This book is intended to reveal the grim and tragic story of the uprooting of more than seven million Hindus and Sikhs from their homes in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind and in raider-occupied Kashmir. The outlines of this story are well-known all over the world, and have formed the subject of debate before the representatives of the major portion of mankind, assembled in the United Nations. This biggest mass migration of humanity in history under extreme duress has received the attention and active sympathy due to it from the rest of India, and the world is keenly aware of the existence of this large portion of uprooted humanity.
What, however, is not very well-known or fully borne in mind is the fact that this tragic migration was the last culminating episode in a conspiracy that had been under planning for more than a decade before it actually occurred – the conspiracy of the Muslim League in India to establish a Muslim State which should not be encumbered with any such non-Muslim populations- as, would be a likely factor in diluting to any extent its purely Muslim character.1 This conspiracy needs being unmasked by recalling the history of the Indian Muslim League over the period in which its inception and maturing occurred-so that responsibility for this tragedy is fixed where it properly belongs.
Muslim League propaganda has sought to blame the Punjab happenings of 1947 on the Sikhs and in a secondary degree on the Hindus. A distorted and fragmentary picture, drawn up with completely bare-faced lying, has been presented to the world of a Sikh “Plan”2 to attack and drive out Muslims from the Punjab. And for a time a part of the world swallowed the lie, and the Sikhs got an unenviable reputation. But the pendulum of opinion slowly swung round in the right direction, and the Sikh name now has been fairly cleared of the supposed crime of a “Plan” against Muslims. That the Sikh (and Hindu) attack on the Muslims in East Punjab was retaliation under terrible and unbearable provocation is now admitted to be a fact by all impartial people; though it is not known everywhere of what horrible nature, of what prolonged duration and diabolical character was the provocation offered to Sikhs by Muslims over a period of several agonizing months-beginning from December, 1946.
There was a war unleashed by the Muslim population of the Punjab to cow down Sikhs, and as a means to that, to carry on among them a total campaign of murder, arson, loot and abduction of women. Sikhs passed through the experience of this war as a people for months; and not thousands, but millions of them were forced to quit their homes for safety in the process. Without a clear knowledge of this part of the story a just and balanced view of the situation cannot be formed.
The details of atrocities committed on Sikhs and Hindus given in these paces are not full or even a fairly large proportion of what actually befell. They are only representative episodes of what happened in a few villages and towns all over West Punjab and other West Pakistan areas. Imagine such things happening in thousands upon thousands of villages and hundreds of towns, and you will then be able to take in the proportions somewhat close to what the reality was-which, in the last analysis must, however, remain inexpressible in its full horror. The facts drawn upon are statements of sufferers of these horrors, recorded from complaints made to the authorities, from reliable press reports and from statements recorded with scrupulous fidelity and signed by those who made them, in the refugee camps in East Punjab.
Sikhs left behind their homes, the richest land in the Punjab, their factories and prosperous businesses, their holy shrines, schools and colleges-all under the pressure of the Pakistan terror, so that according to unbiassed estimates 40% (and these perhaps the most enterprising section of the community) were rendered refugees. They came out of their homes-hammed, despoiled and in unending trudging caravans. This vast human tragedy is too large even for the imagination to take in without the help of facts presented in a telling way.
This record is intended in the first place to rehabilitate the Sikh name, maligned by false propaganda of the leaders and press of Pakistan, and secondly to serve as part of the material for anyone who should set out to write a full history of the Punjab of these terrible 1947 months.
1 The recent (1950) driving out of Hindus from East Bengal (Pakistan) is only the latest episode in this story.
2 Two scurrilous pamphlets were published by the West Punjab Government (Pakistan) in 1948, entitled “The Sikh Plan” and “Sikhs in Action.”
Pakistan grew out of the two-nation theory of the Muslim League, which for the last twenty years or more has been synonymous with its permanent president, the late Mohamed Ali Jinnah, called by the Muslims Qaid-i-Azam or the Supreme Leader. The career of Qaid-i-Azam Jinnah indicates a curious and. ironic development from being ‘the apostle of Hindu-Muslim Unity, as he was called by admiring Congressmen, to being the chief exponent, advocate and creator of Pakistan-a state based upon the thesis that the Muslims of India are a separate nation, and a,, such need a homeland and state for themselves, separate from Hindu-land. Pakistan is now a predominantly Muslim state, so predominantly Muslim in its population that its western and more important portion has in the course of a few months of its establishment, been almost completely rid of its Hindu, Sikh and to a great extent of its Christian and untouchable populations. By what processes this development has been brought about is what this booklet is designed to relate.
The present overlords of Pakistan have declared times out of number that Pakistan is in character a Muslim State-the largest Muslim State in the world. This description of its character, when placed side by side with the declared character of India as a secular state, which she is also sought to be made in effect, has unnerved the Hindu population of faraway East Bengal, where alone now in Pakistan Hindus in any appreciable numbers are found. Since October last a deliberate policy on the part of the Muslim majority in East Bengal, with the connivance of the East Bengal Muslim League Government, forced the Hindus out of that Province.
This exodus of Hindus became such a vast movement of emigration, that in October, 1948 official estimates put the number of Hindu immigrants from Eastern Pakistan into India at fifteen lakhs. More and more were following over the border into Assam and West Bengal everyday, and the refugee problem for the Indian Government already preoccupied with the rehabilitation of about a crore of people from Western Pakistan and Kashmir, began to assume a desperate look. That is what made Sardar Patel to declare that if the Pakistan Government did not take effective steps to stop the exodus of Hindus from East Bengal the India Government would claim proportionate territory from East Bengal for the resettlement of the Hindus immigrants.
This exodus is only an illustration of the fact that the driving out of minorities and non-Muslim populations is something inherent in the very nature, conception and scope of the kind of state which the Muslims have achieved through the good offices of the British in the shape of Pakistan. No amount of reasonableness and accommodation, no attempts at friendship and understanding on the part of India could avert what occurred in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind, in Bahawalpur, in raider-occupied Kashmir and is at present occurring in East Bengal. The thing is inevitable and inherent in the nature of the State of Pakistan and the entire attitude and mentality of which this State is the result. It is a significant fact that while in India, the Government discourages communal groups and parties, in Pakistan no group or parties other than communal are encouraged.
A Pakistan Peoples’ Congress is inconceivable. When the Hindu leaders of Sind planned the establishment of a political party which might draw its membership from people belonging to various religions, the reply of the Pakistan Government was characteristic. The Hindus of Sind, (such of them as are still there) might have a Hindu Party, but not one which Muslims also might join. In the Muslim State of Pakistan, no Muslim may join any organization other than a purely Muslim one. It is such an attitude which bred the riots of 1946 and 1947-Calcutta, Noakhali, N.-W. F. P., the Punjab, Sind and Bahawalpur.
The very name of the State which the Muslim League envisaged-and achieved-is, in the context in which it was adopted, a standing insult to the Hindus and other non-Muslims living in India. This name-Pakistan-means literally ‘the Land of the Pure’ or of Purity. This implies clearly that Hindus and all that belongs to them credally and materially is impure, defiled and unholy. In a communally-charged atmosphere to have broadcast such an offensive name and concept among the Muslims was to extend an open invitation to racial and communal arrogance, contempt of others, challenges and counter-challenges.
The origin of the Pakistan idea is briefly this: –
Dr. Mohammad Iqbal in his presidential address at the Annual Muslim League Session held at Allahabad in .1930, advocated the establishment of a separate Muslim State or Federation in India on the basis of the Muslims’ separate political identity, in these words: “The Muslim demand for the creation of Muslim India within India is, therefore, perfectly justified. I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-Government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims at least of North-West India.”
This was the first hint thrown into the atmosphere of Indian politics of a separate Muslim State or Federation. But the thing at this stage was a vague aspiration, the desire towards a separate state was unformed in anybody’s mind as a concrete programme-symptomatic nevertheless of a dangerous way of thinking and an explosive kind of mentality.
Dr. Mohammad Iqbal’s thesis did not immediately find much support among the Indian Muslims. At the Round Table Conference which was held in London soon after, the Muslim delegates talked in terms only of safeguards and the proportions of seats the Muslims might get in the various legislatures of India in addition to pleas for the creation of a new Muslim-majority province, namely Sind. The official policy of the Muslim League in these years continued to be very much the same-any thought of setting up a separate state being regarded as the vision of an idealist, a poet, but in no way practical politics.
But Dr. Mohammad Iqbal was by no means the only Muslim who thought in terms of a separate Muslim State in India. In the January of 1933 appeared, on behalf of certain Indian Muslim students at Cambridge, headed by Chaudhari Rehmat Ali, a pamphlet entitled Now or Never. This pamphlet advocated a complete break away of the Muslims of North-Western zones of India from the rest of the Indian nation. “India” it said, “is not the name of single country, nor the home of one single nation. It is in fact, the designation of a state created for the first time in history by the British.” The Moslems are shewn in this pamphlet to be altogether separate in their way of life from the other people of India, and hence the unmistakable conclusion is suggested that they must have a separate state of their own. Says the pamphlet, ‘We do not inter-dine, we do not intermarry. Our national customs and calendars, even our diet and dress, are different. Hence the Muslims demand the recognition of a separate national status.’
It is necessary here to point out that the essence of this last argument given above has been repeated ever since 1940 by all Muslim Leaguers, down from Mr. Jinnah. Differences and cleavages have been emphasized and the doctrine of hate and animosity has been preached. Muslim separatism has been bolstered up; all attempts made in the past-comparatively remote and recent-by far-sighted Hindus and Muslims, Kings, poets, founders of faiths and others-have been sought to be written off. This exaggerated account of the cleavage between the Muslim and the Hindu (and Sikh) way -of life led, when factors favour able to such a consummation had developed fully, to the orgy of rioting in Bengal, the N.-W. F. Province, the Punjab and Sind. As a matter of fact, it would have been a surprising thing if after the gospel of hate which the Muslim League had been preaching to the Indian Muslims for so many years, these riots and their accompanying horrors and devastation had not occurred.
The word ‘Pakistan’, which so powerfully caught the imagination of the Muslims of India, and which pinned the vague, floating idealism of savants like Dr. Mohammad Iqbal to a concrete objective and programme, is a coinage of Chaudhari Rehmat Ali, who has been mentioned above. He has been hailed among the Muslims as the founder of Pakistan National Movement. The coinage is said to have been formed from the initial letters of the names of the Provinces designed to compose the original Pakistan -The North-Western zone. These provinces were: Punjab, Afghania (N.-W. Frontier Province) Kashmir and Baluchistan (which contributed the end letters to the name). Apart from this genesis of the name, which perhaps was an afterthought, the name is a Persian compound formation; and an offensive challenge to the non-Muslims, extremely defiant and provoking, is inherent in it. For Pakistan means the Land of the Pure, in this case the Muslims.
Pakistan, as has been told above, was originally conceived to comprise only the North-Western areas of the Punjab, Sind, Kashmir, the N.-W. Frontier Province and Baluchistan. But in a later concept of the thing, issued in the form of a revised version of the original scheme, it was devised to comprise, besides the areas originally ear-marked for it, also Assam and Bengal in the East, and Hyderabad and Malabar in the South. In addition to these extensive strongholds of Muslim power in the North-West, in the East and the South, beleaguering non-Muslim India from all strategic points, were also to be several smaller though by no means too small, Muslim pockets, studded all over the country-one in the United Provinces, one in the heart of Rajputana and another still in Bihar. Thus, the Muslims of all India, and not only those of the Muslim majority areas, were to have independent countries of their own, parcelling out India into so many new Muslim-dominated States.
This process in its conception carried with itself certain very far-reaching, and in the light of the communal developments of 1946 and 1947, very significant and pregnant corollaries. Rehmat Ali, whatever else he might be, has been quite fertile in the devising of catching, though somewhat megalomaniac names. Besides Pakistan, he has been responsible for the concept of India as Dinia, a cleverly suggestive anagram. Dinia would be the continent which, if not at the moment the home of an Islamic State, was such in immediate conception, waiting to be converted and subordinated to Islam through the proselytising and conquering zeal of its sons. Bengal and Assam, conceived as a joint Muslim-majority area by a logic partial to Muslim reasoning, was rechristened by Rehmat Ali Bang-i-Islam or Bangistan, redolent of the Feudal Moghal name of Bengal, Bangush, which has been offensive to the Hindu, suffering for centuries under the hell of the Muslim. The Muslim Homelands parcelled out of Bihar, the U. P. and Rajputana (the Ajmer area, where is the shrine of the great Muslim Saint, Khawaja Muinuddin Chisti) were to be called respectively Faruquistan, Haideristan and Muinistan.
Hyderabad, ruled over by a Muslim Prince, with its 86% Hindu population, was to be called Osmanistan, after the name of the present Nizam; and the Moplah tracts of Malabar were named Moplistan. There would, besides, be areas known as Safistan and Nasaristan. On the map of India (or Dinia) as drawn by Rehmat Ali, non-Muslim areas make unimpressive, miserable patches, interspersed on all sides with Muslim states, born out of conflict with Hindu India, and pursuing a set policy of converting, conquering and amalgamating this Hindu India into themselves. Such was the conception of Pakistan, at any rate the first push, made popular among the Indian Muslims by the tremendous force of propaganda which communal and fanatical zeal could lend to the Muslim League of which we have been witnessing the grimly tragic consequences since August, 1946.
All this mentioned above was elaborated by Rehmat Ali in 1940, the year in which his concept had been so far successful that the Lahore Session of the Muslim League passed the famous Pakistan Resolution, adopting the achievement of an independent ‘Muslim State’ out of the United India of British formation, as the immediate goal of the Muslim League policy. Rehmat Ali’s Pamphlet of 1940 was entitled Millat of Islam and the Menace of Indianism. By the Menace of Indianism was implied the conception of the Indian Muslims as a separate nation, who must refuse to be of India, and must demand a separate state or several ‘states’ to be in alliance with one another, for themselves. The elucidation of this conception by Rehmat Ali is very revealing for a student of the trends forming the Indian Muslim mentality of the last decade or so.
In 1942 Rehmat Ali came out with still another Pamphlet, called The Millat and its Mission. In this Pamphlet, apart from the concept of India as Dinia or the land which was destined to be converted in its entirety to Islam and to Muslim hegemony, there was a very revealing attitude about minorities. As has been pointed out by all, those who have been critical of the programme of Pakistan, the problem of minorities to be left in Pakistan and Hindustan would be the chief stumbling block of any future policy in these states.
Vast Hindu-Sikh and Muslim minorities would be left in Pakistan and Hindustan respectively, and to settle with them would require imagination, tact and a high degree of fairness. The Muslim League advocates of Pakistan have been prolific with assurances of fair treatment towards minorities-assurances never seriously meant to be kept, and broken in the most unworthy manner in all the territories which became part of the Pakistan State. What the Muslim Leaguers had been planning all these years was really to drive out minorities from Pakistan, and in this way to solve the minority problem. Listen to the illuminating remarks of Rehmat Ali on minorities. Says Rehmat Ali:
‘What is the fundamental truth about minorities……… remember that, in the past ‘Minorityism’ has ever proved itself a major enemy of the Millat; that at present it is sabotaging us religiously, culturally, and politically even in our national lands; and that in the future, it would destroy us throughout the Continent of Dinia and its dependencies, Hence the Commandment (one of the seven commandments laid down in the pamphlet “The Millat and its Mission”), Avoid ‘Minorityism’, which means that we must not leave our minorities in Hindu lands, even if the British and the Hindus offer them the so-called constitutional safeguards. For no safeguards can be substituted for the nationhood which is their birthright. Nor must we keep Hindu and/or Sikh minorities in our lands, even if they themselves were willing to remain with or without any special safeguards. For they will never be of us. Indeed, while in ordinary times they will retard our national reconstruction, in times of crisis they will betray us and bring about our redestruction.
“This is the gist of the Commandment. It may be expanded into the factual statement that
“(a) To leave our minorities in Hindu lands is:-
(1) To leave under Hindu hegemony 35 million Muslims who form no less than 1/3 of the whole Millat, which in her struggle for freedom has no allies in the continent.
(2) To deny their resources to the cause of the Millat at a time when she needs the maximum contribution of every one of her sons and daughters.
(3) To devote their lives and labour to the cause of the Hindu Jati. I hope people who argue that an equal number of (35 millions) Hindu and Sikh minorities in Pakistan, Bangistan and Osmanistan will be working for the Millat overlook the fact that the work of one can never compensate for that of the other………”
To reinforce still further the lesson and the determination for the total elimination of minorities, Rehmat Ali argues further on, more uncompromisingly,
“(b) To keep Hindus and/or Sikh minorities in our lands is:
“(1) To keep in Muslim lands 35 million Hindus and Sikhs who form no more than 1/8 of the total strength of the force opposing the Millat in the Continent of Dinia.
(2) To condemn to permanent servitude our 35 million brethren living in Hindu Dinia, i.e., outside Pakistan, Bangistan and Osmanistan. The reason is that unless and until we accept this commandment we cannot liberate them from the domination of ‘Indianism’.
(5) To forget even the unforgettable lesson taught to us by the disappearance of our own Pak Empire1 and of the Turkish Empire, namely that one of the major causes of their decline, defeat and downfall was the treachery and treason of their religious, racial and political minorities.”
Thus, in a thorough and relentless way Rehmat Ali has pleaded for the total elimination of minorities from Pakistan. How deeply the lesson sank into the minds of the Muslim League and the average Muslim, will be seen from the pronouncements given below of the leaders of Muslim opinion in India from Qaid-i-Azam Jinnah downwards, on the question of Minorities and the exchange of population. It was this lesson, thoroughly learnt, which led to the hounding out of the non-Muslim populations from Eastern Bengal (1946), N.-W. Frontier Province (1946 and 1947), Western Punjab, Sind and its adjoining areas, and now from the East Bengal Province of Pakistan.
Mr. Jinnah replying to a question seeking suggestions for the restoration of peace in India, said: “In view of the horrible slaughter in various parts of India, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchange of population to avoid brutal recurrence of that which had taken place where small minorities have been butchered by the overwhelming majorities.
“The Viceroy-because he alone can do it-as the representative of the Crown and as the Governor-General with powers that are vested in him, should adopt every means and measures to restore, first, peace and order. In the present conditions there is no room for reason, intelligence and fair-play. Negotiations in these conditions can hardly yield fruitful results and produce a settlement satisfactory to both parties.”
It may be pointed out here that exchange of population has been in the mind of all Muslim exponents of Pakistan, or whatever the Muslim State designed to be carved out of India has been called. Dr. Latif of Hyderabad (Deccan), in his book The Muslim Problem in India, in spite of the temperate language used by him and the reasoned way in which he has made out the case for creating Hindu and Muslim zones, has advocated the exchange of population. On this problem he says, “One of the objects of the transitional constitution2 is to facilitate and prepare the ground for migration of Muslims and the Hindus into the zones specified for them so as to develop them into cuturally homogeneous States.
During the transitional period migration should be on a voluntary3 basis. For this the necessary legislation will have to be passed for each region, and a machinery set up to organise and regulate this voluntary Migration.”
There is unconscious humour and irony in the use of the epithet ‘voluntary’ for this migration, for which Dr. Latif’s scheme postulates the provision of legislation and a suitable machinery by the Government or the Governments concerned. Of course, when the Muslim Leaguers did actually come to establish a Government of their own on August 15, 1947, they drove the non-Muslim population out of their country with scant ceremony-by a campaign of pillage, murder, rape and arson. This method effected the exchange desired much quicker and in a more thorough way than could be done by any human legislation.
As a matter of fact, the driving out of minorities had begun as early as November, 1946 with Noakhali, when the whole of Northern India was flooded with destitutes begging for a morsel or a piece of cloth to cover their shivering bodies. Later this was effected in December, 1946 and January, 1947 in the Hazara District of the N.-W. Frontier Province, when Sikhs and Hindus had to flee for dear life into the Punjab. And then came March, 1947 with its horrors. August, 1947 let loose a vast flood of persecution of millions. So, the Muslim scheme was being translated into historic fact to the letter.
To return now for a while to Rehmat Ali, whose pamphlets provided the germ of the Pakistan idea, and the Muslim League Plans and such bodies as the Muslim National Guards, which were subsidiary to it. Rehmat Ali had the dream of reviving the old Muslim glory. His ultimate vision was of a Muslim India or Dinia, over which Islam must rule in its traditional manner. The areas carved out for Muslims in the midst of Hindu India mentioned above, were called by Rehmat Ali. ‘footholds’.
Footholds from which presumably the Muslims were to plan expansion into the heart of the neighbouring non-Muslim areas, and to link up with one another, for tightening up their stranglehold in these non-Muslim areas. Jinnah’s own abortive proposals for a ‘corridor’ to link up Eastern and Western Pakistan was somewhat of this nature. Have an area running all over Northern India, cutting India into two-and plan for the rest from this advantageous position.
Presumably had Hyderabad been in a position to accede to Pakistan, a corridor would have been demanded for linking it up with Pakistan in the shape of an outlet to the sea. This has been the tempo, the character and the insatiably ambitious nature of the Pakistan Plan, conspiring for the conquest of Hindu India. Rioting and pillaging would be accounted only as minor rehearsary exercises in such a mighty and vast programme of action!
On the exchange of population, Mr. Jinnah expressed himself quite clearly on a number of occasions, as already quoted. His views were not those of a mere idealist like Rahmat Ali, or of an intellectual like Dr. Latif, but of the leader of the most powerful Muslim Party in India, whose words would carry tremendous influence with the Muslim masses and would be effective in forming their attitude and reactions. Speaking in Kingsway Hall in London on December 13, 1946, when he had gone there to have consultations with the British Government regarding the future functioning or killing of the Constituent Assembly, to which talks the Congress leaders too had been invited, Mr. Jinnah made a passionate plea for the Muslim State of Pakistan, which would be inhabited by ‘one hundred million people, all Muslims.’ The implication of this is very clear.
The Muslim population of India was, according to the Muslim League plan, to be concentrated in Pakistan, and as a necessary corollary, the non-Muslims were to be packed off. ‘The important implications of such remarks were not lost upon the Muslims of the Muslim majority areas of India, and they formulated their plans for effecting a clean sweep of the non-Muslim minorities from their lands.
A few excerpts from the text of this speech of Mr. Jinnah, made at a time when the situation in the country was very explosive, and any provocation provided to the Muslims would lead to widespread rioting, should serve to reveal the real nature of the campaign started by the Muslim League. The terrible Calcutta riots had already occurred; Noakhali was hardly a month-old affair and stirrings of the Muslim population of Hazara District in the N.-W.F.P. against the Sikhs were becoming visible. At such a time to have propounded the twin theories of complete cultural and credal separation and the exchange of population was only to inflame rioting on the part of the Muslims still further. Said Mr. Jinnah at Kingsway Hall:
“In the North-West and North-East zones of India which are our homeland and where we are in a majority of 70% we say we want a separate State of our own. There we can live according to our own notions of life. The differences between Hindus and Muslims are so fundamental that there is nothing that matters in life upon which we agree.
“It is well known to any student of History that our heroes, our culture, our language, our music, our architecture, our jurisprudence, our social life are absolutely different and distinct. We are told that the so-called one India is British-made. It was by the sword. It can only be held as it has been held. Do not be misled by anyone saying that India is one and why, therefore, should it not continue to be one. What do we want? I tell you, Pakistan. Pakistan presupposes that Hindustan should also be a free State.
“What would Hindus lose? Look at the map. They would have three-quarters of India. They would have the best parts. They have a population of nearly 200,000,000. Pakistan “is certainly not the best part of India. We should have a population of 100,000,000, all Muslims.
“On July the 27th, we decided to change our policy and to resort to “Direct Action”-a big change of policy-and we decided to tell our people this on August the 16th.
“Reviewing the whole position, there is no other way but to divide India. Give Muslims their homeland and give Hindus Hindustan.”
The Muslim League’s famous ‘Pakistan Resolution’ was passed in its Annual session at Lahore in April, 1940. It declared for the first time the objective of Muslim League policy in India thus:
“Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be acceptable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims, unless it is designed on the following basic principles, namely, that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and north-eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute 8 independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign………”
Non-Muslim India did not readily give acceptance for this proposal which on the very face of it was outrageous and the consequences of which appeared to be nothing less than a relentless and destructive civil war in the country. Large sections of the Muslims too did not find this solution of the country’s constitutional problem acceptable, as it would mean endless rioting in which Muslims as surely as non-Muslims would suffer. But the British Government found in this resolve of the Muslim League a fresh sign of the perpetuation of the communal rift in India and they were not slow to lend it countenance in a way, and as Congress leaders repeatedly declared, to put a premium on Muslim League intransigeance which made any reasonable settlement well-nigh impossible. The Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, whose regime in India was marked for the campaign of repression launched by the British Government against the freedom movement in India, said in the well-known August 1940 ‘offer’ to India, “It goes without saying that they (the British Government) could not contemplate transfer of their present responsibilities for the peace and welfare of India to any system of Government whose authority is directly denied by large and powerful elements in India’s national life. Nor could they be parties to the coercion of such elements into submission to such a Government.”
Here was a clear hint to all such groups as would decide to dissociate themselves from the Congress, that any such dissociation on the part would be duly noted and respected. The Princes, the Muslim League and any others might come along. But coming as this declaration did not long after the passing of the “Pakistan Resolution” it is clear that it was meant as an acceptance by the British Government of the right of Muslim separation. Such was the joint Anglo-Muslim conspiracy out of which Pakistan was born. And the two forces-the British Government and the Muslim League-worked hand in hand right up till the 15th August, 1947 to make Pakistan a fact, and to create such a temper of hate and lack of confidence between the communities as would make any thought of their living together an utter impossibility.
But the British Government did not stop short at this above declaration. In the Prime Minister’s Statement in the House of Commons on March 11, 1942 on the eve of the departure of Sir Stafford Cripps on his historic mission to India it was said: “He (Sir Stafford) carries with him the full confidence of His Majesty’s Government, and he will strive in their name to procure the necessary measure of assent, not only from the Hindu majority, but also from those great minorities among whom the Muslims are the most numerous and on many ground pre-eminent.”
With these and other declarations of the British Government’s policy in their pocket, with the full support of the British bureaucracy in India with whom in Pandit Nehru’s famous words the Muslim League had ‘a mental alliance’ and with the confidence that any and every act of intransigeance on its part would be respected by the British Government, the Muslim League devised plans for creating sanctions behind its extreme demands. The sanctions were to be riots against Hindus, and when these came into the Punjab, against the Sikhs as well. Very evidently the Muslim League was not at war with the British Government. Its war was with Hindu India, and so against Hindu India it would start a fierce campaign. While the War lasted, it did not suit the British Government td have any large-scale rioting or conflict inside India, as that would have meant hindering the war-effort.
But all this while the propaganda campaign for Pakistan was kept on at full blast. When the Congress started its 1942 movement, Mr. Jinnah made vituperative speeches against the Congress and called upon Muslims to oppose this movement. The Muslim League press all through this struggle used words like ‘goondas’ in describing the Congress fighters against British rule. Even the British press did not say harder things against the Congress leaders and workers than did the Muslim.
A good deal has been written regarding the psychological, political and historical factors which led to the formulation of the Muslim demand for Pakistan. Leaving aside the issues which may be controversial and may reflect only individual reactions, two or three things appeared to be quite clear as to the factors which made this demand possible. One was the clear need of the British Government in the event of parting with power in India; which they well knew, could not be long delayed, of leaving behind them a warning and divided India. The other was the peculiarly arrogant and narcissian temperament of Mr. Jinnah which kept him perpetually in conflict with the great personalities inside the Congress, a number of whom were his equals, and so he would have to work with them in a team and not dictate to them, as he could unquestionably do inside the Muslim League, made up of mediocrities for the most part. Added to these was the general temper and behaviour of the Muslims, especially in the important Muslim-majority provinces of Bengal and the Punjab in which the Muslim-dominated ministries, which to begin with were not Muslim League but became so in 1940, were ruling over the Hindus and in the later province over the Hindus and Sikhs, in a most discriminatory manner, extremely provocative to the latter.
In these two provinces, of which the Punjab had been called by Mr. Jinnah the ‘corner stone’ of Pakistan, and which were, between them to constitute the bulk of the territory and about 80% of the population of Pakistan, a policy of thoroughly beating down the non-Muslims had been in operation for some time. In Bengal, and to a still greater extent in the Punjab, the administration was placed in its most important aspects into Muslim hands. Hindus and Sikhs were removed from key positions, and Hindu or Sikh officers as were occupying such positions, were transferred to routine or office work, and those whose promotions were due were kept down under one pretext or the other. Wherever any District Magistrate or other senior administrative officer showed impartiality and dared to put down the aggressive Muslim elements within his area, the wrath of the Muslim Ministers inevitably descended upon him, and he soon found himself cast into the wilderness of the secretariat or such work as would keep him in a position of utter impotence, under the check of some Muslim favourite of the Ministry. In administration there were glaring instances of discrimination against non-Muslims, which while they made the average Muslim very arrogant and aggressive, put the non-Muslims in a mood of desperation against injustice of the administrative machinery.
It was the opinion openly held in these times among the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab and the Hindus of Bengal, that in these two provinces, the Muslims already had Pakistan in action though not in name. As a matter of fact, that astute politician, the late Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, Premier of the Punjab from 1937 to the end of 1942, suggested in vain to his Muslim League colleagues not to press for a formal division of India into independent states, but to ask only for the creation of Hindu and Muslim zones within an Indian Federation with a weak centre, as that would give the Muslims all the advantages of Pakistan without the liabilities, financial and political, of having an independent State, which would be deprived of the rich economic backing of the more productive parts of India.
He and his Unionist Party succeeded to a great extent in making the Punjab very much a Muslim province. Protests of Hindu and Sikh politicians and legislators were of no avail. Sir Sikandar died in the December of 1942, and his death removed from the field of Muslim politics perhaps the only, if any, figure who could have successfully helped to modify at least some of the extreme theories of Mr. Jinnah. His successor, Sir Khizar Hyat Khan, although a capable man and one who got ample support from Hindus and Sikhs as against the rabid Punjab Muslim League, became as time passed, altogether helpless to resist the onslaught of the League on his party and the Hindu and Sikh minorities of the Punjab.
After the passing of the Pakistan Resolution by the League and the declaration by the British Viceroy and the British Prime Minister that the Muslim point of view would be given a place of importance in all constitutional negotiations, the next Annual Session of the Muslim League (1941) held at Madras showed still greater vehemence in the expression of the Pakistan demand by the Muslim League. While repeating the substance of the Pakistan demand in its resolutions” this session drew forth an exposition of this demand from its President, Mr. Jinnah.
He said, “The goal of the All-India Muslim League is that we want to establish a completely independent State in the north-west and eastern zones of India with full control on defence, foreign affairs, communications, customs, currency, exchange etc. We do not want under any circumstances a constitution of All-India character with one Government at the centre. We will never agree to that. If you once agree to it, let me tell you that the Muslims would be absolutely wiped out of existence. We shall never be a feudatory of any power or of any Government at the Centre so far as our free national homelands are concerned. Muslim India will never submit to an All-Indian constitution and one Central Government. The ideology of the League is based on the fundamental principle that the Muslims of India are an independent nationality and that any attempt to get them to merge their national and political identity and ideology will be resisted………”
The last portion, italicized by the present writer, is worthy of note. Resistance, direct action’ struggle-these words have been the keynote of the Muslim League in defining its relations with Hindu India. As early as 1938, at its Patna Session, the Muslim League had passed a resolution declaring: “The time has come to authorise the Working Committee of the All-India Muslim League to decide and resort to direct action if and when necessary”. This was to launch a struggle against the Congress Ministries on whose resignation in November, 1939 in protest against the drafting by the British Government of India into the war without prior consent of the people, the Muslim League celebrated its ‘Thanksgiving Day’.
Mahatma Gandhi was released from prison in 1944, and while in prison he had addressed a letter to Mr. Jinnah asking him to come and see him for a talk regarding the political settlement in the country. This letter the British Government withheld, but Mr. Jinnah and the country knew of it from a Government communique. The Muslim press was moved at this gesture on the part of the incarcerated Mahatma, but not Mr. Jinnah. He found occasion, even in the Mahatma’s writing an invitation to him, to abuse and vilify the latter, and so he never applied to the Government for permission to see the Mahatma. On coming out of prison, with the Congress still in jail, the Mahatma went to meet Mr. Jinnah, at his Bombay residence, day after day. But Mr. Jinnah really did not want a settlement. So the Mahatma’s approach proved unavailing. Then, in 1945, after the surrender of Germany when the Congress leaders were released, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy called the famous conference at Simla, of Congress, League, Sikh and other leaders. Nothing short of complete severance of relations with the rest of India would satisfy Mr. Jinnah. Parity was offered with the Congress to the Muslim League on a basis of 5:5 in a cabinet of 14.
This was to be an interim measure, with the permanent settlement to come a little later. But Mr. Jinnah would have none of it. The Muslim temper of hostility to the Hindus was kept up by the resolutions of the Muslim League, the speeches of Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League leaders and the comments of the Muslim League-controlled press.
During the period the Muslim League was preparing, as is now evident from what happened in 1946 and 1947, for a large-scale struggle against Hindu India, and in the Punjab inevitably against the Sikhs and Hindus, the Muslim League had been gathering a private army of its own, to which training was being imparted in fighting, stabbing and assaults. Arms were being collected, and demobilized Muslim personnel of the Indian Army were freely enlisted in the League army. This army, begun about the year 1938, continued to expand and grow better equipped. It had two famous organizations; one was the Muslim League Volunteer Corps, which was parallel to the Congress Seva Dal. But there was a great difference between the Congress body and this League body. The Congress adopted and followed its creed of non-violence.
The Congress volunteers were forbidden even under the gravest provocation to retaliate with physical force. They were to regulate crowds, to organize picketing, anti-Government processions to arrange protest strikes, but no way to fight. But the Muslim League creed was not non-violent. Every town with any Muslim population had a large proportion of its Muslim inhabitants who could be counted only as riff-raff, and who very often with the connivance of the black sheep among the police force, lived on crime. Such unprincipled elements were the favourite recruiting ground for the Muslim League volunteer corps. Any hooligan with the badge and uniform of a political organization, which was day in and day out preaching the gospel of hatred against other communities, would be formidable in a well-organized group, which could back him up, and direct him in secret and violent action.
Still more important and more dangerous was the Muslim National Guards, which by the bye, is now converted into the Pakistan National Guards.
The Muslim National Guards did not owe any formal allegiance to the Muslim League, though it had the same flag as the Muslim League had. It is well-known that the National Guards was the secret arm of the Muslim League. Its membership was secret and it had its own centres and headquarters, where its members received military training and such instruction as would make them affective in times of rioting, such as using the lathi, the spear and the knife. The Unit Commander of the Muslim National Guards was known as Salar, over whom were higher officers, but all functioning secretly and with clearly such instructions as would make them formidable in rioting against unarmed non-Muslims populations.
When in January, 1947 the Lahore office of the Muslim National Guards was raided by the Punjab police, a good deal of Military equipment including steel helmets ant badges were recovered. The National Guards had their own jeeps and lorries, which helped them in swift mobility for attack on Hindu and Sikh localities, in sniping and stabbing lonely passers-by and in carrying away loot. One of the articles the Muslim National Guards prized and stored was petrol, which would be used not only as fuel in transport, but as an excellent means of incendiarism on a large and devastating scale. This use of it the Muslims of the Punjab, and earlier of Bengal made very thoroughly and effectively, and hundreds of burnt town and villages in the two provinces are tragic evidence of how thorough the preparations of the Muslim League had been for its war on Hindus and Sikhs.
Regular tests were held of the Muslim National Guards in feats of fighting and attack. Marks were given and certificates granted. Alongside were reproduce the facsimile of one such certificate from Jullundur, dated (date is on the back, not here reproduced in photograph) 3.XI.464. This is only one of thousands of such certificates granted at the various centres and headquarters of the Guards in the Punjab and elsewhere. So the Muslims had a widespread and well-trained semi-military organization to back up its programme and policy.
So alarming was the rise of the Muslim National Guards that the Punjab Government took serious notice of this development, which proved to be so dangerous for the peace of the Province. But the entire machinery to the Government being pro-Muslim, nothing serious was done about the Muslim National Guards.
In April, 1947 Mr. Akhtar Hussain, Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government reported to the Governor of the Punjab: –
“The necessity for recruitment and re-organization of the Muslim League National Guards is occupying the attention of the Provincial Salar. An increase of 5,630 Guards has been reported and accelerated activity has been noticeable in the western and north-western Punjab. In the eastern Punjab, active training has been confined mainly in Simla, Ambala Cantt. and Panipat where Guards have been exercising secretly in Lathi Fighting and in the Central Punjab and in Jullundar District, where Khaksars have undertaken their training. Open activity has been confined to the collection of Relief Funds, and in the Rawalpindi area to warning Muslims to destroy looted property and refrain from giving evidence in connection with the recent disturbances.”
The Chief Secretary’s report dated a fortnight later says,:
“There are already indications that the Guards are being used as secret messengers, and their general activities are becoming less open, and in some places, they are active in arming the Community5. It has been reported that financial aid from the Centre has been promised, particularly for the Western Districts which are to act as recruiting grounds for the entire Province. Enlistment in the Rawalpindi and Campbellpore Districts has been particularly brisk and efforts have been made to enlist the services of ex-soldiers. The increase in membership is noticeable in all districts however and it is estimated that the number of Muslim League National Guards in the Province now is in the neighbourhood of 39,000.”
The Muslim League, therefore, had this two-pronged thrust to make in its assault on the non-Muslims of the Muslim majority areas. In the first place it was preaching its two-nation theory and its uncompromising opposition to the Hindus, and in the Punjab, to the Sikhs as well. It tried to write off all such things as a common Indian Culture and an Indian Nationhood. In the name of self-determination for the Muslims of India, it inculcated in them the creed of intolerance, arrogance and hate. All this made any compromise with Hindu India an impossibility for the Muslims; they must fight against the Hindus to enforce their extreme demands. And this fight came in 1946, when the Muslim League gave its Direct Action call on the 27th July of that year, which part of the story is to be narrated in the next chapter.
Secondly, the Muslim League had been preparing the Muslims physically and militarily for such a fight, which when it came, the Hindus and Sikhs were caught unawares, and suffered heavily in the dead and in the injured, in women abducted and dishonoured, in property looted and houses and religious and educational places burnt. Such retaliation as came from the Hindus and Sikhs was only belated, and after the Muslim onslaught was becoming continuous and a threat to their very existence. Before August, 1947 such retaliation wherever it came, it even served the purpose of the Muslim League, for it created that atmosphere of a civil war in India, which the Muslim League found necessary for the furtherance of its programme and policy. It could trot out atrocity stories and incite Muslims elsewhere to fall upon Hindus and Sikhs, as they actually did in the N.-W. Frontier Province in December, 1946, and January, 1947. Such was the aim and method of the Muslim League.
1Meaning the Muslim Empire in India (Present writer’s note).
2As advocated in Dr. Latif’s scheme adumberated in “The Muslim Problem in India”.
3One, however, fails to see how it would be voluntary, if effected by law.
4The original is in the possession of a Hindu gentleman.
During the later months of the year 1945 and early 1946 the temper of the Muslim masses was kept up by the propaganda of hate emanating from the official pronouncements of the Muslim League, the speeches of its leaders and the unrestrained articles of the pro-League press. Muslims had everywhere in the Punjab and Bengal begin to look upon the minorities as their subjects in prospect. Provocative acts against non-Muslims by the Muslims were beginning to be frequent. By this time the police and the officials were so thoroughly saturated with the poisonous propaganda of the Muslim League against the Hindus and Sikhs, that it was not easy for a Hindu or Sikh to find a Muslim policeman or civilian impartial in his attitude where the conflict lay between a Muslim and a non-Muslim.
This attitude on the part of the police was a great hardship, especially as more than 70% of the police force in the Punjab, for example, was made up of Muslims. In the people’s daily lives the police could do much to make them happy or miserable. That the police and the officialdom had gone thoroughly Muslim League was demonstrated by three successive events: The Provincial Assembly elections in the Punjab early in 1946; the Muslim League agitation against the Khizar Ministry in January-February, 1947 and the Punjab Riots which began early in March, 1947 and continued in Pakistan as late as January of 1948, till which month incidents of glaring brutality on a colossal magnitude against the Hindu and Sikh remnants of the population continued to be reported.
The 1946 elections in the Punjab provided to the Muslim League the first opportunity for a trial of its strength in the Punjab. The Punjab, called corner-stone of Pakistan-was the one province in which the Muslim League had not been able to form a ministry. Not that the Muslims did not have in this province what was called ‘Pakistan in action.’ But that was not enough. The Punjab must go Muslim League, in name as well as in action, in order to make Mr. Jinnah’s edifice of Pakistan complete. For this purpose it was necessary that an overwhelmingly large number of Muslim seats must be won by the League in the Punjab. A mere majority of Muslims seats would not do-for in the Punjab, out of its 175 seats, as many as about 87 worked out to be non-Muslim, as some of the special constituencies like the University, Labour, Commerce and Landlords went to non-Muslims. The League, therefore, must win all or almost all Muslim seats, for which purpose it must defeat the Unionist Party of which Sir Khizar Hyat Khan, Premier of the Punjab in succession to Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, was the leader.
As the Unionist leader. detesting the methods of Muslim League and regarding the path of the partition of the country harmful for the Muslims themselves, was bent upon giving a fight to the League, the contest was expected to be very bitter, as it actually turned out to be. The Muslim League fought on the programme of Pakistan, which it placed before the Muslim masses. The Unionist Muslims realizing the overwhelming force of the Pakistan appeal to Muslim masses, did not oppose Pakistan but they argued, more wisely perhaps than the Leaguers from the Muslim point of view, that to press for a separate state of Pakistan would inevitably entail cutting off of Hindu and Sikh areas from the Punjab and would be detrimental to the economic interest of the Muslims themselves. But so deeply had the Pakistan poison seeped into the Muslim mind that the Unionist fought everywhere a narrowly defensive battle.
The Muslims appeared to have gone thoroughly Muslim League by this time. The officials and the police everywhere helped the Muslim League candidates by the usual methods of threats and cajolery employed on the electorate. The most violent and vituperative abuse was employed against the Unionists. As the Muslim League plank was Pakistan, so naturally the Congress and the Sikhs came in for extensive and violent abuse. Tenseness, hate and a communally charged atmosphere were created in the Punjab.
The League won as many as 76 seats (they claimed to have 78) in the Punjab Assembly. They were undoubtedly the largest single party in the Legislature. They hoped to form a ministry with the help of a few defections from among the Muslim Unionists, some Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans. 88 in a House of 175 would give either party a working majority. But the Hindus and Sikhs, having already experienced the ‘Pakistan in action’ of the Muslim-dominated Unionist Ministry, many of whose erstwhile supporters were now on the Muslim League side, were determined not to be ruled over by a party which stood frankly and nakedly for Muslim rule and for the partition of India and the subjugation of the Hindus and Sikhs for the greater glory of Islam, as had been preached by Rahmat Ali, by Dr. Mohammad Iqbal and by the Muslim League propagandists and press in general.
In the negotiations for ministry-making which went on at Lahore immediately after the elections were over, not a single Hindu or Sikh member of the Provincial Legislature was willing to walk into the Muslim League camp. The Indian Christians preferred to stand with the Congress with its ideal of a tolerant, secular state in India, rather than with the fanatical Muslim League. So, by a majority of nearly 100 members in the Provincial Legislature, with Sir Khizar Hyat Khan as Premier, the Congress, the Panthic Party and the Unionist Party in coalition formed the Coalition Ministry in March, 1946. The Leaguers felt furious and chagrined. Their campaign of hate became, if anything, more intensified than ever. The communal atmosphere continued to be charged more and more with tension.
In the meanwhile in other Provinces, the League had been carrying on its propaganda of hate in a most virulent form. In Bengal there was a League majority in the Legislative Assembly, and the League formed its ministry with H. S. Suhrawardy as Premier. In Sind the balance of power between the League and non-League elements was maintained for some time in the form of a trial of strength. At last an obliging Governor prorogued the Legislature; ordered fresh elections, and this time the League formed a majority through its propaganda of hate against non-Muslims. The League won a fairly large number of seats in the North-Western Frontier Province. In the Central Legislative Assembly it won all the Muslim seats.
1946 was the peak year of the success of the Muslim League, and this success no doubt made Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League leaders drunk with the intoxication of achievement. Near and certain visions of a Pakistan in which the Muslims would have it all their own way and in which non-Muslims would live at the sufferance of the Muslims, began to stir the Muslim imagination. This was exactly the situation in which the Muslims could be aroused to terrific action to strike what appeared then to be the final blow for the achievement of Pakistan. And the Muslims not long after did strike this blow. But of that a little later, after the story of the intervening months has been narrated.
It was in this scene that the Cabinet Mission, consisting of the Secretary of State, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. A. V. Alexander, arrived in India, to negotiate for a final settlement with India for the transfer of power. In the protracted negotiations that ensued the formula was evolved of having three groups in the country-one to consist of the Hindu majority provinces of Bihar, Orissa, the U. P., C. P., Bombay and Madras; the second of Assam and Bengal, and the third of the Punjab, the N.-W. Frontier Province and Sind. These three groups were each to frame its own constitution in their respective Assemblies to be elected on the basis of one member for one million of population. There was to be a weak and loose centre, which was to control a limited number of subjects. The three groups were to federate for sake of the administration of these subjects. Otherwise the groups were to be antonomous.
In the Bengal-Assam and the Punjab-Sind- N.W.F.P. groups the Muslims were to be in a majority, and naturally the Hindus and Sikhs in these would have to submit to Muslim dictation. There was no ground whatever for the Muslims of the Hindu-.majority Provinces to protest against this scheme which placed them under Hindu domination, for the Muslims through the Muslim League had asked for some sort of partition of the country, and so must accept what arose from such partition. But Hindus and Sikhs had vehemently opposed the idea of the partition of the country, and to have placed them in the Assam-Bengal and the Punjab Sind-N.W.F.P. groups under Muslim domination against their wishes went hard with them.
The Sikhs vehemently protested against this injustice. On June 9 and 10, 1946, a very full and representation gathering of the Sikh Panth at Amritsar unanimously rejected the Cabinet Mission Scheme which made a gift of the Sikhs and Hindus of the Punjab and its neighbouring Muslim-majority Provinces to Muslim rule against their wishes. The community left no manner of doubt on the point that it would have to struggle against being ruled by what was described as ‘this charter of slavery’1 and would boycott the constituent Assembly which the Cabinet Mission Scheme envisaged. The Hindus of the two groups-the Eastern and the Western-made similar and vehement protests.
But the Congress accepted the Cabinet Mission Scheme, which anyhow did not envisage the partition of India into two independent States, though it meant the perpetuation within the proposed federation of more or less inharmonious autonomous zones. The Cabinet Mission plan paid little heed to the claims and rights of the Sikh people. It militated against the real well-being of the country.
It was a big sop to the Muslim League, and while rejecting self-determination for the Sikhs, who had such a big stake in the economic and political life of the Punjab, it did grant full self-determination to the Muslims of the Muslim majority Provinces. The substance of Pakistan had been conceded in these Muslim majority areas. As for the constitution of the whole of India, that was to be framed by the Constituent Assembly, to be constituted on the principle of one member for every million of the population. Although in such a House the Muslims would have, on the population basis, only ninety-odd members, yet this Constituent Assembly to be so constituted was not sovereign. It was limited by certain terms of reference, and could not go beyond framing a constitution for a limited centre, which would leave the three groups-two of them Muslim-majority-practically independent. The Congress reluctantly accepted these and other limitations in the interest of reaching anyhow a peaceful settlement, and maintaining the unity of the country.
Pakistan as demanded by the Muslim League, was rejected as impracticable by the Cabinet Mission. The statement issued by the Mission on the 23rd of May, 1946 set forth the reasons why the Pakistan solution could not be accepted. The substantial by portion of the statement ran as under:-
“We therefore examined in the first instance the question of a separate and fully independent sovereign State of Pakistan as claimed by the Muslim League. Such a Pakistan would comprise two areas; one in the north-west consisting of the province of the Punjab, Sind, North-West Frontier and British Baluchistan, the other in the north-east consisting of the provinces of Bengal and Assam. The League were prepared to consider adjustment of boundaries at a later stage, but insisted that the principle of Pakistan should first be acknowledged. The argument for a separate State of Pakistan was based, first, upon the right of the Muslim majority to decide their method of Government according to their wishes, and secondly, upon the necessity to include substantial areas in which Muslims are in a minority, in order to make a Pakistan administratively and economically workable.
“The size of the non-Muslim minorities in a Pakistan comprising the whole of the six Provinces enumerated above would be very considerable as the following figures show:-
“These figures show that the setting up a separate sovereign State of Pakistan on the lines claimed by the Muslim League, would not solve the communal minority problem; nor can we see any justification for including within a sovereign Pakistan those districts of the Punjab and of Bengal and Assam in which the population is predominantly non-Muslim. Every argument that can be used in favour of Pakistan can equally in our view be used in favour of the exclusion of non-Muslim areas from Pakistan. This point would particularly affect the position of the Sikhs.
“We therefore considered whether a smaller sovereign Pakistan confined to the Muslim majority areas alone might be a possible basis of compromise. Such a Pakistan is regarded by the Muslim League as quite impracticable because it would entail the exclusion from Pakistan of a large slice of Western Bengal, including Calcutta, in which city the Muslims form 23.6 per cent of the population. We ourselves are also convinced that any solution which involves a radical partition of the Punjab and Bengal, as this would do, would be contrary to the wishes and interests of a very large proportion of the inhabitants of these provinces. Bengal and the Punjab each has its own common language and a long history and tradition. Moreover, any division of the Punjab would of necessity divide the Sikhs leaving substantial bodies of Sikhs on both sides of the boundary. We have, therefore, been forced to the conclusion that neither a larger nor a smaller sovereign State of Pakistan would provide an acceptable solution for the communal problem.”
What the Cabinet Mission had conceded to the Muslim League was the substance of its demand. But the Muslim League did not really want to work in co-operation with the other elements in the national life of India. What it wanted was to dominate certain areas and to plan for the conquest, if possible, of the rest. Later events like the Pakistan invasion of Kashmir and its actively abetting a war against India in the Hindu-majority and landlocked State of Hyderabad, have conclusively proved that such have been, for more than a decade at least, the designs which have been shaping themselves in the programme and policy of the Muslim League.
Apart from electing the Constituent Assembly and the Group Assemblies immediately the Viceroy was to include in his Executive Council, representatives of the people, with the agreed convention that these representatives would work as a Cabinet with the Viceroy as constitutional head; though the constitution, pending a new one to be framed by the Constituent Assembly, was to be the same as before. In this Cabinet the. Muslim League would have 5 seats out of 14 (the Viceroy, to be called the President of the Interim Government, was to be the fifteenth). The Congress was to claim 5, and since one Congress seat on the Cabinet was also to go to a Muslim (actually at one time there were two Congress Muslims in the Cabinet), so the total Muslim quota in the Cabinet would be quite large. But the Muslim League decided to reject the Cabinet Mission Scheme. Later, finding that it would not suit it to remain in the wilderness indefinitely, it did came into the Interim Government, but as the history of those fateful days shows, it came in more to struggle and disrupt from within than to collaborate for the well-being of the country.
The Council of the All-India Muslim League met in Bombay and on July 27, 1946 it finally sealed its rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan, and decided to launch its famous ‘Direct Action’ for the achievement of Pakistan, which it could not achieve by peaceful means. The resolution of the Council ran as follows:-
“Whereas the League has to-day resolved to reject the proposals embodied in the Statement of the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy of May 16, 1946, due to the intransigeance of Congress on the one hand and the breach of faith with the Muslim by the British Government on the other; and whereas Muslim India has exhausted without success all efforts to find a peaceful solution of the Indian problem by compromise and constitutional means; whereas the Congress is bent upon setting up a caste Hindu Raj in India with the connivance of the British, and whereas recent events have shown that power politics and not justice and fair play are the deciding factors in Indian affairs; whereas it has become abundantly clear that the Muslims of India would not rest content with anything less than the immediate establishment of an independent and fully sovereign State of Pakistan and would resist any attempt to impose any constitution, long-term or short-term, or setting up of any Interim Government at the Centre without the approval and consent of the Muslim League, the council of the All-India Muslim League is convinced that the time has now come for the Muslim nation to resort to direct action to vindicate their honour and to get rid of the present slavery under the British and contemplated future of Caste Hindu domination.
“This Council calls upon the Muslim nation to stand to a man being their sole representative organisation, the All-India Muslim League, and be ready for every sacrifice.”
“This Council directs the Working Committee to prepare forthwith a programme of direct action to carry out the policy initiated above and to organize the Muslims for the coming struggle to be launched as and when necessary.”
The Muslim League was now definitely and irrevocably on the war-path. Its war was declared against the Hindus and the Sikhs, against whose opposition it was to establish its independent State of Pakistan. The speeches made by Mr. Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders were provocative in the extreme, and such as to give the Muslims not only broad hints, but clear instigation to attack non-Muslims and by this method of warfare to bring them to their knees if possible, and to force them into the acceptance of Pakistan.
Some of the things said by Mr. Jinnah on this occasion are these:
“What we have done to-day is the most historic act in our history. Never have we in the whole history of the League done anything except by constitutional methods. But now we are forced into this position. Today we bid good-bye to constitutional methods.”
Again, referring to the new threat and programme of Direct Action, he said,
“To-day we have forged a pistol and are in a position to use it.”
Again, talking of the threat of Direct Action he said:
“We mean every word of it. We do not believe in equivocation.”
Then he quoted the Persian Poet, Firdausi, in these words:
“If you seek peace, we do not want War. But if you want War, we will accept it unhesitatingly.”
Still more provocative speeches, if possible, were made by other Muslim League leaders on this occasion. Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan, now Prime Minister of the Dominion of Pakistan, elucidating the implications of the Direct Action threat, said:
“Direct Action means resort to non-constitutional methods, and that can take any form which may suit the conditions under which we live. We cannot eliminate any methods. Direct Action means any action against the Law.”
Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, now a member of the Pakistan Government, declared:
“Pakistan can only be achieved through shedding blood of ourselves, and if need be, and if opportunity arose, by shedding blood of others. Muslims are no believers in Ahimsa.”
Raja Ghanzafar Ali Khan, lately also member of the Pakistan Government, speaking to a huge Muslim gathering at Lahore on the 31st August, 1946 outlined the Muslim League Direct Action as the economic political and social boycott of the Congress and ‘the following of a scorched earth policy.’
Mr. Jinnah held out the threat that Direct Action by Muslims would lead to one hundred times more destruction than the Direct Action of the Hindus (meaning the Congress).
Earlier ill the Convention of Muslim Legislators held in Delhi in April 1946, equally provocative and instigatory things had been said:
Ghulam Mustafa Shah Gilani said:
“Any attempt to prevent the establishment of Pakistan would lead to bloodshed.” Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan said:
“The Punjab Muslims do not believe in non-violence and should not, therefore, be given cause for grievance because once the Muslim lion is infuriated it would become difficult to subdue him.”
Sir Feroze Khan Noon had observed:
“I tell you this much that if we find that we have to fight Great Britain for placing us under one Central Hindu Raj, then the havoc which Muslims will plays will put to shame what Jenghez and Halaku Khan did.”
Sir Ghulam Hussain Hadayatullah, at that time Premier of Sind and later under Pakistan, Governor of the same Province, said:
“The Congress should understand that unless they make friends with us and accede to our demands there will he no peace in India.”
The last words bear a special significance in view of what was destined to happen in Bengal and the Punjab principally, and in several other Provinces of India, not long after.
Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy, Premier of Bengal at that time, spoke words still more ominous and pregnant with a sinister significance the full force of which was not realized by the country perhaps at the time.
“We await the clarion call of the Qaid-i-Azam.”
The ‘Clarian Call’ was answered about a fortnight later in the shape of the Calcutta, Noakhali and other riots in Bengal, the ghastliest and most terrible seen till then in India, to be bettered in this respect only by the Muslim holocaust of the minorities in the Punjab, in 1947.
To these words of defiance and provocation was joined the tremendous and loud chorus of hate and instigation to fighting and rioting by the platform speakers of the Muslim League and the inflammatory articles in the League-controlled press. The country in these weeks (the month of August, 1946) passed through a period of foreboding and tense expectancy. The new Interim Government to which the Viceroy had invited both the Congress and the Muslim League was due to take office on the 2nd of September, 1946. The Congress accepted the offer but the League rejected it. All appeared to be set for the word of command on the part of the League to let slip the blood hounds which would plunge the country into the horrors of a terrible Civil War. The comments of the British Press, seldom pro-Congress in its views and very consistent in voicing a pro-League bias, were on this occasion revealing, as they found in this Direct Action threat of the Muslim League nothing less than the design to plung the country into a Civil War: Said the ‘News Chronicle’ of the 30th July, 1946, a day after the passage of the Direct Action Resolution:
“What precisely does Mr. Jinnah think he will achieve by embracing violence-and at a moment when so substantial a part of his claims has been conceded?
“Does he think that communal strife will benefit India or even the Muslim part of India? He has only to look at other parts of Asia to see what lies at the end of that tunnel.
“Does he want his country to become another China, ravaged and utterly impoverished by interminable Civil War?
“It is hopeless, of course, if Mr. Jinnah is wedded to complete intransigeance-if, as now seems the case he really is thirsting for a holy war.
“If Mr. Jinnah nosy resorts to violence, it will be very difficult to save India from disaster.”
In the above extract occur the prophetic words ‘Civil War’ and ‘holy War’, and the Muslim League attitude plunged the country soon after into both these.
The Muslim League formed a Council of Action to plan its Direct Action Programme. Its members were: Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan (now Prime Minister of Pakistan); Nawab Iftikhar Hussain Khan of Mamdot, (lately Premier of West Punjab), Mian Mumtaz Daulatana (lately Minister of West Punjab), Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan (several times Minister); Mian Iftikharuddin, Begum Shah Nawaz, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, I. I. Cundrigar and H. S. Suhrawardy (at that time Muslim League Premier of Bengal).
In order to implement its programme of Direct Action, which, it must be noted, was not to take the form of Ahimsa, the Muslim League began to make brisk preparations for attack on Hindus and equally well, Sikhs. The Muslim League private army called the Muslim National Guards, which has already been referred to, began to expand. All kinds of Muslim riff-raff, disbanded members of the Civic Guards, and such other elements were the favourite recruiting ground for this body. The Muslim criminal elements found in the National Guard a new scope for their criminal proclivities as providing opportunity both for their anti-social acts and the satisfaction of having done something meritorious in the service of Islam. The Police, which in several provinces was overwhelmingly Muslim, helped in this recruitment, which was not so much of a secret, and in the collection of arms, equipment and petrol (this last for purposes of incendiarism).
Jeeps and lorries were possessed by the National Guard in the larger towns; they had stocks of steel helmets purchased from the Disposals Department. (This article was recovered in large numbers in the search of the Muslim National Guards Office at Lahore in January, 1947). Besides, large numbers of lethal weapons, such as knives, daggers, swords and spears were made and stocked by the Muslim National Guards. Well-to-do Muslim firms and individuals were reported in the months of August and September, 1946 to have distributed daggers and knives among Muslims of Lahore and Amritsar. Sword-making as an industry made rapid progress among Muslims in the Punjab, where for several years last restrictions on the possession and carrying about of the sword bad been removed.
Parcels of knives were frequently intercepted by the Railway Police in the Provinces of Bombay, Central Provinces, Bihar and the United Provinces while in transit from Wazirabad and Sialkot centres of the cutlery industry in the Punjab, to the Muslim Leaguers of those Provinces. The cutlers of Wazirabad and Sialkot were all Muslim. While many such parcels were intercepted, many more must have got safe through. In the Punjab itself where the Police force was overwhelmingly Muslim, there was little check on the movement of these weapons, and so the Punjabi Muslims were very well stocked with them in all districts. In Bengal, where a Muslim League Ministry was in the saddle, very much the same happened. As the Calcutta and Eastern Bengal Riots showed, the Muslim preparation for attack and destruction had been terribly widespread and efficient.
Besides lethal weapons, there were fairly large quantities of firearms and means of incendiarism in the possession of Muslims. In the Punjab, besides smuggling arms from India with the help and connivance of the Muslim Police, the Muslims with the same facility to hand, could do successful gun-running from the tribal areas in the North-West. While a Hindu or Sikh carrying illegal weapons on him would be hauled up under the Arms Act, Muslims were comparatively safe in so doing, unless they happened to be detected by some non-Muslim police officer. Large quantities of petrol were obtained and conserved by the Muslims at a time when petrol rationing had been in force for several years, and this hoarded petrol was used in setting ablaze whole localities of non-Muslims with fiendish rapidity and efficiency, and thousands were trapped in the rapidly spreading flames and burnt alive.
The Direct Action of the Muslim League for which elaborate preparations had by now been made, was ready to be launched on an India-wide scale. The date fixed for launching this action was August the 16th, 1946. The country was awaiting the day with anxiety in view of the provocative and inflammatory speeches of the Muslim League leaders, and open threats of fighting. Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy, Premier of Bengal greatly excited the minds of the Muslims of his province by proclaiming that the Bengal Government would declare their independence of the Central Government if the Congress came into power. The Sind Muslim League Premier made a similar declaration. Both declarations were intended to be provocative, as otherwise these Muslim League leaders knew full well that under the British Crown no Indian Province could claim independence of the Central Government, and any such independence could last at best only a few hours. But such and other declarations had their effect in inflaming Muslim passions against the Hindus.
The Muslim League Bengal Government declared August 16, 1946 to be a public holiday throughout Bengal, to celebrate the “Direct Action Day”. The effect of this, in the very temperate and restrained language of Shri S. L. Ghosh of the A. B. Patrika is described thus:
“When a political party, by virtue of its being in power, enforces its party celebration on the whole administrative machinery by declaring a public holiday, it is natural that some at least of its adherents should infer from it that the party is the law of the land, and that anything done in the name of the party is above the scope of the law,”
The police, mostly Muslim in personnel, were, if not actually in complicity, definitely indifferent to the murder, loot and arson of the Hindus going on around them. Such a horrible carnage ensued as had not been heard of in India in the three-odd decades during which communal rioting had been heard of in India. The Muslim mobs consisting of people who mostly wore the uniform of the Muslim National Guards and carried the Muslim League flag, burnt, massacred, looted and raped to these slogans: ‘Lar Kar lenge Pakistan’; ‘Mar Kar Lenge
Pakistan’; ‘Dena Hoga Pakistan’; ‘Pakistan Kayam Karo’ etc. As the statesman of Calcutta in an editorial put it, the Muslim League ministry for a good long time (for practically two days) hesitated whether a little rioting would not after all be good; and so nothing was done to summon the military and to quell rioting, which could not be done by the demoralized police force, over-weighed by its Muslim personnel.
The horrors of this rioting make a harrowing story. Mobs went about their demonaic work, killing and burning. During the first two days of the rioting which lasted for more than 5 days, the Calcutta fire brigade had to attend 900 calls for meeting cases of arson. One eye-witness described the scene in these words.
“A vivid picture of the panic caused by hooligans in the Calcutta riots was given by a member of the staff of the Associated Press of India, who escaped savage butchery or maiming and reestablished contract with the office to-day.
“Living in the heart of a zone where murder, loot and arson raged for two days, he said that the terror-stricken cries of victims as they were being maimed and stabbed were still ringing in his ears as he was relating his story. He and his friends living in the Cosmopolitan Hotel could not rescue them as well-armed hooligans surrounded the area.
“Equipped with plentiful supplies of petrol from a pump the owner of which had abandoned it in his flight for safety, the mob carried out a campaign of arson. Buildings were set on fire and fed liberally with looted motor fuel.
“At the hospital the dead and even more, the living maimed ones told the story of gross cruelty. There were deep stab wounds, heads and limbs broken with heavy lathi blows, and cases where the bone was broken to pieces. Every living moment was agony.
“The body of a six-month old child killed on the spot was brought by ambulance with his father and mother badly injured………”
This is only one glimpse of what happened for five days over a large area. Hooligans went about with full preparation for murder and arson. Petrol was in plentiful supply, and the victims were left no option but to be burnt to ashes in their burning houses or to come out and be stabbed. The total number of killed in these days is estimated at 5,000 and those injured at 15,000.
The preparations for forcing the Pakistan issue which had been going on for a pretty long time plunged Calcutta during these fateful days into blood. The swiftness of the attack, the large area affected, the heavy casualties in killed and houses burnt, the Similarity of methods used by the assailants everywhere and the readiness with which they came out to attack-leave no manner of doubt that the League had been preparing for this attack. Similar but smaller outbreaks occurred at other places also. One such was in Delhi.
It was clear that the Muslim League was leading the country towards Civil War. It wanted to force its rule on unwilling and large minorities. It wanted to create conditions in which it would become impossible for Muslims and non-Muslims to live together. To effect this consummation, it was using the methods of murder, loot and arson on a wide and large scale. That this was the temper and aim of the League, is testified by the opinion of the ‘News Chronicle’ quoted above. The Civil & Military Gazette of Lahore, by no means a paper hostile to the Muslims, said apropos the Calcutta riots in its editorial in its issue of August 20, 1946 (four days after the commencement of these riots).
“We have termed the jeremiads of Muslim Leaguers ‘near hysterical nonsense,’ but they represent a trend of thought and a psychological attitude which hold the utmost danger for the whole country. Words are being broadcast everyday which will make fanatics of law-abiding citizens and throw them into the same camp with the lowest of goondas.”
More significantly still, this same editorial says.
“Authentic reports from all parts of India describe the country as a powder-magazine, and at the moment the Muslim League is holding a torch which may send it sky-high. If the spark is applied, the present League leadership will have to shoulder responsibility for events which will not only blast for ever all hopes of Hindu-Muslim co-operation in any field, but which will ruin all chances of India’s progress for decades.”
That the Muslim League ministry of Bengal, and the obliging British Governor had been criminally negligent if not actually conniving at the attack on the non-Muslim population of Calcutta, was so strongly the opinion held in the country, that an Enquiry Commission, presided over by Sir Patrick Spens, Chief justice of India, was set up by the Governor-General to inquire into the degree of responsibility of the League Government in, if not abetting, at least conniving at the riots and failing to take action when these broke out.
So deeply had the poison of the hatred preached by the Muslim League seeped into the very soul of the Muslim people, and so great was the tension in the country as a result of this, that rioting occurred all over India on a more or less large scale. Soon before the Direct Action Day, there had been an attack by Muslims on Sikhs at Abbotabad, in the N.-W. F. Province. An account of the incident is as follows:
“(On July 28, 1946) Muslims held a public meeting in a garden near Gurdwara Singh Sabha. The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police were present near the meeting place, but no precautions were taken. Stones and brickbats were exchanged between a few Sikhs in the Gurdwara and the Muslim mob outside.
“Muslims made repeated attempts to set fire to Gurdwara shops. These fires were put out by the Military fire-brigade. The Muslim mob divided into groups and began to loot and set on fire Hindu and Sikh shops. More than two dozen shops were looted.
“The Muslim mob met no resistance except at two places, where a gun was fired by a Sikh shopkeeper and a Gurkha Chaukidar. Sikhs were being harassed by Muslim policemen.”
This was only a foretaste of Direct Action and the Pakistan to come. Abbotabad and its adjoining area witnessed large-scale murder and looting of Sikhs and Hindus not long after this in December, 1946 and January, 1947. And then came March, 1947 with the succeeding terrible months.
An attack on Hindus occurred in Delhi on the 12th August, 1946. There was rioting in such vastly different places as Cawnpore, Bombay, Poona, Ahmedabad, Dacca and a few others. The lesson of it all was becoming very abundantly clear. The Muslim League was waging its war in earnest on non-Muslims to achieve its Pakistan.
The statements publicly made by the top-ranking Muslim League leaders reveal the temper and intentions of these leaders and the organization whose policy and programme they had framed. On September 9, 1946 only two weeks after the Calcutta Carnage, after the attack on Sir Shafaat Ahmed Khan, and the situation akin to Civil War which was developing inside the country, Mr. H. S. Sahrawardy, Premier of Bengal, said:
“Muslim India means business.”
How grimly it ‘meant business’ was shown by the Calcutta killing, and was later on shown by Noakhali, N.-W. F. P. and the Punjab.
Mr. Jinnah in a statement issued from Bombay on September 11, 1946 offered to the Hindus the choice between creating Pakistan and forcing a Civil War in the country.
Replying to a question seeking suggestions for the restoration of peace in India, he said:”
“In view of the horrible slaughter in various parts of India, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchange of population to avoid brutal recurrence of that which had taken place where small minorities have been butchered by the overwhelming majorities.”
Thus, scouting any suggestion that there could be peace and amity in the country, he advocated exchange of population-the uprooting of millions-and as it later turned out to be, of over twelve millions, and the butchering of about a million. This was the direction in which the Muslim League was inevitably leading the country.
What shocked the conscience of India even more than Calcutta, was the large-scale murder, loot, arson, rape, abduction and forced marriage of Hindu women in the Noakhali District of Eastern Bengal. This time the trouble came about in the October of 1946. It appears the League enthusiasts were on the look-out for an area of operation where they could be sure of very little resistance and where they could demonstrate to the Hindus in action as to what was in store for them in case they did not accept the Muslim League demand of Pakistan. In Calcutta the Hindus-although on the first two days they were completely surprised, and reeled under the sudden blow, and lost more than a thousand in killed-yet on the subsequent days they rallied and gave the Muslims as good as they got. The Muslim League perhaps realized the folly of having tried out Calcutta. A better spot should be selected, and this time it was Noakhali and the adjoining area of Eastern Bengal.
The district of Noakhali is almost at the extreme end of Eastern Bengal, surrounded by heavy Muslim majority areas. This district itself has perhaps the lowest percentage of non-Muslim population-the Muslim percentage being as high as 81.35. So, while it was particularly dastardly of the Muslims of this area to have chosen to fall upon the Hindus of this area, it was, from the point of their own scheme, a fit choice; for its very sparse Hindu population could offer little resistance to their onslaught. Attacks on a scale as large as Noakhali also occurred in the district of Tipperah, neighbouring on Noakhali, and with a Muslim population of 77.09%.
As the trouble broke out, for some time the country did not know about it. Noakhali is a far-away part of Bengal, and the Muslim League Ministry of Bengal did not allow the news of the carnage to trickle though as long as they could help it. So, the assailants had it all their own way for several days, unchecked.
The horror and the underlying conspiracy of this occurrence can best be described in the words of Shri S. L. Ghosh of the A. B. Patrika, quoted above. Says Shri S. L. Ghosh:
“The four days’ delay in receiving the news indicates at once the magnitude of
preparations of the lawless elements as well as the criminal inefficiency of the administration machinery.2 It took ten days, fraught with horror, disgrace and torture for nearly two lakhs of Hindus for the Army to reach the neighbourhood of disaster, another ten days for them to move into the inner fringe of the disturbed area, and over a month to comb the interior of the devastated countryside.
“The horror of the Noakhali outrage is unique in modern history in that it was not a simple case of turbulent members of the majority community killing off helpless members of the minority community, but was one whose chief aim (to quote Dr. Syama Prosad Mookerjee) was mass conversion, accompanied by loot, arson and wholesale devastation……… No section of the people has been spared, the wealthier classes being dealt with more drastically. Murder also was part of the plan, but it was mainly reserved for those who were highly influential or who resisted. Abduction and outrage on women and forcible marriages were also resorted to; but their number cannot be easily determined. The slogans used and the methods employed indicate that it was all part of a plan for the simultaneous establishment of Pakistan. The demand for subscriptions for the Muslim League and for other purposes, including conversion ceremonies, showed that mass attackers, and their leaders were inspired by the League ideology.
“Apparently, the strategy of terrorisation adopted in Calcutta had failed to achieve the objective of recognition of Pakistan. The zealots of Pakistan in Noakhali and the southern portion of Tepperah, therefore, sought to make that muslim-majority area exclusive to a certain community, and thus convert it into the fortress of Eastern Pakistan, by forcible mass conversion of the other community…… (The League) leaders tried to minimize the enormity of the crimes…… they tended to confirm the impression that they were in close sympathy with the attackers and their nefarious policy and that this was the second phase of the direct action plan of the Muslim League to achieve Pakistan.
“It is false to suggest that the perpetrators were a gang of hooligans or that they mostly consisted of outsiders. The local people were the perpetrators in many cases and there was a general mass sympathy for what happened.
“The total number of evacuees, those, that is, who could leave the area of the disturbance alive, will be somewhere between 50 to 75 thousands including men, women and children of all conditions and castes.
“Over and above these persons, there will be another 50,000 or even more who are still living within the danger zone in what may be called the no man’s land. Theirs is the most tragic fate. They have all been subjected to conversion and are still3 under the clutches of their oppressors. Most of them have lost everything, and they suffer from both physical and mental collapse. Their humiliation and torture know – no limitations. Their names have been changed; their womenfolk insulted; their properties looted; they are being compelled to dress, to eat and to live like their so-called new brothers in faith. The male members have to attend the mosques, Maulvies come and train them at home; they are at the mercy of their captors for their daily food and indeed for their very existence. . . .”
These occurrences shocked Mahatma Gandhi, and indeed the whole of India, very deeply. The Mahatma asked Acharya Kripalani; President of the Congress, to go to Noakhali and to see what could be done to bring relief to suffering humanity there, and to try to restore good relations between the communities there. Not long after, the Mahatma himself went there, and made his famous village to village, nay house to house trek, trying to restore good-will. How little the Muslim League fanatics cared for the Mahatma’s noble teaching was made abundantly clear by what happened hardly within a month of the Mahatma’s pilgrimage to Noakhali, in the North-Western Frontier Province, and another two months after that in the Punjab.
Acharya Kripalani’s account of what he observed in Noakhali substantiates the statement of Dr. Mookerjee reproduced above. Said the Acharya:
“Next morning (October 22, 1946) we visited the interior of one of the affected areas. The place was Charhaim. Charhaim village and the surrounding areas are occupied by Namasudras (scheduled castes) numbering about 20,000. It was completely destroyed. Most of the houses were burnt. People were living in sheds, built from the ruins of their houses. All their property had been looted. Cash, ornaments, utensils and clothes, and cattle also, had been taken away by the raiders. All the males and females had only the clothes they were wearing. They had no food to eat. Their condition was pitiable in the extreme. There had been cases of murder, but it was not possible during the short time at our disposal to ascertain the number of the killed. Cases of abduction were reported to us. Even after looting and arson the villagers were obliged to embrace Islam; They had to perform ‘Namaz’ and recite the ‘Kalma’……… All the images of the houses were broken and temples looted and destroyed. The conch-shell bangles of women and vermillion marks, signs of their married life, were removed.”
This was a fairly representative area. Acharya Kripalani arrived at certain conclusions regarding the Noakhali trouble, which are as follows:-
1. The attack on the Hindu population in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah was previously arranged and prepared for. It was deliberate, if not directly engineered by Muslim League. It was the result of Muslim League propaganda. The local evidence all went to prove that prominent League leaders in the villages had a large hand in it.
2. The authorities had warnings about what was coming. The warnings were conveyed to them orally and then in writing by prominent Hindus in the areas concerned.
3. The Muslim officials connived at the preparations going on. A few encouraged. There was a general belief among the Mussalmans that the Government would take no action if anything was done against the Hindus.
4. The modus operandi was for the Muslims to collect in batches of hundreds and sometimes thousands and to march to Hindu villages or Hindu houses in villages of mixed population. They first demanded subscriptions for the Muslim League and sometimes for the Muslim victims of the Calcutta riots. These enforced subscriptions were heavy, sometimes amounting to Rs. 10,000 and more. Even after the subscriptions were realized, the Hindu population was not safe. The same or successive crowd appeared on the scene later and looted the Hindu houses. The looted houses in most cases were burnt……… Sometimes before a house was looted the inmates were asked to embrace Islam. However, even conversion did not give immunity against loot and arson.
The slogans raised by the attacking Muslim crowds were those of the Muslim League, such as ‘League Zindabad’ ‘Pakistan Zindabad’; ‘Larke Lenge Pakistan’, ‘Marke Lenge Pakistan’.
5. All those who resisted were butchered. Sometimes they were shot, for the rioters had a few shot-guns with them.
Sometimes people were killed even when there was no resistance offered or expected I have on record cases where 50 to 60 members of one family were brutally murdered. Some families lost all their male members.
6. (Is about the description and habitat of those who indulged in these crimes.)
7. Even after looting, arson and murder the Hindus in the locality were not safe unless they embraced Islam. The Hindu population therefore to save themselves had to embrace Islam en masse……… All the images of gods in Hindu houses were destroyed and all the Hindu temples of the affected area were looted and burnt.
8. There have been cases of forcible marriages There have been cases of abduction.
9. “For obvious reasons it was not possible for me to ascertain the cases of rape. But women complained to Mrs. Kirpalani of having been roughly handled, their conch-shell bangles, the symbol of their married life, having been broken and vermillion marks removed. At one place they were thrown on the ground by the miscreants who removed their vermillion marks with the toes of their feet.”
10 to 13 are about post-riot conditions.
14. The police did not function during the riots. They are doing merely patrol duty now. They say that they had and have no orders to fire except in self-defence. The question of definding themselves never arose, because they did not interfere with the rioters.
“The areas visited had already been devastated and all that I could see were burnt houses and helpless Hindu villagers whether converted or not.”
Scouting any suggestion that the trouble may be economic the Acharya added,
“Not a single rich Muslim house had been looted. To me it appeared to be absolutely communal and absolutely one-sided.”
The Congress Working Committee meeting came soon after at Delhi, and its resolution on East Bengal contained the following observations:
“Reports published in the press and statements of public workers depict a scene of bestiality and medieval barbarity that must fill every decent human being with shame, disgust and anger.
“The Committee hold that this outburst of brutality is the direct result of the politics of hate and civil strife that the Muslim League has practised for years past and of the threats of violence that were daily held out in past months.”
This extensive account has been given of Noakhali for this reason, that coming soon after the Direct Action and Calcutta, this was the first large-scale beginning of that wholesale elimination of entire communities, that ‘genocide’ which from now on became the settled programme and policy of the Muslim League, not expressed or admitted officially, but nevertheless pursued and countenanced by it with vigour and with great satisfaction.
It was clear after Noakhali as to what India was to expect in the coming months-mass attacks on minorities in Muslim-majority areas, co-operation of Muslim police and the officials with the assailants, indifference of the British bureaucrats, and the hypocritical fathering of the League leaders of the responsibility for these occurrences on the minorities themselves. In the case of Calcutta the League leaders blamed it all on the Hindus-in the case of Noakhali and Tipperah, the figures of casualties and damage were understated to ridiculous figures, or just not noticed. Had there been any regret expressed by the League on these happenings, had they sat up and realized the horror of what had happened and had their conscience pricked them, perhaps the recurrence of large-scale destruction like Noakhali would not have been possible. But the Leaguers viewed these happenings with glee. The programme was working according to plan.
Exactly the same pattern as in Noakhali and Tipperah was repeated during the next five months in other parts of India. These features were common to all these occurrences.
1. Places of occurrence were all heavy Muslim-majority areas-the minority attacked were Hindu or Hindu-Sikh. Successively they are: Noakhali and Tipperah (October, 1946) Hazara (December, 1946 and January, 1947); Rawalpindi (March, 1947 For several weeks); Jhelum, Attock, Campbellpur, Dera Ismail Khan, Hazara, Multan, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sargodha (all as before-mentioned). Lahore and Amritsar towns had an overwhelming Muslim majority in their populations though in the latter district as a whole the non-Muslims outnumbered the Muslims by a small percentage. In both towns from March, 1947 onwards terrible outrages were perpetrated by Muslims on Hindus and Sikhs, the decisive result in either case being obtained only on the partition of the Punjab.
2. Preparations were made by the Muslim League for attack on the minorities in every case a good time before the actual occurrence. Arms had been collected and distributed. Sufficiently large quantities of petrol and other inflammable substances had been hoarded for incendiarism. Training in swift methods of arson, stabbing, disposal of looted property and the killed had been imparted in the centres of the Muslim National Guards. Muslim police and officials had joined in hatching the plans with the Muslim League leaders and Muslim National Guard workers. The Muslim masses had been aroused to a pitch of anti-Hindu-Sikh fury by violent League propaganda.
3. The attacks were simultaneous, widespread and in places so open and so sure of non-interference by the authorities that the assailants collected and marched with drums beating, shouting Muslim League slogans, and even making military formations. There was nothing secret about these attacks, as the police were already on the side of the attackers.
4. Large-scale arson, murder of males, abduction, rape and dishonour of women, brutalities to children, looting, forcible conversions etc. all these features were common to the localities affected. Those attacked were first asked to pay sums of money to pay off the invaders; then followed more demands, and attacks by outsiders. Local Muslims (that is, those of the village actually attacked) sometimes out of long habits of neighbourly intercourse, kept out of the actual attack, though of course they were in league with the invaders and abetted and helped them.
5. The victims were given no quarter when beseiged. Places of worship were desecrated, and religious feelings were outraged with fiendish gusto. Shaving of Sikhs, feeding of Hindus and Sikhs on beef, circumcision of Hindus and Sikhs, marrying away young girls and widows of Hindus, and Sikhs to Muslims-these practices were resorted to.
6. Police and the officials seldom appeared on the scene till long after the beseiged had been killed and their houses burnt and looted.
7. Muslim League leaders and Press said nothing in condemnation of these outrages. On the other hand, they trotted out imaginary stories of provocation by the non-Muslims, and of supposed retaliation by Muslims. This in every case kept up the morale of the assailants. .
This pattern was repeated in every one of the places that have been mentioned; and while the area of operations was necessarily limited while British power was still there, on the establishment of Pakistan it became general mass murder in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind, Baluchistan and raider-held Kashmir.
1 In a forceful pamphlet entitled ‘Fight this Charter of Slavery’ signed by Master Tara Singh and several other Sikhs, including the compiler of this volume.
2 But was it only such, and not complicity?
3 This statement was made on October 26, 1946.
N.-W. FRONTIER PROVINCE MASSACRIES AND THE
PUNJAB MUSLIM LEAGUE AGITATION
In the North-Western Frontier Province a Congress Ministry came into power after defeating a Muslim League Ministry on the floor of the Provincial Legislature. The Muslim League regarded this Province as one of its especial preserves, for the population was overwhelmingly Muslim. But the freedom-loving Pathan character under the guidance of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his brother, Dr. Khan Sahib, had preferred the Congress way over the League way, which was known to be working in collusion with the British bureaucracy, and which moreover, was dominated by reactionary feudal elements-the nawabs and title-holders and the fanatical mullahs.
When the Muslim League Direct Action campaign was started, the League leaders naturally thought of stirring up trouble in the North-Western Frontier Province, and thus turning the tide against the Congress ministry, which would naturally pursue a policy of cementing the good relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. As early as July 28, 1946 as narrated earlier, trouble of quite serious nature had occurred in Hazara district-an area which was particularly susceptible to Muslim League propaganda. Hazara is not properly speaking a Pathan area; it is Punjabi-speaking, and not Pushtu, and in its political character takes more after the Punjab, to which it is cognate, than to the rest of the Frontier Province, which is trans-Indus in respect of geography. Local Muslims, along with fanatical marauders from the tribal areas, whom loot and the desire for attacking ‘infidels’-be they Hindu, Sikh, Christian or any other-would always bring hurtling down the valleys, looted and burnt Hindu and Sikh shops and terrorized the Hindu and Sikh population of the Hazara district. Gurdwaras were attacked, their inmates killed and the holy. places themselves desecrated.
The firm hand of the Congress Government of the Frontier Province for a time kept the communal situation under control. The League was busy intriguing-and there is no doubt that in this intrigue for disturbing the peace of the province, it had the active assistance of the local British bureaucrats. The attitude of the British bureaucracy was made perfectly clear in the got-up attacks on Pandit Nehru’s party, when he made his tour of the tribal areas as Vice-President of the Interim Government of India. This alliance between the League and the British bureaucracy was in evidence everywhere all through the years 1946 and 1947 in stirring up attacks on non-Muslims in the Muslim-majority areas of India.
Calcutta and Noakhali did not bring any condemnation from the League of these criminal attacks on minorities. Far from it-in the League Press the attempt was made to shift the responsibility, where there occurrences were admitted at all, on the Hindus. The Muslim League did not, to begin with, join the Interim Government. The Congress got associated five eminent and capable Muslims in the Interim Government, to fill for the time being the seats which by agreement, the Muslim League should have occupied. One of these Muslim members of the Interim Government, Dr. Shafaat Ahmed Khan was murderously attacked at Simla by some League hirelings, a few days before the Interim Government was to take office. This attack was only part of the League campaign of murder and assault on all who dared to differ from its policy.
In the Hazara District, which was selected by the Muslim League as the venue of its operations against Sikhs and Hindus in July, 1946 and later in December of the same year, the Muslim population is 94.94%. As a matter of fact, in the entire province the Muslim percentage in the population was as high as 91.79. In such a province the life of the minorities is not worth a day’s purchase, if the majority decides to make things hot for them.
On 7. 12. 1946 in the villages of Batal, Uggi, Sum Ilahi Mung and Garhi Jallo, very serious and unprovoked attacks on Hindus and Sikhs occurred. In Batal 11 Hindus and Sikhs were killed, and 11 were wounded. Hindu and Sikh houses were looted. The bazar of Uggi was attacked and Hindu and Sikh shops were set on fire. In this village 5 Hindus and Sikhs were killed. In Sum Ilahi Mung, an attack was made on the Hindu and Sikh evacuees from the two previously mentioned villages, and 14 were killed, with 27 injured. In Garhi Jallo stray killing of Hindus and Sikhs continued, and the Gurdwara of the place was burnt down.
The trouble spread to other parts also of Hazara District. On 18.12.1946 in Garhi Habibullah, in Mansehra Tehsil, one Hindu was abducted and later found killed. In Havelian and Lahore (Hazara), commencing on the same date anti-Hindu-Sikh rioting continued well on into January, 1947. A massacre of Hindus and Sikhs in Havelian was averted only by the timely arrival of the military; but stray killing of Hindus and Sikhs continued for weeks. By the end of December, 1946 conditions in the Havelian area had deteriorated so far that all Hindus and Sikhs of this area had to leave their homes and property at the mercy of the Muslim marauders, and seek safety of life and honour in the Punjab.
At a place called Daddar in Hazara District, on 11.12.1946, 40 Hindu and Sikh evacuees from the surrounding area were waylaid by Muslims; 10 of them were killed and the rest were seriously wounded. All were deprived of their belongings.
By the end of December, in Hazara it became a general uprising against Hindus and Sikhs, who were killed and robbed, and their houses burnt and sacred places desecrated. This ‘holy’ war was carried into the village of Mohri, Dival, Akhroota, Pipal, Jaba, Gohra, Phulgara, Dhanak, Muhari, Karchhan, Malach, Dakhali Sair, Bafa, Sihalian, Samadhra, Jabori, Sankiari, Balakot and Bhata. In all these and other places Hindus and Sikhs were killed, their houses looted and burnt down, Gurdwaras and/or Hindu temples desecrated, Hindu and Sikh evacuees from places of danger waylaid and attacked and the entire Hindu and Sikh population forced to seek refuge in the Punjab.
As, however, the numbers involved were not very large, and moreover, neither the Frontier Congress Government nor the Congress-Panthic-Unionist Coalition Government of the Punjab wanted to excite the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab, this serious campaign of extermination against the Hindu and Sikh minorities was given the minimum of publicity, and the general public never had a notion of the serious magnitude or import of what was happening, or that another Noakhali was being enacted at the other extreme of India. The features of Noakhali, or for the matter of that, of all Muslim attacks on minorities, were repeated here-mass murder, looting, burning, desecration, collusion between the police and officials and the marauders, with the Muslim League working as the guiding hand in pursuance of its Direct Action Programme, behind what was happening.
In some of these places wholesale massacre of the minorities occurred. In Bhata 116 Sikhs were burnt alive, and several shot dead. In Malachh 115 Hindus and Sikhs were killed.
As has been said above, the general public in the Punjab had no notion of the real scale of what was happening in Hazara. Why at this time the Muslim League did not try to stir up trouble in the Punjab, had a very good reason behind it from the Muslim League point of view. While in the Frontier Province, the League could count on the 92 per cent. majority of Muslim population and the comparative ignorance and fanaticism of the local Muslim population, along with the bait of loot which would draw tribesmen from the neighbouring hill-tracts; in the Punjab the Hindu and Sikh minority was as strong as 44% and so could be expected to give back to the attackers as good as they got, and in certain districts to completely rout and smash them. Moreover, the Coalition Government, at that time in power in the Punjab, although perched on a very shaky eminence, yet it knew that its very existence depended upon its maintaining communal peace with all the resources in its power. Once communal trouble broke out, the coalition would break down, with altogether unforeseenable consequences for the province. So, they maintained peace with the last ounce of their energy.
When large-scale trouble broke out in Calcutta on the Direct Action Day, the Punjab maintained peace-though a tense and precarious peace. On August 29, 1946, which was Id, trouble was widely expected in the Punjab. Feverish apprehensions were entertained of another Calcutta being enacted in Lahore; and the other Punjab towns too were awaiting the day with anxiety. But so strict was the vigilance of the Punjab Coalition Government, and so well did the Muslim police and officials understand that their Government meant business when it instructed them to maintain peace at all costs, that not a single incident was allowed to occur anywhere. It was well-known that arms and incendiaries had been collected by the Muslims in the Punjab, as in other provinces, by August. 1946 and only the proverbial button awaited to be pressed for horrors such as were later witnessed in Calcutta to be enacted. But August passed off peacefully and indeed, as long as the Coalition was in power, disaster was staved off in the Punjab. But mass-attack on the minorities occurred with a vengeance as soon as the Coalition resigned on March 2, 1947.
The Punjab continued to be tense all through the latter part of 1946 and early 1947. The Muslim League wanted to capture power in the Province, but its intentions were now known to be so fascist, so totalitarian, and its programme and policy so completely to be the enslavement, nay elimination of minorities, that the League Party in the Punjab Assembly although the largest single party in the House, could not get even a single Hindu or Sikh M. L. A. to give it support.
Not finding it possible by any professions of friendship or any assurances to create confidence among the minorities, the League tried its method of Direct Action in the Punjab to capture power and to subjugate the minorities.
THE MUSLIM LEAGUE AGITATION IN THE PUNJAB, 1947
The Muslim League was on the look-out for an opportunity to wage their war on the Coalition Government in the Punjab, which had so far succeeded in maintaining peace-albeit a kind of ‘armed truce’-in the Province. The League gave all the provocation it could to the Coalition Government, and to the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The Muslim National Guards recruitment proceeded with very increased speed during all the months after the Direct Action Resolution of the Muslim League was passed. So great and ubiquitous was the organisation of the League Private Army, the Muslim National Guards, that every Muslim mohalla, every small town, sometimes every considerable village, had its own National Guard contingent and its commander, called Salar. One would be surprised to find the organization existing very often in unlikely and out-of-the-way places.
The Guard collected arms and petrol-almost everywhere. They received secret instructions from head-quarters, and had a quasi-military, fascist kind of organization, with the rule of implicit obedience to the orders of the leader. An idea of the numbers and of the formidable threat which the Muslim National Guard constituted to the peace of the Punjab, can be formed from the fact that in the city of Amritsar alone the National Guard razakars (volunteers) numbered 9,000, while in Lahore this number was estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 10,000.
Since the Muslim National Guard were assuming such alarming proportions the Coalition Government of the Punjab, on January 24, 1946 declared the Muslim National Guards and along with it, the Rashtriya Swyam Sewak Sangh, a private Hindu army, unlawful associations. While this was done, the Punjab Government in a communique made it clear that no Government could tolerate the existence of private armies, which constituted a grave menace to the existence of the State.
Declaring unlawful the Muslim National Guard perturbed the League leaders a good deal. It meant the weakening of the League’s power of coercion of minorities. Mr. Ghazanfar Ali, later a member of the Interim Government on behalf of the League, called this banning “an attempt to ban an important part of the activities of the Muslim League itself.”
Search of the Muslim League office in Lahore was resisted. Those resisting were arrested and they included Khan Iftikhar Husain of Mamdot, President of the Punjab Provincial Muslim League, and later Premier of West Punjab. Some more of the important League leaders of the Punjab were arrested. The search of the Muslim League office revealed 1,000 helmets and badges with signs of swords, pistol and dagger.
The Muslim League began defiance of the law by taking out processions and holding meetings all over the Province, in contravention of the Safety Ordinance, which had prohibited all meetings and processions.
Although soon after arrest the League leaders were released and the Muslim League meeting in Lahore in defiance of the Safety Ordinance was allowed to be held, yet the League decided to continue the agitation it had launched against the Punjab Government.
The League agitation continued for 34 days-a period during which the tempo of the movement became more and more violent, and from being ostensibly a movement for fighting the attack on the civil liberties of the population in the form of the Safety Ordinance, it became openly a. movement for the conquest of the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab. The speeches made on the day the movement was launched left no doubt as to what its real aim was. On January 27, 1947 Mian Iftikharuddin said at a Lahore public meeting of Muslims:
“We have come here to tell you that if you can carry on the fight with the same determination and discipline as had been displayed during the past three days, not only will you have achieved victory in the Punjab, but you will also have reached nearer to your goal of Pakistan.”
That Pakistan was to be brought nearer by this agitation, and that Pakistan was the device for enslaving the Hindus and Sikhs to the Muslims, were the true premises for determining the character of the League agitation. That the Muslim League was in alliance with the overwhelmingly large Muslim police of the Punjab and the Muslim officials, is beyond a doubt. In meeting this agitation there was none of that vigour with which the Congress movements in India have been sought to be crushed by the British Government-nor was there the discipline inculcated among Congress workers by the Congress creed and by Mahatma Gandhi and his personality. The agitation was allowed to drift on. Few arrests were made; the burden of the Government communiques in those days in describing the movement was “No arrests were made.” Those that were made, were described as “temporary”, that is, the arrested persons were released before the communique was out The League agitators, on the other hand, in this first movement which was not directly a riot had little quarrel with the police, which was sympathetic towards it. –
Some well-meaning people among the non-Muslims in the Punjab were deceived as to the real character of this Muslim League agitation. Hopes were entertained that now at long last the Muslim League too, like the Congress, had adopted the way of Civil Disobedience, and that it was fighting a battle in the way of peaceful agitation for the vindication of certain civic rights, such as freedom of association, etc. That this estimate of the real character of the movement was a mistake, was soon made evident by certain ugly incidents, which must have shocked those who thought that the proverbial leopard of the Muslim League had changed his spots. The League which had to its credit several years’ campaign of hate, of the two-nation theory, of its Direct Action, Calcutta, Noakhali and the N.-W. F. P. attacks on the minorities, could not transform its character formed all through its above mentioned activities over years. In the Punjab Agitation the usual slogans raised by the League crowds were: ‘Lar ke lenge Pakistan’; ‘Khun se lenge Pakistan’; ‘Dena hoga Pakistan’; ‘Leke rahenge Pakistan’ etc.
All these slogans, as the Sikh leaders rightly pointed out, were really attacks directed against the Hindu and Sikh minorities, who to a man were opposed to the establishment of the Islamic State of Pakistan, and to enslave whom to the rule of the Muslim-majority this state was sought to be established. The Sikh leaders felt deeply perturbed over the growing strength of the League Agitation, and over the week-kneed and pusillanimous attitude with which the Punjab Government was dealing with this movement of extremely dangerous potentialities.
That the movement was extremely dangerous for the peace and well-being of the Province, was demonstrated within about only a week after its termination, in the shape of the terrible and unprecedently widespread March, 1947 attacks on the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab. Well in the middle of February, 1947, when the movement was about three weeks old, attacks had begun to take place on Hindus and Sikhs-not widespread, but nevertheless symptomatic of the true character of the movement, and of what it was going to become, if allowed to continue a little time longer. What the Chief Secretary of the Punjab Government, who incidentally was a Muslim, and is occupying at present a position of great responsibility under the West Punjab Government in Pakistan, says on this agitation, is highly illuminating:
“The agitation which the Muslim League commenced on the 24th of January has continued until the time of drafting this report. It has affected all districts in the province in varying degrees and in places there have been situations of some seriousness. The campaign is one of deliberate disobedience and defiance of law conducted with a definite undemocratic political motive.
“So far there has been no sign that the Muslim leaders at large or in jail have been persuaded to a sense of responsibility or to reasonableness. In the circumstances the early restoration of the Province to its normal life cannot confidently be expected.
“The crime situation continues to be unsatisfactory with criminals taking advantage of police preoccupation in dealing with disturbances created by politics. The law and order field may be further and adversely affected if the Muslim League puts certain of its threats into action. These include interference with communications and a campaign of non-payment of taxes. So far as taxes go, there has been no translation of the threat into action, but there has been interference in the running of trains advocated and practised by the more extreme among the League’s adherents. Persons taken in the commission of offences of this kind are being dealt with under Ordinance XXVIII of 1946 in order that sentences awarded may have a deterrent effect.”
“The Muslim League agitation continued in the Punjab until the 26th of February when it was called off as the result of a settlement reached between the Punjab Government and the President of the Provincial Muslim League. The settlement was timely, for in its concluding days the agitation took a decided turn for the worse and acts of individual and mass violence were committed in several districts. In three places, Amritsar, Jullundur and Ambala, the police were forced to resort to firing to control unruly, violent crowds and there were casualties on both sides, some of them of a serious kind.
“Since their release from jail, the League leaders have been active and the League’s committee of Action has met.
“A decision has been taken to observe the 2nd of March, as Victory day.
“Many were shocked by the vulgarity of the League’s tactics and behaviour, the agitation undoubtedly attracted the sympathy of most Muslims who are not nationalist in their political opinions.
“Among Hindus and Sikhs resentment at the agitation is growing and, particularly in the case of the latter in an ominous degree. On the 12th of February in the second statement he has issued against the agitation since it started, Master Tara Singh declared that it was communal in its essentials and has as its purpose the domination of the Punjab by Muslims. He called on the Sikhs to prepare themselves to face the Muslim League onslaught and towards this and to reorganize the Akal Fauj.
“Of the three communities the Sikhs are undoubtedly the most perturbed at the shape political events are taking. Their apprehensions that the Centre will not be able to withstand the demand for Pakistan and the Muslim League agitation have drawn them further from the League, making any understanding between the two now unlikely and have driven them more to the thought of a separate Sikh-Hindu State made up of the Punjab districts where Muslims are in a minority and the Sikh States.”
Sikh leaders publicly protested against the pro-Pakistan and provocative slogans of the Muslim League, such as ‘Khun se lenge Pakistan’, ‘Dena hoga Pakistan’ and ‘Leke rahenge Pakistan’; etc. On 15.2.1947 and 21.2.47, on which tension among the communities was mounting high, the Muslim League was adopting a bullying, menacing and hooligan character, encouraged no doubt by the mild and almost indulgent attitude towards it. The police merely watched Muslim mobs of ten thousand or more going about, threatening to disturb the inter-communal atmosphere with their provocative movement. Even when the Muslim crowds were very violent as they were first at Amritsar and later at Lahore-invading courts and destroying files, no police action followed. That this same police force could deal sternly and revengefully with the non-Muslim movements, even though the latter might be perfectly non-violent in character, was demonstrated by the repeated police firing on Hindu and Sikh students on the 3rd of March in Lahore, when these students only took out a procession to demonstrate their protest against the impending formation of a Muslim League ministry in the Punjab.
That the Muslim League agitation grew more and more violent after the middle of February, way shown by a number of incidents. There were several train hold-ups at Amritsar, at Ludhiana, Gujranwala and other places. Lawlessness was on the increase, and the police took no more than the minimum, and in this case, wholly insufficient steps to meet the situation. On the 14th February, faces of non-Muslim tonga drivers were blackened by Muslims at Amritsar, as they refused to join a hartal organized by the Muslims, including Muslim tonga drivers, against the arrests of Muslim League leaders. That the non-Muslim tonga drivers were perfectly justified in refusing to make common cause with the Muslims in a matter which concerned Muslims alone and not tonga-drivers as such, did not prevent their disgrace at the hands of these Muslims tonga-drivers. A similar incident on the same day occurred at Lahore. This further enraged the Sikhs and made them ponder over the rising tide of Muslim arrogance and bullying tactics being used against Hindus and Sikhs.
That the League agitation was only the first beginning of the organized Muslim attempt to attack and subjugate, in the interest of establishing Pakistan, the Hindu and Sikh minorities of the Punjab (and not long after of the N.-W. F. P.) is amply proved by the following news-items and commentary, extracted from The Civil & Military Gazette of Lahore, a paper by no means anti-Muslim in its general policy.
In its editorial of February 12, 1947 when the League agitation had run for near upon three weeks, and evidence of its violent character had already shown itself prominently, the Civil made this very clear and penetrating analysis of the character and dangerous potentialities of the Muslim League agitation.
“Its (the League’s) agitation…… is dangerous…… to the peace of the province and the constitutional security of Government in the Punjab as far as can be seen – into the future. Tempers are daily wearing thinner…… and time is not far off when bullets may replace tear-gas bombs. (The League leaders) would do well now to pause and take stock of the position, examining the ominous trends of the policy to which they are committed and weighing possible gains against certain and apparently inescapable losses.
“The attitude of the Punjab Government will, of course, be conditioned by the decision of the Provincial Muslim League, but it must face up to the problems created by a decision to continue the agitation and prepare plans for implementation in that event. The present policy of drift (of the Government) is playing into the hands of the agitators and it is preparing the way for goondaism………”
“An attempt to wreck the Frontier Mail near Rawalpindi was made by Muslim League saboteurs on Monday (i. e. 17.2.47). Instances are multiplying of the demonstrators planting the League flag on railway engines and damaging railway property.” (C. &. M. Gazette-18.2.1947)
“On Friday evening (i. e. 14.2.1947) Sikhs and Hindus held a meeting (at Amritsar) in view of the violent conduct of the Muslim League processions earlier in the day. Considerable indignation was expressed at the conduct of Muslim Leaguers in blackening the faces of two Sikh and one Hindu tonga-drivers that day who refused to participate in the day’s hartal.
“There were many largely attended and rowdy processions in Sialkot City but no arrests were made. At Gujranwala there are definite signs of rowdyism, and processions for the last two or three days have not been well -behaved .” (C. & M. Gazette – 18.2.1947).
In Amritsar, Sialkot, Ludhiana, Bhalwal, Gujranwala, Gujrat and other places violent activities were indulged in by the League processions on 18.2.1947.
In all these places tear-gas and lathis had to be used by the police against the processionists.
The 24th February, which was one month from the launching of the agitation, was a very violent day indeed, and it incidentally revealed the League agitation in its true colours, as the forerunner of the March, 1947 war on the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The Civil & Military Gazette report of the day is as under:-
“The Muslim League agitation assumed dangerous proportions in Amritsar where the police had to open fire on several occasions on Monday (i. e. 24.2.1947).
“A Sikh constable was beaten to death by a wild mob in the civil lines, the Additional District Magistrate was brutally assaulted…… and a murderous attack was made on a Sub-inspector by a demonstrator who was killed by police fire. . . .” C. & M. Gazette-25.2.1947)
Firing had to be resorted to by the Police on this day in Rawalpindi. The Lahore Courts were raided and files tempered with. At Kasur there was violence too.
Regarding the murder of the Sikh police constable at Amritsar, certain details of it are very revealing. The Muslim mob asked the police to withdraw, which the police did. This helpless Sikh constable was beseiged by the Muslim mob, and stoned to death in a most brutal manner. The Muslim members of the police party, among whom there were only a few solitary non-Muslims, did nothing to rescue their comrade from the clutches of the murderous mob. The lesson of it was clear-that a Sikh had been murdered, solely because out of a party of policemen he was the only Sikh. In Congress agitations the police used to be attacked, seldom physically though, as the Police, as the instrument of foreign rule, and no discrimination was made between its Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian personnel as such. But here was a case of such discrimination.
This incident amply proved that Sikhs in particular, and Hindus and Sikhs in general, were in for trouble at the hands of Muslims. This most dangerous character of the situation drew two statements on February 26, 1946 from important Sikh sources-one from the Assembly Panthic Party and the other from Master Tara Singh. The Panthic Assembly Party, at which Master Tara Singh was present by special invitation, appealed to the Muslim League to “Stop these unlawful activities, which are bound to have serious repercussions if continued any further” and asked the Punjab Government to ‘adopt a firm attitude and take speedy action in dealing with this menace to the peace of the Province.’
Master Tara Singh in a separate statement pointed out that the Muslim League agitation was meant to overawe the Sikhs into agreeing to Pakistan.
That this agitation was meant as part of the Muslim League campaign for the establishment of Pakistan was further made clear by the arrogant speeches made by the Muslim Leaguers on the occasion of the League “Victory Day” on March 2, 1947 to mark the release of the Muslim League leaders from jail as a result of negotiations in which the Muslim League achieved nothing, except the release of the imprisoned Muslim Leaguers. Bashir Ahmed Akhgar, speaking at Amritsar, said that this agitation was only the stepping-stone of the struggle which the Muslims would have to launch for the achievement of Pakistan.
On the 4th March, 1947 a Muslim Sub-Inspector of Police appeared before Hindu and Sikh students and other demonstrators at Lahore, who had gathered to express their opposition to the impending formation of a League Ministry in the Punjab, and told them to disperse, as their agitation was futile and Pakistan in any case must be established. This was the kind of mentality of the Muslim-dominated police force of the Punjab, upon whom had fallen the responsibility of dealing with the attack of the Muslim population on the Hindu and Sikh population of the Punjab in March, 1947.
Several factors at this time entered into the situation and made it critical and brought matters to a head in the Punjab very fast. The British Prime Minister, on the 20th February, 1947 made an authoritative statement of policy on behalf of the British Government in which he said:
“His Majesty’s Government wish to make it clear that it is their definite intention to take necessary steps to effect the transfer of power to responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June, 1948.
“………His Majesty’s Government will have to consider to whom the powers of the Central Government in British India should be handed over on due date, whether as a whole to some form of Central Government for British India or in some areas to the existing Provincial Governments or in such other way as may seem most reasonable and in the best interests of the Indian people”.
This statement brought the prospect of power very near the imagination of the Muslim League leaders who were now anxious more than ever to wrest power in the Punjab, so that by the time the transfer of power occurred, in June, 1948 or earlier, the Muslim League should be already firmly in the saddle in the Punjab, to receive power from the British Government and to consolidate the Western bloc of Pakistan. Come what may, thought the League leaders, none but a League ministry must function in the Punjab from now on. And it was to create such a situation that the Muslim League intensified its activity many times over, and when it failed to form a ministry, it let loose the horror and terror of the March, 1947 and subsequent riots over the Punjab.
Sir Khizar Hyat Khan, Premier in the Punjab Coalition Ministry, although his ministry had survived the League agitation, had yet received such a drubbing at the hands of the Muslim League as must have made his heart sick. The foulest and filthiest abuse was uttered daily in all places where the League agitation was conducted, for Sir Khizar and his Muslim colleagues, while the non-Muslim ministers came in for severe castigation minus the abuse. Probably Sir Khizar’s relations and others close to him felt like advising him to get out of this situation in which he had fallen foul of the majority of his coreligionists. The statement of His Majesty’s Government quoted above must have made him to ponder and to think of relinquishing office.
So, on the 2nd March, 1947 Sir Khizar Hyat Khan resigned office, and his ministry naturally came to an end. Sir Khizar took this step, as he said he thought it incumbent to leave the field clear for the Muslim League to come to some arrangement with the other parties. On the next day, that is the 3rd March, 1947 the Governor of the Punjab invited the leaders of the Muslim League Assembly Party to form a ministry. But by that date a strong wave of protest against and opposition to the formation to a Muslim League Ministry, committed to the division of India and the establishment of Pakistan in the Punjab, arose among Hindus and Sikhs. The Hindu and Sikh students of Lahore took out a big procession to demonstrate their resolve not to tolerate a Muslim League Ministry. This perfectly non-violent procession was fired on by the Muslim Police, which had stood hooliganism and law-breaking from Muslim mobs for over a month in the Province. Meetings, demonstrations and processions of Hindus and Sikhs continued in Lahore and Amritsar and some other towns. The situation was growing serious. Opposition to the Muslim League was rising, with the result that in its efforts at Ministry-making, the Muslim League Assembly party did not get a single Hindu or Sikh supporter. The Governor found that he could not allow a purely Muslim League ministry, without any support whatever from Hindus and Sikhs, to be formed in the Punjab.
The Muslim League having lost the confidence of Hindus and Sikhs due to its past conduct of several years and its creed of hate and violence, got no support from them. The Governor suspended the constitution, and the Punjab from March 5, 1947 was to be governed directly by the Governor under section 93 of the Government of India Act.
The report of the Chief Secretary of the Punjab Government, a Muslim, who has been quoted before, is highly significant as descriptive of the Muslim League attitude during this fateful period in the history of the Punjab, as being the prime cause of the occurrence of the Riots, from March 5 onwards. According to the Chief Secretary’s report:
“One of the most remarkable features of the situation has been the speed with which events moved. On the 2nd of March, following the settlement with Government, the Muslim League celebrated a “Victory Day”. No communal clash accompanied the observances but they afforded evidence of Muslim arrogance and intensified the fear and hatred of other communities, and increased their determination not to be subjected to an unwanted domination. On the same day the Premier announced the resignation of the Coalition Ministry in a statement to the effect that he was taking the step because he felt His Majesty’s Government’s announcement of the 20th February, made it incumbent to leave the field clear for the Muslim League to come to some arrangement with the other parties. On the 3rd, His Excellency the Governor invited the leader of the Muslim League Party to form a Government. On the 4th March disorder commenced. On the 5th March, in the presence of the Muslim League’s failure to form a Government, proclamation was issued under Section 93 of the Government of India Act transferring all responsibilities to the Governor.
“On the afternoon of the same day, and inevitably, communal rioting broke out accompanied by cases of stabbing and arson. By the 6th of March, both Amritsar and Multan were gravely affected and much damage had been caused to life and property. Since that date, with news of grave events radiating from Lahore, there has been bloodshed and burning in many districts, and rural areas have paid the price levied by insensate fury as well as towns. Many of the gravest incidents have taken place in the districts which form the Rawalpindi Division where Muslims are in the majority. In the Rawalpindi and Attock districts in particular there is every reason to think that casualties have been heavy. Up to the 15th March the known victims of internecine strife numbered 1,036 killed and 1,110 injured. The figures in both categories are almost certain to be very much greater when there has been more accurate counting after the madness has passed.”
According to the Chief Secretary:
“The prospect is not improved by the brutality of some of the acts committed by the majority community (Muslims) in the areas most effected. When details of these acts become known as inevitably they will, the danger of retaliation will arise in a degree fraught with much danger,”
On piecing together all the factors present in the Punjab situation in early March, 1947, we find:
(a) The Muslim League agitation had as its aim the over-throw of the Coalition ministry, and clearing the way for the achievement of Pakistan,
(b) H. M. G. Statement of February 20, 1947 declaring that power would be transferred in India in default of one Central Government, in some areas to the existing Provincial Governments, made it imperative for the League to capture power and to establish its own Government in the Punjab at all costs, so that such a Government should be able to receive power independently of a Central Government of India;
(c) The “Victory Day” of March 2, 1947 was used by the League for marking provocative speeches, and whipping up the passions of the Muslim masses against all who might oppose Pakistan;
(d) Not being able to get the cooperation of a single Hindu or Sikh inside Provincial Assembly, the Muslim League decided upon capturing power by waging a war on the minorities in the Punjab;
(e) For this purpose the Riots of March, 1947 were started, which occurred simultaneously in Lahore, Amritsar, Jullundur, Multan, Rawalpindi, Campbellpur and other Districts, the aggressors in all places being Muslims;
(f) These riots were no ordinary riots, but were a war of subjugation and conquest in which the Muslim people, the Muslim police and Muslim officials worked in perfect unison, and brought widespread death, destruction and uprooting to Hindus and Sikhs in a dozen districts, killing many thousands and uprooting about a million, before the month was out.
So, from the 5th March, 1947 onwards the constitutional game was up, and for the Hindus and Sikhs it became a struggle for sheer life against a fierce and well-planned Muslim onslaught-well-planned in that the Muslim League had a fighting corps (the Muslim League National Guard), ample stores of weapons, both sharp-edged and fire-arms, and a plan of attacks in which with police and official help the Muslims were to be encouraged and covered against risk, while Hindu and Sikh retaliation, if it ever were planned, was to be stifled.
Left to themselves, Hindus and Sikhs, although they reeled under the first unexpected blow in the first and second weeks of March, yet they would have rallied and retaliated, for the Sikh has never taken beating for long. But the Sikhs and Hindus were helpless against police and official backing of the Muslims and for the moment could at best defend themselves in a place like Amritsar where they were not heavily outnumbered by Muslims. In other places, where they were outnumbered, the Muslims rained destruction on them-month after month.
Such retaliation as came, and as has been hinted at by Chief Secretary Akhtar Hussain in his report quoted above, came towards August, when with the nearness of partition the stranglehold of Muslim police and officials began to loosen on the Eastern districts. But just then this stranglehold was complete from Lahore westwards, and from there it became total mass murder and driving out of Hindus and Sikhs, with looting and abduction on a scale horrible to contemplate. The following pages tell in a more detailed manner the story of which the outline has been given above.
BLITZ ON THE HINDU AND SIKH MINORITIES
As has been told above, there was a complete concert between the Muslim League and the Muslim masses which followed its programme and policy on the one hand, and Muslim officials and police on the other. The British bureaucracy which still held supreme power, was perhaps inclined to favour the Muslim League-not as such, but as the one force in the country which could be relied upon to pursue a policy of dissension and strife, and thus create in the country such a mood as would make a politically united India, at least a politically united Punjab, impossible So in this background came the fruition and consummation of the Muslim League plan to dominate the Punjab, to form in this Province its ministry, which with the consent of Hindus and Sikhs could not be done, but which might be established after beating them down. Only this beating had to be swift, continual and thorough.
Without a ministry of its own in the Punjab, the Muslim League would not be able to receive power from the British Government in June, 1948, the target date by which according to the February, 20 statement of H. M. G. power must be transferred to Indian hands. Without a Muslim League Government in the Punjab, Pakistan would remain not only lopsided, but might even topple altogether as a practical scheme. This was the situation in which the Muslim League attack on the Punjab minorities was inevitably launched.
Before making a detailed study of the Muslim attack in early March, 1947 a few significant figures must be noted here, which will show at a glance the strategically well-planned nature of the Muslim offensive and the total helplessness of the Hindus and Sikhs in the face of the overwhelming odds they were called upon to contend against:
(a) The proportion of the Muslim and non-Muslim Police force in the Punjab uptil August, 1947 was as follows:-
The total number of Police constables in the Punjab was shown as being 24,095, out of whom 17,848 were Muslims, 6167 Hindus and Sikhs combined and 80 Europeans and Anglo-Indians. This makes a percentage of 74 for she Muslim police. This overwhelming majority for the Muslim police was not justified on the basis of population figures, which were 56% Muslim and 440/, non-Muslims. For long years non-Muslims, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, had clamoured for greater recruitment of Hindus and Sikhs to the police, and Hindu and Sikh public bodies came forward quite often to offer good, acceptable Hindu and Sikh young men for the force, but the old proportions were allowed to stand, and even good Hindu and Sikh youths were very often rejected while Muslims of very much inferior physique were taken. The result of all this was that the Punjab Police was for all practical purposes Muslim. The Hindu and Sikh members of the force, being in a very small minority, and kept under by intrigue and the concerted plan of the Muslim majority, in the force itself, and of the Minister-incharge of Police, who since the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in 1937 had invariably been a Muslim, lost all confidence in themselves, and were helpless in doing their duty to protect the Hindu and Sikh minorities against aggression when the Muslim League attack in concert with the Muslim Police began in March, 1947.
(b) The proportion of Hindu and Sikh population in the Districts in which the attacks on them were made:-
Hindus and Sikhs
The above districts are those in which attacks on Hindus and Sikhs occurred in a serious form in the pre-partition days, i. e., from March, 1947 to August, 1947. In other districts of the present province of West Punjab (Pakistan) and in these above-mentioned districts, immediately before and after August, 1947 the situation became one of mass killing of Hindus and Sikhs and of abduction of their women-folk, looting of their property and burning of alien, houses.
Lahore town, in which most part of the attacks on Hindus and Sikhs took place in this pre-partition period, had a large majority of Muslim population, though it had large non-Muslim property, industry, educational and cultural effort centred in it.
The district of Amritsar, in which Hindus and Sikhs received, outside Western Punjab, the severest punishment at Muslim hands in the pre-partition period, had a slight non-Muslim majority in population. While the Muslim population of the district was 46.52%, the Hindus and Sikhs made up 51.46%. But the city of Amritsar itself was, in spite of its intimate Sikh associations, overwhelmingly Muslim in population, which was situated mostly quite deep along the fringe of the city on all four sides. Its nearness to Lahore and the particularly close concert between it and the local Muslim police and officials made it very formidable indeed in the months from March to July, 1947.
Figures for Hazara district in the N.-W. F. P. have already been given in an earlier chapter. The other districts of the Frontier Province in which large-scale attacks on Hindus and Sikhs occurred are these, with their relative Muslim and non-Muslim percentage in population shown:
Hindus and Sikhs
Dera Ismail Khan
These districts were worse situated from the point of view of the harassed and beseiged Hindu and Sikh populations, even than the districts of the Rawalpindi Division in the Punjab. These Districts backed on the tribal Afghan territory, into which the Hindu and Sikh women and others could be easily kidnapped. Flight was impossible for these unfortunate people either, for they were separated from the Hindu-Sikh areas of the Punjab by a very long belt of Muslim areas, through which no non-Muslim could travel with safety in those terrible months of anarchy in the Punjab.
Although the very first attacks occurred in Lahore and Amritsar on the 4th and 5th of March, 1947, yet in the latter of these cities the Hindus and Sikhs were numerically not overwhelmed by the Muslims. In Amritsar except in the initial stages Hindus and Sikhs put up a fight for safety of life and property, although this fight as it turned out, was unequal, with the Muslim police and officials going all-out to back up the Muslim assailants. In Lahore, there were 433,170 Muslims against 177,212 Hindus and only 34,021 Sikhs. But the worst carriage and destruction came in the Western districts-Multan, Rawalpindi, Campbellpur, Jhelum and Sargodha where right from the 5th March the League-led Muslim mobs fell with determination and full preparations on the helpless Hindus and Sikhs scattered in the villages, at the rate usually of a few Hindu and/or Sikh homes in the midst of a large Muslim population. That the Muslim League “Action” against Hindus and Sikhs was planned, is shown by several undeniable factors, the logic of which is unescapable. These are:
(a) These attacks began in the several districts mentioned above, as well as in Lahore and Amritsar, at almost the same time, as if the League forces were waiting only for a signal, for a word of command or a psychological moment to begin their work of bringing the Punjab under the heel of a Muslim League government.
(b) These attacks were open, unchecked and of the nature of a thorough extermination-the methods being everywhere uniform, such as stabbing, arson and the humiliations inflicted in forcibly converting the men and dishonouring the women of the minorities.
(c) These attacks all occurred in the heavy Muslim-majority districts, and in the cities of Lahore, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jullundur with their large Muslim populations. This was in the initial stages. In the somewhat later stages, such as a month after the beginning of these attacks, it was again the districts in which the Muslim majority was slightly smaller, though still very large, such as Gujrat, Gujranwala and Sialkot that these attacks began. No attacks on the part of Hindus and Sikhs on Muslims by way of reprisals or retaliation occurred in the non-Muslim majority districts during, all the months up till August, 1947. Those districts, with the exception only of Gurgaon, in which too the aggressors were the Muslim Meos, remained quiet, and the non-Muslims, perturbed as they deelpy were over what was happening in West Punjab, remained on the whole peaceful.
(d) As a corollary to the above, in the period up till August, 1947 there were about a million Hindu and Sikh refugees from the Western districts of the Punjab, from the North-Western Frontier Province, from Baluchistan and the devastated city of Lahore, besides Amritsar, who had to be looked after in refugee camps by the Punjab Government, by the Sikh States of the Punjab and by bodies like the Hindu Mahasabha and the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. There were very few Muslim refugees anywhere in this period. Such few as there were, came mainly from Amritsar, where alone up till August, the Hindus and Sikhs had been able to put up anything like a fight for life against Muslim aggression.
(e) The Muslims gave further evidence of plan and preparation in their aggression in respect of the following features of their action:
(i) They were well supplied with arms, such as daggers, swords, spears and even fire-arms.
(ii) They had bands of stabbers and their auxiliaries, who covered the assailant, ambushed the victim and if necessary disposed of his body. These bands were subsidized by the Muslim League, and in many cases cash payments were made to individual assassins on the number of Hindus and Sikhs bagged. There were also regular patrolling parties in jeeps which went about sniping and picking off any stray Hindu or Sikh (This was a feature mainly of the cities of Lahore and Amritsar).
(iii) Petrol was in plentiful supply with the Muslim aggressors everywhere-both for purposes of transport and for quick arson. This must have taken some time to be collected in such huge quantities.
(iv) The concert between the Leaguers of a place and their opposites of other places and the Muslim police and authorities everywhere, was remarkable. Till non-Muslim military appeared on the scene, there was no relief at all for Hindus and Sikhs, as the Muslim police never took action against the Muslim aggressors.
(v) In towns like Amritsar, where the earliest attacks occurred, even before any Hindu or Sikh was thinking that fighting would take place, the Muslims were fully prepared for the offensive. For example, they had distributed among their own folk all the available sword-blades in Amritsar. On Muslim shops had been written in prominent lettering ‘Muslim Shop’ in Urdu to protect these shops from planned arson And there was other unmistakable evidence of this, which will be mentioned when we came to narrate the incidents connected with Amritsar.
The attack came swiftly and over a vast area in the Rawalpindi Division, in which as has been shown in the table given before, the Muslim population in every district is over 80% and in some is well above 90%. In Rawalpindi town itself it appears the Hindu and Sikhs were well-organized and well-armed, and when the Muslims attacked them, they lilt back and drove away their assailants with some casualties. This beating taught the Muslims of this town a salutary lesson, and although the Hindus and Sikhs had for long to bear a state of seige, yet they were not murdered and pillaged on the scale on which this occurred in the unprotected and unarmed country-side, where it was general massacre of Hindus and Sikhs, especially of the latter.
On the 5th March, 1947 on hearing of the Ailing on the Hindu and Sikh students of Lahore, the Hindu-Sikh students of Rawalpindi took out a procession protesting against the Muslim attempt at the formation of a communal (Muslim League) Ministry in the Punjab, and the police firing on the non-violent procession of Hindu and Sikh students. This procession was attacked by the Muslim Leaguers. There was a free fight in which the Muslims got the worst of it. Then a huge Muslim mob from the countryside, incited for attack on Hindu and Sikhs by the Pir of Golra, a Muslim religious head and a leader of this area, fell upon the town. But the Hindus and Sikhs fought them from their mohallas in trenches, and the Muslims again lost in this battle. The suburbs of Rawalpindi, however, were burnt and sacked, as resistance in them could not be effective. Nine Hindus and Sikhs were murdered treacherously by Muslims in Lal Kurti Mohalla, after being decoyed into entering the Muslim Zone for peace negotiations. This was not a solitary instance of such murder done by treachery, as similar things occurred in other places too, both in March and in the post partition period.
In the rural areas of Rawalpindi, however, it was a case of mass attack by Muslims, and a general massacre of Hindus and Sikhs. That this description is not an exaggeration or an attempt at painting a lurid picture, is fully borne out by the tables of incidents attached to this booklet in the form of Appendices. The Muslims many hundreds of times made up in the rural areas the set-back they had received in Rawalpindi town itself. Here, on a scale much larger than Noakhali, in an area many times more extensive, and involving a population many times that of Noakhali and Tipperah, the Muslim League, anxious now to convert the Punjab into a Muslim League-governed Province, carried fire and sword into all areas of the Rawalpindi Division. Here was the answer to the query made by a British newspaper about the aims of Jinnah: “Does he want to plunge his country into a religious war?” And the answer most emphatically was, “Yes”. It was to be a religio-political-war, in which the Punjab was to be made safe at all costs for a Muslim League Government, which should receive power, in June, 1948 from the British Government.
The attack in Rawalpindi villages began on the 7th March, 1947, and continued non-stop or weeks together, in village after village, wherever any Hindus and Sikhs were to be found. When one sub-area was rid of its Hindu and Sikh inhabitants then the war on Hindus and Sikhs spread to another area, and so on, till by the end of March, the surviving Hindu and Sikh populations of Rawalpindi, Campbellpur and Jhelum Districts had all been transferred in a destitute state into refugee camps, which were established all over the Punjab, the Sikh states and even the U.P. In the larger towns of this areas there were still Hindus and Sikhs, but they were living in a state of seige, and could not stir out of their homes, much less travel or otherwise move about.
In 128 villages of Rawalpindi district, which were attacked over a period of several days, beginning from March 7, 1947, 7,000 Hindus and Sikhs have been enumerated in reports as killed. All casualties have not in some cases been traced or registered. The number of those wounded has been large too, though when these attacks were made, little mercy was shown by the assailants and they made a very thorough work of finishing of those who fell into their hands. Besides those killed and wounded about 1,000 Hindu and Sikh women were abducted, who were raped and dishonoured in a manner which would shame anyone with the least trace of civilization or religion in him.
Women were raped in the presence of their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons. Later they were distributed among the Muslims to be kept as concubines or were forcibly married. A large number were carried into the tribal territory, and became untraceable. In almost all cases houses were burnt and property was looted. Quite often Gurdwaras were burnt down and the Sikh Scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. torn or otherwise desecrated. In most of these villages the method followed by the Muslims to loot and kill the Hindu and Sikh populations was cynically treacherous. A village would be surrounded; messages would be sent to the Hindus and Sikhs to buy off the invaders with so such money. This demand would be complied with. But the invaders would still be there; and one night would open the attack on the small non-Muslim population of the place, and put as many to the sword as could not escape or as could be killed before military help arrived for succour, which, however in those lawless days was not very often.
The invaders marched on to their attacks fearlessly and openly, with drums beating and with a large display of firearms, sometimes even modem automatic weapons. In the newspapers of the period appeared photographs taken of these marching hordes with plenty of rifles carried on the shoulders of the assailants. It is strange, however, that the valiant fliers in these planes were content only with photographing these invaders and did precious little to fire on them, and thus save the lives of the thousands of helpless men, women and children on whom these invaders loosed hell.
Forcible conversion was the other alternative to death for a non-Muslim. The ultimatum was given to the population of a village either to embrace Islam or to face death. Most Hindus and Sikhs preferred death to the shameful surrender of faith, and died, sometimes fighting and at other times with great tortures, at the hands of the sadist religious zealots of the Muslim League. Such women as could not be abducted or dishonoured, generally escaped this shame by immolating themselves. Thoha Khalsa village, of which an account will follow, is a classic example of such sacrifice of life on the part of 93 Sikh women of that place.
This, the best known incident of its kind, however, is not the only one. In scores of places, both during the March attacks and the post-partition attacks on Hindus and Sikhs, women immolated themselves to escape dishonour at the hands of the maddened and ferocious lusting Muslim mobs. Those who were forcibly converted were, if they were Sikhs, shaved off and circumcised; the Hindus too were circumcized, even the grown-ups. The women converts were generally given in marriage, if they were unmarried or widows, to Muslims, the Nikah ceremony being performed by some local Maulvi. A large number of such shaven Sikh converts to Islam arrived as refugees in March, 1947 in Amritsar, Patiala and other places, from Rawalpindi and the Frontier Province.
The assailants did not spare even little children. It was naked beastliness performing a devil’s dance. Children would be snatched from the hands of their parents, tossed on spears and swords, and sometimes thrown alive into the fire. Other cruelties equally horrible were perpetrated. Women’s breasts, noses and arms would he lopped off. Sticks and pieces of iron would be thrust into their private parts. Sometimes the bellies of pregnant women were ripped open and the unformed life in the womb thrown out. In some places processions of naked Hindu and Sikh women are also reported to have been taken out by the Muslims mobs.
A report on 23 villages of the Attock district reveals that in these villages a total of 610 Hindus and Sikhs were killed within about ten days from March 7, 1947. In these same villages 1656 Hindu and Sikh houses, including a number of Gurdwaras were burnt and destroyed; 1361 Hindu and Sikh houses were looted of all their property; 1471 Hindus arid Sikhs, both men arid women, were forcibly converted to Islam, and about 100 women and children were abducted.
In the village of Duberan in Rawalpindi district not a single Sikh survived from its total population of one and a half thousands. 70 women were abducted. The burning and looting of this prosperous village, where such carnage took place, can only be imagined.
In the village of Tarlai in Rawalpindi District more than 100 Sikhs were killed, and these included women and children. 15 were forcibly converted to Islam. All houses were looted.
In Chaklala and Rata Amral, Suburbs of Rawalpindi, Sikhs were attacked on March 8, 1947. The residents held out for a day and a night, but finding the odds against them overwhelming, they surrendered. A large number were killed, while others were forcibly converted, and shaved and circumcised in public.
Maddened with the zeal for exterminating the ‘Kafirs’ and making room for the establishment of an Islamic State in Northern India, the League-led Muslim mobs combed hundreds of villages as has already been related above, in the Rawalpindi District.
In Bhagpur the entire Sikh population was wiped out. Women and children were not spared. The Gurdwara was burnt.
In Bewal, 400 Hindus and Sikhs who had taken shelter in a Gurdwara were burnt alive by the Gurdwara being set on fire.
In Thamali Khari, 400 Sikhs were killed, and one Gurdwara and one school building were burnt to cinders. Only 20 out of its population survived.
In the village of Nakrali about two dozen Sikhs were killed and some women immolated themselves to escape dishonour at the hands of the invading Muslims. 40 Sikhs were forcibly converted. The Gurdwara was looted and burnt.
In the village of Mughal 141 Sikhs were killed, and only about a dozen survived out of its population. The Gurdwara was burnt.
In Thoha Khalsa, on March 12, 1947 after long and heroic resistance, 200 Sikhs were killed. The women were asked to embrace Islam, but 93 of them, old and young, decided to escape dishonour by drowning themselves in a well, which they did. The Muslim invaders, aghast at this tragedy, fled from the place. A little later, the military arrived and rescued the survivors. (See a fuller account of this happening in Appendix). In the village of Sayad, well-known for its educational and philanthropic effort, about 30 Sikhs were killed. Some were forcibly converted. The Gurdwara of the place was burnt.
In the village of Adiala, on March 8, 1947 Muslim mobs collected by beat of drum in broad day-light. The invaders raised a false alarm of a Sikh attack on themselves, and on this pretext, fell to looting the Hindu and Sikh quarters, which they did extensively. Hindus and Sikhs were ferreted out, and were burnt alive, stabbed or shot dead. The number of those killed was above a hundred. 40 were forcibly converted. The Muslim police watched the whole of this carnage going on, and did just nothing about it.
The village of Gorsian in Gujarkhan Tehsil was attacked by a mob of 600, who had been persuaded by the Muslim League Mullas that it is a holy deed to kill Hindus and Sikhs. Several Sikhs were killed in this village, and large-scale looting occurred.
In most cases in these villages a stop was put to the depredations of the Muslim mobs only by the somewhat belated arrival of the military.
In Mandra the attack came on March 9. There was large-scale looting and burning of houses and shops of Hindus and Sikhs. 200 Sikhs were killed; 40 others were missing, and were probably killed while fleeing for life. The Gurdwara and School were burnt.
In Kahuta, on March 8, 60 Sikhs were killed and Sikh and Hindu houses were extensively looted. 500 women were abducted from this village. The Gurdwara was burnt.
Burning of Gurdwaras and Schools, wherever situated appears to have been a settled part of the plan of these predatory mobs, bent upon exterminating and failing that, humiliating Sikhs and Hindus.
In Sukho, where stiff resistance was put up by Sikhs one girls’ school and one Gurdwara were burnt. In Daultala too, very stiff resistance was put up by Sikhs.
In Tainch and Harnali about two dozen Sikhs were killed and brutalities committed in the latter place. About 30 women were abducted from these places and the Gurdwaras were burnt. In Harial about 20 Sikhs were killed and 40 were abducted. The Gurdwara was burnt.
This last is Master Tara Singh’s home place. Masterji’s house were razed to the ground with sadistic vengeance, the site struck with shoes and ploughed over.
In Bamali, on March 8, about 80 Sikhs were killed and more than 105 were abducted. Some Sikhs in this village killed their womenfolk to save them from certain dishonour at the hands of the Muslim invaders. In Banda 20 were killed, including women and children. The Gurdwara here too was burnt.
In Machhian, on March 11, 1947, 200 Sikhs were killed which number was all the males in the village. The women and children were all abducted and were later rescued by the military. The Gurdwara was burnt.
Narali was attacked by a mob of 15,000 on March 12. The Hindus and Sikhs took shelter inside the Gurdwara, from where they put up stiff resistance. Several Hindus and Sikhs were killed, and large scale looting of houses of Hindus and Sikhs occurred.
Murree, a very popular hill station near Rawalpindi was attacked on the 9th March, 1947 and about 150 bunglows belonging to Hindus and Sikhs were looted and then burnt.
At Nara, in the tehsil of Kahuta, Sikh women and children were burnt alive, and the women were tortured in ways most devilishly ingenious and sadistic, which it is not possible for any decent human being to describe.
Such barbarities and widespread murderous attacks occurred simultaneously and on the same scale in districts in the neighbourhood of Rawalpindi, such as Campbellpur, Jhelum and Sargodha. As has been pointed out, all these districts were overwhelmingly Muslim in population. Similar things occurred in the District of Gujrat, bordering on Jhelum.
In the village of Sarkal Kaser in Jhelum district, on and after March 7, 43 Hindus and Sikhs were killed, the survivors were forcibly converted and all Hindu and Sikh houses were burnt. Prominent among other villages burnt and looted, with their Hindu and Sikh inhabitants killed in large numbers or forcibly converted and driven as destitutes from their homes are: Darwal, Narang, Chak Sewak, Bhagwal, Athwal, Tahar, Sahota, Mangwal, Thanel Fatuhi, Rupwal, Ranjha, Dhanogi, Ghugg etc. In the last named, as many as 128 Sikhs were killed and 40 women were abducted. Looting and arson in Hindu-Sikh houses occurred on a large scale. In Jia Bagha 18 Sikhs were killed and 52 were forcibly converted. 66 Sikhs’ houses were burnt.
Dhudial is a large village in Jhelum district, with several gurdwaras, a High School and a bank. It was attacked on March 12. The first attack was resisted by the Sikhs, who were a well organised and substantial community. The second attack, made on the evening of March 13, was much more severe. Large scale arson and looting of Sikh houses occurred. About a dozen Sikhs were killed. Besides three-fourth of the houses in the village, 4 Gurdwaras, the Iran-Hind Bank and the Khalsa High School were burnt. Only the arrival of the military on the scene stopped further destruction. 14 other villages in the neighbourhood of Dhudial were looted with murder and arson. Altogether the Chakwal Tehsil of Jhelum District was over-run.
On March 7, the Frontier Mail was stopped by a Muslim mob at Taxila Railway Station, in Rawalpindi district. Hindu and Sikh passengers, especially the latter, were pulled out and 22 dead bodies were left on the platform.
About the same time, be it noted, another Muslim mob killed Hindu and Sikh passengers in a train while it was held up outside Sharifpura, a suburb of Amritsar. Train hold-ups and killing of Hindu and Sikh passengers was a regular feature of the Muslim League plan of action, as various incidents from March, right up till January, 1948 show.
Cambellpur witnessed atrocities on Hindus and Sikhs, even much worse and on a larger scale. In Rajar, in Tehsil Fatehjung of the Cambellpur district on March 10, the Muslim mob which attacked was armed with rifles. In this attack 300 Sikhs were killed and 3 Gurdwaras were burnt and the Sikh Scripture was desecrated. In this place, 116 Sikhs including women and children there coasted alive inside a Gurdwara. 95 women were abducted and forcibly married to Muslims. All Sikh houses were burnt and looted.
In the villages Pand and Tali Pandi in this District on March 9, Sikh houses were looted and burnt on a large scale. An ultimatum was given to Sikhs to embrace Islam and a large number were forcibly converted. Such of the Sikhs as did not get converted, were brutally done to death, and these included old women and children. Some were also burnt alive. In the village of Jhan, the entire Hindu and Sikh population was wiped out. In Parial, 150 Hindus and Sikhs out of its total population of 160 were burnt alive while they were taking shelter in the Gurdwara. In the villages of Chakri and Dheri, Sikhs fought against overwhelming numbers and many were killed.
In Jand, Kanat and Basal, in Campbellpur district there was large-scale arson and heavy casualties among Hindus and Sikhs. Numerous piteous appeals were sent by the panic-stricken inhabitants to the authorities, but seldom did such appeals help in saving those who made them. Appeals from beleaguered Sikhs bespeaking the last extremity of despair and expressing any hope of preservation only from God, the Preserver of all, were received from these various areas in the office of the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at Amritsar, which however, was utterly helpless in this situation in which only a strong Government, determined to stop lawlessness ruthlessly could be of any help.
In Cambellpur, lawlessness was of an especially serious nature. In the village of Dheri, on March 8, the attack was made by a large mob which advanced with drums beating. A very large number of Sikhs, among whom were women and children, were killed. Such dastardliness which spared neither sex nor age was a regular feature of this Muslim League campaign of extermination of Sikhs and Hindus. Various kinds of brutalities were committed. Hindus and Sikhs who were converted, were forced to swallow beef.
Everywhere in Campbellpur District, there appears to have been no law or Government in these days. The Muslim police abetted and aided the assailants of Hindus and Sikhs. The Muslim mobs everywhere advanced with drums beating and with the Muslim League flag flying. Raping of women, forcible conversions, torturing of men and women were freely indulged in besides burning and looting. Gurdwaras were burnt and desecrated. In Chauntra, all Sikhs were forcibly converted, and their womenfolk given over to Muslims. Later a plot was hatched by Muslims to kill all these Hindus and Sikhs, notwithstanding their recent conversion. This plot got somehow known to the intended victims, and they managed to get military aid sometime before they could be done to death.
On March 12, there was a two-hour battle between the Muslim rioters on the one hand and police and military on the other at Jand in Tehsil Pindigheb in Campbellpur district.
On the 12th March, a mob of 10,000 Muslims advanced upon Mianwali. It was only the tact and firmness of the district authorities which averted the fate of the neighbouring areas befalling the Hindus and Sikhs of this town.
On March 11, the town of Tandlianwala, in Lyallpore district and an important trading centre, was attacked by a huge Muslim mob, bent upon loot, arson and the murder of Hindus and Sikhs. Here again it was the courage displayed by Hindus and Sikhs and the firmness of the authorities which saved this town. So widespread over the Punjab was this Muslim League campaign of beating the minorities into submission.
On March 9, in the words of The Civil bind Military Gazette report ‘an armed mob (of Muslims) from rural areas raided Hazro Bazar, 12 miles from Cambellpur and committed arson and loot on a large scale. Six persons were killed and two injured.’ The number of casualties is a gross understatement, as all such estimates given in official and quasi-official reports in those days were later proved to be.
In Khusab (Sargodha district) on March 14, Hindu shops, houses and temples were looted and burned. There was huge loss of property. A similar situation was developing in Sargodha, Bhera and Bhalwal.
A remote village, Chajian in Hazara district, where attacks on Hindus and Sikhs were made in December, 1946 and January 1947, was attacked on March 15. Hindus and Sikhs had to be evacuated to places of safety. In Peshawar, Hindus and Sikhs were beleaguered. Muzaffargarh, a district in Multan Division, and Montgomery, in Lahore Division, both Muslim majority districts, showed signs in these days of attacks on Hindus and Sikhs brewing.
It was significant that during this period there had been no disturbance on the part of Hindus and Sikhs in any of the non-Muslim majority districts. In Jullundur and Ludhiana towns trouble was made by Muslims, who were in a majority of 70% in each of these towns-Sikhs were in. a majority in the rural areas of Ludhiana District, and were a powerful factor in both rural Jullundur and Ferozepore. Yet no reports were received of any disturbances from these areas.
Rawalpindi Division was ablaze. Its rural Hindu and Sikh population was almost entirely in refugee camps. The biggest of these camps was at Wah, in Campbellpur District, and its population was about 25,000. Another refugee camp, nearly as big, was situated at Kala, in Jhelum District. There were other refugee camps at smaller places. But most of the Hindus and Sikhs of this area had got so much panic-stricken that they preferred to leave this area altogether, and travelled east. The railway trains were full to capacity of destitute Hindu and Sikh refugees from places from Jhelum to Peshawar and other areas.
They moved in search of shelter into the Sikh-Hindu majority districts of the Punjab, into the Punjab States, into the Jat States of Bharatpur, Dholpur, into Alwar, into Delhi and the U. P. Some moved even further east. Patiala State alone had, by April, as many as fifty thousand Sikh and Hindu refugees, who had to be fed, housed and clad, whose children had to be educated and who needed being settled in life again after being uprooted. Thousands of widows and orphans created a problem well-nigh insoluble in the face of the suddenness with which it had emerged. Destitutes were roaming every town and village of the Punjab east of Amritsar in search of food and shelter. Pitiable indeed was the condition of these people, who had become victims of an unprecedented kind of disaster. State Governments and private organizations like the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Congress tried to do their best to relieve the distress of these unfortunates, but the task was gigantic.
So, barring a microscopic minority of these uprooted people, who had means in the East Punjab, the others remained, practically speaking, destitutes for whom life held little hope. This was the state to which the Muslim League campaign had reduced about at least ten lakhs of enterprising, useful human beings.
But the story of the terrible carnage wrought by the Muslim League campaign of conquest of the minorities is not yet even half told. The known number of casualties in Rawalpindi Division alone is about 7,000 killed. The number of those injured must be considerably higher. Not less than between four and five thousand women were abducted or dishonoured. Houses and shops burnt were thousands, while hundreds of Gurdwaras, Hindu temples and schools were burned or desecrated. Expressing his reaction to what he saw in Rawalpindi Division in these days, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, then Vice-President of the Interim Government of India said that the deeds committed in -the Rawalpindi district would shame even beasts. J. A. Scott, Deputy Inspector-General of Police in the Rawalpindi range, in a statement to the Press, declared:
“It is unbelievable that barbarous acts such as were committed on innocent people in rural areas of the Rawalpindi Division could be possible in the Punjab.”
All these atrocities on Hindus and Sikhs brought no condemnation whatever from the Muslim League leaders. They either kept silent about them, or continued to trot out imaginary atrocities on Muslims. This not only encouraged the Muslim goondas, but gave them the confidence that they could go on safely with the blessings of the League leaders. Defence Leagues of Muslim lawyers and others were set up to rescue from the clutches of the law murderers and beasts in human shape who had perpetrated unspeakable atrocities on innocent and defenceless human beings. The Muslim League Press continued to protest against the so-called police excesses in Founding up Muslim bad characters and criminals, against whom action in fact was inadequate and very much belated. Such action as was taken, came when the military appeared on the scene, and when the Punjab Government decided a little to modify its disastrous policy of making the Punjab Police Department as entirely Muslim preserve.
In Multan attacks of a most destructive nature began on the 5th March, the day on which the Muslim League had decided to unleash its offensive in the Punjab. In violence, speed and the extent of destruction wrought this Multan campaign was in no way less than its Rawalpindi parallel. In both areas Hindus and Sikhs were in a small minority, and the Muslim population very inflammable. In Multan city itself the attack came on the 5th March. A procession of Hindu and Sikh students which was taken out to demonstrate against the formation of a communal Muslim League ministry in the Punjab, was suddenly and brutally attacked by a Muslim mob, with the help of the Police. Many of the students who were in this procession were killed. Then this mob fell upon Hindu and Sikh quarters of the town. A modest estimate places the number of Hindu and Sikhs killed on the first day at 300 and those injured at 500.
The Muslim mob was led by a Sayad or Muslim holy man, reputedly a descendant of the Prophet of Islam, on a white charger, ‘inspiring’ the ‘faithful’ with the destruction of ‘Kafirs’. The police were watching all this and moved not their little finger to stop what could be stopped with firm action in a short space of time. So virulent had been the Muslim League propaganda, and such the fury into which the League had whipped the Muslim temper, that the mob did not even spare Hindu and Sikh patients in the T.-B. Hospital. Whole families were done to death, and on the least suspicion of being a non-Muslim a man was killed. Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, President of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee, was on that fateful night a guest in the house of Seth Kalyan Das of Multan. Dr. Kitchlew’s host and his entire family were butchered and the Doctor escaped death only on his proving to his assailants’ satisfaction that he was a Muslim. Hindu shops were looted and burned on a large scale. More than a dozen Sikh and Hindu holy places were also burned and desecrated: Eight factories belonging to Hindus were looted and destroyed by fire. Hindu and Sikh quarters were burned to cinders.
The trouble spread to the countryside of Multan simultaneously. Police lorries, which moved to and fro ostensibly for the relief of sufferers, were really employed to carry Muslim goondas into the countryside. In Shujabad Tehsil of Multan, an attack was made on March 7 on the Hindus of village Aliwala. Large-scale murder of Hindus occurred. Simultaneously Hindus of the villages of Chhajjushah, Mochipura and Bhojewala were also attacked. All this was done in village after village after the Muslims had given assurances of safety on the Koran to Hindus. Hindu women were molested and abducted. Altogether 50 villages in this tehsil were looted with arson, murder and abduction of women. Ears, noses and breasts of women were cut off, and they were raped in the presence of their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons. Such Hindus as approached Muslims with messages of peace were brutally and cynically murdered by these League gangs. Forcible conversions of Hindus occurred on a large scale. It is estimated that Hindus were wiped out in this district over an area of about 500 square miles. Some of the prominent villages in which this destruction occurred are these: Traggar, Matoth, Basti Ahir, Jhakkar, Birkhi, Lashkriwala and Shurewan.
In Lahore, attacks on Hindus and Sikhs started even a day earlier than they did in Multan, that is on the 4th March. Hindu and Sikh students took out a procession, protesting against the attempt to foist a purely communal, Muslim League Ministry on the Punjab. The police and officials had watched the progress of the Muslim League agitation of January-February, 1947 for 34 days. On the whole, as has been pointed out above, this agitation was dealt with in a most ‘soft’ and even inadequate manner by the police, so that from being an agitation unattended by acts of violence, this agitation soon became violent in nature. It was at no time, not even at its inception, non-violent in the sense in which the struggles of the Congress had been non-violent, for foul and vituperative abuse, provocative anti-Hindu-and-Sikh slogans, forcing non-Muslims to join the Muslim agitators, etc. had been resorted to by the League agitators as a matter of course.
But all through the police contended themselves with effecting ‘temporary’ arrests of the League leaders, with now and then tear-gassing the League processions and. such other mild measures. Only when the police were themselves attacked, did there occur lathi-beating and firing. All this was because the police and the civil officials had Muslim League sympathies and they were in fact, completely ‘demoralised’. Fair and impartial administration of justice could not be looked for from them. They wanted to create an atmosphere favourable for the establishment of Pakistan in the Punjab, and allowed the Muslim League agitation, which was in fact intended to usher in a Muslim League Ministry, the precursor of Pakistan. to grow more and more irresistible.
The conduct of the police at once changed even on the first day when the Hindus and Sikhs took out a procession in protest against the attempt at foisting Pakistan on the Punjab. The procession of Hindu and Sikh students was perfectly nonviolent. It only raised slogans, but these were in no way against Muslims as such. There was no evidence that this agitation would either grow violent or hold within itself any potentialities detrimental to peace. It was constitutional agitation. Yet the police fired on this procession and several students were killed; many were injured. This was, in the words of the Sikh leader Giani Kartar Singh ‘an attempt to crush, appositive to Pakistan with police aid.’ He further declared, ‘The police did not fire in Lahore for a single day during all the 34 days of Muslim League agitation. It is amazing they could not tolerate our meetings for a single day.’
That in crushing the Hindu-Sikh opposition to the attempted formation of establishing Muslim League raj in the Punjab, the police were acting with excessive zeal and initiative born of their pro-League bias, is shown by the statement issued by the non-Muslim ministers in the Coalition Ministry, which resigned on the 2nd March, and which ceased even to function under protest on the 4th. This statement clearly shows that the police and the authorities were not taking their directions from the Government which was still supposed to function, but were acting as ‘an army of the Muslim League.’ Said the non-Muslim Ministers in their letter of March 4 (evening) in a statement to the Press:
“We had agreed to continue with the Premier in his caretaker Government according to the usual conventions, but the firings and disturbances, which occurred in Lahore, on Thursday1 resulting in many casualties, have compelled us to tender our resignations to the Premier, since we feel that we are no longer in a position to take complete responsibility for the situation.”
While on the one side the police were trying to crush and cow down the Hindus and Sikhs, and put an end to the opposition to the establishment of Pakistan, on the other, the Muslim population of Lahore, for months and months prepared for an attack on Hindus and Sikhs. This was kept in check so far only by the known stern determination of the Coalition Government to put down rioting with a firm hand. Arms of all kinds, petrol and other incendiaries, helmets and even jeeps had been collected and stored by the Muslims for some time. They were being kept against their need for such opportune time as presented itself on March 4 and after, when an all-out many-pronged assault was to he delivered on Hindus and Sikhs in all such districts in the Punjab, where the League was in a situation favourable for a successful fight.
So, Muslim goondas fell upon a Hindu-Sikh procession in Chowk Matti, inside the walled city and adjoining the passage to Mochi Gate, a large and thickly-populated Muslim quarter of the town. Police separated the parties. The town was placed under curfew.
The Muslims then took to stabbing and assaulting of stray Hindus and Sikhs and to setting fire to Hindu and Sikh houses and buildings. For this kind of warfare they had long been trained. Stabbing had been one of the items in which Muslims, whether members of the Muslim National Guards or not, had been given special training, as the facsimile of the certificate given earlier will show. For efficient arson they had collected petrol and other incendiaries, which were pumped into a building, and over the sprayed woodwork a piece of burning cotton or other flaming object thrown. In a few minutes the whole place would catch fire, and the entrapped inmates would either be burnt alive, or would be killed by the Muslims who would be waiting outside to pounce upon them as they struggled out of the flames. Before this, in Calcutta and other towns Muslim Leaguers had tried this method of warfare. It left the Hindus and Sikhs aghast, as they were not provided with the means of defence against such a total war of extermination. With the police planning with, aiding and shielding the Muslim League goondas, Hindus and Sikhs felt the situation becoming desperate for them.
Stabbing and waylaying of Hindus and Sikhs became a common occurrence during these days. Hindus and Sikhs going about singly or even in small groups were almost certain to be stabbed to death. In tongas, in buses and even at the Railway Station they were not safe, for Muslims would be lurking with daggers concealed on them, which they could use skilfully and with fatal effect. There is not a doubt that hired Muslim assassins went about Lahore, (and other towns, like Amritsar) charged with the task of murdering Hindus and Sikhs on payment. These rings of assassins were financed by the big ones of the League. Sometimes when such assassins were caught they confessed to being in the pay of the Muslim League leaders. One assailant, arrested some time later on the Mall near the Charing Cross, said to the crowd:
“Please inform Begum Shah Nawaz that I have been arrested and ask her to help me to be released” (Begam Shah Nawaz ko meharbani kar ke ittlah dena ki main griftar ho gaya hun, koshish har ke muihe chhuraen.)
That the existence of such a ring of assassins and their financiers is not a myth or figment of the imagination, but is based on authentic proof, is also supported by disclosure made in the leading article of the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore; dated June 18, 1947-three and a half months after the campaign of extermination of Hindu and Sikh minorities had been launched by the Muslim League in the Punjab. (For this see Appendix).
The incidents which occurred in Lahore from March onwards are illustrative of the sort of campaign the Muslim League was carrying on, and the widespread plot of extermination made And put into execution against Hindus and Sikhs.
A Sikh was standing at a milk-shop, buying milk. He was stabbed while standing there and killed. A Hindu was going on a bicycle. He was stopped on the road by a group of Muslims, asked to prove whether he was Hindu or Muslim, and on it being ascertained that he was a Hindu, he was put on the road, and his throat cut with slow torture, like an animal slaughtered in the Muslim way.
A Sikh was coming from Court, where he was a clerk. As he passed through a Muslim lane in Mozang, some Muslims fell upon him and finished him on the spot.
Darshan Singh, a Sikh, came out of his house to buy vegetables in Mewa Mandi. Several Muslims fell upon and fatally assaulted him. His dying declaration revealed that Mian Jalaluddin, a Corporation councillor of Lahore, was directing his murderers.
A Hindu tangawala was found murdered in his tonga on Empress Road.
Muslims in jeeps would prowl along Lahore roads, and would snipe at or stab stray Hindus or Sikhs. Such incidents occurred on Ravi Road, near the Canal, on Jail Road and Ferozepore Road.
As the month advanced, the tempo of Muslim attack on Hindus and Sikhs also increased. In March and April these attacks remained confined to stabbings and stray burning of houses. The Muslim Leaguers were feeling their way. After the elimination of minorities had been effected to a great extent in the Rawalpindi Division and in parts of the Multan Division, and a large part of Amritsar had been devastated, it was decided by the Muslim Leaguers to drive Hindus and Sikhs out of Lahore by methods of large-scale murder, loot and arson, for which the police was very willing accomplice. The conduct of the Muslim police and magistracy during this period shows a bold and determined partisanship with the Muslim League rioters in their campaign of crime. This was noticed in the case of M. G. Cheema, a Lahore Magistrate, who abetted and got completed the ruin of a large and populous Hindu-Sikh part of the walled city of Lahore.
In May the attack on Hindus and Sikhs assumed very large proportions. Regular burning, murder and pillage started. On May 18, the Muslims of Mozang, a high Muslim majority area of Lahore attacked the Hindu and Sikh inhabitants. The Muslim mob is said to have been ten thousand and was supplied with rifles which report speaks of as having come from the armoury of the police station of Mozang, through the courtesy of the Muslim Sub-Inspector. The arms thus loaned were to be returned after “use”. Several Hindu and Sikh buildings were set on fire, and moving about in the Mozang area became extremely risky for any Hindu or Sikh.
On the same day, bungalows of Hindus and Sikhs, situated opposite the Sikh National College on Grand Trunk Road, were set on fire. So were the huts of Hindu labourers in this area. One Hindu temple was burned inside the Masti Gali area. Hindu houses were set on fire inside Akbari Mandi and Kucha Patpatian. A non-Muslim was killed near Shahi Mohalla (a thickly populated Muslim zone, close to the Shahi Masjid) and his dead body was set on fire with petrol sprinkled on it.
Muslims of Baghbanpura, a Muslim suburb of Lahore near Shalimar Gardens on the road leading to Amritsar, attacked their neighbouring non-Muslim areas, Singhpura and Bharat Nagar. In the former place, which was inhabited by Sikhs mostly, several mob attacks were made, and Sikhs killed with rifle fire and houses set on fire. In Bharat Nagar several Hindu houses were burned and people venturing out of their houses were stabbed. The Punjab Government was compelled to impose a collective fine of two lakh rupees on Baghbanpura Muslims for their continued aggressive behaviour towards non-Muslims.
The announcement of the Mountbatten Plan on June 3, 1947 which conceded Pakistan and made its coming into existence on August 15, 1947 a dead certainty increased ten-fold the tempo-of attack on non-Muslims in Lahore. The Mountbatten Plan had provided for a boundary commission for the partition of the Punjab and of Bengal, should the non-Muslim legislators of either province demand partition.
Considering the temper of the Muslims of these provinces, especially in the course of the year 1946 and 1947, ever since the Direct Action resolution of the Muslim League was passed on July 29, 1946 at Bombay, it was not likely that the non-Muslims of these areas would like either province to go entirely into the proposed theocratic Muslim State of Pakistan. So, a vote for division in either case was expected-as a matter of fact, on the part of the non-Muslim legislators who in this matter fully carried out the wishes of the Hindus and Sikhs of the provinces concerned, it was known to be a foregone conclusion. The Boundary Commissions were appointed to demarcate the boundaries of the two provinces where in the event of a non-Muslim demand for partition, these provinces were to go into Pakistan and India respectively. The two commissions, which however had in Sir Cyril Radcliffe, a common chairman, were required to take into consideration, while fixing the boundaries, population and ‘other factors.’ What these ‘other factors’ were to be, was never precisely defined. It was thought that they would include historic and religious attachments, extraordinary economic interest and stake and no less inevitably the need for making a tenable, stable international boundary.
Sikhs had a strong stake in the Montgomery, Lyallpur and Sheikhupura districts in which they had been pioneer colonists and had created unheard of prosperity through sheer dint of labour and unexampled force of hardihood and character. So, they expected that these districts, or anyway such portions of them as had a concentration of Sikh interest, would be decided to be allotted to India. The Sikhs had a further deep interest in Nankana Sahib, which is the birthplace of Sri Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism and is situated in the heart of Sheikhupura district. The Hindus of the Punjab had quite as heavy an economic stake in these districts as the Sikhs, and more so even in Lahore, which town owed almost its entire wealth, industry, educational enterprise, and importance to the vast effort the Hindus had been expending for generations in building it up. Sikh enterprise in developing Lahore was second only to the Hindu-the Muslims there being backward and unenterprising, consisting mostly of migratory seasonal labourers or petty hawkers.
A large part of the Muslim population of Lahore lived on the verge of crime and other anti-social activities, and were a ready army in the hands of gangsters, rioters and now of the Muslim League fascists. The story of the allotment of the three above-named districts of Sheikhupura, Montgomery and Lyallpur besides Lahore to Pakistan is a tragic story, and is black and gross betrayal of- the Sikhs and Hindus into the hands of those who were planning to coerce, subdue and exterminate them. It is not strictly relevant to the purpose of this booklet to go into the details of this aspect of the history of the Punjab, or into the proceedings of the Punjab Boundary Commission, before which the Sikh and Hindu case was put by eminent lawyers with unanswerable force of logic. But it appears the British Government had made up their mind not to let Pakistan be a resourceless state, and so, regardless of the fate and future of the Sikhs, the above named areas were allotted to Pakistan. The award of the Boundary Commission, which in effect was the award of Sir Cyril Radcliffe was based on the population figures and any ‘other factors’ did not enter at all into its determination. And so the Sikhs were not only cut into twain, but their best lands and holiest shrines and perhaps the most enterprising portion of their population were thrown to the wolves.
The award of the Boundary Commission was made public on the 17th August, 1947. Speculation had been rife as to what the boundary was likely to be, ever since the announcement of the Mountbatten Plan on June 3. It appears the Muslims were determined that not only Lahore, but portions of the Amritsar, Jullundur and several other East Punjab Districts must come to Pakistan. They had perhaps a long-range plan as well, of which we got hints from the way the Muslims prepared for an attack on the Hindus and Sikhs of Delhi on the Punjab scale. That plan evidently was to create centres of Muslim disaffection and rebellion against the future Government of the Indian Dominion, and to prepare the way for occupation of the East Punjab, Delhi and whatever else might come into the bag, by Pakistan. With Kashmir thrown in, the empire of Pakistan on the western side would stretch from at least the Jumna (Yamuna) westward. This was the ambitious Pakistan Plan.
In order to make such a plan a success, it was very essential that Hindus and Sikhs must be thoroughly beaten down and driven, as far as possible, from the Muslim zone, which was designed to spread as far cast as the Jumna. While the March-May attacks on Hindus and Sikhs had made Pakistan a reality in the terms of the Mountbatten announcement, the attacks of June onwards had even a fuller purpose. This was to drive Hindus and Sikhs out of Lahore, Amritsar and other large towns by a campaign of murder and arson. So, the month of June saw a vigorous flare-up of the trouble in Lahore and Amritsar and the occurrence of attacks on Hindus and Sikhs in towns which had so far been more or less quiet, such as Gujranwala and Gujrat.
On June 13, 1947 Mozang which has already been mentioned as figuring prominently in March in attacks on Hindus and Sikhs, was a highly disturbed area. Many Hindu and Sikh houses and shops were burned. The situation deteriorated to such an extent that a curfew, lasting 60 hours had to be imposed on the area. In this area shots were fired on Hindu and Sikh houses from adjoining Muslim houses. The area of the fires was quite wide and spread over the different parts of Mozang, a locality roughly a mile square.
Destruction by arson appears to have been from now on the settled policy of the Muslim Leaguers in Lahore. The fate of Lahore still lay in the hands of the non-Muslim legislators, who were to meet on the 23rd June to decide on the partition or otherwise of the Punjab, and later in the hands of the Boundary Commission. But the Muslim. Leaguers wanted to drive all Hindus and Sikhs from Lahore. If Lahore came to Pakistan, it would have been a good riddance and action according to plan if Hindus and Sikhs were made to vacate Lahore. It was calculated that the vast wealth accumulated by Hindus and Sikhs for generations in this magnificent city would fall into the hands of Muslims. If Lahore by any chance was allotted to India, it would have been a good thing to have destroyed this fine city, and to make a present of heaps of ashes and cinders to the new rulers of India on August 15, 1947.
Such calculation and surging hate and malice appear to have directed the course of Muslim action in Lahore in the months from the beginning of June onwards. It is said also that the Muslim goondas of Lahore were put to shame by their compeers in Amritsar, who had done extremely well in murdering Hindus and Sikhs of that city and in reducing about a quarter of the town of Amritsar to ashes. In an interview to the Press Mr. Eustace, District Magistrate of Lahore revealed that the Muslim goondas of Amritsar sent, as a mark of sarcastic provocation churis (glass bangles) and mehndi (henna) to the goondas of Lahore, implying lack of manliness and feminity in them in not having ‘done’ anything against Hindus and Sikhs. The Lahore goondas were evidently stung to the quick, and stirred their ‘manliness’ not a little, by setting fire to a good part of the Hindu and Sikh localities of Lahore and letting loose on the city a campaign of stabbing and looting, which went on unimpeded with active police and official support.
On the 19th June while some non-Muslim workmen were proceeding to the Railway Workshop, a bomb was thrown at the party, injuring several. Several cases of stabbing occurred in the Muslim areas of Brandreth Road, Bull Road, Barkatali Road, Circular Road and Railway Road. Stabbing of non-Muslims also took place inside Mochi Gate (a Muslim area). The area covered by Naulakha Police Station, a thickly populated Muslim area, commanding ingress and egress from the city as it is situated near the Railway Station and the general lorry stand, beside a number of important road junctions, became dangerously active, and had to be placed under 42-hour curfew. On this day occurred the widest and longest campaign of burning down Hindu and Sikh localities hitherto experienced in Lahore. Mohalla Jalotian Sanda Kalan, Kucha Moolomata, Chohatta Wasti Bhagat, Bazar Nauharian and several other localities saw buildings set ablaze.
On the evening of 19th June, as many as 22 fires could be seen raging in the city of Lahore. The fire-raisers had done their job with an efficiency and skill born of long training and possession of quick incendiary materials. Sprinkling of petrol with the help of stirrup pumps and then setting the whole place ablaze with a piece of cotton set alight or a burning rocket was the process employed. Here as elsewhere the victims, Hindus and Sikhs, whose houses and localities were thus set on fire, were totally helpless in fighting the fire, or retaliating on the Muslims in kind had they had the desire to do so.
The whole plan was well laid out by the League arson squads in conjunction with the police and officials. The area marked out was generally made the scene of a few stabbing cases or brawls. It was then placed under curfew. As the administration of the curfew was in the hands of Muslim officials and police, Hindus and Sikhs naturally had to observe the provisions of the curfew order strictly. The least appearance of a Hindu or Sikh in the balcony of a house or above the projection of a wall, drew a shot from the police. Not so the Muslim goondas. They were allowed to move about freely. So, during curfew hours, under cover of the police who would keep the coast thoroughly clear, the Muslim miscreants set fire to Hindu and Sikh houses. This fire would spread quickly. Any Hindu and Sikh coming out of his house even to take steps to fight this fire was liable to be shot at for defiance of curfew rules. The police kept Hindus and Sikhs completely at bay.
So, the choice open to the Lahore Hindus and Sikhs from June onwards was this:
They must either have their houses and house-hold effects burnt, and themselves along with these in the fire;
Or, they, must be shot down by the police in the attempt to extinguish the fires or to escape with their lives from their burning houses.
21st June dawned terrible and grim in Lahore, even more than the two previous days. On this day a bus was stopped by Muslim goondas outside Mochi Gate, a purely Muslim locality. Hindu and Sikh passengers were pulled out, the Muslims being asked to stand in a separate line. The Muslim goondas on such occasions used the term ‘chhatra’ (a sheep) or ‘suer’ (pig) for the victims, and asked the drivers if they happened to be Muslims, to surrender their prey to them. 10 of these unhappy passengers were stabbed to death and left dead on the Circular Road. On this day the city, of Lahore, both walled and new, saw altogether 46 fires raging in it. In the walled city alone, a thickly populated area, concentrating a population of 3 lakhs in a square mile or so, 20 fires were burning in the Hindu and Sikh localities. Gurdwara Baoli Sahib inside Dabbi Bazar in the walled city was attempted to be burned, but was saved by the arrival of a military patrol.
On the 22nd June, the campaign of arson took a still more widespread and ‘all-out’ form. On this day the town had as many as 69 fires burning in its different localities.
Shahalmi Gate, the biggest and busiest trading centre of Lahore, almost entirely Hindu, was the spot selected for destruction by Muslims this time. To close down the trading areas inside this gate would mean paralysing almost the whole of Hindu business and means of sustenance, and would cause a general exodus of Hindus from Lahore. M.G.Cheema, the notorious magistrate who figured in a High Court enquiry for excesses against Hindus and Sikhs, directed this biggest so far destruction of non-Muslim property in Lahore. Several busy shopping centres, each commanding immense trade, were completely gutted, the houses on both sides of the narrow streets having fallen and blocked the roads with debris.
Hindus attempting to escape from the flames were repeatedly fired on by the police. Mohalla Sarin, Bazar Satthan, Pipal Virha etc., were some of the other localities which were destroyed by fire. Magistrate M.G.Cheema, instead of bringing any relief to the unfortunate Hindus and Sikhs of these localities only arrested the men-folk and subjected the women-folk to shameful, humiliating and most indecent treatment, which these unfortunate ladies narrated with tears in their eyes to Pt. Nehru, Vice-President of the Interim Government of India, when soon after he visited Lahore.
With the burning of a good part of Hindu Lahore, and repeated attempts at arson in Krishan Nagar, Chauburji and other areas, there began a general exodus of Hindus and Sikhs from Lahore. Every outgoing train was full of people whose houses, shops and places of business had been destroyed and who travelled east for places where to keep their families. Thus, already in June, on the heels of the Rawalpindi refugee problem, a new refugee problem, involving more than a lakh of people, emerged for the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab.
A party of Lahore journalists went round the city of Lahore after this terrible destruction. This is the pitiful sight they described:-
“It was a pitiful sight when saw in the city on Thursday morning with a party of Pressmen. Houses once inhabited by happy families now stood there deserted, blackened and burnt out. Smoke was still coming out of many of them and the air was heavy with a bitter tang which irritated the eyes and nostrils.
“Shah Almi Gate, once the main centre of provisions trade, has become a wreck.
“A block of 250 houses and shops has been reduced to ashes and the main street is impassable with mounds of rubble still smouldering. In order to check the fire from spreading to the nearby houses the authorities have ordered the demolition of the burnt-out or half-burnt houses.
“The party then visited Mozang which had suffered heavy destruction of property. Rows of houses have been burnt out leaving behind smoking rubble, charred bricks, and twisted girders. The houses in this area were mostly empty, for the occupants of the houses anticipating trouble ahead, had migrated to safer places. The demolition of the half-burnt houses and clearing of the debris was in progress.”
Ichhra and Mozang are two nearly purely Muslim areas, the Hindu and Sikh populations in them being scattered and slight. Muslim goondas of these areas indulged in a continued and widespread campaign of arson in Hindu and Sikh houses. On June 27, the police rounded up 11 such Muslim goondas. On this very day, a steel foundary and a firewood store, both belonging to non-Muslims, were set on fire.
Misri Shah is another thickly populated Muslim area, situated on the northern side of the railway track, beyond the railway station. This area saw an intensified campaign of loot, arson and murder let loose upon its non-Muslim population, on June 30. Arms were found or collected in Muslim houses on search being made. The burning of houses and stabbing of non-Muslims became so serious that the area and to be placed under a 72-hour curfew and to be cordoned off.
July was a month of violent and widespread attacks on Hindus and Sikhs in Lahore. The elimination and extermination of these minorities by the Muslims was proceeding apace now, and the field covered was coming to embrace more and new spheres of life and activity. Moghalpura Railway Workshop was one of the biggest of its kind in undivided Northern India, employing thousands of workers, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The area is a Muslim majority area, with Baghbanpura, a suburb notorious for its attacks on non-Muslim life and property lying hardly a mile off. Early in July, during the lunch recess, a Muslim mob got into the workshop premises and stabbed to death a large number of Sikh and Hindu workers. A still larger number were injured.
The same evening a Hindu cycling home from Mughalpura area was waylaid on the road, and his throat cut by Muslims with slow torture like that of a goat slaughtered in Muslim fashion.
On July 23, a special train which used to carry workers daily from Lahore to the Harbanspura workshop was stopped near Mughalpura Railway Station, and an attack made on the Hindus and Sikhs in it. The train had been held up by placing boulders across with track. In this attack eight Hindus and Sikhs are reported to have been killed and twelve injured. More casualties were averted as the engine-driver kept his nerve, removed the obstruction from the track and drove the train away. There were on this very day reported more than half a dozen cases of stabbing and shooting down of Hindus and Sikhs from the various Muslim localities of Lahore, such as Tibbi, Bhati Gate and Naulakha area. There were several cases of arson, the most serious being the burning down of a cinema house outside Bhati Gate, belonging to a Hindu.
On July 30, a train was attacked near Tangra, a station about 15 miles distant from Amritsar, and several passengers killed. Muslim Leaguers had made train hold-ups a very important part of their method of warfare on Hindus and Sikhs. A few days before a train was similarly attacked near Hoshiarpur. The Mughalpura train attack has been mentioned just above.
Several passengers were brutally murdered at Wazirabad station after which the Muslim assailants set fire to Hindu shops and business premises. The Wazirabad branches of the Punjab National Bank and the Lakshmi Commercial Bank were gutted after being looted. The cashier of the Punjab and Kashmir Bank was stabbed.
The bazar of Malakwal, a well-known mandi, was burnt. Trains were stopped at Alha, a wayside railway station, where several people were killed.
Three persons including a two-year old child were shot dead inside a house at Rawalpindi.
A major disaster on Chakwal line was averted by the police and through courage shown by an Anglo-Indian Railway Inspector, who was travelling in that train. A gang of about half a dozen hooligans, armed with sten-guns blocked the rail between Harnal and Mandra-Bhaun section of the N. W. Railway. Noticing that there were some non-Muslims in a particular compartment, the inspector, who had a revolver, immediately came out of his compartment and returned the fire. The intruders thinking that military was accompanying the train, withdrew after killing two and injuring there. Several passengers were killed at Taxila Railway Station.
1March 4, 1947.
Firing continued to be directed against the famous Dehra Sahib Gurdwara of Lahore, site of the martyrdom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev, fifth Guru of the Sikhs. This, in spite of the fact that this place is situated at a distance of hardly five yards from the Lahore Fort, Headquarters of the Additional Police and military pickets for the city. Water-taps supplying water to the Gurdwara estate were cut off, so that the inmates about 150 in number, should be left to die through sheer thirst. After firing for some time, the Muslim National Guards advanced towards the Gurdwara, and set fire to the building adjoining the Gurdwara.
The whole area was ablaze in a few minutes’ time. Some Sikhs had taken shelter in the Samadh (Mausoleum) of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which is separated from the Gurdwara by a distance of about 30 yards. Here the Muslim crowd, amid cries of “Pakistan zindabad” etc. and filthy abuse directed against the Sikhs battered at the Gates of the Samadh. Several Sikhs were shot dead. The gates of the Gurdwara and Samadh were perforated with bullets. These happenings occurred on the 13th August. On the 14th the Gurdwara was put under the guard of the Boundary Force of General Rees.
Baoli Sahib Gurdwara, situate in Dabbi Bazar, and close to two thickly populated Muslim areas, was burned on the 4th June. The place was in flames, and such Sikhs as were inside it were shot dead or roasted alive.
Gurdwara Janam Asthan was subjected to continuous attacks since June. Muslim police pickets posted ostensibly for the purpose of protection of this place abetted arson and attacks on the Gurdwara. On August 11, Baulch Military entered the Gurdwara on pretext of finding out supposed bombs concealed inside the Gurdwara, and there bayoneted or shot dead 13 Sikhs.
This is part of the systematic campaign of terror and destruction carried on by Muslims against Sikhs.
The new Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, who took over from Lord Wavell in March, 1947 arrived upon a terrible scene of carnage and destruction in the Punjab, the effects of which were soon to envelop the Frontier Province in a carnage and destruction equally severe and were to spread out into most parts of Northern, Eastern and Central India in the form of serious communal rioting. The Viceroy sincerely wanted this bloodshed to end and an atmosphere of calm negotiation and preparation for the transfer of power to be created. So, in the midst of the recrudesence of communal attacks in Amritsar, following upon the uprooting of a large part of the Hindu and Sikh population of the Rawalpindi division and Multan, he initiated a peace appeal to be addressed by Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah to the country. This appeal, the text of which was publicized all over the country in dozens of ways known to the modern technique of publicity, was carried to the farthest corners of the country. Especially in the Punjab the publicity given to it was tremendous indeed. The communique announcing the appeal, bearing the signatures of the two leaders, ran as follows–
“On His Excellency the Viceroy’s initiative and at his specific request, Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah signed the following declaration and authorized its publication:
“We deeply deplore the recent acts of lawlessness and violence that have brought utmost disgrace to the fair name of India and the greatest misery to innocent people, irrespective of who were the aggressors and who were the victims.
“We denounce for all time the use of force to achieve political ends and we call upon all the communities in India, to whatever persuasion they may belong, not only to refrain from all acts of violence and disorder but also to avoid, both in speech and in writing, any incitement to such acts.”
This appeal, signed as it was by the two most influential men in India, did not stop acts of aggression on innocent people in the Punjab, in the Frontier Province and later in other parts of India. The reason for this appeal falling flat on the people of India is not far to seek. That reason is, that the appeal was not meant seriously and sincerely by the party which needed to back it up with sincerity and earnestness. That party was the Muslim League. The Congress had never made communal warfare its political weapon. On the contrary the Congress wanted passionately to keep a united and strongly-welded Indian nation to receive power as an undivided and powerful free India from the British Government.
The League, on the contrary, wanted to achieve its separate state of Pakistan. It must show the creation of such a state to be inevitable for a solution of the country’s problem. For showing this it argued, it was not possible for Hindus and Muslims even to live together, much less to fight for a common political objective. And knowing that Hindus (and Sikhs) would not agree to a partition of the country the League wanted to force them into accepting it, or driving them out of certain zones in which no non-Muslim populations would be left to resist partition and to demand organic political relationship with a Central Government of All-India. So, the League, from its Direct Action Day on, in August, 1946 organised warfare against the minorities of Bengal, the Frontier Province, the Punjab and later of Baluchistan and Sind as well.
In this background how could it be expected that the League would relinquish by stopping communal warfare, the one weapon which would help it to achieve its objective? So the Muslims never took the appeal of Jinnah seriously. The very words of the communique, containing the appeal, ‘On H. E. the Viceroy’s initiative’ vitiated its nature and diluted its-force and appeal. The appeal did not proceed spontaneously from the heart of Jinnah. He put his signature to it out of courtesy with undoubted mental reservations. That is the light in which the average Muslim took this appeal. An appeal to be effective must proceed from the heart and must have the backing of a man’s will and actions. When the Congress denounced the rioting by Hindus in Bihar, it also followed up its denunciation by effective action. And the Bihar riots stopped, even though the average Hindu thought the Congress was being hard on the Hindus. That thought was no doubt wrong, but what is intended to be shown is the way in which an appeal, if it is sincerely meant, can and should be made effective.
The Muslim League leaders pursued a path contrary to the spirit in which an appeal like the Gandhi-Jinnah appeal should have been followed up. They continued to visit troubled areas like Amritsar for further incitement and for giving directions for new attacks. They continued with a pose of hypocritical innocence, to denounce imaginary Hindu-Sikh atrocities against Muslims. A full-hearted condemnation of the Rawalpindi Carnage or the Multan destruction never came from the Muslim League. There was a train outrage near Kohat in early April, in which a number of Hindu and Sikh refugees were killed by a Muslim mob. No Leaguer condemned this barbarous act. The League silence was direct approval of and implied incitement to the repetition of such incidents, which in fact multiplied more and more as the months advanced. Wrote the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore regarding this in its issue of April 6, 1947:-
“………we have waited in vain for responsible League condemnation of the dastardly train outrage near Kohat. In this eight people, including four women, were murdered, 20 wounded and one woman kidnapped, while 15 men, women and children are missing, as a result of an attack made by what Dr. Khan Sahib, Premier of the Frontier Province, describes as Muslim Leaguers in green uniforms…… League efforts should be made to help the authorities to trace the miscreants……….”
Now this was exactly what the League never did. It never condemned such acts and never helped the authorities in tracing such criminals, who in fact were its own army in action. It may be recalled that Mahatma Gandhi successfully persuaded Hindu murderers of Muslims in the Bihar Riots to surrender themselves to justice. Master Tara Singh repeatedly said, and rightly too, that the only basis on which any peace negotiations could be entered into was that the League must condemn Muslim acts of violence against Hindus and Sikhs, and help to trace Muslim criminals.
When the Gandhi-Jinnah appeal was issued, the Civil and Military Gazette wrote editorially on this:-
“Will Mr. Jinnah honour his signature to the document by banning the unconstitutional agitation of the Muslim League in the North-Western Frontier Province?”
Mahatma Gandhi was disappointed at Mr. Jinnah not following up his appeal with actions. In his New Delhi prayer meeting on May 2 he said:
“It was not open to Jinnah Sahib to plead (in explanation of the ineffectiveness of the appeal) that his followers did not listen to his appeal. That would be cutting the whole ground from under his feet, because he was the undisputed leader of the All-India Muslim League, which claimed to represent the Muslim population.
“Where was the authority of the League if the Muslims resorted to violence for gaining political aim which was summed up in the word Pakistan?
“He said that he had expressed his doubts as to the wisdom of issuing the joint appeal unless it was certain that it meant for both the signatories all that the words thereof conveyed.”
The concluding words quoted from the Mahatma’s speech are significant. For Mr. Jinnah the words of the appeal did not mean all that they meant for the Mahatma. He, Mr. Jinnah, signed it with mental reservations.
Referring to Mr. Jinnah’s evident disinclination to make this appeal effective, Syed Ali Zaheer said:
“The riots were and are the direct result of the Direct Action resolution of the Muslim League, and they began on August 16, 1946. So long as that resolution holds the field, such appeals are a mere farce. If Mr. Jinnah had called the meeting of the Working Committee of the League and had asked it to withdraw that resolution, the appeal would have had a more earnest ring about it. As it is, it sounds hollow………”
So, attacks on trains and buses, burning of whole quarters of towns, murders of thousands with unspeakable atrocities proceeded unchecked or uncondemned by the League. Its plan of action was succeeding admirably. Pakistan was coming within near sight by every act of lawlessness committed by the League adherents, for it was only another argument for separate states for two such hostile peoples as Hindus and Muslims.
The wave of attacks on Hindus and Sikhs, travelling from the Rawalpindi and Multan Divisions, spread in a wild and virulent form to the N.-W. Frontier Province and especially to the Trans-Indus Frontier District of Dera Ismail Khan, in which as all over this area, Hindus and Sikhs were in microscopic minority. The Frontier adherents of the Muslim League fell upon the handful of Hindus and Sikhs with the primitive fanaticism characteristic of the Muslims of this area.
An agitation on the lines of the Punjab agitation of January-February had been started by the Frontier Muslim League. This agitation was even from its inception accompanied by acts of violence, including arson, murder and kidnapping of Hindus and Sikhs. By the end of March, following on the Rawalpindi massacres and looting, the entire Frontier Province was ablaze with similar outrages against Hindus and Sikhs. The murders and looting, and migration of the Hindu and Sikh population of Hazara District to the Punjab, in the January of 1947 has already been told of.
Now from the N.-W. F. P. news of widespread attacks on Hindus and Sikhs began to pour in. This is the report for Sunday the 30th March, 1947:-
“Two shopkeepers were injured by two bullets in Babjani Bazar, Peshawar City, while a Muslim League procession was passing through that area on Sunday afternoon.
“A case of arson has been reported from Peshawar Cantonment, where an attempt was made to set fire to a godown containing wood, behind the Khalsa School.
“Four shops have been burnt in Kaghan Valley, in Hazara District.
“(In Dera Ismail Khan) a Hindu was kidnapped on Saturday by three armed men a few miles from Paniala village” etc.
In the Frontier Province, notwithstanding the genuine and heroic efforts of the Congress Ministry under Dr. Khan Sahib to stem the tide of communal warfare, it was discovered that the plot of the Muslim League and the British officers was so deep laid that no efforts to stop these attacks were of any avail. By April, a large part of the Hindu and Sikh population, following in the wake of the population of Rawalpindi, had had to be evacuated to Eastern districts of the Punjab or into refugee camps. The trains carrying these refugees were attacked pretty often on the way. Reads a communique issued by the Frontier Government on April 2:
“Hindu and Sikh passengers on the railway train which left Kohat for Rawalpindi this morning was attacked by a mob armed with firearms at Gorzai, 17 miles from Kohat. Six persons were killed and 20 injured.
“(In Kohat city) this morning one Hindu hawker was fatally stabbed.
“ABOUT 7,000 HINDUS AND SIKHS-NEARLY A QUARTER OF THIS MINORITY POPULATION OF PESHAWAR CITY-HAVE LEFT PESHAWAR CITY FOR THE PUNJAB AND OTHER PARTS OF INDIA SINCE MARCH 20.” (Civil and Military Gazette report, in the issue dated 3. 4. 1947).
While in the town of Peshawar some, even though very inadequate police and other protection could be looked forward to by the minorities, in the smaller towns and in the countryside none whatever could be had. There, Hindus and Sikhs were simply waylaid and killed or their houses attacked and their property and womenfolk carried away. Where the men were not killed, they were forcibly converted. Thousands of such forced converts were seen after their evacuation by the military in Amritsar and other cities of the Punjab. Pitiable indeed was their plight. They were mostly living in twos or threes in villages scattered all over the Frontier Province, doing retail shopkeeping or tilling small patches of land. They were turned out of their houses.
In most cases the Sikhs-and even old men of seventy were not spared this-were shaved and made to look like Muslims. Many were circumcised. Almost all were forced to swallow beef. All through April and subsequent months, while all the districts of the Punjab, in which Hindus and Sikhs were in a majority, remained quiet, these destitute and homeless people continued to come to the Punjab in an unending stream, seeking shelter after their harrowing experiences at the hands of the Muslim League-led mobs. Thus was Pakistan being founded and the elimination of minorities proceeding apace.
But the story of the Frontier Province is not yet over. The worst part of it is Dera Ismail Khan. On April 15, the Frontier Government communique stated:-
“Numerous fires are raging in Dera Ismail Khan today. The situation in the city is serious…… A procession started from the Muslim League office this morning and divided itself into different parties. One party went towards the Courts and the post office and caused damage to the buildings. The other parties went into the city and set fire to shops and residential houses in different parts of the town.
The April 16 report says:
“Half the city of Dera Ismail Khan is burned………
“Last night the village of Paora near Dera Ismail ban was raided by unknown persons who indulged in looting and arson. Three persons were killed in Paora and 54 shops and houses were burned. Fires are still raging in the village.
“Raiders kidnapped four Hindus, including a woman last night from Hayat Khel village, six miles from Pezu in Bannu District. Another Hindu woman was murdered.”
The April 17 report says:
“Fires have been seen in six other villages in (Dera Ismail Khan) District. At Tank a part of the town is on fire and two persons are reported to have been killed. Full details are not yet known.
“A Hindu was shot in the abdomen in his shop in the Peshwar Cantonment this afternoon.
“The extent of the loss of life and property in Dera Ismail Khan is not authoritatively known, but according to unofficial estimates about 400 shops and houses have been burned, apart from the Cinema house, the Town Hall, Pawindeh Serai, two prominent places of worship and the V. B. College1 and School.
“Besides ten persons killed and injured, some more bodies are feared to be still under debris. Bazare Kalan, the grain market and parts of the Pawindah and Bhatianwala bazar are reported to have been gutted.
“The first place which was set on fire was the Cinema Hall on Circular Road. Then some shops outside Topanwala Gate were burned. Meanwhile several fires were seen raging in various parts of the city and within a short time it enveloped the prominent business centres.”
The April 18 and 19 reports say:
“The situation is serious in the town of Tank. Looting and burning have been extensive and several civilians have been killed.
“Other disturbed places in the District (Dera Ismail Khan) are: Gomal Bazar: tribesmen raided the village last night. Paharpur: 32 shops and 60 houses burned, three persons killed, three wounded, three missing. Kotjai: 12 shops burned, one person wounded. Kotla: ten houses and shops burned, three women killed and one wounded. Kirri Khaisor: 30 persons converted to Islam. Musa Zat: about 25 shops burned, one killed, one wounded.” In Gandi Umar Khan and Jatla Jalwa arson on a fairly large scale occurred.
Qazi Ataullah Khan, Revenue Minister of the Frontier Province, in a statement threw a flood of light on the widespread organized and co-ordinated way in which the Muslim Leaguers were carrying on a parallel campaign of harassement and elimination of the minorities in the Punjab and the Frontier Province. (The story of the incitement to ‘action’ offered by the Muslims of Amritsar to those of Lahore has already been told). The Revenue Minister revealed:
“All was well till two days before this loot and arson when a young man came from the Punjab and made highly inflammatory speeches. He also held Conferences with the Muslim League leaders. He asked the people that if nothing else, they could at least set fire to houses of Hindus and loot their property. Soon after this speech by this young man from the Punjab young boys, supported by local Muslim League workers, began to set fire to shops.”
“The latest reports (19.4.47) describe the situation in Dera Ismail Khan Tehsil as still serious. In Tank town, 1,500 refugees have been removed to Police Stations and other places of safety in the town.
“Some houses and shops in Tank are still burning and reports have come in of further trouble from the outlying villages of the district.
“Cases of forcible conversion are reported from several villages, including Kalagor, Dhalla, Rodi Khel and Mandra. Twenty-four casualties are reported from these villages and a number of persons have been kidnapped.
“Two shopkeepers in Dabgari Bazar (Peshawar) were fired at when they were sitting at their shops.”
In Dera Ismail Khan the total number of shops burned with their entire stocks was 1,000 and the estimated value of the loss was Rupees two crores. In the Province there were 30,000 refugees.
According to one estimate 100 Hindus and Sikhs had been killed in Peshawar by April 20; 25 were wounded.
On April 22, eight persons were killed and 15 injured in an encounter between raiders and a police party which was evacuating evacuees from the village of Paora to Dera Ismail Khan. Trouble was also reported in Kulachi, in Dera Ismail Khan District, which houses and shops were burned in Lulachi Bazar.
Up till the end of April and later, Muslim attacks on Hindus and Sikhs in Dera Ismail Khan continued. On April 29, at Kulachi the raiders started a fire and began looting houses and shops. Two Hindus were killed. Places of worship, houses and shops were burned. At Gomal two Hindus were killed, and places of worship, houses and shops were burned.
Disclosing the background of the atrocities committed on Hindus and Sikhs in the Frontier, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, in a statement on May 6, 1947 accused the Frontier Governor Sir Olaf Caroe of ‘an open conspiracy with the Muslim League to bathe the province in blood’ and said, ‘he (the Governor) wanted to hand over power to the Muslim League, whose followers have been indulging in the murder of innocent men, women and children.’ The Khan asserted, “if the Governor wants he can stop all lawlessness in the Frontier in two days, but how can he when he himself is guiding the violent and communal League movement?”
So, here was another evidence of the League-Bureaucracy plot to create the ground and favourable atmosphere for Pakistan, for which all means, not excluding murder, loot, arson and dishonouring of women were to be employed.
Jullundur:- This district is now included in East Punjab. Before Partition its Muslim population was 45.23%, Hindus being 17.59% and Sikhs being 26.50% of the total. Adi Dharmis made up about more than 10%. The town of Jullundur itself had a very large Muslim population-about more than 70%. This place was, therefore one of the strongholds of the Muslim League in the Punjab, and the Muslim National Guards had one of their biggest rallying places in it. Mr. Jinnah, in his tours of the Punjab had given due and important attention to the potentialities of Jullundur as a Muslim League stronghold, and in 1943 one of the biggest Muslim Conferences, presided over by Mr. Jinnah was held in Jullundur. At this Conference very provocative pro-Pakistan speeches had been made, and Hindus and Sikhs of this area had been a great deal impressed with the Muslim determination to push forward the Pakistan programme at all costs.
The Muslims of Jullundur were a well-to-do class on the whole, with part of the lucrative trade of the town in their hands. They therefore financed and organized the Muslim League and Muslim National Guards of this town and area quite efficiently. When on the 5th of March, 1947 the Muslim of Amritsar opened their severe and ruthless attack on Hindus and Sikhs, which almost completely paralysed and caught by the throat the latter, the Muslims of Jullundur too, a town less than 50 miles from Amritsar, opened an attack in their own place.
On the 6th March, a large Muslim mob gathered, shouting slogans and molesting individual Hindus and Sikhs, though as yet no widespread attacks had begun. Babu Labh Singh, a former President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, important political organisation of the Sikhs and an ardent Congressman, appeared among Muslims requesting them with folded hands to desist from fighting and to save the Punjab from destruction. This appeal fell flat on the Muslims, who continued their shouting and attacks. Rather than heed the good old gentleman’s peace appeals, this Muslim mob stabbed him to death. This kind of behaviour has been found to be characteristic of Muslims during the last Punjab disturbances: peace-makers and those who were specifically sent for to negotiate have been done to death.
The Muslim Leaguers have respected no canon of civilized warfare. Women and children have been murdered, atrocities committed and brutalities indulged in. Babu Labh Singh’s dastardly murder sent a wave of horror among the Hindus and Sikhs of Jullundur and Hoshiarpur districts. The town of Jullundur was placed under curfew and the situation was tense, but few incidents occurred after this.
In Hoshiarpur, the District neighbouring on Jullundur, Muslims continued to Misbehave, and made attacks on Hindu and Sikh passengers in trains. Sikhs all through this period did not attack Muslims.
In Ludhiana, a Sikh majority district, but with a 70% Muslim population in the town itself, the Muslims in early March opened attacks on Hindus and Sikhs. Several Sikhs were murdered. Sikhs did not make reprisals.
All through the months from March to August, 1947 from these above non-Muslims majority districts and from Ferozepore, the four districts besides Amritsar in which Sikhs have always counted as a political force, the typical press report and Government communiques have been- ‘No incidents.’ This alone will tell eloquently how long the Hindus and Sikhs remained calm in the face of Muslim aggression in Central, North-Western and South-Western Punjab, and how only as a last desperate resort, they opened a counter-attack on Muslim after long months of Muslim attack and aggression.
1These institutions belongs to the Arya Samaj.
2Qazi Ataullah Khan’s statement on the genesis of the trouble in Dera Ismail Khan has been given above.
The big attacks on the Hindus and Sikhs of Lahore began to be delivered from third June. The destruction wrought in the city was so horrible and appalling that in a desperate effort to save the city from complete devastation a meeting of the three communities was called in the Town Hall on the 27th June. At this meeting, the leaders of the Hindus and Sikhs gave assurances of keeping the peace. So did the leaders of the Muslims. These latter spoke very emphatic and reassuring words, which however, were belied by their followers as soon as they were uttered. Lahore continued to bum in spite of what the Muslim League leaders said. Khan Iftikhar Husain Khan of Momdot, then President of the Punjab Muslim League, pledged his community to peace in these words:
“On behalf of the Muslim people, I solemnly pledge to my Hindu and Sikh brothers complete justice and fairness of treatment in Pakistan. The Muslims of Pakistan will guard and protect the honour, dignity, person and property of the minorities above their own. I call upon the Muslims to honour with their life, the word I am pledging on their behalf. I call upon them to check all lawlessness, to fight against all forms of chaos, and to see that everyone who calls himself a Muslim stays his hand.”
The effect of such assurances, multiplied by the utterances of other important Muslim League leaders was that exodus of Hindus and Sikhs from Lahore for the moment decreased. Hindu and Sikh capital was fast flowing out of Lahore. Banks, companies and business houses were obtaining permission to shift their headquarters from Lahore. But the effect of these assurances lasted only for a very short while. Hindus and Sikhs realized with a rude shock that the speeches of the Muslim League leaders were merely a smoke-screen to conceal their designs of securing complete elimination of the minorities from their own areas, and were meant only to lull them into a false sense of security.
These very leaders were financing and guiding the operations of the goondas of the Muslim League, who in collaboration with the police did the work of arson and stabbing. It was after this appeal that on the 10th July 7 Hindus and Sikhs are reported to have been killed and 40 injured in the Muslim attack on the Lahore Loco Workshop. It was during this time that Sikhs continued to be murdered in Baghbanpura, Singhpura, Faizbagh, Mozang, Shahi Mohalla, Garhi Shahu and other areas wherever the Muslims wanted to carry on their operations. In July it was that bombs began to be thrown on non-Muslims in trains, such as at Moghalpura, and murders of groups took place in trains as at Harbanspura. In arson, Bhati Gate, Tibbi, Chauk Surjan Singh, Landa Bazar etc. figured.
Sikh Gurdwaras were burned inside the city. By the end of July it was all going as the Muslims desired. Localities burned were: Shish Mahal Road, Chaumala Sahib Gurdwara, Mela Ram Road, Pipal Vehra, Moti Panda Bazar, Fleming Road, Bazar Sathan, Moti Bazar, Bazar Tutian, Dabbi Bazar, Bazaz Hatta, Chauburji, Krishna Nagar, Mohalla Sarin and the new Shalamar Garden situated to the Western side of the city. Even the Mall was no longer safe, where several cases of arson occurred and Hindu and Sikh property was burned.
During this period attacks on the life and property of Hindus and Sikhs were going on also in the neighbouring district of Gujranwala, from where too a large exodus of Hindus and Sikhs, who owned almost the entire business and industry of this prosperous district, was taking place. Gujrat, Sargodha and Sialkot too had started in right earnest the process of the elimination of minorities.
As the date on which Pakistan was to he established, that is August 15, was drawing nearer Muslims everywhere in the Muslim majority districts and in some places even in the East were growing aggressive. With the line of demarcation between Eastern and Western Punjab still unknown and uncertain, Muslims of districts like Amritsar, Jullundur and Ferozepore held strong hopes of these districts or anyway some portions of them, being awarded to Pakistan. The attitude with which the Muslims looked upon non-Muslims was that the latter were to be held by them as a subservient people for whom a less than human treatment would just be good enough. Shri Kiron Shankar Roy, the well-known leader of Bengal, in a statement to the press on July 22 said of the temper of East Bengal Muslims:
“There is a notion among ordinary Muslims in the Eastern Pakistan region that after August 15 the houses and land of the Hindus there will automatically pass into the possession of Muslims, and that the Hindus will be a sort subject race under the Muslims of that area.”
What Mr. Roy said about the Muslims of Bengal, applies with still greater force to the Muslims of the Punjab, about whom the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore said in its issue of the 30th December, 1948 that each one of them thought that he had become a Nawab.
This social arrogance made the temper of Muslim aggression grow hotter and hotter as August 15 approached. Attacks on Hindus and Sikhs everywhere, burning of their houses and shops, hounding them out of their villages and fields in every district, became the order of the day. In this campaign the police and military, which now with the partition of personnel and assets between India and Pakistan were completely Muslim on the Pakistan side, gave not only active help to the riotous Muslim mobs, but often-times led them, directed their operations and finished off the job of murder where the mobs could not succeed single-handed.
The non-Muslim population of Lahore had been reduced to only a fraction of itself by August. But still more than a lakh of Hindus and Sikhs were in Lahore. According to a Civil and Military Gazette report Sikhs especially had refused to leave Lahore, and said Lahore was their home. That not to have left Lahore was a mistake was proved by the destruction which rained on Hindus and Sikhs there from the 9th thousands of corpses of Hindus and Sikhs which continued in that period of lawlessness to lie unattended, emitting a foul stench which it is said was called with grim humour “Pakistani boo.”
About the part of the Muslim police and military in these August attacks on Hindus and Sikhs, the special correspondent of The Hindustan Times of Delhi stated:
“Seventy per cent of the casualties of the last three weeks in West Punjab were inflicted by the communally maddened troops and policemen. The victims of their bullets numbered thousands. The massacre at Sheikhupura, which was their handiwork, puts into shade the slaughter at Jalianwala Bagh. The annihilation of thousands in Shakargarh Tehsil, when the whole story is revealed, will be found to have put to shade even Sheikhupura.”
On the 10th August almost all Hindu and Sikh localities were set on fire. Fires were raging in Chune Mandi, Bazaz Hatta, Sua Bazar, Lohari Gate, Mohalla Sathan and Mozang. Everywhere the police led the attacks on non-Muslim areas.
Non-Muslim tried to escape from this burning inferno. But all outlets were closed to them. On the 11th August at least 500 people were killed, while trying to escape from Lahore with their lives. In the streets, on the roads, and especially at the Railway Station they were killed in hundreds. Muslim goondas, Muslim National Guards and the Baluch Military who were part of the Boundary Force, all participated in this slaughter with zeal and gusto. The only non-Muslim evacuees who escaped killing on this day, were those who either by good luck or through someone’s help managed to reach the Lahore Cantonment Railway Station.
These got into the trains reaching Ferozepore, and thus saved their lives. That was because there were Sikh soldiers in, the Cantonment area, and so Muslim aggression could not be free there. Lahore main station was completely in the grip of Muslim troops and police. Harrowed, miserable Hindu and Sikh refugees from Lahore began to be in evidence in towns of the East Punjab as far off as Ambala by the 13th August. . They came completely destitute, hungry and with a haunting terror of death at the hands of Muslims in their eyes.
Other areas which were set on fire on August 12 and 13 were: Bharat Nagar, Singhpura, Dabbi Bazar, Lohari Gate, Gali Hingaran, Gali Kagzian, Kucha Chah Telian etc. In all these areas and many others non-Muslims were killed not in hundreds, but in thousands.
On the 13th curfew was imposed on the city. This operated as curfew operated everywhere in the Punjab during the 1947 disturbances. The way of non-Muslims trying to escape was blocked. They must either be burnt alive or be shot dead. Many died in either of these two ways. Shops were set on fire in Anarkali and on the Mall.
The famous historic Sikh Gurdwara of Chhevin Padshahi, situated at a distance of fifteen yards from the Police Station on Temple Road in Mozang, was set on fire on the morning of the 15th August. The few Sikhs who were inside the Gurdwara were burnt alive in the flames.
This was one of the numerous places of non-Muslim worship which had been burned in Lahore. Baoli Sahib, Gurdwara Chaumala Sahib and others had been burned before. Even the famous Dehra Sahib, held in highest sanctity by the Sikhs as being the place of martydom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev, fifth Guru of the Sikhs, was attacked. The Sikh guards and priests of this Gurdwara were mostly killed. Such money and valuables as were there, were looted by the Muslim police and military stationed in the Lahore Fort which is at a distance of a few yards from the Gurdwara.
In these days Lahore railway platforms presented the picture of a shambles. Such Hindus and Sikhs as managed to reach the railway station were shot down in heaps. Regular chase was given by the Muslim goondas to the unfortunate men, women and children who tried to escape with their lives.
The destruction of Lahore and of its non-Muslim inhabitants would have been complete but for the presence in the city of Dogra troops, but they were soon shifted from Lahore. It was only in the Cantonment that non-Muslims could find some safety, as Sikh troops were present there.
An account of this destruction is given by the special correspondent of “The Hindustan Times” in these words:
“Complete lawlessness prevailed in the walled city, on the other side of the Circular Road. Starting from Railway Road, running along the circular Road in a remarkable continuity. One could see semi-circle of smoke which persisted throughout this period and has involved the entire old city. Numerous places of worship belonging to Hindus and Sikhs have been burnt, of which one finds no record in the daily papers. Coming to the loss of human lives, I am afraid I cannot put a definite figure. I have a solid example which gives me a pretty good idea of the rate of killings. I have followed these details with scientific leanings On the 13th I happened to visit Mayo Hospital. Outside the mortuary, which must apparently be full, I saw 300 to 350 stiffs, dumped in various lanes leading to the mortuary I waited for the papers next morning wanting to know the figures of killed given by them. I got a pretty good idea when I found them giving the news as 40 killed and 100 injured. I fixed up a scale to calculate the actual casualty figures from those given in the papers. During this period, not a single day passed when we did not see three or four lorry loads of stiffs crossing our house.
“The lawlessness there was so official as you probably would not believe. The military actually helped the murderers. The people trying to escape out of the burning houses were mercilessly shot, and their bodies were roasted. The Lahore Station was for days beyond the reach of Hindus and Sikhs. No ignorant person who left for the Station survived. A Tribune employee staying with us met the same fate. It was a perfect picture of lawlessness. We had the greatest difficulty in escaping out of Lahore, via the Lahore Cantonment Station. In fact that is the only way out for the victims.
“In short, Lahore is the city of the dead and a complete picture of hell. Those in charge of this hell are so perfect in their jobs and carry out the various items of their jobs with efficiency which is unprecedented.”
In dozens of places in Hindu and Sikh houses this kind of action was repeated: A group of Muslims would force open the door of a Hindu or Sikh house, no matter even though the curfew would be on. The men-folk would be led out under the pretence of interrogation by some policeman who would be in the party. Outside the men would be stabbed to death. Then the property would be systematically looted. The women were killed if they happened to be old.
The younger women were abducted and raped. In the Mozang area, a Sikh family of six or seven men and as many women met such a fate. The men were led out and killed. The women jumped down from the upper store of their house to escape dishonour. They were seriously injured, though none died. But the experience was widespread.
When freedom dawned on India and Pakistan on the 15th of August, 1947 no one on either side of the border had any heart in the Punjab for joy and celebrations. In New Delhi and Karachi this freedom was inaugurated, but in the Punjab every heart was dejected and sad, owing to news brought by refugees of killings and destruction. The Sikhs everywhere spent the day in prayer and contemplation of the sufferings of their brethern and asking of the Akal Purkh for His Succour for those who were entrapped.
According to a press report on the 13th August 35 fires blazed in Lahore, during the day. The localities seriously affected were Mohalla Sarin, Chowk Surjan Singh, Shahi Mohalla. Mohalla Sathan (inside Bhati Gate), Garhi Shahu, Mozang and Faiz Bagh area,…… in Chowk Surjan Singh, the fire-fighting personnel was fired upon by unknown assailant… Twenty-two persons were killed and 25 injured by fire in Sadar Bazar in the Cantonment. Twenty-two persons were killed and 16 others injured ill knife attacks during the day. Three persons were killed oil the Grand Trunk Road near the Hide Market in the Faiz Bagh area in the morning. Five others were assaulted in the same locality. Three persons were fatally stabbed oil Akram Road in Sultanpura, a suburb of the city. Two more persons were killed in Bharatnagar in the same locality.”
The Hindustan Times summed up the Lahore situation of the same day as:
“Lahore, August 3-Sixty people are reported to have been killed and 100 injured in today’s incidents in and around the walled city. Thirty-five persons were killed in stray assaults in the Mogalpura Railway Workshop and eight injured. About a dozen person were killed in an engagement between the raiders and the inmates of a place of worship near the Fort1. The police opened fire killing seven and injuring eight.
“Most of the sectors ill the walled city are oil fire and burning fiercely. Huge tongues of fires are visible from Anarkali where 20 shops have been gutted, Empress Road, Shahi Mohalla, Chhota Ravi, the Lower Mall, Kucha Kamboan, Bhaion Ka Maidan and Mohalla Jalotian.
“A serious fire is burning unchecked in Bharat Nagar where a large number of houses have been destroyed. Owing to difficulty in water supply the fire brigade was unable to function in the locality.
“Troops and police fired rounds during the night to scare the rioters. A number of cases of arson have also been reported from the locality and from Badami Bagh and Landa Bazar.
“At 1 P.m. the casualty figure was six killed and 5 injured.
“The situation took a turn for the worse in the afternoon when some workers were attacked in the railway workshops after the lunch interval.
“Two persons were stabbed near Lohari police-Station in the afternoon while another person was attacked in Lange Mandi.
“A mob attacked Singhpura, a suburban part of the city, last night and set fire to houses. The residents opened fire on the miscreants and in the meantime troops reached the spot and returned the fire, killing two persons.
“Two mobs collected in Gobindgarh, a suburb, last night and exchanged fire, resulting in the death of two persons.
“A big building was set on fire in Dabbi Bazar. Huge columns of smoke which have covered the whole city are visible from a distance.
“At 4 P.m. the casualty figure had risen to 41 killed and 18 injured. Three of the dead bore bullet wounds whilst the others were victims of stabbings.
“Two shops were set ablaze in Anarkali in the afternoon. One person was killed on Ravi Road while another was murdered on the Mall near the General Post Office. Another person was assaulted near a cinema house on the Mall.
“Two houses were set on fire in Shah Safdar Mali in Gowalmandi area. The police opened fire to scare away the miscreants.”
About the general behaviour of the Muslim Police during the Punjab Riots a very interesting light is thrown by a part of the proceedings of the Madras Legislative Assembly. On the 11th December, 1947 when questioned by a Muslim member of the House why the recruitment of Muslims to the Madras Special Police had been stopped, the Minister in charge of Law and Order replied that this had been done in view of the behaviour of Muslim Police in disturbances in Northern India. So, even in far-away Madras they were not free from the fear of what the Muslim Police might do in cases of emergency. From this passage alone we can form an idea of the lesson which the whole country had learnt from the open partiality of the Muslim Police in the destruction of non-Muslim life and property from Calcutta (August 1946) to October and November 1947, a period of over fifteen months.
Apart from the City of Lahore, over the entire district the same tale of horror and destruction was repeated. Kasur is an important town on the main line to Delhi which runs from Lahore via Ferozepore.
The countryside of Kasur was predominantly Sikh, though the town itself had a large Muslim majority in the population. When on the 17th August it became known that Kasur was included in Pakistan, the Muslims fell upon non-Muslims. The one way of escape for non-Muslims from Pakistan into India was closed with Kasur being disturbed. There was a large massacre of non-Muslims at the Railway Station. In the city, mohalla after mohalla of Hindus and Sikhs was attacked, and Hindus and Sikhs houses and business premises were set on fire. Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus were killed inside the city and its outskirts in two days.
It was possible for some non-Muslims to escape, as the Indian border of Amritsar district was only a few miles distant on Khem Karan side. Very few could escape towards Ferozepore, as the bridge on the river Sutlej which was on the way, was held by Muslim troops, who shot dead all non-Muslims who approached it. Huge looting of non-Muslim property occurred. Schools, cinema houses, shops, factories, nothing was spared. Curfew was imposed, but as at other places, it only facilitated the task of Muslim goondas. The Hindus and Sikhs could not come out of their houses, and got murdered or surrounded in flames.
Raiwind, in the District of Lahore, is an important Railway junction, as it is the crossing-point of two main lines-the Lahore-Ferozepore-Delhi line and the Lahore-Multan-Karachi line. This place was the point at which trains carrying Hindu-Sikh refugees from Lahore, Montgomery, Multan and Sind used to arrive. Repeated attacks on trains occurred here. Survivors state that when they arrived at Raiwind they saw hundreds of corpses of Sikhs lying all along the railway track. Muslim goondas, police and military seldom let a train pass unattacked if it did not have a strong Hindu-Sikh escort.
Especially was this the case up till the middle of September. It is estimated that after August 15, at least a dozen trains were attacked at Raiwind and thousands of Hindus and Sikhs killed. No other Railway Station was the scene of so much carnage. One such train was attacked on the 4th September, in which 300 Hindus and Sikhs were killed.
In the countryside of Lahore the policy, after the 17th August (Announcement of the Award of the Boundary Commission) was to hound out Sikhs and Hindus from their homes en masse. In all these attacks on villages, the police or military or both would generally lead the attack. Little quarter was given to such unfortunate people as got into the clutches of these assailants. Burning of houses, looting of property, murder of men and abduction of women and children-this oft-reported tale was repeated in these village as well. Men and women scurried for their lives like rats. It was with the greatest good fortune that some people managed to escape, sometimes through the help of a personal Muslim friend or through such Indian Military as might have happened to reach the area under attack.
The village of Wanteo was attacked right on the 18th August. In a population of about 2,000 there were only 5 or 6 Hindu and Sikh houses. These were surrounded and the inmates forcibly converted, and asked to swallow beef. On their refusing to do this, a plot was made to kill them. They managed, however, to escape by fleeing.
The village of Killa Ganjan in Chunian Tehsil, was also attacked on the 18th by a Muslim mob of 2,000 which was led by Abdul Karim, a member of the District Board. Hindus and Sikhs offered stiff resistance to the invaders, and had 12 of their side killed. They were forced to leave the village, leaving all their belongings behind them. Some sick, old and maimed people, who were left behind were finished off by the invaders.
The important village of Manihala was attacked on the 20th August under the direction of, the notorious Magistrate M. G. Cheema. Hindus and Sikhs were ordered at 10 p.m. to quit their homes at half an hour’s notice, otherwise fire would be opened on them. The entire Hindu and Sikh population got ready to leave within the stipulated period, and naturally could not carry anything with them. Just outside the village, the Muslims fell upon them, and abducted a large number of women and killed some people.
Jamsher Kalan was attacked on the 24th August by a. Muslim mob accompanied by military. Mohammad Husain, M.L.A. and Sheikh Mohammad Sadiq of Shamkot were at the head of this mob, which was advancing with drums beating. Hindus and Sikhs agreed to vacate the village, but were attacked just on its outskirts. 50 men, 80 women and 70 children were killed out of its total Sikh-Hindu population of 500.
Talwandi was also attacked on the 24th by a Muslim mob and military. This attack too was led by Mohammad Hussain, M.L.A. In this attack more than 400 Hindus and Sikhs were killed. All the surviving women were abducted. Many Hindu and Sikh houses were burnt.
On and about the 26th August, Bhuchoke, Janga Araian, Pajjian etc. were attacked and devastated. Hindu and Sikh residents of 16 villages of this area left for shelter to a larger village, Bhamba. 20 to 25 families were left behind, as they could not move out quickly. These were set upon by the Muslim mob and military and were murdered to a man.
Attack on the village of Gohawa had began already on the 16th August; on the 19th with further police reinforcement sent to the Muslims by the Sub-Inspector of Bhikhi Police Station, the attack assumed full violence. A large-scale massacre of Sikhs ensued. A number of women were abducted. Survivors were very few.
The village of Sangran, in Police Station Khudian area was attacked by 2,500 Muslims supported by the military and Muslim National Guards. Out of a total Sikh population of 200 in this village not more than a dozen are known to have escaped slaughter.
In the village of Ganje Sandh, attacked on the 25th August about 60 Hindus and Sikhs were killed. Dauke Kalan was attacked on the 19th, and here the number of Hindus and Sikhs killed was 200.
Raja Jang is a fairly large village and is also a railway station on the Lahore-Ferozepore-Delhi main line. Man to man, the Muslims of this place had always admitted the superiority of Sikhs. But after the establishment of Pakistan, with police and. military thrown in, the Muslims got their chance. The village was attacked on the 24th August, and the attack continued on the next day as well. Sikhs put up a stiff resistance. 50 Sikhs were killed in the first day’s attack, and many more casualties occurred on the second day. Many Hindus and Sikhs were forcibly converted, and women were abducted.
In village Halloke, on the 21st, 40 Sikhs were killed.
Chhappa and Narwar were attacked on the 19th. Here military operated against the helpless Sikh population. 400 Sikh were killed and 300 were wounded.
Talwandi in Chunian Tehsil was attacked on 8 Bhadon, which is about the end of August. Here the attack was made by beat of drum. Sikhs gave battle to the Muslim mob and military for six hours. Only 40 Sikhs survived from its entire Sikh population.
Padhana is another large village and it was a centre of Sikh influence. The attack came on the 20th in full force, with a mob of 4,000, military and police. The police harassed and insulted Sikhs, and spirited away some Sikhs in their lorries, who have never been heard of since. Sikh women were abducted. Sikhs’ houses and the Gurdwara were burned. About 100 Sikhs were killed and the entire village was looted.
Near the village of Hathar, which was attacked on the 19th August, a huge Muslim mob accompanied by military surrounded the entire population, which was predominantly Sikh, at Jorewala Head while it was evacuating. 1,200 were killed, including women and children. 100 women were abducted and many were forcibly converted and married to Muslims. In the attack on the Gurdwara, the Sikh scripture was desecrated.
On the 18th August, the village of Dholan was surrounded by a mob, led by military and police which also included a Sub-Inspector. The Sub-Inspector gave an ultimatum to Hindus and Sikhs to leave immediately without carrying anything, or all of them would be shot dead. The helpless Hindus and Sikhs complied with this demand. A little outside the village they were attacked, and a large number of them were killed.
Ram Thamman and Jagoowala (Chak No. 40) were attacked on the 24th August. Out of the Hindu and Sikh population of 1,400 of the latter place, only about 50 have been traceable. The rest were all killed in the general massacre.
The important village of Valtoha was attacked in the beginning of September by Pakistan Military. Sikh women and children were abducted. Such of the menfolk as were spared, were turned out of their homes in a destitute state.
In Hindal a large number of Sikhs were shot dead by Pakistan military on the 24th and 25th August. In Jia Bagga, on the Lahore-Ferozepore line, 100 Sikhs and Hindus were killed.
In Prara, immediately after the announcement of the Boundary Commission Award, lynching and murdering of Sikhs began on the 18th August. About 100 Sikhs were killed in Orara; and in the neighbourhood Gurdwaras were desecrated and houses burned and looted.
On the 19th a Hindu-Sikh refugee train was stopped near Railway Station Khudian and a huge massacre of Hindu and Sikhs occurred.
In October 1947, 9 Sikhs prisoners were released from Lahore Cenral Jail. These were pushed out of the jail Gate without any protection or escort. Muslim goondas who had already been apprised of the impending release of these unfortunate Sikhs, pounced upon them as soon as they stepped outside, and all 9 were killed on the spot.
Six Hindus and one Sikh, the last-mentioned a Professor of Sikh National College, Lahore were challaned by the police on a cooked-up charge. All were acquitted by the Magistrate, and ordered to be released. The same tale was repeated here. Muslims waiting outside the Court fell upon them and killed all seven within the area of the District Courts. This occurred on the 26th August.
On the 13th August a Muslim mob fell upon the. Lahore Loco Workshop, and killed such of the helpless Hindus as were still there.
Muslim leaders deliberately spread false and baseless atrocity stories about East Punjab, and incited Muslims everywhere to murder and drive out Hindus and Sikhs. Especially was Pakistan propaganda openly and shamelessly directed against Sikhs. Zafar Ali Khan, proprietor of the Daily Zamindar of Lahore is a well-known Muslim League leader, and his paper an important League organ. On the 5th September in this paper appeared on the front page a highly inflammatory poem against the Sikhs, the last and telling line of which was:
“Koi Sikh rehne na pae Maghribi Punjab men” (Let no Sikh be allowed to remain in Western Punjab). That this was no isolated or irresponsible piece of political propaganda is amply proved by this letter, which passed between no less responsible people, than Sir Francis Mudie, Governor of West Punjab and Mr. Jinnah, Governor-General of Pakistan, on September 5, 1947. That men who run the State and shape policies should have made up their minds to throw Sikhs out of West Punjab, is ample proof of the solid conspiracy in Pakistan against the Sikhs. If the Governor and Governor-General thought this way, what hope of protection could Sikhs have from the officials? What was there to stop common Muslims from looting, murdering and dishonouring them?
The salient paragraphs from Sir Francis Mudie’s letter to Mr. Jinnah, mentioned above are:
“The refugee problem is assuming gigantic proportions. The only limit that I can see to it is that set by the census reports. According to reports the movement across the border runs into a lakh or so a day. At Chuharkana in the Sheikhupura district I saw between 1 lakh and a lakh and half of Sikhs collected in the town and round it, in the houses, on roofs and everywhere. It was exactly like the Magh Mela in Allahabad. It will take 45 trains to move them, even at 4,000 people per train: or, if they are to stay there, they will have to be given 50 tons of at a day. At Gowindgarh in the same district there was a collection of 30,000 or 40,000 Mazbi Sikhs with arms. They refused even to talk to the Deputy Commissioner, an Anglo-Indian, who advanced with a flag of truce. They shot at him and missed. Finally arrangements were made to evacuate the lot. I am telling every one that I do not care how the Sikhs are got rid of as soon as possible. There is still little sign of the 3 lakh Sikhs in Lyallpur moving, but in the end they too will have to go.”
1Dera Sahib Gurdwara.