“I had imposed Section 144 at Babrra. When the people did not disperse, the shots were fired at them. They were lucky that the police’s ammunition ran out; otherwise not a single soul would have survived.”
–Abdul Qayyum Khan, Addressing the
provincial assembly in September 1948
A painting depicting the bloody event of
massacre on 12th August 1948.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan strongly opposed the All-India Muslim League’s demand for the partition of India and thus was never really celebrated as a national hero that he was. He founded the non-violent Khudai Khidmatgar (“Servants of God”) movement in 1929, whose success triggered a harsh crackdown by the British Empire against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most repressive schemes and moves at the hands of White administration.
After partition, Bacha Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan and demanded an autonomous “Pashtunistan” administrative unit within the country, but the Pakistani government frequently arrested him between 1948 and 1954.
Hardly, two days before the first independence celebrations of the country, the Pashtuns witnessed for the first time how the state would respond to protests. While protesting against the dismissal of the government of Dr Khan Sahib in the then NWFP, now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, scores of Bacha Khan’s followers fell victim to the bullets of police. The firing lasted for 45 minutes. When the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared, there were about 750 dead and a 1350 injured.
Certain segments within Pashtun society, even today, are uneasy with their relation with the state. They accuse the state with inculcating extremism in their society. They also hold the state directly responsible for the worse record of human rights on their lands.