festival
Something for children finally
The week-long film show for children was refreshing and thought provoking
By Ali Sultan
Raza and Jibran giggle. Wearing bright T-shirts and matching shorts and eating ice-creams, the two brothers, aged 10 and 8 respectively, are having what seems to be a hell of a time. "My husband and I are dead tired of taking the kids out to McDonalds or Mini Golf to have fun. This is such a good idea and should happen more often," says Hina Aslam, the mother of the two boys.

MOOD STREET
S T R E E T 
Solutions, not problems
By Sidra Mahmood
The state of affairs in our lives refuse to budge, they are adamant to remain the way they are and are still more stubborn not to alter for the better. It is eventually a universal case everywhere; no one can safely say that they are positively satisfied with their way of life. Life has finally denigrated to a point where it has lost any charm to hold people clinging to it. It has become dispensable: it is not precious anymore; however, it is the deluding allure of possessions that enrapture the minds and sets the hearts on the drive to attain them.

Town Talk
Exhibition: of photographs by Rabia Ezdi,
S. Hasan Altaf and Imran Nafees Siddiqui to open on Monday, Oct 12 at 6pm at Alhamra Cultural Complex, The Mall, Hall No. 3 & 4. The exhibition will remain open till Oct 17.

crime
No minor offence
Kidnapping for ransom by friends and relatives is a new trend being witnessed by the police. Story of one such boy who lost his life
By Waqar Gillani
It was 12 midnight, September 2, 2009, when Aziz Naseem Hotiyana, a friend of 18-year-old Muhammad Adil Butt, called on his mobile phone asking him to be ready within 10 minutes to go out for a meeting.

Where the land changes its nationality
Killa Jevan Singh, the last village on the Pakistan side of the border
By Haroon Khalid
Having treaded the long stretch of the canal, now acting as the artillery of the city, the BRB, the mother canal comes. Crossing the bridge over it, after a few kilometers, one would come across the village of Manhiala. The next and the last village on the Pakistan side of the border is known as Killa Jevan Singh. As can be inferred from its name, this settlement derives its name from a small fort, perching on the top of a mound, within the village, which also happens to be the highest point around. Easily the top of the edifice stands 15-17 meters above the ground.

 

 

festival

Something for children finally

The week-long film show for children was refreshing and thought provoking

By Ali Sultan

Raza and Jibran giggle. Wearing bright T-shirts and matching shorts and eating ice-creams, the two brothers, aged 10 and 8 respectively, are having what seems to be a hell of a time. "My husband and I are dead tired of taking the kids out to McDonalds or Mini Golf to have fun. This is such a good idea and should happen more often," says Hina Aslam, the mother of the two boys.

What Hina is referring to is the second Lahore International Children's Film Festival. The festival that started on Oct 6 and ended on Oct 11 showed 263 films from 37 countries, made for and by children. A project of the Ali Institute of Education (which was also the venue), the festival screened short films, animations and documentary shorts.

A year ago, the first International Children's Film Festival was held and according to their website nearly 11,000 people, including children, families, teachers and general film-lovers, visited the festival during its 9-day run.

"I came here the first time with the kids and that was such a wonderful experience," says Uzma Shah who is a school teacher. "I hope the children have an even better experience this time."

The venue can be most fairly described as a place where a grand fun fair is being held. It is nicely decorated with inflated plastic play areas, colourful banners, eating stalls and loud blaring music.

There is also an art exhibition with paintings, sculptures and ceramics; displaying works of students of Naqsh School of arts.

The festival has two times set for showings, in the morning where the show starts at 9:30 am and the evening show that starts off at 6:00 pm. Tickets are reasonably priced at Rs 100 per person for one show -- which approximately shows around 6 films.

While the volunteers (most of them teenagers) were warm and friendly and the auditorium was large and the seats comfortable, the real fun are the films themselves and especially film festivals where you never know what to expect.

Space Mission that opened the festival in the evening, on its first day was a fun short. Made by the El-Mate Cinema Workshop (consisting of Spanish school students) it was a 3 minute, crudely illustrated cartoon about space invaders.

Confront Labels, a well-made Canadian entry, was filmed like an advertisement that dealt with kids with labels stuck on their arm, forehead or body and them taking the labels off. Instead of designer brands, the short dealt with heavier labels such as "Terrorist," "Muslim," "Single parent child," etc.

Take Out The Garbage, a South African animation, was also made by children and talked about putting garbage in the right place, except the protagonists, instead of being humans, were a monkey and an elephant. When the monkey eats a banana and throws its cover on the ground, an elephant slips and falls down (the hall was full of children laughing at this point) and then the responsible elephant shows the monkey to throw garbage in a dustbin.

Finding Elvis, a French entry, felt like a full length feature. A mystery film about a group of school kids trying to find their missing friend (who is presumably abducted and killed) started out well, lost most of its steam in the middle and was then mysteriously forwarded to a climax that made no sense.

"I thought the films were very nice, especially the one about the garbage. It was funny but the children also learnt something," says Omar Ali a student. "I was also amazed at how most of the movies were made by children. We should also encourage kids in our schools to take up filmmaking," he added.

Farida Khan, a housewife, however, was a little disappointed. "Most of the films were subtitled which is annoying, they should have dubbed all of them."

On the second day, the films to watch were First Flight, a beautifully made stop-motion animation about a sparrow's first flight and its subtext about a living creature's freedom. Whispers In Jerusalem, a touching Palestinian short film about Firas, a new kid at school walking through the winding streets of Jerusalem with his new friend Remeen. He soon runs into trouble with some local bullies at school. As rumours travel fast through whispers in the city, Firas quickly learns how ties can be broken and friendships are hard to keep. Jane Sablow's CG animation, Wishful Thinking, was about an imaginative little girl who changes the mood and theme of her ordinary birthday party, when she makes a wish and blows out the candles of her cake. Wishful Thinking combined storytelling with advocacy to communicate healthy food choices to children and their families.

 

MOOD STREET

S T R E E T

Solutions, not problems

By Sidra Mahmood

The state of affairs in our lives refuse to budge, they are adamant to remain the way they are and are still more stubborn not to alter for the better. It is eventually a universal case everywhere; no one can safely say that they are positively satisfied with their way of life. Life has finally denigrated to a point where it has lost any charm to hold people clinging to it. It has become dispensable: it is not precious anymore; however, it is the deluding allure of possessions that enrapture the minds and sets the hearts on the drive to attain them.

When we write works like these in which the language that is used is essentially flowery even though the issues raised are purposely banal, that people tend to believe that we are almost on the precipice before we shall be hurled head on into the abyss of the awaiting 'Armageddon'. Small time problems like electricity, water shortage, inflation rankle in the minds of the readers as the last battle that has to be fought and won before the world can become a better place to live in. Interestingly, the world can only become a better place to live in if – quite miraculously – the problems of sanitation rampant in Lahore and Karachi are sorted out, or that if the village of Cheechoo ki Mallian is illuminated with electricity bulb.

However, what one might say, it is always pleasing to note that we have finally understood what a proverb of old said: 'a correct diagnosis is half the solution.' We, as a human race, have learnt to be good critics, and we have our eyes open to the various problems and issues that have a habit of popping out of the earth at the first available opportunity. We apparently are not blind to the fact that our lives are replete with concerns that need to be taken care of. Writing about them, giving lectures or holding rallies help us to hand out the precious knowledge to the common people, who need the likes of us to tell them what their life is suffering from. Poor souls, they are not even aware of what ails them.

The real problem arises when we – the knowledgeable lot – hand out the sweets of discontent to the poor, needy and suffering. Instead of giving them any genuine hope, we give them a set of problems. We even highlight those issues that probably would never have been serious enough for them to consider, but now that they have been highlighted, it adds to nothing but the ever-growing dissatisfaction with life. We pose a set of questions and prod at the otherwise latent layers of unrest. The populace is set ablaze with the wisdom of what is lacking in their lives…and then, we feel that our work is done. But is it really the work we have done or ignited a fire which we, ourselves, do not know how to restrain.

It is always the fruit of knowledge that has been forbidden to mankind…don't mistake me here. I am not talking about the literacy that we acquire under the misconception of knowledge, rather the 'awareness' which we seek. The awareness attained is generally unwanted, and if not unwanted then it is futile. How can knowledge of what ails my neighbour's pet cat be fruitful to me when I am allergic to cats and am not planning to keep a cat myself? Shouldn't the awareness of my allergy be more important?

Even if I do manage to put my finger on the problem, shouldn't the solution to it be of more precedence than anything else, I think that it must be! As an alternative to voicing so many concerns out to the people that they even lose count of, why not try to hand them one problem at a time and for a change, offer them a solution to it as well. Instead of the entire oven-hot pie to eat, offer one piece to devour at a time to the eager that they might enjoy each mouthful of that which is their lives and not burn their mouths with the concerns that threaten their happy meal.

 

Town Talk

Exhibition: of photographs by Rabia Ezdi,

S. Hasan Altaf and Imran Nafees Siddiqui to open on Monday, Oct 12 at 6pm at Alhamra Cultural Complex, The Mall, Hall No. 3 & 4. The exhibition will remain open till Oct 17.

Exhibition: Retrospect Mian Abdur Rehman Ijaz at Alhamra Arts Council, Mall Road till Oct 15.

 

Exhibition: of Paintings by Faiza Butt will open on Oct 7 at Rohtas Gallery and will continue till Oct 20.

 

Exhibition: of works by Khadim Ali opening on Saturday, Oct 17, at Rohtas Gallery.

 

Third International Conference on Open Source Software Engineering (OSSE) on Mon-Tue, Oct 12-13 at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore.

Diwali function on Sat, Oct 17 at Sir Ganga Ram Heritage Foundation, Lahore.

Aysha invited you to "Weekend Cycle Ride"

on Sunday, October 11 at 5:00pm.

Event: Weekend Cycle Ride to start from Zakir Tikka intersection today at 5:00pm. The cycling will end at 7:30pm.

No minor offence

Kidnapping for ransom by friends and relatives is a new trend being witnessed by the police. Story of one such boy who lost his life

By Waqar Gillani

It was 12 midnight, September 2, 2009, when Aziz Naseem Hotiyana, a friend of 18-year-old Muhammad Adil Butt, called on his mobile phone asking him to be ready within 10 minutes to go out for a meeting.

Adil did not tell his family before he left his Model Town residence where he was going. He only told them he was going to "hangout with friends" But he did not return home after that call.

He was kidnapped for ransom and later killed by the same friend who invited him to that meeting. His friend, along with three other aides, wanted to get easy money. They demanded Rs 30 million from Adil's father Muhammad Sabir Butt, a successful businessman. Adil's friends Aziz, Aurangzeb, Taimoor Mushtaq and Asfand jointly made this terrible plan to rob their friend's family without realising the consequences.

This is the gist of information that Sabir Butt, the father of Adil, shared with this scribe and was later confirmed by the FIR No. 370/9 under Section 365A of Pakistan Penal Code registered by Muhammad Sabir Butt at Model Town Police Station.

Though the police have arrested the three accused and killed one Aurangzeb in a police encounter, the family has lost their son, Adil. For the family the trauma is unforgettable.

Adil's mother would always go out of home for shopping with her son who would drive her to places. He had been driving the car for two years. Adil had passed his Intermediate grade and was awaiting admission in Lahore School of Economics, one of the reputed educational institutions of the city. He was the eldest son in the family.

"We had never imagined that the old friends of our dearest son could do this," said a sorrowful, heart-broken father sitting in the drawing room of his quiet house in Model Town, a month after this tragedy.

The next day after Adil's kidnap the family received a call asking for payment of Rs 30 million if they wanted to get him back. They never thought the kidnappers could be Adil's friends as they were calling the family from his (Adil's) cell phone. However, police traced them out in a couple of days which frightened the kidnappers. They killed Adil on September 7 and told the family to get his body packed in a sack near Head Qadirabad. His dead body was traced on September 11.

This is not the first incident where friends have been accused of such a crime. "In fact, this trend of kidnapping for ransom by amateurs has increased in 2009," Zulfiqar Hameed, Senior Superintendent of Police (Investigation), who is head of the team of crime investigation of the city, told TNS.

According to the data available with TNS from police sources, there have been 30 kidnapping for ransom incident registered in Lahore since 2009 (to-date). Eight out of 18 cases have been cancelled after proven wrong. Eighteen cases have been traced; three are being probed and one is yet untraced. The ransom demanded in these cases vary from Rs 300,000 to 30 million.

"Surprisingly, 12 out of total cases lodged in 2009 are done by amateurs," Hameed said. This is a trend which was not observed in 2008, he mentioned, saying that out of total 56 cases of kidnapping for ransom in 2008 only a very few were done by amateurs. "Mostly, those were professional gangs and many of those have been busted." The SSP further mentioned that in most cases the kidnappers are friends, relatives, neighbours, residents of the same locality or have connections to the servants of the affected family.

Sabir, father of the victim, has appealed to the parents to look after their children attentively. He has also appealed to the children not to go out of home without telling the family exactly where they are going. "I have lost my son and I don't want to see others lose their beloved," he said.

The solution does not lie with the police. The whole society will have to make a conscious effort to bring social change to discourage such amateurs and amend criminal justice system, to strongly punish these criminals, leaving no opportunity of their release.

Sabir's father said that criminal justice system is procedurally so weak that even the professional culprits cannot be sentenced because of lack of evidence. He said it was up to the government to improve the social fabric and bring procedural changes in the prosecution system. Police can only maintain law and order and investigate into the criminal activities.

[email protected]

 

 

Where the land changes its nationality

Killa Jevan Singh, the last village on the Pakistan side of the border

By Haroon Khalid

Having treaded the long stretch of the canal, now acting as the artillery of the city, the BRB, the mother canal comes. Crossing the bridge over it, after a few kilometers, one would come across the village of Manhiala. The next and the last village on the Pakistan side of the border is known as Killa Jevan Singh. As can be inferred from its name, this settlement derives its name from a small fort, perching on the top of a mound, within the village, which also happens to be the highest point around. Easily the top of the edifice stands 15-17 meters above the ground.

I happened to reach the village accidentally, while I was researching for Kos Minars in the surrounding areas. I was of the impression that there were two such minarets in the neighbouring regions but what I did not know was that one of them was in India. Manhiala is the destination of the other one. The distance between these two structures is 1 kos. In fact so eager was I to see the second Kos Minar that I even crossed the third embankment on the Pakistan side in my ignorance, and was only a few meters away from India when a local stopped me and guided me correctly.

This fort, which is the main attraction of this village, is now in a pathetic state. The entire body of the edifice has almost fallen, only leaving a hollow structure, like the Laxmi building at the Laxmi Chowk. However, whatever remains of the structure, suggests a splendid past, of Sikh architecture. A few arches, pillars, frescoes, sculptures, speak to us about the luxury of this building which was clearly built for residential purposes. The entrance into the relic of the fort is towards the Eastern side where still a large arch remains. This was a double storey building, however, for the most part the second portion has been destroyed. A few rooms, filled with all sorts of unwanted stuff survive here and there. Nobody is using the building, except for cows, and their dung. A few rooms are being used as storage rooms by the local people. Where that has been done, new constructions have been made, to optimize the space of the building. Old bricks have been robbed by people, to be used in their houses. All over the village, one finds houses with petit bricks. It appears that the pattern on the ground floor, composed of a combination of rooms, courtyard, and a few big rooms, was replicated on the second floor. The courtyard was on all sides of the building; however now that has been taken over by the people of the village.

There is a dome on top of one room inside the edifice which has relics of colourful Sikh guru frescoes on the wall inside. There was a small platform in the middle of the room and a broken wooden palki nearby. There is only one entrance into the room. While the locals say there was no gurdwara in the village, all the evidences point towards the fact that this was a Sikh shrine within the complex.

Facing this fort is another building which at first appears to be part of the edifice but is not. This is also an old building, made around 1939 according to the testimonies of the people. This was a triple storey building standing on top of the highest side of the mound. The top of this building is the highest part of the region from where one can see Indian villages, buildings, the kos minar I came looking for, the fence on the Indian side of the border, roads and even Indian cars if they are around. The stairs taking to the roof are in front of the main gate, which was wooden but is now missing. Most of this building is now empty space. The remaining rooms have been occupied by villagers.

Further East, there were 3 smadhs, 2 small and 1 big one. The condition of these structures is much like the buildings just visited if not worse. Of the three, the condition of the only one is recognizable. However, even its dome has fallen and it has been stuffed by bricks, and closed. Bricks from here have also been taken by the people. There are some floral frescoes on this smadh in red and green. This is an octagonal construction with a pier on each edge.

The locals say the condition of these historical buildings in the village was much better till the war of 1965. In the war, this village was taken over by the Indian forces who wrought a lot of destruction here. It is said that they purposefully damaged the fort, perhaps to prevent it from being used as a military strategic location. However, when they were returning, the elders of the locality claim that they renovated the smadhs, in the outer-skirts of the village.

These three smadhs belong to Jevan Singh, his wife, and his son Sardar Amar Singh, who was the landlord of the region during the days of the Empire. There was a protective wall around these three structures, which now has fallen. Sardar Jevan Singh was responsible for the construction of the first fort we visited. According to the British land records which now have been lost and are only available with Iqbal Qaiser, this fort was made in 1798, around the time when Ranjit Singh became sovereign of this region.

Jevan Singh belonged to the sub-caste of Sher Gill, and originally belonged to the village of Thay Pura, around 4 kilometers north of the present location, within the jurisprudence of Pakistan. Around that time, it is said that his village was subjected to perpetual raids by various people, which is why, he along with other people left it, and came and established themselves here. Principally, there are two castes here, Sher Gills, and Jut Gills. They both came along with Jevan Singh. The former were bigger landlords whereas the latter smaller. During the Partition, Jut-Gills converted and stayed back. However, their land was taken over by the government with the pretension that it belonged to the departed. They filed litigation and got the ruling in their favour. They are still found in the village, living in a poor condition.

Jevan Singh's father played an important role in shaping the history of Punjab. He arrived at Thay Pur, from Kalkey Kasur where he made an army of his own, and captured all the land from here till Rawalpindi. At that time Pindi was a small town, and he constructed large buildings here. It was also made the capital of his empire. He died in 1804, handing over his kingdom to his son, who later handed it over to Ranjit Singh and became his ally. Jevan Singh's progeny lived in this village till 1947, when they moved to somewhere around Amritsar.

The ruined fort and smadhs are now the only link between Jevan Singh and this village but they are too disappearing fast. Even with conservation efforts, little can now be preserved because of the immense destruction that time has wrought over it.

 

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