We first tried to hide ourselves in a ransacked house, and saw a dead body of Sikh youngman in front of this house. As soon as we entered that house we saw three little kids hiding behind the kitchen wall. We joined them. Soon after that, two men entered the house, and they were holding long sticks in their hands. One of them saw us and said to his companion look at those “Nikian Nikian Jindaan”- little kids and left the house. I thought those men might come back and will kill us. My brother and I ran to the Ramlila Ground, and sought shelter in the huts of poor people. But these were not found safe. There after, we ran to a factory near railway lines, and saw some frightened men there looking for a safe place to hide. Some of them were carrying swords in their hands to protect their loved ones. Few young women were nervously running around to find a well to commit suicide. I felt for a moment that this place was not either safe. My brother and I jumped over the outer wall of this factory, and rushed to a near crematorium which was surrounded by dense trees and high grass. We both lied down in the grass beneath the trees. We were shocked to see some Muslim men were chasing innocent people there also, and were shooting them at point blank.
Later on, I learned through some published reports that Hindus and Sikhs of our town (Sheikhupura) were perhaps, after Rawalpindi and Multan, the worst sufferers at the hands of the Pakistanis fanaticism and cold-blooded murderous frenzy. The blow fell on us suddenly and swiftly-leaving between 10,000 and 20,000 dead in two days. The conspiracy that was hatched in Sheikhupura between the Muslim leagers, the civil officers, Police and Military for the extermination of Hindus and Sikhs of this town, and the district governed by it, is perhaps the worst on human record showing devilary on such a large scale. Mr. Karamat Ali, Minister in the West Punjab Government, and a resident of Seikhupura played an active roll in this conspiracy. All secret meetings were held with him to execute this plan. Pt. Nehru at the time, toured the West Punjab with Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, estimated the number of those killed in Sheikhupura at 22,000.
Statement of Mr. Ram Nath, Advocate, High Court, formerly of the Sheikhupura Bar.
The Sheikhupura Massacre
A communal riot had never taken place in the history of Sheikhupura. It was considered a non-Muslim stronghold. The town had a majority of non-Muslims. In the District the Muslims were 68%, Sikhs 20% and Hindus 12% according to the last census figures. But the Sikhs were the most important and formidable community in the District. They considered this district as their stronghold. The most important Sikh shrines of Nankana Sahib and Sacha Sauda were located in the District.
In these circumstances, even after the announcement of the Mountbatten Plan of the partition of India, Hindus and Sikhs did not evacuate that district. Rather, Hindus and Sikhs not only from Rawalpindi Division, but from the neighbouring districts of Gujranwala, thought it safer to come here. The tehsil and town of Sheikhupura were considered safe centres for non-Muslims.
Muslims officials and non-officials declared solemnly before and after the 15th August they would protect with their lives the life, honour and property of the non-Muslims.
On the 15th August this district of Sheikhupura had assumed an added importance. One of its citizens-a lawyer of the place, Sheikh Karamat Ali, rank communalist and a member of the Muslim League High Command-became a Minister of the West Punjab Government. He had his local enmities with the non-Muslims of the town, who opposed him in civic affairs and had dared defy him on several occasions.
The partition of the Punjab and the option exercised by the officers had removed every non-Muslim official. All the Magistrates were Muslims, the Police was also throughout Muslim. And above all, the contingent of the Boundary Force stationed at Sheikhupura was purely Muslim.
The Deputy Commissioner of the District was a weak-kneed, ease-loving Anglo-Indian.
He could be easily made a convenient tool, who while having no powers could be made to take up responsibility. It was under these circumstances that a temptation to sack the town of Sheikhupura could not he resisted.
On the evening of the 24th August, 1947 for the first time in the history of Sheikhupura a curfew order was imposed by the District Magistrate. At dead of night a house was set on fire. The Muslim Military watched as to who came to put off the fire, so that he might be shot down. Only two men could be shot by them in this way.
The night passed in harassment. Next day on she 26th August at 2 p.m. again without any cause, curfew was imposed. The petrol pump-wallas were summoned. They were ordered forthwith to give all the petrol as emergency had arisen. The whole of the day of the 23rd and 24th Muslim shopkeepers in the vicinity of Hindu and Sikh shopkeepers had been removing their merchandise to safer places.
Under Section 144 no vehicle could enter or go out of Sheikhupura without a permit.
With the imposition of the curfew, the Magistrate (Qazi Ahmad Shafi) leading the Military started from one - end of Sheikhupura known as Akalgarh and began to march through the whole of old Sheikhupura abadi. Their work was very systematic and done with military precision. They systematically killed all men and old women, abducted young girls. A second party followed looting the property and setting fire to the houses of non-Muslims. Some Hindus and Sikhs strangled their girls and threw them into wells to save them from dishonour.
In one of the places called the New Ihatas all the Hindus and Sikhs were gathered, women-folk in one line and men in the other. Before the very eyes of the parents, brothers and husbands, the young girls began to be selected. When one of the young men objected, the whole lot of the men standing there was shot.
The worst killing took place in one of the Sikh rice factories of Sheikhupura. People were told that firing was now over and that they should go into the refugee camp situated in that factory. They went there each with a suit-case and a bedding containing their most valuable belongings. The same occurrence was repeated at that place. Men and women were made to stand in separate lines. Women were selected after being subjected to most insulting examination and men shot down in large numbers. Bren guns and sten guns were used for this mass murder.
At another place, people were told that they could escape, if they deposited a sum of Rs. 50,000. But the two men who collected the amount and went to hand it over to the authorities never returned. The money was taken away and they were shot.
In one of the Mohallas known as Guru Nanakpura, one pucca-built concrete house of a famous Hindu which could not be broken open was bombed.
History will not ever find on record a worse case of Genocide than this.
This went on till 4 p.m. on the 26th August. About 10,000 men had been shot. Truck loads of girls had been removed. At about 4 p.m. that day some leaders like Diwan Chaman Lal and Sardar Bhupinder Singh Man came accompanied by Mr. Qurban Ali, the Inspector-General of Police, West Punjab. They had a clue from two or three persons who managed to escape in an escorted bank lorry on the morning of the 25th. And this orgy of bloodshed was thus stopped. Out of 15,000 non-Muslims, some, about 1,500 were later gathered in the refugee camp. Some days after, when the Deputy Commissioner visited the camp, one of the Hindus well-known to him dared to ask if he could stay in Pakistan. The reply of the Deputy Commissioner was, categorically “No”. He further said, “It is the policy of the Pakistan Government not to let any non-Muslim remain in Pakistan. They will get no protection.”
This massacre of Sheikhupura had played a great part in purging Western Pakistan of its non-Muslim population.
Translation of the verbal statement of Sardar Gurdial Singh, Tehsildar of Sheikhupura up till 20th August, 1947 and later posted at Zira (Ferozepore District).
Amass meeting of Muslims was held at Sheikhupura on the Cattle-fair ground on about the 8th or 10th August, 1947 under pretext of praying for rains, which were scarce in that part of the year. But in reality in this meeting instructions had been given to Muslims by the Muslim League leaders and officials for the attack on Hindus and Sikhs, which came a little later. Muslims were very secretive about what transpired at this meeting. Nothing could be got out of any Muslim about its proceedings. I tried my Muslim orderlie, but he put me off. It was apparent after this that something was brewing. We guessed its nature, but we naturally could not know the details of the Muslim programme. All Muslims E. A. C’s at Sheikhupura stopped coming after the date of this meeting to the Club of which all Gazetted Officers were members. They instead met in the evenings separately somewhere. Here they presumably perfected plans of the attack on Hindus and Sikhs which came about a fortnight after this meeting.
I met after this meeting Disney, the Anglo-Indian Deputy Commissioner, and told him about the panic felt by Hindus and Sikhs at the contemplated Muslim attack. But he only gave vague assurances that all was well. But we felt that all was not well.
I accidentally saw in the secret drawer of the D. C’s Indian Christian stenographer a long list containing the names of all prominent Sikhs of the town and of some Hindus. This was marked ‘Confidential.’ I was at a loss to guess what this list could have been made for. It was very unprecedented that any confidential or other list about the town should be made without my knowledge, as I happened to be the Tehsildar and one moreover, who had enjoyed the D.C’s confidence. But this one was naturally not shown to me, as these were the names of the victims who were marked out for murder on some prearranged date. This conspiracy was obviously hatched by Muslims with some knowledge and probably with the complicity of the D.C. I naturally told about what I had seen to Hindus and Sikhs, and all got forewarned.
On the 19th August Haq Namaz Khan, Superintendent of Police, who came from Gurdaspur, passed through Sheikhupura on his way to Sargodha, where he was now posted. I saw him standing outside the D.C’s house, inciting Muslims to kill Hindus and Sikhs. His propaganda went obviously a long way towards precipitating the attack.
Prominent Hindu and Sikh citizens met the D. C. and asked him what arrangements existed for the safety of their life and property. The D. C. told them that he could not guarantee no incidents, and that a serious situation was developing, which was obviously a fact.
On the 20th the Muslim Officer who was to relieve me arrived and I handed over charge of my office to him. I asked the D. C. to give me enough petrol to carry me to the border of Amritsar district but he refused to give any. In this situation I did not know how I could ever get out of Sheikhupura. All supply of petrol to non-Muslims was stopped, so there could be practically no evacuation. Petrol was issued only to Muslims who were dumping it for purposes of arson, as was clear five days later when rioting broke out.
On the 20th August an order was made prohibiting the going of vehicles outside the Municipal limits of Sheikhupura without a permit. This order covered all kinds of vehicles including carts etc. I was, therefore, necessarily stuck up at Sheikhupura.
On the night between August 24 and 25 there were cases of arson in Gurdwara Bazar, in non-Muslim shops and houses. Before this, military had paraded in the town for 4 or 5 days. False alarms had been raised of a Sikh attack in Changar Mohalla, a Muslim locality. This was a ruse to impose curfew, which was imposed on the 24th. Immediately after curfew was imposed, on the 24th August night arson occurred with police help, while Hindus and Sikhs were shut up in their houses. Hindus and Sikhs who came out of their houses to extinguish these fires, were shot at. Non-Muslims asked the D. C. to lift the curfew, as in its presence Muslims committed crimes, but that of course was not done.
On the 25th August I saw two Muslim Magistrates going into the house of Seikh Karamat Ali, West Punjab Minister, whose house as a matter of fact was the centre of this entire anti-Hindu-Sikh conspiracy. On the 25th there was a good deal of coming and going at Karamat Ali’s house, and everywhere in the town brisk preparations were going on for the attack on non-Muslims which came that very day.
Towards mid-day attack was made by Muslims on the Sikh quarter of Ramagarha with a population of 1,200. I myself noticed huge fires in this area and he attacked Sikhs’ attempts to escape the flames. Sikhs, however, soon after rallied and met the Muslim onslaught. The huge Muslim mob was followed by the military, who were there to cover up the mob. The Muslim mob retreated when the Sikhs put up stiff resistance. The military, which had not yet come into action, goaded back the retreating Muslim mob for a second attack. But again the Sikhs fought back and the Muslims retreated.
Now, at about 2 p.m. the military took up positions to attack the Sikhs. There was a fight between Sikhs and the military for 2 hours. It was, however, a very unequal fight, though the Sikhs fought bravely. By 5 p.m. the entire area of Ramgarh had been devastated. Many Sikhs had been killed under the heavy military fire.
After this the Muslim mob spread out in different directions for attack. Its number had now tremendously gone up. Street after street was surrounded by the mob, military and the police in large numbers. Wherever the military came, the attack was intensified. A large part of the town was burned. Looting was enormous and incalculable. The total number of those killed may be between 14,000 and 15,000. The looting, murder and arson stopped only on the evening of the 26th August.
On the 25th August night when the main bazar was burning, the D. C. was present, but he did nothing to prevent destruction.
Hindus and Sikhs had collected in various places for shelter, as in Gopal Singh’s factory, in Atma Singh’s factory, in the Namdhari Gurdwara etc. The military mopped them up in large numbers there, with rifle fire arid with machine guns. 3,000 were killed in Atma Singh’s factory. Here women were molested. One Sikh resisted this; he was immediately shot dead. Swami Nand Singh, leader of the joint Peace Committee of Sheikhupura, was shot dead by his ex-comrades of this Committee.
Inside the compound of the Namdhari Gurdwara two wells were filled with the bodies of such Sikh girls as had immolated themselves by drowning to escape dishonour. Two other wells were similarly filled.
When this carnage was proceeding, Ahmad Shafi, Section 30 Magistrate, tauntingly told Lt. Col. Dr. Surat Singh to convey to the Sikh leaders that Muslims had done in Sheikhupura in two days what Sikhs might not be able to do in their entire history.
4. THE SHARAQPUR MASSACRE
Sharaqpur is a municipal Town and a Sub-Tehsil of District Sheikhupura. It is twenty miles from Lahore situated on the main Lahore-Lyallpur Road.
Its population was ten thousand consisting of 10% Hindus and Sikhs.
Leading Muslim Leaguers of the city gave us assurance by oath of holy Quran for protection.
As advised by Mahatma Gandhi and believing the false assurance of Mr. Jinnah we determined to continue in Pakistan.
Suddenly on 27th August, 1947 we met with unprecedented brutality.
At 9 a.m. on that day a party consisting of the following men:
(1) Mr. Fazil Ilahi Kahli (President, Muslim League).
(2) Mr. Mohd. Rafiq s/o Khair Din (Secretary, Muslim League).
(3) Mr. Mohd. Rashid s/o Khair Din (Secretary, Muslim League).
(4) Mohd. Shafi Bhatti (member, Muslim National Guard).
(5) Ibrahim Kasuria (member, Muslim National Guard).
(6) Haji Mohd. Sharif (Partner of Sharaqpur Bus Society).
(7) Shapha S/o Mohd. Sadiq Bharo Motor Driver.
(8) Ch. Sadar Din, Sub-Inspector of Police.
(9) Mr. Chima, Assistant Sub-Inspector.
(10) With four constables, armed with guns, rifles 303 and sten guns, attacked the non-Muslims and began to murder Hindus and Sikhs, with brutality which cannot be expected from a human being.
It is necessary to mention here that there was not a single man from outside among those brutes. They did not even spare the Government employees, i.e., Mr. Tek Chand Nanda, Second Master, Government School, Sharaqpur was thrown off his house and shot dead. L. Moti Ram Gulati (a vendor) was first maimed and later on shot dead.
L. Labha Ram Sethi Lumbardar’s eye-balls were removed and later on he was thrown alive into Deg Nala.
Small children were struck against the walls and some were cut into pieces.
Total number of those escaped from those brutes was seventy-one out of one thousand. All were left penniless.
Fifteen girls were abducted and whole property of Hindu-Sikh minority was looted.
All the corpses were removed by lorries to Deg Nala.
After that gold and jewellery worth three lakhs recovered from Ch. Sadar Din, Sub-Inspector by the higher authorities and was deposited in the Treasury of Pakistan.
Now our Government have recovered only three out of the abducted girls because Pakistan Government does not agree to surrender the remaining twelve.
Another fact which I want -to tell here is that most of the assailants were Khoja Mohammadans and they had given us assurance with the oath of holy Quran for protection.
Sd. Hans Raj Gulati. Medical Practitioner, (Municipal Commissioner of Sharaqpur) Now at Panipat, District Karnal.