Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947
Compiled for the SGPC by S. GURBACHAN SINGH TALIB
In Sind the Sikh population was not large, though the Hindus formed about 30% of-the population of the province. Out of the total non-Muslim population of 14 Lakhs, now
1 only about 2 lakhs are left in Sind, the rest having come to India as refugees. The turning out of non-Muslims from Sind is very amply illustrative of the naked policy of turning out of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan, for no other reason whatever except that they were not Muslims. There was a policy of systematic terrorization of Hindus. Their business premises were looted, their womenfolk molested, and the avenues of normal respectable life entirely closed to them. Thus, through terror and intimidation, within the period of less than a year twelve lakhs out of the fourteen lakhs of Hindus in Sind have been forced to migrate to India. This has happened in spite of the fact that in the words of Shri Mansukhani, Secretary, Sind Congress Refugee Relief Committee, New Delhi, not one single Muslim lost his life at the hands of Hindus in any act of retaliation or self-defence, not to talk of any act of aggression; but where from the first day of the birth of Pakistan, Hindus have been systematically done to death, by the knife, by the bullet. by the throwing out of the windows and doors of running trains. The object has been one and the goal clear. Pakistan has desired that it should be a theocratic state in the sense that all its citizens should be Muslims. This battle has been remorselessly waged on one long front of Western Pakistan.
Hindus’ houses were forcibly occupied, in Karachi and everywhere else, their property and land snatched from them, and no option left for them but to, seek a safer life free from unbearable indignities, in India.
Other portions from Shri Mansukhani’s article, quoted above. are: –
Soon after August 15, 1947, was organised the ousting of Hindus and Sikhs from their residences and business premises, from their agricultural lands and industrial concerns.
No Hindu’s house was his castle, he had to retreat at the point of the dagger and run away from the back-door. The Police of the Province and the War-time established Rent Control Department helped ‘legally’ to throw out the members of the minority community.
Traces of Hinduism Erased
It is not an uncommon phenomenon for prominent Hindus who are sticking on to the soil of Sind to be accosted while going about even on the main streets by Muslims and threateningly asked to either embrace Islam or go out of Pakistan.
Hindu passengers can travel by railway only for short journeys and during day time and that too at great risk of their lives.
Our Gurmandir in Karachi became lately the residence of Sydney Cotton, the smuggler of arms to Nizam’s Hyderabad of yesterday. Most of our religious places, shrines, temples and Gurdwaras have been occupied by Muslims. The scriptures have been destroyed and the valuables have been pilfered and safely appropriated. Some of these places have also been turned into mosques where the Faithful congregate and read their Friday prayers to Allah. All educational institutions are similarly occupied and converted into the Schools and Colleges for Muslims.
(The Tribune-January 16, 1949)
As for the Sikhs, their elimination and extermination began at about the same time as in West Punjab. By August all Sikhs in large towns had left Sind, and came over to the Punjab. It was not infrequent for trains carrying these Sikh refugees to be attacked on the way. On the 2nd of August, Sikhs were attacked in several villages in Nawabshah District.
On the 1st September, 1947 one train was stopped at Nawabshah, and the Sikh passengers attacked. Of these 15 were killed, and 17 injured.
The only Sikhs in Sind after August, were those in the interior-small tradesmen, pedlars and craftsmen. These began to be evacuated. Their condition was described in news agency reports as being extremely miserable and pitiable, as they could not ply any trade, and were in the last stage of destitution.
So much were the Muslims indoctrinated with the gospel of hate preached over years by the Muslim League, that on the 6th January, 1948, long after killing had stopped in East Punjab, a terrible massacre of evacuee Sikhs, awaiting embarkation for India occurred at Karachi. That this was no isolated incident of its kind in Pakistan is witnessed by the terrible Gujrat massacre of the 11th January, 1948, and the Parachinar massacre of the 23rd January, 1948. These three huge massacres of Sikhs and Hindus occurred in such quick succession at a time when all attacks on the Muslims in Indian territory had ceased three months before.
Certain details of this above mentioned Karachi massacre are of interest as revealing the conspiracy, cynicism and heartlessness of the Government of Pakistan, in the matter of getting Sikhs murdered.
As for the details of the massacre, the District Magistrate’s report from Karachi is reproduced below:
Communal trouble started in Karachi today when 184 Sikhs arrived from Shikarpur by the morning train. From the station they went to a Gurdwara near Ratan Talao. A mob of nearly 8,000 gathered on the arrival of the Sikhs and surrounded the Gurdwara and set fire to it, and started stabbing and killing and a number of persons2 were killed,
In the town of Karachi ‘there was looting in several quarters and there were four cases of arson.3
There was looting on the next day as well, in the houses of Hindus. The situation was described in ‘an appeal’, issued by the Editors of several Karachi newspapers as ‘appalling’ while admitting that some Muslims gave shelter to ‘the Hindu victims of mob frenzy.’
In the Gurdwara, where the massacre took place, women and children were also killed, as admitted by the Sind Premier in his statement.
The result of the disturbances of January 6 was described in ‘The Civil and Military Gazette’ in these words:
There was negligible loss of life suffered by the minority community (Hindus) compared to the looting that took place throughout the city The lives of members of the minority community (Hindus) were saved at the expense of their property.
About 10,000 Hindus had to be kept in refugee camps, and Hindus had to be evacuated early to India, to save them from being murdered by Muslims. Looting went on uninterruptedly. So bold and open was this loot, that police and employees of the Chief Court of Sind openly participated in it. The Chief Court building was used as a dump for this loot. The Chief justice, an Englishman, his patience exhausted, had at last to intervene and stop the loot from being stacked at least in the Chief Court Building. This was the limit of the collapse of the law and good government in Pakistan.
Further facts in the situation are:
(1) About 800 Sikhs were killed in Karachi and not 184, as stated in the Pakistan communique.
(2) Not a word of regret was expressed by any responsible person in Pakistan over this tremendous loss of Sikh life. The Sind Premier made only the insulting statement that the sight of these Sikhs ‘provoked’ the Muslims and only added the still more insulting directive that Sikhs be not brought to Karachi ‘in open carriages.’ The Premier’s statement also makes it clear that no police precautions were taken for the protection of these Sikhs, whose lives were evidently so cheap that any one was at liberty to take them without the Pakistan Government moving its little finger.
The Governor-General of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah, who sent a message of sympathy for the sufferers, did not so much as mention the Sikhs, who had been killed in overwhelming numbers. All that he said was that he had sympathy for the Hindus in their losses.
This was symptomatic of the attitude of the Pakistan Government, which did not regard Sikh life as worthy of any kind of protection and as meriting any sympathy.
The masses in Pakistan knew very well what their Government thought of any attack made on the Sikhs.
Jinnah’s statement was, furthermore an attempt to create a rift between Hindus and Sikhs, which the Muslims have been trying to, by posing to dislike the Hindus less than the Sikhs.
All these happenings occurred at a time when in India, Mahatma Gandhi undertook his last fast to get better treatment for the Indian Muslims. That was the response in Pakistan to the Mahatma’s gesture, and the faithfully carrying out of the Mahatma’s instructions by Hindus and Sikhs. Exactly when Delhi was being made safe for Muslims, in Karachi 800 Sikhs were massacred, and all Hindus looted and despoiled, had to move into refugee camps.
2These were Sikhs exclusively.
3This is the Pakistan report of widespread looting of Hindu houses that went on unchecked in Karachi for a day or longer.