The Forgotten Genocide

It is one of the least known genocides in modern history. Carried out with such precision, 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 generations

It is one of the least known genocides in 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 generations. Around 500,000 Muslims were killed with military precision. It was such an operation that language lacks words to express this offence of demolition of human being.
Though the targeted killing had already started in Jammu around mid July 1947, the operation got a fillip immediately after a fleeing Maharaja Hari Singh and his wife reached Jammu on 26 October 1947. An organised carnage was orchestrated to kill Muslims, wherever found or spotted in Jammu.
British daily The London Times quoting its special correspondent in India stated that the Maharaja, under his own supervision, got assassinated 237,000 Muslims, using military forces in the Jammu area. The editor of Statesman, Ian Stephen, in his book Horned Moon writes that till the end of autumn 1947, more than 200,000 Muslims were murdered in one go. Horace Alexander wrote in the Spectator (16 January 1948) that the killings had “the tacit consent of State authority” and put the figure at 200,000.
The Hindu Dogra ruler’s main aim was to change the demographic composition of the region by eliminating the Muslim population. Such was the intensity of carnage that in Jammu province about 123 villages were ‘completely depopulated’. Kathua district ‘lost’ almost fifty per cent of its Muslim population. Thousands of Gujars were massacred in mohalla Ram Nagar. Village Raipur, within Jammu cantonment area was completely burnt down. The Dogra state troops were at the forefront of attacks on Muslims. The state authorities were also issuing arms not only to local volunteer organizations such as the RSS, but to those in surrounding East Punjab districts such as Gurdaspur.

‘The London Times’ stated that Hari Singh got 237,000 Muslims assassinated in the Jammu area. The editor of ‘Statesman’, Ian Stephen, writes that by autumn 1947, more than 200,000 Muslims were murdered in one go. Horace Alexander wrote in the ‘Spectator’ that the killings had “tacit consent of State authority” and put the figure at 200,000

The state administration had not only demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers serving in the state army, but Muslim police officers had also been sent home. In the Jammu city, the Muslim military were disarmed and the Jammu cantonment Muslim Brigadier replaced by a Hindu Dogra officer. Muslims seeking refuge in police stations and/or Deputy Commissioners’ offices were openly handed over to RSS beasts by the Dogra officers themselves.
Meanwhile, Maharaja of Patiala was not only supplying weapons but also a Brigade of Patiala State troops were operating in Jammu and Kashmir, without whose help and assistance, the objective could not have been achieved with such precision. The Times of London reported the events in Jammu with such a front page headlines: “Elimination of Muslims from Jammu”, and pointed out that Maharaja Hari Singh was “in person commanding all the forces” which were ethnically cleansing the Muslims.
That there was a design to change the demographics is evidenced by another well-reported incident. Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehr Chand Mahajan, upon arrival in Jammu told a delegation of Hindus, which met him in the Palace, that now when the power was being transferred to the people they should better demand parity. When one of the delegation members wanted to know how that was possible, Mahajan, pointing to the Ramnagar natural reserve below, where Muslim corpses were still lying said, “the population ratio too can change” like that (“Elimination of Muslims from Jammu” II, The Times, London, 10 August 1948, page 5. See also Ved Bhasin’s interview to Kashmir Life).

Both documentary and oral sources suggest that the crime committed on the Muslims was nothing less than an organized holocaust. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, who was appointed “Chief Emergency Administrator” on 30 October 1947 could not prevent the carnage. He writes in his autobiography Atish-e Chinar (page 312) that the carnage got impetus after the arrival of Union Home Minster Sardar Patel, Union Defence Minster Baldev Singh along with the maharaja of Patiala, a person known for his anti-Muslim bias, in Jammu. The trio met various Hindu organizations and delegations, after which the massacre attained a great momentum. Hindu fanatics, aided and abetted by government forces, started burning down village after village inhabited by Muslims. Women were raped at will. Weapons were distributed freely to marauders from the Kachi Chawni house of Pandith Prem Nath Dogra and motivated by Balraj Madohk.
On 6 November surviving Muslims were told to assemble in an open ground, to be sent to Pakistan, herded in trucks like cattle and killed mercilessly with machine gun fire between the Digiana and Samba belt. Women were abducted and raped. Even the daughter of the legendary Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas was not spared. Many women preferred death than falling prey to the cruel beasts who wouldn’t tire calling themselves as secular people.

On the ground, the killing operations were organized, directed and supervised by Maharani Tara Devi in league with her debauch Guru Sat Dev and the governor of Jammu, Chet Ram Chopra. At the politico-administrative level, Sheikh puts the blame solely on the Dogra ruler Hari Singh and Prime Minster Mahajan. At one point of time, Sheikh had even thought of initiating action against the duo for crimes against humanity (Atish-e Chinar, page 331). But why didn’t he translate his thoughts into action remains shrouded in mystery. Did he surrender this right before Sardar Patel as quid pro quo for prime ministership which came his way in March 1948? As is generally known, the government of India and the Dogra ruler were only interested in conceding him a limited role in a “Mysore type of government”. But later this plan was changed and Sheikh was offered full fledged prime ministership. Or was it a result of coercive pressure applied by Patel on Abdullah to imprison his close relative caught red-handed of theft of valuable jewellery in Maharaja of Indore’s (known as Holkars) palace where he was employed?

The other aspect of the carnage was appropriation of properties of Muslims. The Muslim names were immediately erased to conform to new ownership. For instance Urdu Bazar became Rajinder Bazar and Islamia School became Hari Singh High School to conform to the new “ownership”. Almost 95 percent of left-over properties which should have in the normal course been taken over by the state government were allowed appropriated by looters and rioters (Daily Telegraph of London dated 12 January 1948).

These properties continue to be under the illegal occupation of looters and their descendants and it is precisely for this reason that the Resettlement Bill faces a stiff opposition in Jammu fearing vacation of such properties under a due process of law. Even Indira Gandhi expressed such fears in Jammu in her 1983 election campaign.

Another incident needs a mention here. When Hindu refugees from Muzaffarabad and surrounding areas reaching Kashmir, desired to be sent to Jammu or Punjab, local Muslims motivated Kashmiri tongawallas (horse-cart drivers) to transport them to Jammu against heavy odds. Initially 22 tongawallas were hired. They were later joined by many others from the Khannabal-Qazigund rural belt. On return all these poor tongawallas numbering around 90 were massacred near Nagrota. Their only fault was that they made Hindu refugees to reach their destinations safely.

What makes this holocaust unique is the complicity of State on the one hand and the exemplary treatment of Kashmiri Muslims to its minorities on the other hand, given the grave provocation of Jammu genocide. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was so disgusted with the carnage that on two occasions (27 November and 25 December, 1947), he made mention of it in following words:
“The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside (referring to RSS goons from Gurdaspur and surrounding areas) killed Muslims there. Their women have been dishonored. This has not been fully reported in the newspapers. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what has happened there” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, volume 90, page 115 and 298). It is no wonder, then, that when Gandhi was killed by an RSS supported Hindu fanatic, sweets were distributed throughout Jammu in special thalis supplied from the Maharaja’s Palace.

But there have been some valiant efforts on the part of a few Hindus also who tried to save the caged Muslims in Jammu those days. The names of Krishen Dev Sethi, Ved Bhasin etc top that list. But such instances have been few and far.

Source: Kashmir Reader



About Al Shaheed

writing wounds without the trace of blood
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