Published in The Nation newspaper on 14-Aug-2014
Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry - This was the year 1946 and I was studying in the sixth year class of the secondary school in Tihara, District Ludhiana, Punjab, India. I was 11 years old at that time. The Lahore resolution about founding of Pakistan was passed 6 years ago and the movement was for this goal by the Muslims of India. We’re fighting this Election which was crucial for the creation of a home land for the Muslims of India. These slogans were taking place in a small village called Lodiwal where I was born. This village is still there in Tehsil Jagraon of District Ludhiana. This village is situated near the historical town of Tihara at a distance of one mile and on the left side of the river Sutlej at a distance of about 3 miles. On the other side of Sutlej there were villages of Tehsil Nikodar District Jallandhar. Majority of these villages were inhabited by the Muslims, but the majority of the population in these 2 districts were Non-Muslims. In our Village, Lodiwal a rally of Muslim League was being held and the participants were shouting these slogans. In all over India the Muslim students were spearheading this movement on the advice of Quad e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. There was no school in our village and we used to go to Tihara for studies. Our village had a hundred percent Muslim population, whereas in Tihara, there were Hindus who were shopkeepers and had business professions. But, in this village, also, the Muslims were in majority, and they were involved in the agriculture profession. This area was very fertile and green in vegetation. Our school had also a majority of Muslim students, and we would not allow them to criticize our demand for the creation of Pakistan. As a result of this election in 1946, the Muslim League got the majority of assembly seats in the provinces of Punjab, NWFP, Sindh, and Baluchistan. Congress got the majority of seats in the rest of the provinces of India. Under the leadership of Quad e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah we got Pakistan on the 14th of August, 1947, in spite of the bitter opposition from the English rulers and the Indian Congress. The boundary commission was established by the British rulers under the chairmanship of Redcliff. There were two members from each side: two were Muslims, one was Hindu and one was Sikh.
Lord Mountbatten, who was the viceroy of India, was partial and along with the Indian Congress, he made a plan to minimize the areas which were to be given to Pakistan. In Punjab, there were two tehsils named Ferozepur and Zeera that were given to Pakistan on the first award. But then, under pressure from the Indian Congress, these were granted to India. The reason for the change was that they believed the headworks at Ferozepur should not belong to Pakistan. Similarly, Gurdaspur was given to Pakistan on the 14th of August; but, on the 17th of August, Lord Mountbatten overruled Redcliff’s decision and the District was given to India. The reason was that tile only railway and link to Kashmir was through this district. After that, there was dispute over the Kashmir state; India got most of Kashmir after sending troops to the area.
Similarly, in Bengal, the East Bengal which became a part of Pakistan, the Muslim majority District Murshad Abad and parts of two other districts, Jessur and Rajshai, were given to India, thus minimizing East Pakistan’s area.
Then, the Congress, the Hindus, and the Sikhs started to kill Muslim in India, particularly in East Punjab. All of the districts of East Punjab — Jallandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Ambala, Karnal, Ruhtak, Hisar and Kangra — Muslims suffered. Many of them were killed and their properties looted. The decision was that the current population of these areas should remain there after the border was created, but just to put Pakistan in difficulties, India pushed Muslims over the Pakistani border. Under the formula of partition, the army, the civil servants, and the assets had to be divided between the two countries according to the ratio of their population. But India did not accept this financial award, and thus, most of the financial assets remained in India’s possession. Similarly, the Pakistani army was not given their rightful part of armament: India grabbed most of Pakistan’s share. Many trains which were taking refugees from Indian Punjab to Pakistan were sabotaged. One of the trains which were transporting military personnel and the civil servants to Pakistan was attacked, and most of the officers were killed.
The idea was that Pakistan will not have civil and military manpower to help the newly created country of Pakistan. The Indian minister of interior, Mr. Patel, had boasted that Pakistan will not be able to survive as a state and ultimately, it will become part of India again.
The Boundary commission was formed by the British to oversee the division of India; its’ duty was to protect the immigrants, and for that matter, they had created temporary camps for the whole population. But, the commission could not cope with this task, and the Muslims who were arriving in the camps were attacked by Hindu and Sikhs; many of them were killed before reaching the camps. Some of the people, including women and children, were burnt alive. The trains were attacked, and the Muslim women and young girls were kidnapped and raped. Some of these girls had to jump into the wells and canals in order to save their honor. In response to these massacres in West Punjab, which was part of Pakistan, riots broke out there, and Hindus and Sikhs who were migrating to East Punjab from Pakistan were killed. But, the number of lives lost was greater in East Punjab.
According to estimates, over 1 million people lost their lives on both sides of the border. In addition to Punjab, the riots also took place in the Muslim neighborhoods of New Delhi; many Muslims were slaughtered. The financial loss of the people on both sides was enormous. The people who had fought for the creation of Pakistan were not only from the Pakistani side but also from India. They came mainly from UP, Behar, CP, Assam, and South India. The Muslims in these areas knew that their provinces would not be included in Pakistan; in spite of that knowledge, they sacrificed for the creation of a Muslim homeland. As mentioned earlier, Muslim students from the educational institutions in India particularly from the Ali Gharh Muslim University contributed a lot along with the Muslim student Federation and the Muslim League guards for the creation of Pakistan. Many times, the students clashed with their opponents. In such an incidence, as told by my elder brother, there was a rally in Ludhiana which was attended by Congress leader Pandit Nehu that clashed with the Muslim Student Federation in the city of Ludhiana. They were shouting the slogans, “We will get Pakistan! Pakistan Zindabad!” To this, Pandit Nehu replied, “Come on, get Pakistan from my pocket!” Finally, when a young Muslim boy slapped him on the face, Pandit Nehu was saved by his companions from further injuries. Mind you, in those days, the leaders did not have fool-proof security as we see these days for current leaders. The Hindu students were always scared of the strength and stamina of the Muslim students; they dared not face them.
But, after Pakistan was established, the state force was used to overpower the Muslims. Hindus and Sikhs organized attacks on the Muslim villages in East Punjab. Though the Muslims were in minority there, they faced their opponents bravely. They used to guard their houses by patrolling around the village to save their people. They knew that their Pakistan was far away, but they would not cede.
Armed groups of Hindus and Sikhs would attack a village systematically then proceed to the next village. When they would be defeated, they would call the police for help, though morally the police were responsible for the protection of the whole population. I remember that our village, Lodiwal, was attacked on the 23rd of August for the first time. The village blacksmith, Fazaldin, made spears and shields out of the iron from his shop and give to the Muslim youngsters who patrolled the village. The Sikhs were defeated on the first day by our young patrons. The next day, when our people went to the Tihara village, Lodiwal became empty. Some people remained behind; as soon as the Hindu and Sikh mobs knew this, they attacked Lodiwal again. They killed the people who were unarmed. About a dozen people were murdered, including my grandmother and her elderly brother. Many villages with Muslim populations were attacked and looted. Some of the villages which were unsafe were brutally destroyed. A particular village, Kishanpur, which was two miles away from our village in the District Ferozpur, had a very small Muslim population that was completely murdered and destroyed. Similarly, in neighboring villages, all of the people were killed. In one family of eight, seven of the members were killed except a ten-year-old girl who hid herself in the sugarcane field. She was brought out by a kind Sikh who took her to his house and guided her to her aunt’s house in a safe village. As mentioned earlier, the government under the British guidance established temporary camps to house the refugees going to Pakistan; one of these camps was near our village in a village name Sidwanbait. But, we chose to go to my maternal grandparents’ village across the river, Sutlej in Tehsil Nikodar. Ultimately, we reached the Jallandhar camp. It was a very big camp which was around a high school building. We were lucky to get some space in the school building. The camp was not tented, the people made their own arrangement by spreading sheets and whatever material was available to them. There was no protection against rain. There were a few toilets of the school only. Neither there was arrangement for cooking either. People had not brought food stuff with them as it was thought that after staying a few days in the camps they will be transported to Pakistan by trains. But these few days changed into weeks and months as refugees from other side of the border started coming and transport was not available.
It was risky to go out of the camp as the gangs of Sikh and Hindu youngsters would attack arid kill those people if they were not in groups. But people had to go out of the camp to buy eatables sold by the vendor at the periphery. It was responsibility of the Indian police to protect the residents of the camp but they often ignored and would not provide any security. I personally saw that one of the young men came running and shouting that his companion was taken away by a gang when they had gone to a nearby well to fetch some water. After spending 6 weeks in the Jallandhar camp our turn came to be boarded in train taking us to Lahore. The train was overcrowded, many of the people sitting over the top of the train clinching to the ropes tied over the train roof. I remember when the train left the Garth railway station it was 9:00 pm but at about mid night the train stopped at a deserted place near the Beas River. People became fearful as some trains had been attacked near that railway bridge. But the Soldiers of Baloch regiment who were 10 in number and were escorting the train came down from their mochas in the middle of the train and surrounded the train. They assured the people that enemy cannot do any harm in their presence. After staying in the deserted place train left. The Baloch Regiment which was deputed to bring the refugees safely to Pakistan did great service in spite of their small number they saved many lives. Earlier A train was attacked which was carrying Muslim civil servants at the Beas River bridge. Similarly a train was destroyed in Ambala District. When we reached Pakistan border at Wahga people were so jubilant they started Salogens of Pakistan Zindabad. Many of them wept in happiness and got down the train and prostrated on the ground thanking Allah Almighty. It is a fact that had crossed over to Pakistan through blood bath. So many people lest their lives. Over million lost their lives, many thousands girls and women were kidnapped by the Hindu and Sikhs and never returned .One can imagine the plight of their parents. In migration they lost every thing and an estimated no of 25 million became homeless refugees who had to be settled in Pakistan. On the Pakistan Hindu and Sikh refugees were less in no and suffered much less in term of property and loss of life. The refugees were made to stay in camps in Kasur, Bahawalnagar and Shahdara. One largest such camp was in Walton. They were transported to the other area of Punjab. Many of them opted to stay with their relatives. Many people came in Caravans and even on foot. Some were separated from their kith and kin and numerous died in their quest to reach Pakistan and could not make it. This was the greatest tragedy and an exodus of such a large no of refugees in the history.
Alas the people of our country have forgotten the sacrifices of their brethren. People who sacrificed so much with their mothers, sisters and daughters for the sake Pakistan and its ideology are the real martyrs. To day the wealthy people. The bureaucrats, the politicians, doctors, engineers and other affluent people in the society don’t know them that they were real builders of Pakistan and had responded to the call of the founder of Pakistan, Quad-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Have we achieved the purpose for which Pakistan was established. We lost East Pakistan. Corrupt civil and military governments came and even after passage of 65 years we could not become a unified nation. Islamic Law could not be brought which could make the equality and brotherhood. The poor have become poorer and the country’s wealth is in a few hands. There is shortage of food, power, and scarcity of every thing. We are under enormous internal and external debts and our rulers are obeying the dictation of IMF and the World Bank and are blindly following the big powers. There is largest cabinet of more than 60 members and country’s security is in disarray. Allah has given us so much and so many resources and still our rulers are begging more not for the common man but for their own self. Where is Quad-e-Azam's vision of Pakistan? We are a nuclear power but our rulers are acting as slaves of others and have lost the dignity. We pray for the benefit of the common man and for the affluent people to come to the earth from the sky, as they may be taken to task for their wrong policies. We should not forget our elders who made so many sacrifices for the creation of this homeland. This country is a real gift from God and we should strive to take it up and up in the nations of the world. This is only possible through justice, fair play, brotherhood and equality. We must not forget our great leaders’ motto of unity, discipline, and faith. n
Published in The Nation newspaper on 14-Aug-2014