Saturday, 1 October 2011

True History of Partition 1947


  1. Sacrifices of Jammu Muslims during partition
  2. Out break of violence
  3. Launch of terror on Jammu Muslims
  4. Massacres on Jammu Muslims 
  5. Number of Jammu Kashmir refugees setteled in Punjab 
  6. Refrences 

        


1. Sacrifices of  Muslims during partition of Sub   continent in 1947



The inter-religious violence that occurred in Jammu and Kashmir against the backdrop of the 1947 Partition of India and its aftermaths included a possible ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Jammu’s Muslims. One million Kashmiri Muslim refugees were uprooted and an estimated 2,500,00 to 300,000 were massacred in the Jammu region alone in August-October 1947. Violence was directed in the main by the Dogra Hindu state troopers aimed at driving them out from fear of death. Despite the grwoing concerns of the ‘new history’ of Partition, until recently it has been dominated by the Punjab experience of violence and mass migration. This has been to the detriment of other regions such as Jammu which experienced a similar pattern of disruption, one that was equally profound. It reflects on the circumstances which led to the mass killings and the empting of Jammu’s Muslims in the region at the Partition of Indian subcontinent. It draws on original sources to explain the scope, motivation and purpose of the localized acts of violence.

         The outbreak of event was West Punjab communal disturbances from March 1947 onwards to the subsequent development of Jammu violence in August- October that year. The Muslims of Jammu were geographically economically and ethnically linked with the West Punjab’s cities and towns and this proximity proved significant as it enabled displaced persons to flow easily into and out of Jammu province. By the end of 1947, over 300,000 Kashmiri refugees had arrived in Gujranwala and Sialkot.

2. Outbreak of violence
 
         The March 1947 violence in the Punjab followed on from growing tensions that had accompanied the previous year’s provincial elections. On the second March 1947, the ‘precipitating event’ for the outbreak of widespread violence in the Punjab was the fall of the Khizr Hayat Tiwana coalition Unionist government which was formed without the Muslim League’s participation were accompanied by mass agitation that turned violent the leading cities of Punjab. The disturbances began in Lahore but spread rapidly Rawalpindi, Attock and Multan.
          The worst violence occurred in Rawalpindi division where serious rioting began during the first week of March. The raiders, some of whom were from the North West Frontier Province, but also included local Punjabis not only burned and looted many non-Muslim villages in the region but also looted and gutted ‘Murree hill stations’ which were used by British troops during the hot weather.
         A particular facture of the March violence was ‘the genocidal aspect’ of violence. There was a general agreement that these attacks on Hindus and Sikhs were ‘carefully planned and carried out’ and reportedly led by some retired Muslim army officers.
         According to an official estimate, by mid-March more than five thousand Hindus and Sikhs were killed in these raids, and more than fifty thousand took shelter in the hurriedly established camps of Wah Attock and Kala Rawalpindi. The gravity of growing tension can be gauged by a fact that the special armoured trucks and tanks were sent to Rawalpindi and Attock to defuse the situation. In the aftermath of the Rawalpindi killings, Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab demanded the division of the province along with the division of India.
In such a climate of fear and uncertainty, by April 1947, non-Muslims from the violence in the Rawalpindi division were arriving in other parts of the Punjab and the Kashmir region, expecting to return after the violence ceased. With in a week of the killings, ‘a large flock’ of the Hindus and Sikhs from Rawalpindi division started migrating to neighboring Kashmir region.




3. Launch of Terror on Jammu Muslims
        
            The embittered Sikh and Hindu refugees’ tales of violence raised animosities wherever they settled. They planned revenge and produced and circulated wildly inflammatory pamphlets and brochures. Their horrified tales of the Muslim perpetration circulated widespread and served as an occasion to launch a reign of terror on the Jammu Muslim population. Shortly flight and violence went hand in hand. Violence Jammu was increasingly locked into an all-India pattern, as killings in one part of the country were justified as retribution for violence in another part. Jammu’s Muslims were to pay a heavy price in September-October 1947 for the early disturbances in the West Punjab.
         At the time also the Dogra Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh’s own preference was that the State should remain independent or accede to India, knowing that majority of the State’s populace was inclined to link its future with Pakistan. In order to maintain his stranglehold, the Maharaja had initiated systematic tyrannical campaign against the ‘dissenters’ as early as the outset of May.
       By the mid-August, the state administration had not only demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers serving in the state army but also the Muslim police officers, whose loyalty was suspected, had also been sent home. The State’s Muslim majority contagious to the Punjab, particularly in Poonch, started organizing resistance forces in the border districts, There were regular reports of ‘persecutions’ and ‘mass murders of Muslims in Poonch’.
           The violence sparked off an exodus and Muslim refugees flowed in the opposite direction. A large number of Kashmiri Muslim families from Poonch started pouring into the border districts of Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Gujrat and Sialkot.
          
        The refugees related harrowing tales of massacres by the state Dogra troopers. This image of Kashmir inflamed the Punjabi Muslims and, in particular stirred up the movement of tribes of North-West Frontier Province.
    
          The Muslim Pukhtoon tribes of North-West Frontier Province stirred up the movement . The raiders who numbered about 20,000 crossed the border and smuggled arms into Kashmir. They, along with the Muslim army deserters from the state forces and retired army men, came to help rouse the peasantry of Poonch. Indeed around 60,000 Poonchis and other ‘hill men’ had served in the British Indian Army during the Second World War. There were also rumours of the Pakistan Army’s assisting to the ‘Provisional Government’ of North Frontier Province in such raids. Their activities grew into a full-scale revolt against the Dogra rule and culminated in the form of the ‘liberation’ of an area in western Jammu and Kashmir and proclaimed the independent ‘Azad’ Kashmir on 24 October 1947. On 26 October the Maharaja fled from Srinagar to Jammu as the threat of ‘liberation’ armed activists poised to capture the city. In the backdrop of the revolt, the ‘hill men’ (raiders) besieged Kotli for nearly a month and Poonch for half month, killing many non-Muslims ruthlessly. They particularly made ‘a practice of killing the leading banias (shopkeepers) and then inviting local villagers to join in looting their property’. They also specifically targeted the state officials to drive them out of the areas. Krishna Metha provides a rambling account of her days in and around Muzaffarabad at the time of tribes’ raids in the Kashmir province. She writes her husband was escorted by the tribesmen who ‘drew their guns at him and shouted, You kafir, [infidel] go on your knees and prostrate before us, we represent Pakistan. He stood motionless. Tell us if you are a Hindu or a Mussalman? they demanded. When he said he was a Hindu, they all fired at him one after the other’.
           In less then two months, a large stream of Hindus and Sikhs was forced to migrate to the ‘other’ part of Kashmir. Many thousands took refuge in the state garrisons which had not received food from outside since the attacks began. Because of the difficult terrain, worse than in the North-West Frontier- and the poor conditions of the roads, the movement of refugees was very slow. Many who strangled in the mountains were killed and fortune ones took shelter in the army state run Yol Camp, where they had to wait years for their departure to India. The last batch of 900 Hindu and Sikh Kashmiri refugees and over 250 former employees of the Dogra state administration, were ‘repatriated’ to Amritsar in January 1951.     A survivor Sardar Inderjit Singh recalls of his family’s migration from Kashmir to Amritsar: ‘Father had put me on his shoulders while crossing the river. He dropped me, saying now you run up the mountain and I will come after you. There was gun fire…my father could not be found’



         
4. Massacres on Jammu Muslims     


The situation was much the same in Jammu. The danger for Muslims multiplied ‘every hour’ as hordes of Hindu and Sikh refugees started pouring into Jammu from areas that were going to become Pakistan. In April, the first trickle of refugees had already arrived in Jammu followed the March 1947 violence in Punjab Rawalpindi, Attock, Murree, Bannu and Hazara. The daily flood peaked in late 1947 when an estimated 160,000 population of Hindus and Sikhs migrated from the western districts of Pakistan. By that time, majority of the non-Muslim population of Sialkot had fled to Jammu during the partition-related disturbances. Sialkot and Jammu were nothing less than twin cities. The north-eastern part of Sialkot was principally inhabited by the Dogras inhabitants. They were closely linked culturally and linguistically with the Hindu Dogras of Gurdaspur on the one side and Jammu on the other. As the Punjab boundary award was announced and the disturbances worsened, about 100,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Sialkot migrated to Jammu.
    
         In Jammu city alone, by mid- September, they numbered 65,000. Their arrival brought the communal tension to ‘the breaking point’. They carried with them harrowing stories of Muslim atrocity, which were retold in the press and given official sanction by the state media. For example, a Jammu based Hindu paper boasted that ‘a Dogra can kill at least two hundred Muslims’ which illustrated the communal level to which the media and parties had sunk. This further intensified the Muslim killings and exodus. Almost immediately, the disgruntled Dogra refugees backed by their relatives from Jammu started a general clearing of the Muslim population. They were provided arms and ammunition by the state officials. Sikh deserters of the Sialkot Unit, who migrated in Jammu and also had taken away with themselves rifles and ammunition now utilised them.
          The daily Telegraph of London journalist reported on 12 January 1948: ‘Yet another element in the situation is provided by Sikh refugees from the West Punjab who have sized Muslim lands in Jammu… they originated the massacres there last October to clear for themselves new Sikh territory to compensate for their losses in Pakistan and to provide part of the nucleus of a future Sikhistan’.
    
          To make an explicit assessment of Jammu’s Muslim massacre by the State-sponsored bid to change demographics in 1947, it is necessary to look at the composition of the population in the region at time. According to the Census of 1941, the eastern half the Jammu province, cutting across small strip of Punjab plain was inhabited by 619,000 non-Muslims, including 10,000 Sikhs and 305,000 martial Dogras Rajputs and Brahmins, and 411,000 Muslims. Forming 40 per cent of the population of this whole area, to the north and astride the Chenab Muslims were in a majority in the Riasi, Ramban, and Kishtwar areas and nearly attained parity in Bhadrawah. Within the province, the position of the majority of Muslims and Hindus in part explains their differing aspirations for the future of the state. At the same time, it contained elements of segmented and precarious society, theorized by Leo Kuper, which were likely to explode into ‘genocidal violence’ during a crisis.
          It is important to point out here that the Muslim population of Jammu province largely consisted of the Punjabi speaking. The Muslims of western Jammu had well-established geographic, historic, economic ethnic and cultural connections with the West Punjab’s cities and towns. They had strongly favoured joining Pakistan. Unlike the Kashmiri speaking Muslims of the Valley supported the secular leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. Within Jammu province, the location of the majority of Muslims and Hindus partially explains their differing aspirations for Jammu and Kashmir. Overall, the Dogra Hindus formed a narrow minority in Jammu province, though they formed a majority in its eastern districts such as Udhampur, Kathua and the Chenani Jagir. Seventy-five per cent of Jammu’s Hindus lived in these four districts which were contiguous to Hindu-majority districts of Punjab such as Gurdaspur, which was incorporated into India in 1947. The majority of Muslims in Jammu province lived in the western districts of Mirpur, Reasi and Poonch Jagir and they were contiguous to the towns and cities of the Punjab. Their proximity to Punjab proved significant as they enabled refugees to flow approachably into and out of Jammu province at partition. Communal division was much stronger in these areas. Both the RSS and Jammu Muslim Conference of Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas dominated here. Almost all the communal violence took place in Jammu province. Hundred of thousands were killed and fled to the border cities of Sialkot, Gujrat and Jhelum. The level of destruction was worst in Jammu city where Muslims were in minority. Their concentration was in Ustad da Mohalla, Pthanan da Mohalla and Khalka Mohalla. The latter was much larger than the other two combined. These Muslim localities presented a picture of destruction by mid-September 1947. Hundreds of Gujars were massacred in mohalla Ram Nagar. Village Raipur, within Jammu cantonment area was burnt down. The killings and dispersal of the Muslims from Jammu city were a clear example of the ethnic cleansing of a locality. By mid September, Jammu city’s Muslim population was halved.
             By late November, hundred of thousands Kashmiri refugees had arrived in the border towns of Sialkot, Gujrat and Jhelum. The Dogra state troops were at the forefront of attacks on Muslims. The state authorities were also reported to be issuing arms not only to local volunteer organizations such as RSS, but to those in surrounding East Punjab districts such as Gurdaspur. G. K. Reddy, a Hindu editor of the Kashmir Times said in a statement, ‘I saw the armed mob with the complicity of Dogra troops was killing the Muslims ruthlessly. The state officials were openly giving out weapons to the mob’. The state administration had not only demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers serving in the state army, but Muslim police officers, whose loyalty was suspected, had also been sent home. In Jammu city, the Muslim military were disarmed and the Jammu cantonment Brigadier Khoda Box replaced by a Hindu Dogra officer. There were also reports that the Maharaja of Patiala was not only supplying weapons, but also a Sikh Brigade of Patiala State troops were also operating in Jammu and Kashmir. The state authorities intended to create a Hindu majority in the Jammu region. The Dogra troopers ejected the entire population of Muslims of Dulat Chak on 28 November, claiming it was a part of the state. The troops of a Sikh Brigade raided the bordering villages and forced the Muslims there to evacuate and go beyond the old Ujh river bed.
          The daily Times of London reported the events in Jammu with such a front page headings: ‘Elimination of Muslims from Jammu’ and pointed out that the Maharaja Hari Singh was ‘in person commanding all the forces’ which were ethnically cleansing the Muslims.
        After the closure of Sialkot-Jammu railway line, the Muslims started concentrating in a camp from isolated pockets to the large enclaves within the Jammu Police Lines. They sought assistance from the Pakistan government to take immediate steps to ensure their safety.
         In the first week of November, the Pakistan government despatched many buses to Jammu city to transport the refugees into Sialkot. When the convoy arrived at Jammu-Sialkot road, Dogra troopers, RSS men and many armed.
        Sikhs attacked the caravan and killed most of the passengers and abducted their women. The fortunate ones managed to escape to reach Sialkot. According to a statement of a well-educated Muslim refugee who had fled from Jammu to Sialkot, ‘Thirty lorries carrying Muslim evacuees out of Kashmir State were attacked by Dogra troops at Satwari in Jammu. Most of the male members were massacred, while the women abducted. He concluded that the official proclaimed there that ‘there was no place for Muslims in Kashmir State and that they should all clear out’

        
The Hindu Dogra Princely State’s main aim was to change the demographic composition of the region by compelling the Muslim population. The depopulation of the Muslim population in the Jammu region is evidenced clearly in the data of the 1961 Census of India. In Jammu province, for example, about 123 villages were ‘completely depopulated’, while the decrease in the number of Muslims in Jammu district alone was over 100,000. The Muslims numbered 158,630 and comprised 37 per cent of the total population of 428,719 in the year 1941, and in the year 1961, they numbered only 51,690 and comprised only 10 per cent of the total population of 516,932. Kathua district ‘lost’ almost fifty per cent its Muslim population.
       
 It is possible here to point out that the inter-religious violence that occurred in Jammu included a possible ‘genocide’ of Muslims in September-October 1947. The Maharaja of the Dogra Hindu state was complicit in the targeted violence against Kashmiri Muslims. Out of a total of 8 lakhs who tried to migrate, more than ‘ 237,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated by all the forces of the Dogra State, headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs’.
          in the Punjab was not comparable to the massacres of Jammu’s Muslims. What gives the Jammu massacres a special character from the Punjab partition is that they were mainly undertaken by the Hindu Dogra state of Jammu and Kashmir and involved the political motives to ethnically cleanse the Muslim population into an exodus to Pakistan so that the demographic hurdle of the state’s Muslim majority could be removed in Jammu region. Indeed, by the Census of 1951, Jammu province had made Hindu majority province.








5. Number of Jammu and Kashmir Refugees in the Punjab Towns, in 1950 
           
                 Sialkot                      11, 0,143
                 Gujrat                          37,474
                 Gujranwala                   4,625
                 Rawalpindi                   5,384
                 Lahore                          1,101
                 Total                       161,966

By late November more than three lakh Kashmiri refugees had arrived in the border towns of Sialkot, Gujrat and Jhelum. Over 200,000 Jammu refugees had arrived in Sialkot because of its geographical proximity with Jammu region. The city with a road and railway connection from Jammu was a logical destination for the refugees. Many Kashmiris drew on their because of their pre-existing business and kinship ties.

        Majority had far less choice except to escape from violence. The Kashmiri refugee population not surprisingly became the most visible community in the city. The most fortunate occupied properties abandoned by the Hindus and Sikhs. Many others thronged camps, schools and military barracks platforms for many years. They squatted on railway platforms, footpaths and every conceivable space. The least fortunate were accommodated in the ‘most appalling’, ‘de-humanised’ and ‘like cattle’ condition in the evacuee factories. Water and sewerage arrangements were usually non-existent and unhygienic conditions caused health problems. Almost all 20000 Kashmir refugees in Sialkot’s Ghanda Singh School caught small-pox.
          
          Refugees recounted gruesome tales of brutal massacres by the state’s own troops and the burning of their homes and crops to a party of Englishmen who visited the city on 21 November. The harrowing images and stories of Muslim atrocities were retold in the press as well as in the sermons of Friday Juma prayer. The refugee’s frustrations in trying to find suitable accommodation and livelihood were exploited by radical groups such as the Ahrars and the newly established Anjaman-i-Jammu Muhajirian. They used the refugees’ frustration as a fertile recruiting ground for their brand of politics. Paper’s daily repeated provocations led to its being banned for a fortnight.
        Earlier there were reports that around a hundred trucks loaded with ‘tribesmen’ equipped with modern weapons and signalling system had entered the Kashmir.
       With the controversial accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India and the arrival of Indian troops, ‘the complexion of events’ changed in the region. In such a warlike situation, ‘a state of panic’ prevailed at the newly developed Sialkot-Jammu border. Now there were regular attacks ‘with automatic weapons’ on Sialkot-Jammu and Gujrat-Jammu borders, leaving behind several casualties on daily basis. This included over 17,000 Muslim corpses by the end of October 1947.
          Being a now border town, Sialkot saw a number of incursions from Jammu region in the early weeks and months of independence. In one such raid on a Sialkot border village, the Dogra troops killed about 60 Muslims and injured 12, and carried away 11 Muslim girls. They also burned and destroyed the crops of peasants in the border villages.
         On a few occasions, the state troopers encountered the local police and the newly created West Punjab Home Guard, while the former with their ‘automatic weapons’ outnumbered the latter’ who lacked the resources of arms and ammunitions. Such aftermath of Partition rarely finds its way in the standard texts, although the accounts on the territorial claims over the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan are well-documented. By the turn of 1948, both India and Pakistan was heading for a war over the territorial claims of the Kashmir region. On January 12 that year, the Indian District Liaison Officers who wished to recover ‘pocket clearance’ of abducted women and converts were banned from entering Sialkot, although their work continued in Gujranwala and other cities of the West Punjab. While the official activities could be controlled, the border between Sialkot and Jammu remained porous and free movement between both regions was possible.
Refugees who had managed to escape from violence to reach West Punjab cities and towns, their plight continued many years after their arrival. Even, the transitory period for the processing and settlement of Kashmiri refugees was sharply different from their counterparts from East Punjab and was much tedious and a lot longer. The delay was rooted in government policy. At the beginning, the West Punjab government preferred the ‘agreed areas’ refugees from East Punjab over the Kashmiri refugees in allocating evacuee properties. The government representatives pointed out that there were not enough evacuee properties to allocate the Kashmiri refugees and therefore a decision to prefer the Jammu and Kashmir refugees over their Muslim counterparts from East Punjab would ‘lead to great discontentment’.

          The continuing plight of Kashmiri refugees is brought home by the fact that even at the end of 1950 over 250,000 refugees were still subsisting on government rations in the various government–run camps, when almost all the camps of Muslim refugees from East Punjab had been cleared. Moreover, despite the Central government’s consideration that the Muslims of Jammu province had suffered ‘proportionally violence more than any other class of refugees’ and that they were targets of ‘real genocide’,

6. References

1. Joel E. Dimsdale (ed.), Survivors, Victims and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust (Washington: Hemisphere Publisher, 1980); Norman Cigar, Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of Ethnic Cleansing (Texas, Texas University Press, 1995); David Rieff, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (New York: 1995); Michael
N. Dobkowski (eds.), Genocide and the Modern Age: Etiology and Case Studies of Mass Death (New York, Syracuse University Press, 2000).
2. Paul Brass, ‘The Partition of India and Retributive Genocide in the Punjab, 1946-1947: Means, Methods, and Purposes’, in Journal of Genocide Research, 5:1 (2003): pp. 71-101; Anders Bjorn Hansen, Partition and Genocide: Manifestation of Violence in Punjab 1937-1947 (New Delhi, India Research Press, 2002); Ian Talbot, Divided Cities: Partition and Its Aftermath in Lahore and Amritsar (Karachi: Oxford Uuniversity Press, 2006).
3. Ian Copland, ‘The Master and the Maharajas: The Sikh Princes and the East Punjab Massacres of 1947’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 36:3 (2002); Shail Mayaram, ‘Speech, Silence and the Making of Partition Violence in Mewat’, Subaltern Studies IX, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997).
4. Mukherji Saradindu, The hidden story of Kashmiri refugees (Philadelphia, Oral History Association, 1996).
5. Seema Shekhawat, Conflict and Displacement in Jammu and Kashmir: the Gender Dimension (Jammu: Saksham Books International, 2006).
6. Cabeiri deBergh Robinson, Refugees, Political Subjectivity, and the Morality of Violence: from hijarat to jihād in Azad Kashmir (unpublished PhD dissertation, Cornell University, 2005).
7. Robert M. Hayden, ‘Schindler’s Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers’, Slavic Review, Vol. 55, No. 4 (winter, 1996), pp. 727-748; Geroge. J. Andreopoulos (ed.), Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimension (University of Pennsylvania press, 1997); Leo Kuper,
Genocide (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981).
8. Ian Kerskaw, The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems, Perspectives of Interpretation (London: OUP, 4th Addition, 2000). Particularly see the chapter 5, pp. 93-133.
9. Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (Harvard University, 2003); Prem Shankar Jha, The Origins of a Dispute: Kashmir 1947 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003; Mridu Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004); Chitralekha Zutshi, Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004); Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unfinished War (London: 2000); Alastair Lamb, Incomplete Partition: the Genesis of the Kashmir Dispute, 1947-48 (Hertingfordbury, 1997).
10. For the background to both the agitation and to Punjab politics after the formation of the Unionist Party see, Ian Talbot, Khizar Tiwana, The Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India (London: Richmond, 1996), pp. 145-156.




2 comments: