(By Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain)
“I should like to say here that certain events happened near Jammu early in November which I regret very deeply. The Muslim convoys of evacuees were being taken away from Jammu when they were attacked by non-Muslim refugees and others and a large number of casualties were inflicted. The troops escorting them did not play a creditable role. I might add that none of our troops were present or had anything to do with this.” (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Speeches, VI, Publications Division Government of India, p. 165).
A self-contradictory speech by Pandit Nehru after 6 November 1947 massacre of Muslims in Jammu. On one side he concedes presence of Indian troops escorting Muslim convoys. On the other side he exonerates troops by pleading that they were not present.
Last days of October 1947 and beginning of November were the most turbulent in the modern history of Kashmir. During these days various areas of Jammu province were subjected to large scale genocide and ethnic cleansing. The acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing reached to climax on November 6 when entire Muslim population of Jammu city was asked to assemble outside the city so that their exit to Pakistan could be facilitated by the state administration. Once these unfortunate Muslims reached to specified area a reign of loot plunder and massacre was let loose upon them.
Twenty eight hundred were killed on spot, thousands were injured while some managed to escape and reach to Pakistan city of Sialkot via Suchetgarh.
The massacre completely transformed the demographic scene of the state in general and Jammu in particular. Census of India too attests the fact of ethnic cleansing of Muslim population of the state by depicting its decline from 78 per cent (1941) to 60 per cent (1961). Jammu, a district with forty per cent Muslim population in 1941 Census, reported only seven per cent Muslims in the Census of 1961.
These events didn’t get reported appropriately. Still mention of the genocide which was in no way less in fury and magnitude than the holocaust perpetrated by Nazis against Jews couldn’t escape mention within the contemporary discourse.
According to Ian Stephens, former editor of Statesmen, Delhi/Culcatta, “Half a millions or so, had almost totally disintegrated in the autumn 1947. About 200,000 simply vanished, being presumably butchered or killed by epidemics and exposure while seeking to get away; the rest had fled into Pakistani Punjab” (Ian Stephens, Horned Moon London: Chatto and Windus 1953 p. 138).
National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah too conceded the genocide. True to his reputations, he, however, put the blame on the victims themselves. In his speech at Jammu on 16 November 1947, he observed: “Jammu Muslims are to be large extent themselves responsible for what has happened to them, because though in a minority, they had, by their words and deeds, let their tongues in favour of Pakistan. But you murdered innocent barbers and washer-men who knew nothing about politics. How unjust it was to kill children and women who did not even know Muslim League or Pakistan.” (P N Bazaz, The Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir, Kashmir Publishing Company, New Delhi 1954 p. 332).
In the words of Prem Nath Bazaz, while the liquidation of Muslims was in operation in all its fury, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah held the victims responsible for their horrible fate. His only regret was that innocent Gujjar, barbers and vegetable vendors were also killed along with supporters of Pakistan. (P N Bazaz, The Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir, Kashmir Publishing Company, New Delhi 1954 p. 514).
Being an emergency administrator, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah himself should have shared the responsibility for the holocaust. He, however, organized a week-long freedom celebration (Jashn-e-Azaadi) in May 1948. (Ram Chandra Guha, India After Gandhi, PICADOR India, 2007, p. 76). While the process of annihilation of Muslim population was still going on such a carnival was nothing but a red herring to deflect attention of the Valley from ethnic cleansing of Jammu.
Former editor of Kashmir Times, G K Reddy while narrating his experiences in disturbed areas of Jammu mentions that, he had seen “mad orgy of violence against unarmed Muslims that should put any self- respecting human being to shame’. This included seeing armed bands of ruffians and soldiers shooting down and hacking to pieces helpless Muslim refugees heading towards Pakistan. Watching officials and military officers directing a huge armed mob against a Muslim refugee convoy hacked it to pieces in Jammu city. (Christopher Snedden, Kashmir The Unwritten Story, Harper Collins, Indian reprint 2013 p. 52-53).
After Jammu genocide Pandit Nehru rushed to Srinagar on 12 November 1947. In order to keep Kashmir people in good humor, he promised them plebiscite in his speech at Lal Chowk. Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah was so much mesmerized by presence of Nehru that he recited the famous couplet of Hazrat Ameer Khusru in honour of Nehru. Man Tou Shudi Tou Man Shudi, Ta Kas Na Goyed Baad Azin Man Deegree Tou Deegree (‘I am thee you are me, I am body ye my soul, let no one say from now on wards that ye are different and me different.’)
History repeats itself at this juncture it is in process of repeating itself. Members of a community in Jammu are getting armed in the name of Village Defense Committees. Most of those who constitute these committees are members of notorious communal organizations.
Security apparatus too remains intoxicated with communal virus and fascist ideology of Rastriya Soimsaiwak Sangh (RSS). Killing of innocent civilians in Gool last summer can be prelude to repetition of what Jammu experienced in 1947. Kashmir leadership has to respond to this situation and make sure that the genocide is not repeated. Negligence or indifference is nothing but collaboration by omission.
(Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain is an expert of law and teaches at the Central University, Kashmir.)
Courtesy: (Kashmir Dispatch)