Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947
Compiled for the SGPC by S. GURBACHAN SINGH TALIB
DID SIKHS (AND HINDUS) VOLUNTARILY LEAVE PAKISTAN?
Pakistan propagandists, in order to hide the shameful crimes of the Muslim League leaders, a part of whose programme it was to carve out a purely Muslim State and to eliminate religious minorities from it, have put forth a mischievous piece of propaganda that Sikhs (and by implication Hindus as well) left Pakistan by a design. Mat this 'Design' could have been passes ordinary human comprehension. The official Pakistan propaganda pamphlet contains this fantastic view:
Sikhs. stayed behind in Lyallpur till after the Partition and then (were) deliberately evacuated by Sikh leaders to East Punjab without any apparent immediate cause, seems to point out to a revision of the 'Plan' necessitated by some unexpected sequence of events.
This remark contains several pieces of deliberate falsehoods and a lot of suppressio veri, besides mischievous suggestions. Let us analyse it here:
(a) Sikhs stayed behind lit Lyallpur till after Pakistan. Does the writer imply that it had already before the partition been decided upon by Muslim Leaguers that no Sikhs were to stay in West Punjab after Partition, and that in view of such a Scheme it was surprising for any Sikhs to have stayed in any parts of Pakistan after August, 1947? It is obvious that no one. the Sikhs least of all, expected or anticipated anything like the total exchange of population which actually occurred. All decent people expected that on the establishment of Pakistan its leaders would afford equal protection to all its citizens, irrespective of creed, like all good Governments. That is why Sikh and Hindu leaders (see later in this chapter) exhorted Sikhs and Hindus to stay on in their homes in Pakistan. So, Sikhs continued to stay in all parts of Pakistan except in the rural areas of Rawalpindi, Campbellpore, Jhelum and Multan Districts. They stayed there because these places were their ancestral homes. The question of any Sikhs 'staying behind' could riot arise, unless it was arranged by Muslim Leaguers, as of course it was, that no Sikhs be left in Pakistan. On August 15 all Sikhs excepting in specific areas of the districts mentioned, were in Pakistan.
(b) Deliberately evacuated. How in the name of sense and reasonableness Sikhs were evacuated because decent normal life was rendered impossible for them by the deliberate policy of massacre, loot and dishonouring of women adopted by Muslims in all parts of Pakistan. Why the Sikhs evacuated is answered by the last words in this very sentence quoted above. necessitated by some unexpected sequence of events. This unexpected sequence of events was the hell which was let loose on Sikhs right from the 15th of August, and which fiendish activity became operative in Lyallpur not long after this.
(c) If Sikhs (of Lyallpur) left because of some plan, then why did Sikhs of other districts leave? And why did Hindus leave? Did they too leave in sympathy with the Sikh 'Plan' of evacuation, supposing for the sake of fantastic arguing that such a 'Plan' wherein evacuation for no reason was involved, could have existed?
Muslim League leaders had long advocated exchange of population between Muslim and non-Muslim India. All those who advocated the establishment of a Muslim State also advocated as its necessary corollary the exchange of population. Rahmat Ali, Syed Abdul Latif, Mr. Jinnah, all these have been quoted earlier to have expressed strong and unmistakable views on this question of exchange of Muslim and non-Muslim populations so as to make the Muslim State more homogeneous, and to solve the minority problem. Mr. Jinnah said, referring to the driving out of Hindus from Noakhali, that it was already transfer of population in action, and some machinery should be devised for effecting it peacefully and on a large scale. Though, it may be said here that this exchange was no real exchange-it was all the driving out of non-Muslims from Muslim majority zones, while Muslims, except for the isolated case of Bihar, where the Hindu riots were ruthlessly suppressed by the Congress Hindu Government and Pt. Nehru, everywhere were safe.
When Pakistan became a serious political proposition after H. M. G. statement of February 20, 1947 and progressively as August, 15, 1947 approached, the Muslim pace of eliminating non-Muslims from Pakistan was accelerated, till just on the eve of August 15 and after, it became a ruthless driving out, an all-out campaign.
Sikhs and Hindus could not have desired such an exchange. They would rather have preferred, and they actually did prefer, to stay on in Pakistan. They decided to join the Constituent Assembly, to continue in their occupations, business and services, and to stay in its territory with their women, children and possessions.
In order to realize the improbable and fantastic nature of the supposed Sikh attempt at leaving Pakistan in order to live under Indian rule, one has only to look at the sacrifices it would involve on the part of the Sikhs to make such a transmigration - These losses would be:
(1) Sikhs would leave behind vast lands, business, factories and institutions, for which a very poor substitute both in quantity and value could be found out of Muslim property in East Punjab.
(2) Land in East Punjab is poor, when compared with West Punjab. Even of this poor land, Muslims being mostly of the poorer classes and lower castes, had the least productive patches. These alone could be given to Sikhs if they decided to come out of Pakistan.
(3) Sikhs left behind in West Punjab their most sacred shrines, which would be ruined and desecrated if no Sikh was left in West Punjab.
So, it is not difficult, by the evidence of what Sikhs and Hindus had to leave in Pakistan, to show that they could not have left their rich possessions and their revered shrines just for a whim, fancy, or even for a political stake. Whole nations of millions do riot uproot themselves so lightly: even for political ideals-individuals and small groups may. If they bid good-bye to all that is cherished and valued by them, it is because to hold on to them is made impossible by powerful causes. And such causes were provided by Pakistan tyranny.
Hindus and Sikhs left behind in Pakistan fourteen hundred crores worth of property, innumerable banks, factories, works, business houses, their assets, lands, houses, gardens, more than five million acres of fertile land, their institutions, magnificent hospitals and what is more, their historic and sacred shrines, dearer than life. Did they want to 'ruin' Pakistan by having several lakhs of themselves killed, maimed, forcibly converted, their womenfolk dishonoured, their children cut to pieces and having fifty thousand girls abducted? Why, in the name of sense, if the Hindus and Sikhs wanted to migrate, did they not migrate while it was still somewhat safe to migrate-that is, before August 15, 1947. What were Hindus and Sikhs waiting for till then? After June 3 anyway, it was clear to the meanest intelligence that Pakistan would be established. Far from wishing to migrate from West Punjab, Hindus and Sikhs of the West Punjab decided to become citizens of Pakistan, and actually elected their representatives to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. This does not look like migrating, but like staying on and obeying the laws of the new State. The total number of Hindus and Sikhs who migrated from the Western Districts of the Punjab east, prior to August would be less than a million. To put it at that would be making a very generous estimate. It was after August 15, when safety of life in Pakistan was rendered impossible that the forty-five lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs of the West Punjab, the entire Hindu and Sikh population of the North-Western Frontier Province, of Baluchistan and Bahawalpur, along with twelve lakh Hindus of Sind, left their ancestral homes to seek safety in India. Not only that, many Christians were forced out of Pakistan and many untouchables. From the other end of Pakistan too thousands of miles away, from East Bengal, as many as twenty-five lakhs of Hindus had to migrate to India. Even in a credulous world it Is somewhat hard to swallow that all these people, over a crore in number, chose to be poor and miserable only for the pleasure of seeing Pakistan go ruined economically.
In reality, such fantastic things are being said by Pakistan only to cover up their own conspiracy and crimes against Hindus and Sikhs, whom they persecuted, harassed and with murder, rape, arson and loot drove out of Pakistan. Here are a few grounds for believing that Sikhs and Hindus left Pakistan under very great duress, and that they were extremely unhappy to do so, as this coming away lost to them all that was precious to them in the material and spiritual way.
Exchange of population or even driving out of Hindu and Sikh population from the Muslim State has from the beginning been inherent in the very conception of the State of Pakistan. This has been amply argued in the opening chapter. When Pakistan was established, this inevitable finale to the process of its establishment was executed with equal zeal and collaboration by the people (Muslims) and. Government of Pakistan. The process of elimination of minorities went on without check by the Muslim police, officials and military. On the contrary, they abetted the process. No responsible Pakistan or Muslim League leaders condemned such attacks on Hindus and Sikhs. Governor Mudie of West Punjab revealed in his letter to Mr. Jinnah his determination to throw Sikhs out of Pakistan at all costs (The full text of this letter appears in the Appendix. Excerpts from it have been quoted in two places, earlier.) Jinnah did not have a word to utter about the murder of over 800 Sikhs in Karachi on the 6th January, 1948. Nor for the matter of that, a word about the massacres of Noakhali, the North-Western Frontier Province, Rawalpindi, Multan or any other.
Pakistan Press and its leaders openly advocated the elimination of Sikhs from Pakistan. Zafar Ali's verse 'Koi Sikh rehne na pae Maghribi Punjab men' has already been quoted. The tempo of hate against Sikhs was deliberately raised, in order to incite the Muslim masses to drive them speedily out of West Punjab.
Driving Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan would bring great wealth into Muslim hands. This wealth has been estimated at fourteen hundred crores in value. It includes fifty-five lakh acres of rich land, good, firmly built houses, many factories and works, institutions, innumerable shops rich in merchandise and stores and godowns full of materials whose price runs into crores upon crores of rupees. Besides these there are hundreds of well established schools, many colleges, hospitals, charitable institutions and libraries. In the banks in West Punjab, Safe Deposit Lockers alone contained valuables worth about two hundred crores. All this was Hindu-Sikh property. And it had to be left behind.
As against all this, the total Muslim assets in the East Punjab do not come to more than two hundred and fifty crores. It would have been madness for Hindus and Sikhs to have left their own magnificent possessions for the beggarly Muslim assets, and to make a gift of all that they had to Pakistan.
Sikhs have left their richest lands in West Punjab. It was their labour which turned the jungles (Bars) of Lyallpur, Montgomery, and Sheikhupura into rich wheat-producing land. The industry and tenacity of Sikhs made them masters of vast cultivated areas, many times those possessed by Muslims in Districts where Muslims were in a majority in population. Take the case of Lahore. Here Sikhs were only 18.32% in the population. Yet according to the settlement report of the Lahore District by Mr. G. H. B. Abell, I.C.S.
About 66.7% of the cultivated land (in Lahore District) is in the hands of the Jats, the great majority of whom are Sikhs. They are commonly of very fine physique and often blessed with brains as well. They represent a magnificent supply of human material. They could be and upto a point are, a very great asset to the District and the Punjab. The communal majority in the District belongs to the Muslims and the typical zamindar of the district is Sikh Jat.
A glance at the land-revenue paid by Muslims and non-Muslims in some of the Muslim majority districts will show the relative position of Hindus and Sikhs as proprietors, and will totally falsify any notion that Hindus and Sikhs left these districts voluntarily, and not under extreme duress.
Apart from these facts, the following claims made in the Sikh memorandum to the Punjab Boundary Commission, in June, 1947 will give an idea of the extent of Hindu and Sikh interest in the Western Punjab, which these communities -would not lightly give up, unless compelled by overwhelming factors:
In the Lahore Division as a whole Sikhs paid 46% of the total land-revenue.
1Reference may be made to The Punjab Peasant by Sir Malcolm Darling, formerly Financial Commissioner of the Punjab. At page 41 of this book he observes: We now enter the heart of the Punjab, the tract from the Jhelum in the north to a little beyond the Sutlej in the south. It contains all that is most characteristic of the Province. It is the cradle of the Sikhs and hundred years ago was the mainstay of Ranjit Singh and his power. At page l22 of the same book the author observes: The peasant proprietor is the backbone of the colonies as he is of the Punjab. In the Lyallpur colony he holds about 80% of the land and in Shahpur nearly as much. In the latter he was mainly recruited from Northern Districts but in the former almost entirely from the central Punjab. A colony could hardly have had better material, for Ludhiana, Jullundur and Amritsar represent the flower of the Indian Agriculture. They are the home of the Jat Sikh who has been described as 'the most desirable of colonists.'
(In the matter of developing Colony Lands) the Jat Sikh has reached a point of development probably beyond anything else of the kind in India. In less than a generation he has made the wilderness blossom like the rose. It is as if the energy of the virgin soil of the Bar had passed into his veins and made him almost a part of the forces of nature which he has conquered. It is clear that the Jat Sikh from the central districts of the Punjab has been very largely responsible for the building up of the colony areas of Lyallpur and Montgomery in the Punjab, which form the granary of a large part of India. It may further be mentioned that the Sikhs in the central Divisions of the Punjab have largest Agricultural interests of all other communities put together.
The number of peasant proprietors in Lahore District is 1,46,522 and the cultivable area is 15,78,734 acres. The Muslim peasant proprietors number 41,029 holding 3,78,047 acres. The number of Sikh peasant proprietors, on the other hand, is 83,585 and they hold 10,01,438 acres.
2The city of Lahore consisted of the old walled town, Anarkali, Civil Lines and scattered houses here and there along the Lower Mall. Lahore began to expand in 1914 and the house building activity in Lahore received great impetus in the years 1929-37. The new Abadies (settlements) which come into existence since 1913 are Ramgali, Gwalmandi, Nisbet Road area, Rishi Nagar, Sant Nagar, Ram Nagar, Krishan Nagar, Janak Nagar, Qila Lachhman Singh, Qasurpura and Mohammad Nagar. Most of these Abadies are situate to the east and west of Lower Mall, skirting round it from almost Ravi Bridge to Nawankot. The other new settlements of importance are New Mozang, Islamia Park, Chauburji Gardens, Arya Nagar, Muslim Town, Garden Town, Model Town, Canal Park, Wasanpura, Dharampura, Misri Shah, Bharat Nagar, Singhpura and Ramgarh. A prominent feature of the new Abadis around old Lahore is that their growth has been on communal lines and that most of these Abadis are predominantly Hindu and Sikh.
A survey of Lahore carried out by the Punjab Government Board of Economic Inquiry gives the number of dwellings, their average monthly rent, ownership by communities, and distribution by localities. The survey shows that the total value of all dwelling houses owned by non-Muslims within the Corporation limits amounts to 12,27,64,800 rupees, whereas the total value of dwelling houses owned by Muslims amounts to 8.20,99,200. A complete census of the shops and commercial establishments was also taken by the Board of Economic Inquiry. The percentage of shops owned by non-Muslims in the walled city comes to 63. The percentage of outer Lahore comes to 67. The total number of shops in Greater Lahore, is 5,332 of which non-Muslims own 3.501.
3The Survey shows that out of a total number of 218 Registered Factories working in Greater Lahore in the year 1943-44 as many as 173 or 80% belong to non-Muslims. The total fixed capital invested in these factories amounted to a sum of Rs. 2 crores 40.27 lakhs. Of this the Muslim investment amounted only to 58.91 lakhs of rupees. Taking the figures of total capital investment, fixed plus circulating, we find that the total capital invested in the Registered factories in Greater Lahore amounted to Rs. 6.29 crores. The non-Muslim share in this total investment was Rs. 5.12 crores.
Lahore is an important banking and commercial centre and the money market in Lahore is fairly well developed. The Head Offices of as many as 26 Banks belonging to non-Muslim are located in Lahore. The total number of Bank Offices working in Lahore at present, however, is 90. Of the banks and branches at Lahore, only three belong to Muslims.
There are 80 offices of Insurance Companies in Lahore, 15 of them are Head Offices of such Companies. Of the Insurance Companies and offices only two belong to Muslims.
Lahore is an important educational centre of the province. The educational development has been very largely due to non-Muslim enterprise. The non-Muslim share in the promotion and development of educational institutions is stupendous. There are at present in Lahore as many as 270 educational institutions, recognised by the Education Department or affiliated to the Punjab University. Of this about 100 institutions are devoted to female education. The number of male students in these institutions is 64,902 and women students 23,447. Of the 12 Arts and Science Colleges at Lahore, giving education to 10,647 students, only one is run by the Muslims and one by the Government. The other 10 are run by non-Muslims. There are 15 professional colleges imparting education to 2,620 students. Of this number excluding three colleges run by the Government, all are run by non-Muslims. Of the 36 High Schools, imparting education to 26,647 students, only four are run by Muslims.
The total number of hospitals run on the modern allopathic lines in Lahore is 12. In addition there are four hospitals run on the indigenous methods of medicine. Not a single hospital run on modern allopathic, or on the indigenous lines is run by the Muslims.
4As stated above 90% of the colonists who came to colonise this tract in the Sheikhupura district and Lyallpur district hailed from Ambala, Ludhiana, Jullundur, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur districts. The towns of Gujranwala, Lyallpur, Gojra, Samundri and Toba Tek Singh are situate in this tract. There is an overwhelming non-Muslim population in these towns and the market is controlled by non-Muslims.
The Sikhs played a major part in the development of the rural area of this part and the urban area was built up mainly by the enterprise of Hindus. It would be correct to say that almost the entire trade, commerce and industry of the Lyallpur district and the portion of the Sheikhupura sub-district is in the hands of non-Muslims. In Lyallpur District in the year 1945-46 the non-Muslims paid Urban Immovable property Tax in the amount of Rs. 1,40,300 whereas the Muslims paid Rs. 22,900. The amount of Sales Tax paid by the non-Muslims in 1945-46 was Rs. 3,08,000 as compared to Rs. 17,000 paid by the Muslims. The Income Tax paid by the non-Muslims amounted to Rs. 59,50,000 as compared to Rs. 5,00,000 paid by the Muslims. Of the total number of 72 Registered factories in Lyallpur District, 57 factories are run by non-Muslims and only 15 by Muslims.
The tract mentioned above, comprising parts of Sheikhupura, Gujranwala and Lyallpur district is one contiguous tract and is Popularly known as the Shahidi Bar. In the preceding paragraphs an account has been given of the Sikh share in the development of this tract and there is no gainsaying that but for the Sikh enterprise the rural areas in this tract would not have been developed and but for the Hindu-Sikh enterprise the markets in this tract would not have flourished.
The peasant-proprietors again play a dominant role in the economic life of Shakargarh Sub-District. Out of the total area of this sub-district the non-Muslims own 1,72,111 acres of land as against 96,958 acres owned by the Muslims. Again the non-Muslims pay Rs. 4,45,000 on account of Land revenue in this sub-District as against a sum of Rs. 1,62,379 paid by the Muslims. The total number of villages of Shakargarh Sub-District is 744 and of this number the non-Muslim villages are 408 as against 311 Muslim villages, the remaining 25 villages are mixed.
The non-Muslims of Shakargarh Sub-District own the major portion of the urban property in the Sub-District and pay a greater portion of the taxes. As against Rs. 5,485 paid as Hasiyat Tax by the non-Muslims the Muslims pay only Rs. 2,943. The Income Tax figures for the sub-district show that no part of this amount is paid by the Muslims. Kartarpur, a place sacred to the memory of Baba Nanak is situated within the limits of Shakargarh sub-district.
Adjoining the trans-Ravi tract of Gurdaspur District in the preceding paragraphs is the Narowal Tehsil of Sialkot District. The population of Narowal Sub-District is 2,67,598, and out of this population the Muslims are 1,46,982, the rest being non-Muslims. The cultivable area in this sub-district is 2,61,378 acres and annual land revenue assessed thereon amounts to 3,95,768 rupees. This would show that the economic interests of the non-Muslims in this sub-district of Sialkot District outweigh the economic interests of the Muslims. This argument is reinforced by the voting strength of the Muslims and non-Muslims for the District Board elections. The electoral rolls of the Narowal Sub-District for the District Board elections would show that there are 16,031 non-Muslims voters as against 12,895 Muslim voters. The income-tax figures show a greater disparity, the non-Muslims paying annually Rs. 18,523-4-0 as against Rs. 2,716-1-0 paid by the Muslims.
To the facts enumerated above must be added the fact that in Montgomery, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum, Rawalpindi and Multan Districts Hindus and Sikhs had a large number of factories, banks, business firms, urban housing property, schools, colleges and charitable institutions which outnumbered the Muslim interest in these respects many times over in spite of the fact that the Muslims in all these districts were in an overwhelming majority in the population.
In the whole of the present West Punjab Districts, there were only two Muslim Colleges-the Islamia College at Lahore and the Zamindara College at Gujrat. As against this, there were about twenty non-Muslim colleges, including a first rate Medical College and an efficient College of Engineering. There were a large number of non-Muslim institutions also not affiliated to the University. In the matter of schools, the same proportion works out.
Sikhs have some of their most sacred Gurdwaras in the West Punjab. The freedom of these Gurdwaras and access to them for purposes of worship forms the sorest point of grievance which the Sikhs have at present against the Pakistan Government, and what is regarded as the easy attitude which the Indian Government is adopting with regard to this matter so deeply vital to Sikh religious sentiment.
The holiest of the holy of the Sikhs, Nanakana Sahib, birthplace of Guru Nanak-analogous to the Mecca of the Muslims and Jerusalem of the Christians. This Gurdwara also had a vast estate, developed along model lines as a farming colony, and it yielded an annual revenue to the Sikh community of about 20 lakhs of rupees.
There is then the famous Gurdwara Dehra Sahib in Lahore, site of martyrdom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev. There is the famous Shahidgunj, sacred in Sikh history as the place where the pioneer upholders of the Sikh Creed suffered torture and death at Muslim hands.
In Rawalpindi district there is the Panja Sahib Gurdwara, sanctified by Guru Nanak, and so is the famous Babe di Ber in Sialkot. In Gujranwala District is Eminabad. In Lahore District is Kartarpur, a place where Guru Nanak resided for a considerable time.
Besides these more famous Gurdwaras, there are hundreds of other shrines, associated with the Sikh Gurus, with holy men and with events in Sikh history.
There are then places associated with Sikh history, such as the Mausoleum of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore and his birthplace in Gujranwala. Sikh history and the dearest association of the Sikhs are enshrined in these places.
To think that Sikhs and Hindus would leave en masse all that has been mentioned above, if it had been possible for them to retain these, is fantastic nonsense, worthy only of the mendacions propagandists of Pakistan.
After the establishment of Pakistan, a systematic campaign of hounding Hindus and Sikhs out of Pakistan was initiated by the Muslim League, of course with the connivance of the Government. Various links in this campaign are these.-
(a) Governor Mudie's letter to Mr. Jinnah (in the appendix).
(b) Orders of the Deputy Commissioner of Montgomery that no Sikhs are to be spared. The following statement made by a Hindu Magistrate in a court of law will bear out this:
About the last week of August, 1947, I was awaiting to be evacuated to East Punjab after I had received my posting orders to Ferozepur. I do not actually remember the date but it was on the 23rd, 24th or the 25th of August, 1947 that I happened to attend a joint meeting of the Magistracy and Police held in the Court room of Raja Hassan Akhtar, P. C. S. Deputy Commissioner, Montgomery at about 4 P.M. The D. C. in my presence gave unambiguous orders to his Magistrates and Police Officers who were present, that they must not spare any Sikh and kill or shoot him at sight and that the Hindus may be spared for the time being. I was the only non-Muslim Magistrate who attended the meeting.
I made a similar statement before the S. D. O. Moga on or about the 30th August, 1947. I happened to meet the D. C., Ferozepore on 3-4-48, who has recently taken charge of -this District, when I narrated to him my experiences in Montgomery just before my evacuation. I told him about the above facts and he asked me to make this statement in the presence of three Magistrates in Court of the Additional District Magistrate, Ferozepore which I have hereby done.
(c) The District Magistrate of Mianwali fixed dates and a time-table for the evacuation of Hindus and Sikhs from his district. Other Magistrates doubtlessly did the same.
(d) The District Magistrate, Sheikhupura, where the biggest massacres of all of Hindus and Sikhs took place, was an active party to all that happened (vide statement of S. Gurdial Singh, Tehsildar of Sheikhupura, later posted at Zira, Ferozepore District, in the appendix).
(e) Notices were served on non-Muslim shopkeepers and others to quit Pakistan. In this connection the following revealed by the Indian Liaison Officer at Lahore will be illuminating:-
Office of the Chief Liaison Officer, East Punjab Govt.,
September 27, 1947
I forward a copy of notice entitled Quit Pakistan. Such notices are being received by non-Muslim shopkeepers. They get very panic striken and most of them are leaving their shops. I do not know what action you c n take in the matter but I thought I should let you know that a large number of non-Muslims, who receive such notices do not dare to open their premises. The one, of which I am sending you the copy, was addressed to the Proprietor, Indian Stationery Shop, Hospital Road, Lahore, and was delivered by post. The original envelope and the notice are in my possession.
Sd/- Ram Rattan
Encl. Copy, of notice.
Hafiz Abdul Majid Sahib, O. B. E., I. C. S.,
Chief Secretary to Government West Punjab, Lahore.
Copy with a copy of the notice to the Chief Secretary to Government, East Punjab, Camp Jullundur for information.