1989)

Khilre Hoey Varkey was posthumously published in 1989 after his death, followed by his journals and letters. A selection of his poems in Punjabi, Inkar, was published in Lahore in 1997. His poems have been translated in many languages including other Indian languages, Nepali and English. Poems written by Paarsh are popular in India, especially in Punjab and North India. Recitations of his poems are often carried out, especially on the weekends close to his death anniversary.

Sab Ton KhatarnaakEdit

One of Pash's most popular and often cited poems is titled ਸਬ ਤੋਂ ਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ਸੁਪਨਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਮਰ ਜਾਣਾ। सबसे ख़तरनाक होता है हमारे सपनों का मर जाना (Sabse Khatarnak hota hai hamare sapnon ka mar jaana - meaning: The most dangerous thing is the demise of our dreams).[8]

In 2005, this poem was included in NCERT's Hindi book for 11th standard. In 2017, the Narendra Modi BJP Government ordered the poem to be removed, in the fear that it would encourage Indians to protest against the injustice they saw around them. Ironically, the move only made the poem more popular, with it being spoken of in the media, and a popular radio station Radio Mirchi making a free downloadable caller tune of it.


  1. ^ Tejawanta Siṅgha Gill (1999). Pash. Sahitya Akademi. p. 1. ISBN 9788126007769.
  2. ^ "Pash's father passes away in California". Hindustan Times. 25 July 2013. Archived from the original on 14 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Avtar Singh Sandhu (Pash): Life and Works of a Revolutionary Poet". Sahapedia. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  4. ^ Amrita Chaudhry (9 September 2006). "BJP's rant against Paash earns it intellectual ridicule". Indian Express. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013.
  5. ^ Subramanian, Nirupama (8 October 2017). "Revolution is a Poem: Why a Punjabi poet killed by Khalistanis is ruffling feathers in contemporary India?". The Indian Express. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  6. ^ Alig, Being. "Sabse Khatarnak Hota hai (male rendition with lyrics)". You Tube - Being Alig Channel. Being Alig. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Rare footage - Paash reciting "Sab ton khatarnaak hunda hai"". Blog on the revolutionary Indian poet Paash. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  8. ^ Avataar Singh, Paash. "Lyrics - Sabse Khatarnak". Retrieved 12 October 2018.

External linksEdit