Tales of Abductions.
Statement of Shrimati Viranwati, Daughter of Shri Sewa Singh aged 16/17 years, village Ilbhagwan, Tehsil Mirpur, to the Chief Liaison Officer, Lahore.
About 2½ months ago a Muslim mob attacked my village. My father and mother were killed in this attack. Nawab Pathan one of the raiders abducted me and took me to Hoti Mardan. My younger sister Gian Kaur, aged about 6 years also accompanied me. The attack took place on the refugee camp at Mirpur where lots of people from the neighbouring villages were gathered. The raiders took away 4500 girls with them. From Hoti Mardan he took me to Maj Garhi. I remained with him for over a month. I was married to him at Maj Garhi. He was hiding me from place to place as the police was in search of me. The police afterwards caught hold of me and brought me to Rawalpindi and put me in the Camp. Nawab asked me whether I wanted to go back to India but I under fear told him that as my parents had been killed I would not go to India and thus agreed to the Nikah with him. In the camp at Rawalpindi there were 51 girls. These girls are from the Poonch State and from Kahuta Tehsil. This Camp is guarded by the police. This Camp is visited by those Muslims who are married to the girls lodged in it, but the police does not permit the girls to go with these Muslims.
Statement made by Sarjit Kaur, wife of Jaswant Singh, aged about 19 years, of Lahore, now residing at Mahalpur, Hushiarpur District, to the Chief Liaison Officer, Lahore
I was married only 10 months ago at Mirpur. My parents resided in village Janjit, which is at a distance of 30 miles from Mirpur. After my marriage I stayed for two months with my husband at Lahore in Krishan Nagar, Guru Nanak Road and went back to my parents. Since then I was with my parents at Janjit from where we shifted to Mirpur proper 4/5 months ago. It was on or about the 10th of Maghar (November) last when the last attack was made at Mirpur and the State forces gave way, leaving all the citizens at the mercy of Pathans. The whole of the public followed the military on the Bhimbar Road towards Jammu. Our batch consisted of 2,000 persons. Men and women, were separately kept in a small village Akalgarh, where we stayed for two days. After two days the Mohammedans and the Pathans led us back on the Mirpur Road. It took us two days to travel on the path. My whole family consisting of my father, mother, sister with four children, her husband, Lal Singh, and one sister-in-law were with me, when I was snatched away from them by one Mohammedan who was in the company of many military soldiers of Pakistan. He was also armed. Then I was kept by that man in village Haryawan for two nights. Then at about midnight he made me to walk from that place after covering a mile. When we were near Camp of Thathal I was snatched from him by two military persons and Mohd. Hussain, tonga-driver of village Kotian, thana Aurangabad, District Gujrat. It is nearly 20 days that I have been living in this village. With the help of the school-mistress I conveyed the message to Lala Avtar Narain this morning, who went and rescued me from the house of Mohd. Hussain, tonga-driver.
My family was deprived of the cash, gold and silver on the way and I was left with two golden churis which have been now taken away by Mohd. Hussain, tonga driver.
Statement of Harbhajan Kaur, wife of Sunder Singh, Shopkeeper of Alibeg, District Mirpur.
My father Harnam Singh belonged to village Balani, 8 miles from Sarai Alamgir in British Punjab. I was married to Sardar Sunder Singh, shopkeeper of Ali Beg 13 months back.
Four and a half months ago on account of communal disturbances I along with my husband, his father and mother, left Alibeg for Mirpur. The former is at a distance of two hours journey from the latter by lorry. With us came Sardar Mangal Singh, my husband’s uncle, his wife Bhain, his two young sons Iqbal and Jito, and his unmarried daughter Balwant, aged 14.
On the 11th of Maghar corresponding to 26th November Mirpur was set on fire by the raiders sin the forenoon. I along with the relatives mentioned above and others left our houses at midday for the refugee camp at a distance of one mile from Mirpur. We had hardly stayed in the camp for half an hour when the Dogras deserted the camp and about 27 thousand of the refugees in the camp accompanied them. We all marched towards Jammu.
We had hardly covered two miles when we were fired at by the raiders from their morchas. I did not see them and cannot say whether they were Pathans or other Muslims. Under bullet shots I proceeded on and missed my relatives. Balwant, with her younger brother aged 1 year was accompanying me. We were left behind by the state military who were on mules. We had passed the well of village Marel, two miles from Mirpur when we were surrounded by Muslims armed with spears, swords and axes and were stopped. It was dusk. We were taken back to village Marel. Here women and men were separated and kept in separate blocked up rooms. Balwant was along with me in the same room. I was taken away by Akhtar, Qudrat Ullah and Haider to village Sehutha. I was detained in the house of the father-in-law of Akhtar. Here I was raped by Akhtar and his wife’s brother Araf who had come from Mandi two days later. From Sehutha, I was taken to Mandi by Akhtar who was accompanied by his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Haider, Qudrat Ullah and one young lady. I was kept at Mandi for four days in the house which had been taken by Akhtar’s father-in-law. I was not molested at Mandi. Araf came to Mandi when I had stayed there for four days.
On 3-12-47, I was taken to Chapra village at a distance of ½ mile from Sarai Alamgir, by Araf and Haider, his sister’s son. We reached Chapra at 11 O’clock and stayed with Araf’s father’s sister. On the 4th, I was taken to Sarai Alamgir early in the morning. From Sarai Alamgir I was taken to Jhelum by Araf and Haider and stayed with Mst. Chanane sister of Araf in Bagh Mohalla in some school. We stayed at Jhelum for about two hours. From Jhelum I was taken to Gujrat in lorry. At Gujrat we stayed in a hotel for the night. Next morning we left for Lahore reaching here at about midday of the 6th December.
At Lahore I was kept at 14, Cooper Road residence of Mr. G. H. Lodhi, Barrister-at-law. Araf’s sister is married to Mr. Lodhi. She did not like the idea of her brother abducting a non-Muslim girl and marrying her. Mr. G. H. Lodhi arranged to deliver me to the Chief Liaison Officer.
Araf wanted to take me to the village in Montgomery district where he had his squares of land and stopped in the way at Lahore as he had to leave Haider with his brother-in-law, Mr. G. H. Lodhi.
I was temporarily deprived of my ornaments at Sehutha but was restored my ornaments when I left Mandi.
I did not know what had become of my husband, his father and mother. I was told that they were killed. My parents were presumably in Sitapur Biwabin, India. My father’s maternal uncle, S. Wasakha Singh is a resident of Amritsar near the Railway Station. He and his sons Balwant, Kartar Singh and Labh Singh are dealers in fruits and have carts for use.
Pakistan scheme to convert the younger women among those abducted.
CIVIL AND MILITARY GAZETTE REPORT
“A batch of 291 Hindus and Sikhs abducted persons including a number of children arrived at the Ganga Ram Hospital Transit Camp in Lahore on Sunday, February 29, from Campbellpur and Kunjah refugee camps. Seventy-six of these persons came from Campbellpur and the rest from Kunjah.
“These rescued women and children appeared to have been better fed and looked after than the previous group of 694 persons. They were clad in comparatively cleaner clothes and did not present an unrelieved picture of misery and starvation as the previous batch strikingly did.
“One of the women told a pressman that they had been supplied with improved diet in the Camp at Kunjah during last week.
“The Pakistan Government commissioned a regular force of Maulvis to work their magic on the “Younger and more acceptable” type of abducted women. The aged and infirm remained “unblessed.” No arguments and persuasions are spent on the latter to make Pakistan their home.”
Statement of Lala Sona Ram, son of Lala Narain Dass Batra, Opium Contractor, Kalabagh, District Mianwali.
I reached Lahore on the 21st of August to enquire about my brother Lala D. L. Batra, working in the Central Bank of India. I was accompanied by Mohd. Asaf Khan who called me ‘uncle’ and I posed to be a Mohammedan. When I reached Lahore there was not a single non-Muslim to be found moving about anywhere. I could not meet my brother at Lahore. I went to his house and found that portion of it had been burnt down and there was water all round. On the 23rd I reached Lahore railway station and saw a lot of killing being done by the Muslim goondas. Mutilated bodies of non-Muslims were being carried on stretchers by the Pakistan military men. We boarded the Frontier Mail on that day at 3 p.m. Between Gujrat and Campbellpur 5 non-Muslim passengers were done to death. We reached Campbellpur on the following day at about 6-30 a.m. From there I proceeded to Ghur Ghusthi where I had to leave my companion. I returned to Kalabagh on the 25th morning. I did not find any non-Muslim passenger in the train. It was being openly talked by the Muslims that no non-Muslim should be spared. When I reached Kalabagh I found some non-Muslims still living there. Piara Singh (Sikh) was in Kalabagh, but he was killed later on.
A refugee camp was started at Santpura by the district authorities. Piara Singh was put in the camp after his beard and hair had been cut. He was killed in the camp on the 17th September. Previous to it Sunder Mal Sawhney was stabbed on the platform at the Mari Indus railway station in broad day light. His family was at Mianwali and he was alone at the time of the incident.
Lala Jetha Mal was Assistant Station Master at Mari Indus. Every day after duty he used to come back to Kalabakh to his family by train. On the 13th September while Jetha Mal was going to his duty by train he was stopped, cut into pieces and thrown into the river.
On the 12th September, an attack was made on the non-Muslim refugees camp. One Ghumar entered the camp and with a knife (chhura) he wounded 4 persons (2 men and 2 women). The women died on the following day in hospital.
All this time I remained in my own house in the main bazar. I was told that it was now my turn. I thereupon moved to the house of the Sub-Inspector of Police and spent the night there. I then went to see Wahab Khan, an employee of Nawab of Kalabagh and asked him for help. He said he could not help me unless I embraced Islam. I was not prepared to accept this solution but Wahab Khan insisted that there was no other way to save my life. He then took me to the Nawabzada and told me to wait outside while he himself went to see the Nawabzada. The Nawabzada told Wahab Khan that I should not be spared and that I and my family would be finished as I was a popular figure. Wahab Khan urged that I should be allowed to be converted and that I and my family should not be put to death. The Nawabzada then agreed to the suggestion of Wahab Khan and said that I may be converted. At 10 a.m. Wahab Khan brought me back to my place. My family was living in my house. I always had the doors locked from inside and never stirred out.
The Nawabzada sent his man to fetch Maulvi Fakhar Zaman of Kot Chandana. After consulting the Nawabzada the Maulvi was sent to the Idgah Mosque. They also decided that unless I was made to lodge a report in the Police Station I should not be converted. A number of Muslims then came to my house and told me about this position. Khan Zaman tailor, Ghulam, Khawaja Mohd. Hussain and others came to me and they accompanied me to the Police Station where I lodged a report and signed it. I was then brought back to my house. Accompanied by my family comprising five sons, one daughter and my wife, I was made to go to the Idgah. There were about 4-5 thousand persons including women. Then the Maulvi made me and my family members read the Kalma and garlanded us. My wife accompanied by the children was taken away by the Muslim women present to my house and I was taken to the house of Nawab. Still the Nawabzada stuck to his view that I and my family should have been put to death and it was a bad thing to have converted us to Islam. At the Idgah, Maulvi Mohd. Zaman addressed the spectators and told them that they should give up the idea of killing me as I had been converted. Oil being told by the Maulvi that after my conversion I had become a Muslim and therefore was entitled to protection, the Nawabzada kept quiet but still he refused to meet me. Wahab Khan brought me back to my place and Maulvi Fakhar Zaman went to his village.
After 3-4 days of my conversion, Malli and Ghulam Hussain, Muslim goondas came to me and told me that my conversion could not be treated as genuine until I performed the circumcision ceremony of my 5 sons. I told them that I was prepared to have the ceremony. On the following day I was taken to a doctor where the arrangement was made and circumcision done. My eldest son aged about 15 years had also to undergo the circumcision. I entreated that he should at least be spared but nobody listened to me.
On or about 19th or 20th of September a second attack was made on the non-Muslim refugee camp at Kalabagh.
The camp was at that time being guarded by the Pakistan military and police but they did not check the attackers, or prevent them in any way. They remained content with firing in the air. The attackers belonged to Kalabagh town and the neighbouring villages. They were fully armed with rifles and daggers. They entered the camp. There was a large number of casualties and a lot of property was looted. After the attackers had gone away the Pakistan Military posted on duty started looting.
The non-Muslims in the refugee camp at Kalabagh were evacuated to Makarwal Colliery. On the way they were attacked on the bridge and a lot of looting by the Pakistan military and police took place.
The Nawabzada declared himself to be a protector of non-Muslims and in this garb he persuaded a large number of non-Muslims to leave their valuables in deposit with him. He did not give any receipts and whatever was left with him he has managed to retain up till now. He also received a large number of rifles, guns and ammunition. The attack on the camp was the result of his machination.
I am tendering herewith the camp pass given to me at Kalabagh. After conversion I was named Ahmed Said.
FORCIBLE CONVERSIONS (LYALLPUR)
The Hindus and Sikhs resident of Chak No. 23 W. B. requested Mohd. Hanif Shah, Superintendent, to arrange protection of their lives and property, and the Superintendent gave full assurance that he would do his best. On 27-8-47 in the morning again it was repeated by him, they were given full assurance of their safety. But in the afternoon on that day, it has been alleged that under the instructions of the Superintendent, the Muslims of neighbouring chaks collected and the Muslims of Chak 23 W. B. were ordered to stand around the chak. They gave the Hindus the threat either that they should embrace Islam or they would be killed along with their families. They said the womenfolk would be ill treated, their breasts, ears and noses would be cut off. On this they approached the Superintendent and reminded him of his promise. His advice was to embrace Islam and thus secure safety. So there was forcible shaving of the head hair and beards of the Sikhs from 7 to 10 p.m. and they all had to embrace Islam.
Note: (In some other cases, circumcision was also insisted on and performed in public).
FORCIBLE AND ILLEGAL MARRIAGES
Statement of Sh. Ram Piari alias Piari, wife of Amar Nath Arora, aged 20 years of Baddomali, District Sialkot, made to the Chief Liaison Officer, East Punjab.
“About 3 months back, my village was raided by Muslims and the village was set on fire and there was general looting. The Hindu population was asked to walk out with a promise that they would be given a free passage across the river Ravi towards India. When we walked out of our houses we were subjected to searches and all our belongings were taken away. They did a lot of killing. I was forced to accompany a Muslim whose name I do not know. Later at the asking of Labhu, a tongawala of Baghbanpura, I was taken over by him. Against my consent and at the point of dagger I was subjected to rape by Labhu. I was also deprived of my two gold rings, one gold necklace, one pair of earrings and about Rs. 8,900 that I had carried with me. After 7-8 days this Labhu against my wishes performed Nikah ceremony with me and used me as a wife.
FROM THE CIVIL AND MILITARY GAZETTE (OCTOBER 1947)
A senior Sikh Military officer was virtually ejected from a leading Hotel in Lahore on Wednesday night because Muslims present there insisted that a Sikh should not be allowed entry to a Public place in Pakistan, says a Press Note from the Office of the Deputy High Commissioner for India in Pakistan. This, the note continues, is an interesting sequel to the communal harmony propaganda of Mr. Ghaznafar Ali Khan, Food Minister of the Pakistan Government.
The Sikh Officer, accompanied by another Indian Army Officer, and two ladies went to this Hotel for dinner. He had been there hardly for ten minutes when the manager of the hotel approached him and said, “I admire your courage, but I am very sorry that the Muslims around here object to your presence”.
“The Manager, who was a European, was very apologetic about the attitude of the people, but he said it was advisable for the Officer to leave the hotel in order to avoid any unpleasant incident.
“The Sikh officer, much against his will, agreed to leave. Meanwhile, the other officer with him went around and talked to the people who had objected to the presence of the Sikh officer in the hotel, but their attitude was extremely unreasonable. They threatened to shoot the Sikh officer if he did not remove himself immediately.”
In connection with the above incident the author of “Inside Pakistan” has this to say:
“I personally verified the truth of the above report from the Manager of the Falettis Hotel, where the incident took place. The Press report might well have added that the Sikh officer concerned was a Colonel and had that day arrived in Lahore after guarding a convoy of Muslim Refugees from East Punjab and saving their lives several times on the road. The incident created a bad impression in Delhi where Muslims were and have always been welcome to the Maidens and Imperial Hotels and the Associated Hotels in Simla and elsewhere. From personal knowledge the author can say that but for the courtesy of the management of the Associated Hotels in Simla during last summer, several Muslim families and particularly ladies whose men-folk were in Pakistan, would have been murdered. The Sikh staff did everything possible to protect Muslim residents in the Hotels.”
MURDER OF PRINCIPAL BARTLAM (NOVEMBER, 1947)
Principal Bartlam of the Punjab College of Engineering and Technology, Lahore was neither a Hindu nor a Sikh. He was British, and had joined the College as Principal in 1945. He had been recruited in London by the Secretary of State and was signed on for a period of five years. On the establishment of Pakistan, Principal Bartlam decided to serve out his term, and the Pakistan Government was glad to avail of his services particularly as Pakistan would be sorely in need of engineers and the College was the premier Engineering and Technology institution in the whole of Pakistan.
The College had Hindu and Sikh Professors and Demonstrators, but they had all to migrate owing to the massacre of non-Muslims in August, on the eve of and soon after the establishment of Pakistan. Late in October, 1947, one of the Hindu Professors approached Principal Bartlam for permission to remove his personal belonging. This was resented by the Muslim staff and students as everything in Pakistan was considered to be the property of Pakistan. There was a strike in the College. Principal Bartlam, however, was adament that he would permit the Professor to remove his personal belongings. In the course of a disturbance Principal Bartlam was stabbed to death, so too the Hindu Professor, his son, and a servant of Mr. Bartlam.
HINDUS AND THEIR BELONGINGS
Statement of Mr. Sehgal, Assistant Liaison Officer.
On the 30th morning (30-1-48) at 11-30 a. m. Mr. Chaman Lal who had already secured a permit from the Custodian for the removal of his personal effects from his own house, went to collect his jewellery which was buried there on Ravi Road a little beyond the first bridge. Just as he had started digging with the help of two coolies, a police man came and stopped him asking him to get a permit in which removal of ornaments from the earth was specifically stated.
Mr. Chaman Lal returned to my office and requested that he should get the special permit for him immediately and help him to remove his jewellery. The permit was obtained from the Custodian and I accompanied him to his house. I found two policemen on duty, guarding the place where the digging had been started. I showed them the permit but they said chat unless their station house officer, Badami Bagh, ordered, they would not allow the permit to he operated. I went to the police Inspector, Naulakha Sadar who assured me that he would ring up S. H. O. Badami Bagh to send a constable to the spot to instruct these constables on duty to allow us operations. I went back but nobody came. The attitude of the policemen on duty was very offensive. One of them threatened the coolies who were with us.
Along with Mr. Chaman Lal I went to the officer incharge, Badami Bagh police station to show him the permit and get his permission to operate. He sent his Havildar with me to the Inspectors for orders. The Inspector, Mumtaz Ahmed told him to allow us to dig and put the ornaments and as a precautionary measure sent with us a. Sub-Inspector and another Havildar. I had already one with me belonging to the special guard provided to us by the Pakistan Police.
By then it was 4-30 p.m. whilst the digging was going on over two thousand men had collected, shouting, and abusing us. The ornaments were not found and the owner wanted that we should return.
The crowd had sticks, axes takuas, brick-bats and other crude weapons in their hands.
We were surrounded by them and they shouted slogans like Nara-e-Takbir, Allah-ho-Akbar and then “Marro”, “Marro”. One very hot-headed darkish man with small moustaches who appeared to be a refugee was very mischievous and was exhorting the crowd in the name of Quran not to let us escape with our lives.
Suddenly as we came upto the station wagon belonging to our Government, we were literally mobbed with sticks and brickbats and one of our party was consequently wounded. A huge brick was hurled at me from the front smashing the glass. My driver was badly pulled out and gear was put in neutral. All this happened within about five or ten minutes. Our murder was a question of a few moments then, and I advised the Sub-Inspector to open fire to which he did not respond, but he only kept on requesting the crowd not to kill us. I, in the circumstances, came out of the station wagon and addressed the crowd that they should be ashamed of their behaviour towards an officer who was there to do his duty. I was perfectly cool throughout, and perhaps it was on account of that attitude, that they took me for a Muslim Officer and a few of the mob shouted that they should not touch a Muslim officer on duty.
(The above is typical of many such incidents in which Hindus and Sikhs were obstructed in removing their property from Pakistan. Principal Bartlam of the Engineering College was murdered for the crime of helping a Hindu Professor to remove his belongings.)