This book is intended to reveal the grim and tragic story of the uprooting of more than seven million Hindus and Sikhs from their homes in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind and in raider-occupied Kashmir. The outlines of this story are well-known all over the world, and have formed the subject of debate before the representatives of the major portion of mankind, assembled in the United Nations. This biggest mass migration of humanity in history under extreme duress has received the attention and active sympathy due to it from the rest of India, and the world is keenly aware of the existence of this large portion of uprooted humanity.
What, however, is not very well-known or fully borne in mind is the fact that this tragic migration was the last culminating episode in a conspiracy that had been under planning for more than a decade before it actually occurred-the conspiracy of the Muslim League in India to establish a Muslim State which should not be encumbered with any such non-Muslim populations- as, would be a likely factor in diluting to any extent its purely Muslim character.1 This conspiracy needs being unmasked by recalling the history of the Indian Muslim League over the period in which its inception and maturing occurred-so that responsibility for this tragedy is fixed where it properly belongs.
Muslim League propaganda has sought to blame the Punjab happenings of 1947 on the Sikhs and in a secondary degree on the Hindus. A distorted and fragmentary picture, drawn up with completely bare-faced lying, has been presented to the world of a Sikh “Plan”2 to attack and drive out Muslims from the Punjab. And for a time a part of the world swallowed the lie, and the Sikhs got an unenviable reputation. But the pendulum of opinion slowly swung round in the right direction, and the Sikh name now has been fairly cleared of the supposed crime of a “Plan” against Muslims. That the Sikh (and Hindu) attack on the Muslims in East Punjab was retaliation under terrible and unbearable provocation is now admitted to be a fact by all impartial people; though it is not known everywhere of what horrible nature, of what prolonged duration and diabolical character was the provocation offered to Sikhs by Muslims over a period of several agonizing months-beginning from December, 1946. There was a war unleashed by the Muslim population of the Punjab to cow down Sikhs, and as a means to that, to carry on among them a total campaign of murder, arson, loot and abduction of women. Sikhs passed through the experience of this war as a people for months; and not thousands, but millions of them were forced to quit their homes for safety in the process. Without a clear knowledge of this part of the story a just and balanced view of the situation cannot be formed.
The details of atrocities committed on Sikhs and Hindus given in these paces are not full or even a fairly large proportion of what actually befell. They are only representative episodes of what happened in a few villages and towns all over West Punjab and other West Pakistan areas. Imagine such things happening in thousands upon thousands of villages and hundreds of towns, and you will then be able to take in the proportions somewhat close to what the reality was-which, in the last analysis must, however, remain inexpressible in its full horror. The facts drawn upon are statements of sufferers of these horrors, recorded from complaints made to the authorities, from reliable press reports and from statements recorded with scrupulous fidelity and signed by those who made them, in the refugee camps in East Punjab.
Sikhs left behind their homes, the richest land in the Punjab, their factories and prosperous businesses, their holy shrines, schools and colleges-all under the pressure of the Pakistan terror, so that according to unbiassed estimates 40% (and these perhaps the most enterprising section of the community) were rendered refugees. They came out of their homes-hammed, despoiled and in unending trudging caravans. This vast human tragedy is too large even for the imagination to take in without the help of facts presented in a telling way.
This record is intended in the first place to rehabilitate the Sikh name, maligned by false propaganda of the leaders and press of Pakistan, and secondly to serve as part of the material for anyone who should set out to write a full history of the Punjab of these terrible 1947 months.
1The recent (1950) driving out of Hindus from East Bengal (Pakistan) is only the latest episode in this story.
2Two scurrilous pamphlets were published by the West Punjab Government (Pakistan) in 1948, entitled “The Sikh Plan” and “Sikhs in Action.”