By Wajahat Masood
(Translated from Urdu by Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam)
It was well said by Maj. General (retired) Shahid Hamid that in those days it was ‘common knowledge’. Well, Gentlemen, it was also common knowledge that the bloodletting in Lahore especially the nude procession of the non-Muslim girls outside the AMO College was orchestrated by the woman who proudly claimed to be the ‘king’s aide’. The famous much-quoted remark by Abdul Majid Salik has now become obsolete.
What was the magnitude of the storm that had hit the Punjab in March 1947, and who were those Sikhs? They were the sons and daughters of this soil who had converted to Sikhism in the 16th and 17th century, rejecting the shackles of casteism in Hinduism. These lovers of the soil do not smoke and do not trim their heir for the sake of their identity. They lived life to the full, and still do. They love and hate to the beating of the drum. More than half of the medals won by Indian soldiers during the first and Second World War went to the Sikh brave-hearts. They are hardworking, honest and simple-hearted.
The land, the rivers, the fields and the seasons of Punjab identify themselves with the followers of Sikhism. The prosperity of Punjab in the 20th century was indebted to the hard work of the Sikh men and women. They erected three-storeyed buildings in small villages. Go around the world and you will not find a friend like a Sikh with selfless warmth of friendship in his heart. No religious building but the Gurdwara has doors in its four walls. People can enter and exit through whichever door they wish, as the Sikhs have a big heart.
After the resignation of the Khizir government on March 2, 1947, the Muslim League could not form government. It was commonly believed that the riots starting on March 4, 1947 were an attempt to cover up its political failure in forming the government. Sections of the Muslim League had made the Article 93 of the Government of India Act 1935 a ploy, though the governor’s step did not in any way have any connection with the riots in Pindi and Multan.
All hell broke loose on the Sikhs of Pindi, Jhelum, Chakwal, Taxila, Wah and Gujar Khan on March 4, 1947. They were slaughtered and burnt alive; their heir was trimmed; they were circumcised in public; they were forced to convert to Islam. The modesty of Sikh women was enraged. The wells in the Pothuhar region were stacked with the dead bodies of Sikh girls. In Kahuta village alone, 2000 Sikhs were burnt alive.
The Vice-roy Lord Mount Batten had been a witness to the Second World War. When he visited north Punjab in 1947 he at once decided that there was no other solution to the problem of India than the partition. Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi had issued a joint appeal to stop the riots in Pothuhar. Tears and drops of blood do not have any religion; they do not distinguish among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Politics in religion is like the bull in a china shop. It scares humanity away.
In the united Punjab, the population of Muslims was 55%, of Hindus 25% and of Sikhs 20%. The announcement of the bifurcation of Punjab had shocked the Sikhs deeply. One fourth of their total population was rooted in west Punjab while the two-third was in east Punjab. Nevertheless, a large part of the costly urban property and the fertile agricultural land in the western Punjab particularly in Montgomery and Layllpur was occupied by the Sikhs.
Although the leadership of the Muslim League and the Congress had announced their acceptance of the Radcliffe Award, the Sikh leadership did not bind them with the agreement. They had the apprehension that their population would be split in 66% and 33% across the two countries. Moreover, they were very desperate to avenge the Pindi riots that lasted for two-three weeks in March and in which the dead were almost 100% Sikhs. Master Tara Singh was an emotional leader who had shouted the slogan “Jo Pakistan mangega, use Qabristan dia jayega’ (those who will demand Pakistan will get graves)” waving Kirpan on the stairs of Punjab Assembly. In the riots in March, Master Tara Singh’s mother was among the women burnt alive near Taxila.
Sikh leadership had opted for the former between India and Pakistan and, therefore, they had the apprehension that the Sikhs left in the west Punjab would not get proper security. The opposition of the Sikhs to the bifurcation of Punjab was illogical and emotional. The demand for the bifurcation of Bengal and Punjab was made by the Congress and not by the Muslim League. Following the division, the division of the Sikh community was now inevitable.
The British government had already decided to grant independence to India in August 1947 instead of June 1948. At this juncture, the opposition of the bifurcation of Punjab by the Sikh leaders was futile. Any change in the plan of the division of Punjab, or of India, for that matter, was not possible in this phase. On the contrary, fiery and inflammatory speeches could only spark riots. Nevertheless, the Sikh leadership was getting more and more desperate due to their political discomfiture to avenge the Rawalpindi massacre.
According to intelligence reports, the Sikhs had made all the preparations for retaliatory actions as early as in May. However, the civil administration and other institutions were active to a great extent till May which helped to expose the conspiracies to kill and loot one after the other. But in the last weeks of July and the first weeks of August the administration had become divided on communal lines. The intelligence system was also in complete disarray.
The standards of recruitment in the British civil services had gone down during the second World War as more qualified youths were joining the army. On the one hand, the Muslim and non-Muslim subordinate officers had realised that the British rulers were on their way out and, therefore, there was no hope of getting benefits in the form of promotions, appointments and rewards from them. On the other hand, the British knew that their stay in India was a matter of weeks. Naturally, their efficiency was affected.
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
URL of Part 12 of the Series: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/wajahat-masood,-tr-new-age-islam/objectives-resolutions-and-secularism-–-part-12--in-those-days,-indulging-in-riots-was-considered-by-muslims-an-islamic-duty/d/9673