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MARCH, 1947.

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:-

District Muslims Hindus and Sikhs
Rawalpindi 80.00 18.67
Campbellpur 90.42 9.36
Mianwali 86.16 13.76
Jhelum 89.42 10.41
Sargodha 83.68 14.88
Gujrat 85.58 14.2
Multan 78.1 20.52
Gujranwala 70.45 22.70
Sialkot 62.09 31.12
Lahore 60.62 35.9

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:

District Muslims Hindus and Sikhs
Peshawar 90.34 9.65
Kohat 91.99 8.1
Bannu 87.06 12.93
Mardan 95.46 4.52
Dera Ismail Khan 85.78 14.21

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.

Attacks Begin

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.

Rawalpindi Division

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 beleagured. 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 Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak 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 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 f 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.

‘Shahalmi 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.


  1. March 4, 1947.