HUKUM CHAND Sharma, always seen sporting his trademark green turban and a flowing silver beard, never without a smile but with experience of decades reflected in his wrinkled face, is no more.
The veteran journalist, who remained the Chief of Bureau of mass-circulation Punjabi daily, Ajit, was 69. He passed away this evening, his death mourned by media baron and prime editorial force behind the Ajit Group of Newspapers, S. Barjinder Singh Hamdard as well as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Sharma had not been keeping well for some time. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
The cremation will take place on June 21, Wednesday, at 2 pm at Ram Baag Paras Ram Nagar, his son, Harwinder Sharma, informed.
Well known Punjabi poet and writer Gurbhajan Gill said he had a 30 years long association with the journalist who always stood up for the causes he believed in.
Hukum Chand Sharma -- thanks to his long innings in the world of pen pushers that saw a sea change from the time when news used to be sent via bus conductors in envelopes meant to be dropped in letter boxes of specific newspapers, to the advent of the fax and then its demise as computers took over -- was an encyclopaedia of Punjab's who's who and would regale anyone with umpteen interesting anecdotes.
His brush with the brutal power of the state in 1984 in the wake of Operation Bluestar when he had to deal with particularly brusque army officers is the stuff of journalistic folklore.
When an army officer asked his surname and pointed out to his flowing beard and a turban - a little unusual combination, Sharma had given a response that generations of journalists later narrated to each other with a chuckle. The Tribune's Chief of Bureau, Sarbjit Dhaliwal, himself a journalist of immense standing, is fond of narrating several Hukum Chand Sharma tales.
Readers of Ajit will remember his byline for a long time.
At Punjab Today, we mourn the death of Hukum Chand Sharma, and refrain from sharing that response in the firm belief that your curiosity to know what the late journalist said to the army officer will trigger many a conversation and will be yet another excuse for us to remember someone who was an intrinsic part of journalism in Bathinda, the cotton belt of Punjab rich with a thousand news stories in its womb even today.
Photo caption: Hukam Chand Sharma receiving Shiromani Punjabi Pattarkar award from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal (A file photo)