All that we hear these days is Citizenship Amendment Act and the talk about giving citizenship to persecuted minorities. But exactly how much persecuted are they? For last few years, we have read news and tweets about individual instances of Hindus and others being killed in Pakistan and Bangladesh or Hindu/Sikh girls being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.
But has the persecution begun only in last few years? The answer is NO. A little sneak peak in history will tell us that even before Partition, the ugly reality of minorities not being welcome in Pakistan and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) had propped up.
It would be pertinent to glance over the terrible violence perpetrated against minorities around the time of Partition. The reader will get an idea exactly why the CAA has been passed and why minorities need help there. Punjab violence has been detailed in the report/book called Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947.
Hazara Massacre (December 1946)
In the province of Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), the Hazara district was where Hindus and Sikhs were barely 6%. It is believed that the impact of Direct Action Day in Calcutta in August 1946 had its impact in Punjab region. Militant Muslims were desirous of blood.
Attacks began on thousands of Sikhs and Hindus. Their houses were burnt, temples and Gurudwaras desecrated and people were killed. Women were dishonored, Villages and towns like Mohri, Dival, Akhroota, Pipal, Jaba, Gohra, Phulgara, Dhanak, Muhari, Karchhan, Malach, Dakhali Sair, Bafa, Sihalian, Samadhra, Jabori, Sankiari, Balakot, Bhata were under attack.
If the loot and arson was not enough, in Bhata 116 Sikhs were burnt alive. Similar incident of burning 115 Hindus happened in Malachh.
The result was that thousands of Sikhs and Hindus migrated to Punjab region. All their properties and belongings were looted.
Rawalpindi District Massacre (March 1947)
The Punjab government under Khizr Hyatt Tiwana fell after his resignation on 2nd March 1947. Anarchy was bound to break out in the absence of political control. Muslim League celebrated it as a victory day and leaders started to give provocative speeches.
After heated speeches in Lahore assembly and later in Rawalpindi, hordes of Muslim League mobs went around Rawalpindi attacking Sikhs and Hindus. Later, they turned to the Sikh majority villages in the Rawalpindi and Jhelum districts. Given no government existed, the mobs were free to kill, loot, rape and convert forcibly. Violence also broke out in Lahore, Amritsar, Jullundur, Multan and Campbellpur districts.
By the end of March, British numbers claimed 2,049 people were killed and 1,103 injured, most of them were Sikhs. The actual number may have been even bigger.
Gruesome Killings in Multan
Around the same time, violence broke out in Multan city and surrounding places. G.D Khosla in his book “Stern Reckoning- A Survey of the Events Leading Up to and Following the Partition of India” narrates the violence in Multan
Muslim mobs began burning down houses of Hindus and looting their shops. ”Le Ke Rahenge Pakistan, Pakistan Zindabad” (We will get Pakistan. Long live Pakistan.) were the slogans raised.
The most horrendous event happened when the mob entered the Shri Krishan Bhagwan Tuberculosis Hospital. The mob mercilessly slaughtered ALL the patients in the hospital and set the building on fire!
A respected gentleman and businessman Seth Kalyan Das was called out of his house and cut to pieces at his door. His palatial house was looted and burnt down. Entire temples and Gurudwaras were burnt down. Young girls were kidnapped and taken away.
Railways Filled with Corpses
August-September 1947 were the bloodiest months in history of Punjab. Persecuted non-Muslims knew they had no future in Pakistan. They began leaving for India. Already they left their lands behind, their paltry belongings only in their hand. But the tirade was not over. The mobs had an eye on the trains they were travelling.
There were hundreds of killings in railways. Trains were derailed and made to stop. Mobs used to enter to kill and loot. Women were taken away. We describe here a few such incidents.
- Kamoke Railway Massacre– 5000 non-Muslims were on their way to India in September 1947. Helped by Pakistani army, mobs entered the train and killed all the men. Almost 800 women were “distributed” as gifts among the attackers.
- Harbanspura Massacre– A refugee train with 1500 people was attacked in midnight. All the people were killed.
- Nizamabad Massacre– Nizamabad was a junction for trains coming from Jammu-Sialkot and Wazirabad. On the very day of 15th August 1947, a refugee train was stopped and 100 people were killed and another 200 wounded.
Post-Partition Violence against Minorites
Mobs didn’t stop after Partition. The minorities were persecuted even after Partition.
Sheikhupura Pogrom (26th August 1947)
This was the worst pogrom that was witnessed. A curfew was imposed at night in Sheikhupura. A well-coordinated attack took place by the Muslim mobs and army. The entire town was engulfed by the marauders.
By the next day, a staggering 10000 Hindus and Sikhs were killed. Their houses were looted. Trucks literally filled with young girls were taken away. It is said that wells of Gurudwaras were filled with dead bodies of young girls who preferred death over dishonor.
Sharaqpur Massacre (27th August 1947)
Similar modus operandi was used to zero down on Sharaqpur, a town having about 1000 non-Muslims. At the end, hardly anybody was left alive!
Massacre at Gujrat
Gujrat is a region in Punjab. In January 1948, about 3000 refugees were being escorted by an armed patrol party. It was attacked by Pathans and Pakistan Army. The entire armed patrol party was killed. Some 1600 refugees were killed in cold blood. Women were raped and abducted.
A similar attack took place at a refugee camp in Parchinar in January 1948. Some 500 refugees were killed.
All these were select few examples of the terrible violence that broke out against the minorities during Partition. Pakistan is a declared Islamic nation. The situation of minorities remained no different over the decades. Girls are being abducted and converted. Temples are being broken. Lands are snatched. All the way similar to 1947.
We are yet to document similar atrocities that took place in the East Pakistan side, now known as Bangladesh.
Now we ask. Is it wrong that Narendra Modi government has given citizenship to these persecuted minorities after they have faced so much attacks?