“Jammu Massacre 06 November, 1947 and mass migration to Pakistan”
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 2,37,000 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 2,00,000.
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 Ramnagar. 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 also to those in surrounding East Punjab districts such as Gurdaspur.
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 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 Madhok.
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.
Horrific Stories of servivers
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 October 1947 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, said 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 Samba 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.”
From the Archives,Webdesk KGN by Adil Ahmed.