By Wajahat Masood
(Translated from Urdu by Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam)
Two weeks later ‘Noakhali Day’ was observed in the Muslim-minority state of Bihar. On that fateful day, October 25, all hell broke loose on the Muslims of Bihar. What was done to the Muslims of Bihar in the name of religion was also an insult to humanity. Patna, Moonghyr and Bhagalpur districts were also engulfed. After the riots were over, Mahatma Gandhi visited Bihar with Baba Khan and after viewing the scenes of blood and gore came down heavily on the Congress leadership. If Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardi was following in the shadow of Mahatma Gandhi from August 1947 to February 1948, it was not because of his love for peace. He hoped that being in the company of Gandhiji would perhaps save him.
Yet another blood-stream erupted in the northern areas of Punjab. Like the dates of the riots in Bengal and Bihar, the dates of those in Punjab also require special attention. The government of Khizir Hayat resigned on March 2. Instead of inviting the Muslim League to form government, the Governor Jean Kinz imposed governor’s rule in Punjab under the article 93 of the Government of India Act 1935. Shaukat Hayat writes:
“The unfortunate event of forming government in Punjab by ignoring the Muslims became the cause of disturbances in Punjab and riots across the country. ...He (the governor) could not gauge the impending dangerous consequences of the act. As a result, thousands of Muslims were killed in East Punjab while many Hindus were slaughtered in West Punjab.”
Sardar Shaukat Hayat’s memory has failed him here because he did not think it appropriate to indicate that the riots in Wah, Taxila, Quetta, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Campbellpur and Chakwal started on March 4, 1947 (that is, two days after the Muslim League could not form government). He did not also explain what the cause-and-effect relation was between the Muslim League not forming government and the riots in the backward and illiterate region of Pothuhar as most of the inhabitants there were not eligible to vote because of their failure in fulfilling the pre-conditions related to tax, education and property. Sardar Shaukat Hayat who was removed from the state ministry in 1943 at the age of 28 on grounds of impropriety himself belonged to the Khad tribe of Wah in Pothuhar region and was the son of the former Prime Minister of Punjab Sikandar Hayat. He was the maternal uncle of the popular leader of the Left wing revolutionaries Tariq Ali. Apparently, Sardar Shaukat Hayat’s hand can be suspected in the riots starting in the first week of March 1947. However, this allegation should not be made merely on the basis of assumptions. Let us see what Mushtaque Ahmad Wajdi (then a senior official in the railways) says in this connection in his autobiography:
“(During that period), Sardar Shaukat Hayat called me and told me that serious riots were going to happen for which weapons must be collected. Those would come from the Frontier Province but the co-operation of the railway staff was required. I gathered the Muslims of the line staff. They showed their readiness and swore that they would not retreat even if they had to go to jail or even lay down their lives. A committee was formed and responsibilities were distributed. I gave all the details to Sardar Shaukat Hayat. He told me to go to Delhi at once and apprise Liaqat Ali Khan of the developments. I reached Delhi the following day. Liaqat Ali Khan was the Finance Minister in the Muslim League-Congress coalition government. He probably had before-hand information of my arrival. Seeing my card he called me and listened to all the details attentively. He promised me further instructions and asked me to keep it a secret. During the same time I was appointed the deputy secretary in the Finance ministry and shifted from Lahore to Delhi. I do not know how useful the organisation formed by me was but from the large scale killings that took place afterwards; I can guess that it must have helped to an extent.”
It can be said that such a serious allegation cannot be made against an important political leader merely on the basis of a statement made by a government official. It would be appropriate to get the testimony of Major Gen. (Retd.) Shahid Hamid. In his autobiography, he writes:
“The riots against the Hindus and the Sikhs started in Pindi. At that time it was common knowledge that a young Muslim League leader, who was a retired army officer and a scion of a big feudal family, started the ‘work’ in the love of his community and as an Islamic duty. In those days, the Muslims considered this something done in the love of community. When I met Brigadier Noor Ahmad Hussain in connection of the book being discussed, he told me that he had coincidentally met the leader, who was now among the aged politicians, in Londo in 1980s. He had taken him to his flat in Hyde Park. The aged politician neither denied his involvement nor regretted it, nor did he betray any sense of repentance over the riots. Rather, Noor Ahmad Hussain was surprised that even after such a long time he defended it, understandably because he had greatly benefitted from the riots.
Sardar Shaukat Hayat himself writes in his autobiography: “After the massacre in Bihar, the Muslim soldiers who belonged to Rawalpindi division were suddenly sent on leave, in violation of rules and regulations, so that after being witness to the massacre in Bihar they could start looting, killing and raping in this soldier-producing area in retaliation. Sardar Shaukat Hayat at least admitted that the Muslim soldiers were involved in the killings of non-Muslim population.
A notable aspect is that when the Governor of Punjab sent the former President of Punjab Congress Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi to Punjab in order to control the riots, Sardar Shaukat Hayat became agitated. He objected arguing that the Maulana ‘had no reputation’ in the area. However, when Sardar Shaukat Hayat was handed over the task, in his own words, “I got the killings stopped within 24 hours”. Sub-han Allah( Praise be to Allah), what a joke! The fire raging across the length and breadth of the Pothuhar died down within 24 hours whereas when it was needed, the son-in-law of the cashier of Peshawar College could not be controlled.
URL of Part 2 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/objectives-resolution-and-secularism--part-2--maulana-shabbir-ahmad-usmani-was-the-pioneer-of-non-state-militantism-in-pakistan/d/9509
URL of Part 4 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood-tr.-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism--part-4--jinnah’s-secularism-was-undermined-by-the-mullahs/d/9539
URL of Part 5 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood-tr.-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism----part-5--muslim-league-used-manzilgah-mosque-in-the-same-way-as-bjp-used-babri-masjid-for-political-gains/d/9552
URL of Part 6 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood-tr.-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism----part-6--jinnah-sought-support-of-ahmadi-spiritual-head-for-the-establishment-of-pakistan/d/9569
URL of Part 7 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/wajahat-masood-tr.-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism-7--maulana-shabbir-ahmad-usmani’s-prophetic-dream-about-jinnah/d/9576
URL of Part 8 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood-tr-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism—part-8--jafri-conference-demands-inclusion-of-shias-in-pakistan’s-legislative-body/d/9599
URL of part 9 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood--tr-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism—9--maulana-maudoodi-did-not-care-if-muslims-in-india-were-treated-like-malechchas-and-shudras/d/9621
URL of Part 10 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood-tr-new-age-islam/objectives-resolution-and-secularism—-part-10--newly-formed-pakistan-had-ample-opportunities-for-muslim-officers/d/9635
URL of Part 11 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood/objectives-resolution-and-secularism—part-11--riots-were-incited-by-muslim-league-who-distributed-petrol-coupons-to-cadres-to-burn-the-houses-and-shops-of-hindus-in-calcutta/d/9655