Partition riots: A Sikh remembers with sorrow how his village attacked Muslims
An excerpt from Kavita Puri’s ‘Partition Voices’, which mines the memories of Partition survivors now living in the UK.
As Muslims left the surrounding villages, looting took place of their houses. Swaran was part of these raids, but says he never took anything. Jasso Mazara was on the road where many refugees passed by, heading for the camp. Swaran says he saw two or three Muslim women who were on their way there with their families, forcibly taken by elderly Sikh men. He remembers the girls crying, but they could not put up a fight. He says the men who abducted them were not from his village, he did not recognise them. The Indian Army seeing these incidents just fired into the air, they did nothing. No one saved these women. Swaran has no idea what happened to them.
Both sides did these things he tells me. Muslims wanted to brand “Pakistan Zindabad” – Long Live Pakistan – on women’s bodies and their chests. His future wife was a girl of ten at the time, travelling from Montgomery district in western Punjab, with her family in a truck towards India. She told Swaran years later that Muslims were going through the vehicles looking for girls. She was hidden by her family in the gap between the trunks in the boot. They are doing things with these ladies, Swaran says. Then he stops.