It is one of the least known genocides in the modern history. It was carried out with such a precision that it is difficult to find its traces, except in the memories of the survivors, and the tales of horror they passed on to their next generation. It started on November 6, 1947. Nearly two hundred thousand innocent Muslims were slaughtered by Dogra army and extremists in Jammu region.
The genocide was carried out to cleanse the Muslims from Jammu region. The Dogra troops backed up by the extremists succeeded in pushing half a million Muslims to Pakistan administered Kashmir and Pakistan.
Rashid’s father, brothers, sisters, wife, and a son were slaughtered Malik Abdul Rashid, a survivor from Reasi, currently settled in Rawalpindi, says he was 22-year old when the carnage happened.
“Men, women, children were killed in the cruelest manner, maimed, intimidated. The carnage continued for several days. I lost my father, brothers, sisters, wife, and a son,” Rashid said.
“I lost all my dears; the genocide has haunted me all my life,” he said.
On 4 November 1947, when Dogra troops entered Reasi, two highly esteemed citizens of the town, Khwaja Amkullah and Chaudhary Aziz-u-Din rushed to the office of then Deputy Commissioner Thakur Gavinder Singh, complaining against the entry of the troops when Peace Committees, comprising Hindus and Muslims, were already in place to maintain peace. Both of them were shot dead in the office.
“People were mowed down with machine guns and swords during the night. And those who had survived were assembled in a field where they were put to death. Some women who escaped jumped into Chinab river to save their honour,”Rashid recounts.
“Khwaja Ali Muhammad of Bhadarwah who was performing his duties as a public prosecutor at Reasi went to a police station to save his life, but the duty officer, a Dogra, handed him over to the RSS men. They dragged him out and tortured him so much that he begged them to kill him than torture him. But the barbarians cut his fingers one by one and told him ‘we will send your fingers to Pakistan’. He was killed near the court premises in broad day light,” Rashid said.
Rashid said Maharaja Hari Singh orchestrated the carnage to eliminate Muslims from Jammu.“Muslims were not even allowed to have weapons for self defense, but Maharaja distributed arms to the marauders of his community,” he said, adding the killers were trained and armed in RSS camps for the genocide.
He said that Maharaja Hari Singh who fled from Srinagar to Jammu on 26 October1947 ordered his troops to kill Muslims everywhere.
“The carnage started in remote villages, and many Muslims fled to towns and district headquarters. But the killers were everywhere. Hundreds of Muslims committed suicide to avoid torture,” he said.
The killers kidnapped the daughter of legendary leader Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas, the prominent leader of Muslim Conference. Mistari Ahmed-u-Din hailing from Mast Garh Mohalla of Jammu himself killed his two daughters fearing the Hindu marauders would rape them.
On 4 November Muslims who had escaped slaughter were asked to assemble in a ground near police station in Jammu so that they would be driven to Pakistan in buses. On November 5 and 6, 1947, scores of buses, trucks and lorries, loaded with women, children and old men were taken into the wilderness of Kathua forests where Hindu extremists and armed gangs butchered them like chickens.”
‘MY 3 SISTERS WERE ABDUCTED, TWO WERE RECOVERED, SURAYA IS STILL MISSING’
Another Kashmiri migrant from Jammu, Muhammad Khan Naqashbandi, told Greater Kashmir that his mother was killed and three sisters were abducted by the marauders while they were traveling to Pakistan.
Two of his sisters were recovered, but the youngest sister Suraya was still missing. Teary eyed Khan said,“My sister is still missing and I don’t know whether she is alive or dead. I survived because I was studying in Lahore when the carnage occurred. No Muslim can forget that genocide.”Naqashbandi said the slaughter was well planned and rehearsed to prevent people from acceding to Pakistan. Muslims were slaughtered at Mavera near Samba on November 5 and the next day carnage was carried out near cantonment in Satvari.
‘OUT OF 6000, 250 SURVIVED’
Abdul Qayum Qureshi, a witness of the genocide, hails from Dalpatian Mohalla of Jammu. Qureshi told this scribe that the blood-bath of Muslims in Jammu province had started several weeks ago but the hunt against Muslims intensified when frustrated Maharaja of the state entered into Jammu on 26 October 1947 and ordered his troops to kill Muslims wherever they can be found. Mohalla Dalpatian was a Muslim majority area where thousands of Muslims from other areas had taken shelter.
“There was a big ground where these refugees were camping. Volunteers were guarding them, but everybody lived in a state of fear. The extremists and Dogra soldiers had besieged the area but they did not dare to enter the area. Muslim volunteers led by a former army official Captain Naseer-u-din defended the camp bravely,” Qureshi said.
Qureshi narrated the horrors thus:
“Meanwhile a fresh group of refugees arrived but the ground was full so they were accommodated in an empty Haveli (a mansion). But the killers had taken positions in a trench close to the Haveli. And when people entered the Haveli premises, the killers started indiscriminate firing, but the Muslim volunteers fought back. Then a Dogra official, Chetan Chopra, arrived with the message that he wanted to talk to Captain Naseer-ud-din. Around 4 PM Captain Naseer returned saying the administration has announced a ceasefire and assured that the violators will be punished. The ceasefire continued for seven days but the situation remained tense. On 5 November Muslims were asked to assemble in the police lines Jammu. I remember about 26 trucks and buses were present in the police grounds. People were ordered to board the vehicles so that they could be driven to Pakistan via Sialkot border. The Dogra officials circulated a rumor that these vehicles have reached Pakistan. We had absolutely no idea that they were butchered in the Kuthwa and Samaba forests.
On 6 November a caravan of refuges in buses and trucks was driven towards the border area. I was also part of this caravan. But after half an hour drive the entire caravan was turned towards Bisna. Around 11 AM all of us, about 6000, were dragged out of the buses. Then they fired at us indiscriminately. The bloodbath continued for nearly three hours; like other people I took refuge in a canal. People hid under thorny bushes and wherever they could. At 3 PM the Dogra officials asked the survivors to come out hiding so that they could be driven to safe places. Having no alternative we came out, and fortunately on the directives of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah we were later shifted to a refugee camp in Jammu. Only 250 had survived. My father was in the Valley and my two brothers were in Mirpur.”
The Massacre is long forgotten and lost in the memories of today. This massacre changed the History of Jammu Kashmir forever.