“When those in front fell down wounded by the

shots, those behind came forward with their chests

bared and exposed themselves to the fire”

–Gene Sharp on Qissa Khawani bazar massacre

 

In Qissa Khawani Bazar of Peshawar, along with the famous Qissas of the past it is known for, are also buried the cries of 400 people who died here on 23rd April, 1930. Under Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Khudai Khidmatgars started a non-violent movement against the British raj in 1930. As a result, many leaders of the movement, including Abdul Ghaffar, were arrested. When two of the leaders were being escorted through the bazar, a large crowd of people gathered around to welcome them. When the British escorts failed to disperse the crowd, the military was called in and asked to open fire on the unarmed, nonviolent civilians. When the first regiment refused to fire, another one was called in which continued firing for hours killing more than 400 people. The bazar of storytellers was filled with blood. The incident triggered the independence movement across the sub-continent.

Today, there is no acknowledgement either of the bravery of those who died or of the brutality of those who killed. Perhaps, our strictly anti Hindu, nationalist history focuses more on 23rd March at the cost of 23rd April. Prince William and Kate Middleton will soon be visiting Pakistan. Can they also bring along a letter of apology from Britain, an apology due for more than 89 years now?