Map of village Karriala (also spelled as Karyala, Chakwal).
Manisha’s family is one of the only two Hindu families living in Chakwal district (the other lives in Kot Chaudhrian village located some 40km to the west of Chakwal).
Ravindar Kumar’s father Bhai Jaggat Singh (who was given a Sikh name due to the family’s devotion to Sikhism) was not only a landlord but also a Zaildar (an officer in-charge of a Zail, an administrative unit comprising 40 villages) during British Raj.
One could imagine how one can migrate to an alien land by relinquishing such a great social position leaving a vast agriculture land behind.
Jaggat Singh never wished to migrate but when his uncle Bhai Daleep Singh was assassinated by Muslim rioters, he surrendered to other family members and set out for Delhi.
“Life in Delhi refugee camp was painful for such a man who lived a luxurious life. This forced my father to come back,” tells Ravindar Kumar. But Jaggat’s two sons and wife refused to accompany him, he said adding that he had to return alone.
After returning from India, Jaggat resettled in Kariyala and contracted a second marriage. Although he managed to preserve his land, the high social position which he used to hold before partition was lost forever. He had two sons from his second marriage – Ravindar Kumar and Surindar Kumar.
At present, Surindar Kumar lives with his elder brother Ravindar Kumar.
Living in a thickly Muslim populated society, Ravindar Kumar and his family members observe Muslim, Hindu and Sikh festivals. “On the occasion of Eid, I decorate my hands with henna as my Muslim friends do. I visit homes of my Muslim friends and they too visit my home.
On the occasion of Diwali, my Muslim friends join me in the celebration,” says Manisha, but she adds hastily: “Had I been able to celebrate Diwali with my community, it would have been a different feeling.”
The other abandoned temple has been rented out to another Muslim family by Evacuee Trust Property Board and this temple has become a goat pen.
“Humanity should not be slaughtered at the altar of religion and we should take care of each other’s feelings,” says Manisha.
“It is very painful to bear the desecration of our temples but we prefer silence,” says Ravindar.