Khushwant Singh was a thorough gentleman, a journalist of repute, a litterateur, a seasoned Parliamentarian and a treasure-house of vast knowledge besides having good sense of humor and it was proud moment for me to be a part of Khushwant Singh’s, 5th Annual Literary Festival, said Chief Minister Mr. Virbhadra Singh while presiding over the festival at Kasauli in Solan district today. He said that Shri Khushwant Singh served the Indian legal system and literature with equal passion and hard work.
The Chief Minister said he was a regular reader of Shri Khushwant Singh’s columns and some of his books inspired him the most. His books ‘A Train to Pakistan’, ‘Delhi: A Novel’, ‘The Company of Women’, “Truth, Love and a Little Malice”, etc. leaves indelible impression on the minds of the readers, said the Chief Minister. Mr. Singh was feeling grateful to throw open the ‘Khushwant Singh Trail’, a nature’s track, to be developed with an outlay of Rs 18 lakh, from Kasauli bazaar right down to the plains of Kalka, a distance of Nine kilometres, that Shri Khushwant Singh used to traverse regularly.
He said the theme, ‘Breaking Barriers’, of 5th Literary Festival, named after Shri Khushwant Singh was perhaps dedicated to the cause of education of the girl child and the preservation of ecology, which was very close to the heart of Mr. Singh, adding that this festival was also dedicated to great Indian soldiers and Shri Khushwant Singh had great love for the army. Kasauli was very close to Shri Khushwant Singh’s heart as he owned a house here and used to come in summers and pen down his thoughts, he said.
Mr. Kushwant Singh did much of his writing in Kasauli and many of his passions, such as his love of nature, Urdu poetry, concern for the education of the girl child, pride in the Indian soldier, his irreverence and humor, were nurtured in the environs of its hills. With nearly 100 books under his belt, Shri Khushwant Singh equally loved his weekly columns in which he highlighted the truth, though not liked by few, said the Chief Minister. He was specially known for his writing and without doubt Indian literature was lucky to have a writer like him, said Shri Virbhadra Singh.
Started in 2012, when the iconic writer was still alive, the festival is the only such event named after an individual and also the only literary festival held in Himachal Pradesh. The Chief Minister also launched a coffee table book ‘Solan a Mosaic of Experiences’ edited and compiled by Smt. Minakshi Chaudhary Kanwar and published by District Cultural Council, Solan. He also gave away prizes to the children who participated in various contests and competitions held before as a part of the festival.
Rahul Singh, son of Late Khushwant Singh, who is also the Chairman of the festival, in his brief address recalled the hobbies of his father and said that Shri Khushwant Singh was committed towards girl education, and lot of people loved him for his honesty and frankness, but not all as he use to snub those whom he didn’t liked at their faces. He said that he was agnostic but full of humanity and compassion, adding that mr.. Khushwant Singh was a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. He had love for the nature and above all for the Indian soldiers, he added.
Two minutes silence was also observed on the occasion for peace of the martyrs of Uri attack in Jammu-Kashmir.