My Memories of 1947

After reaching Pakistan, we came to know that the only living brother of my grand father had joined Qafla on 5th November, 1947 and was never seen again. Further, a few persons who had gone with Qafla on 6th November, some how, reached Police Lines early morning on 7th November and informed Capt (R) Naseer (leader of Muslim Conference) what had happened to them. By the time a strategy could be decided, people had mounted the buses. Capt (R) Naseer passed by all the buses saying loudly, “Hurry up get into the buses.” But, at low tone, he kept on saying, “If you want to stay alive, come out of the buses.” Within an hour all the people came out of the buses. Then Capt (R) Naseer addressed the officers of Indian army present there, “Fire the machine guns fixed on top of the Police Lines and kill all of us. Why are you taking trouble of carrying the people to kill ? Thus, wasting petrol and time. Start the fire, I promise that not a single person will try to run.” That created a stir. Then Sheikh Abdullah was freed from prison and appointed prime minister of state. He delivered an emotional speech.

The gist was : “Muslims and Hindus of the state are brothers. Hence-forth, there will be no killing. I will go round and see myself that peace and tranquility prevails.” It is said that Sheikh Abdullah, before accepting premiership, had demanded that Indian army from Nabha and Patiala must be replaced by army from Madras who were known to be neutral. Two days later, Qaflas from Police Lines started reaching Sialkot without being attacked. My grand parents came to Pakistan on Sunday, the 9th November, 1947.

My Memories of 1947 – Part – 7

In last week of November, 1947, Sheikh Abdullah visited us in Jammu Cantt alongwith Additional District Magistrate of Jammu. I and my cousin were advised by the house lady to insist on going to Pakistan. On seeing us Sheikh Abdullah asked about me. I went near him, he lifted me on his arm and said, ”These 3 telegrams are from your father. If you want to join your parents, we will send you to Palestine but it is better that we bring them here and you live in your own home.” In the mean time my cousin started weeping and said, “All our relations have gone to Pakistan, we want to go to Pakistan.” I copied him. Sheikh Abdullah patted us and said, “O K. We will send you to Pakistan. Do not weep. You are good boys.” Then he said to the ADM, “Why don’t they shift to Jammu ?” He informed him that there was danger to our lives. (Father had sent 3 telegrams, one each to Lord Mount Batten, Governor General of India, Mr Nehru, Prime Minister and Sheikh Abdullah, to locate and send us to Palestine.)

Some days later, we were shifted under security cover to Jammu City and placed in the house of Col (R) Peer Muhammad. We arranged some money from the bank. Thus, we were able to purchase edibles and ate properly cooked food after about two months. We lived in there for about 2 weeks. During this period, accompanied by a Muslim Inspector Police and a few policemen, we visited our house. Every thing in the house had been looted. Suitcases and even G I sheet boxes had been taken away. What we found there was empty large G I sheet boxes and the Egyptian large brass-made double bed which had a beautiful brass canopy. On the floor were scattered papers of our property and family pictures. I and my sister collected all these papers and photographs but we could not bring those because of weight. We saw blood at two places, on the roof. (After reaching Pakistan we came to know that my father’s young cousin and a 16 year old son of a neighbour fell victims to machine guns of Indian army.)

A plan was made to send to Pakistan minor children and injured women, parents or guardians of whom were supposed to have gone to Pakistan. Thus, on December 18, 1947, six small buses with children (including us) and injured women started off to Sialkot. Total drive was about 40 Km. Sheikh Abdullah was leading this Kafla in a military jeep and the Kafla was moving under protection of army from Madras, India. Sheikh Abdullah and Indian army stopped at the border. The buses finally reached and stopped at Sialkot Cantt. In our bus, my sister was sitting near window and I was sitting next to her. On seeing our two aunts outside, we became very happy. However, their state of mind, that had been under persistent tension for about two months, can be judged from the fact that one of my aunts came near our bus and asked my sister calling my sisters and cousins name, “Baytee ! Have you them ? Have they also come with you ?” My sister said, “Chachi ji, it is me. It is me your niece.” Then we got down and hugged our aunts. They again asked, “Who are you ?” then they recognized us and started kissing us while tears rained from their eyes.

On seeing our aunts, we were very happy. However, their state of mind, that had been under persistent tension for about 2 months, can be judged from the fact that one of our aunts (whose children were with us) came near our bus and asked my sister Y, “Have you seen X, Y or Z?” She replied, “Auntie, it is me, Y.” It took our aunt some time to realize that she was indeed speaking to Y. Then we got down and hugged our aunts. They started kissing us while tears rained from their eyes.

My Memories of 1947 – Part – 6

Later, what the young man and old lady told us is: “The scattered Muslims in Hindu areas of Jammu city had been mostly killed by Hindus. Only very few lucky ones shifted to Muslim areas. The two Muslim areas where we and Asghar Khan (later to become Pakistan’s air force chief) lived became under siege of Sevak Sang, Mahasabha, Akali Dal and Indian army. Indian army had taken positions on top of high buildings around our home area. They fired on any Muslim coming in sight and kept on firing bursts with pauses. Muslims in Jammu city had no weapons after the search so they decided to stay in their houses, their past experience being that such quarrels used to be over in about two weeks. They made holes in common walls of their houses, so that they could move to each other without going out to street. At some points, however, they had to cross a street but surrounding was all Muslim population. It was also to enable exit to Muslim families in case Hindus attacked the houses.

Only few Muslims got killed during 3 weeks’ period. In spite of Indian army cover, Hindus did not dare to come near the Muslim areas. One morning, it was announced, on a loud speaker fitted on a Tonga, “This is a message from Col Peer Muhammad. Pakistan has sent buses to evacuate Muslims to Sialkot. All people desirous of going to Pakistan should gather in the Police Lines.” The Police Lines was on south edge of Jummu city near river Tawi, about 2 kilometers from farthest end of Muslim areas. Though Col (Retd) Peer Muhammad was a leader of National Conference (Congress equivalent) yet people believed in him because he was a Muslim, but that was a trap. Any person, who went to see the place, did not return. If somebody carried baggage, that was snatched on way by the Indian army. All the Muslims, except members of National Conference, reached Police Lines where they saw buses lined up with Pakistan flags on top. On Wednesday, 5th November, 1947 people were asked to board the buses and the first Qafla started off. Second Qafla, starting on Thursday, 6th November, 1947, traveled bypassing Jammu Cantonment. When it reached a forest near canal, the buses were halted. The passengers noticed Indian army at a distance on both sides. They thought it was for their protection. Soon they heard slogans, Jai Hind, Sat Sri Akal. Then appeared hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs carrying swords, Balums and daggers. The rioters passed though the Indian army line and headed towards buses. Seeing this, Muslims started jumping out of the buses. At that moment rifle / machine gun fire was opened by India army on both sides of buses. Men, women and children started running for their life. Many of them jumped in to the canal. While Balums (javelins) / swords / bullets pierced them.”

My Memories of 1947 – Part – 5

During disturbance days, the tap water being hardly sufficient for drinking, we could not take bath for about one month. On 6th November, 1947 (about noon), five boys headed by 18 year old son of Colonel, went to take bath in the nearby Canal. We saw clots of blood floating in the canal water. We got scared and rushed back. Reaching back, when we informed the people in the house, we were advised not to go out and not to open the outer door.

At about 4 pm, somebody knocked at the outer door hysterically. I was standing in the courtyard near the door. The lady of the house asked all the females to go to the rear room, send the boys out and lock the room door from inside. She directed the boys to give me cover and signaled me to open the door. As I opened the door, a tall young man in his early 20’s, wearing a sleeping suit rushed in, shouted, “Sab mur gayay (all are dead)”, fell on his face and fainted. I closed the door immediately. The other boys rushed to the young man, turned him over and two of them screamed, “Bhaijan (brother)! what happened ?” Somebody sprinkled water on his face. He got up, shouted, “Sab mur gayay” and fainted again. Then he was lifted by us and taken to the room and all children were ordered to leave the room. Only wives of the two colonels and the oldest boy remained inside. In the evening, we came to know that he was nephew of the Colonel who lived in Jammu city. They had started for Pakistan in Qafla in the morning (6th November). All family except him was killed. He knew the way to our residence and had come hiding and running. He informed that a Qafla had also gone on the previous day. This made us think that all our relations in Jammu were dead. So, we all started weeping and there was no one to console. We did not eat or drink anything. Next day in the evening, Colonel’s wife, still sobbing, consoled us and gave us some rice to eat.

A few days later, an old lady, a young lady and a teen-aged girl came. Young lady had a deep one inch wide wound in her neck which had become septic. They were, also, in the Qafla of 6th November, the Muslims in which were murdered near the canal. Old lady weeping bitterly said, “Rioters were picking young girls. I mother directed my daughter to jump in the canal and not take her head out. So, my daughter, a good swimmer drowned. My two son were murdered. My daughter-in-law, after being pierced with Balum, had fallen unconscious. I with my second daughter had fallen on the ground. Some people got killed and fell on us. We did not move till rioters were gone. We wandered for few days eating tree leaves / grass and drank stagnant water.”