Female, Sikh, Militant…

The Story of the Self as History in Sandip Kaur’s Autobiography Bikhṛā Paĩdā


  • Maria Puri Independent scholar, Delhi




autobiography, Sikh, militancy, Sandip Kaur, identity formation, metacommentary


The Indian State has a long history of military interventions at numerous, mostly peripheral locations. Most of the interventions are protracted and may be viewed as virtual civil wars, each side producing and legitimizing its own version of events. This paper will focus on the fallout of the Punjab insurgency (1970–1995), and its decisive point, the Indian army intervention codenamed Operation Bluestar (June 1984), as narrated by a former militant, Sandip Kaur. Her Punjabi book, Bikhṛā Pai͂dā (“Difficult Journey”) (2008), written by somebody who is not a writer, represents a sub-category which “inhabits (…) margins of literary and autobiographical writing” (Butalia 2017: 20). Hence, it offers a unique glimpse into the process of identity construction, both at the personal and the communal level, enacted against the larger backdrop of national games played out on the regional scene and informed by Sikh ‘metacommentary’ (Oberoi 1987: 27).

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How to Cite

Puri, Maria. 2021. “Female, Sikh, Militant…: The Story of the Self As History in Sandip Kaur’s Autobiography Bikhṛā Paĩdā”. Cracow Indological Studies 23 (1):91-136. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.23.2021.01.04.