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Remembering Rawalpindi

- Ramanjit Singh

The Partition violence did not start in summer of 1947. It had started way earlier in December of 1946 in NWFP and later in March of 1947 in Rawalpindi, Punjab. The victims were Hindus and Sikhs. The massacres in Rawalpindi district has been well documented here.

Author Bisham Sahni, brother of actor and writer Balraj Sahni, wrote this in his memoir "Today's Past" and in his book "Tamas" about the killings of the Sikhs and Hindus in the Rawalpindi District in March 1947 as one of the most heart wrenching event in the Partition saga. He had visited Thoha Khalsa and this event deeply affected him and Balraj Sahni till the rest of their lives. From his memoir:

Rawalpindi massacre to us, Sikh and Hindu Punjabis, remains as the saddest moment in our contemporary history. When we think of Rawalpindi, we are reminded of the permanent fissure that separates the two countries. The pain is something that cannot be forgotten nor the relations between India and Pakistan can ever be bridged. We can try but the pain is so deep that is hard to forget or forgive what happened in Rawalpindi.

Rawalpindi was planned "direct action" against the non-Muslims. Organized by the Muslim League goons and the armed militia from Murree. It was planned to teach the Sikhs a lesson that we should not oppose the demand for Pakistan. People who attacked us were themselves converted Muslims who were Hindus just a generation or two ago. Such is the tragedy of Partition that the forefathers of people demanding Pakistan were themselves Hindus or Sikhs once, including Jinnah and Iqbal.

The violence against us was not in reaction to something Sikhs or Hindus did to Muslims in West Punjab prior to March of 1947. We were playing defence against the Muslim League's offensive game plan to force the Partition on us. They used this massacre as a means to create fear amongst the non-Muslims, to cleanse Punjab of the so called non-believers.

Bhisham Sahni's book "Tamas" was converted into a television series in 1980s. In this scene, thousands of Muslim tribesmen have surrounded Thoha Khalsa village and the villagers have taken refuge in the local Gurdwara. The men go out to fight the marauders, and seeing that the odds were against them, to protect their honor, the women jump into the well. These are true events.

The shabd sang by the women is "Soora so pehchaniye jo lare deen ke het"

Fight for the unprivileged and the weak, brave is he who fights for the weak. True warrior sacrifices himself to pieces, but does not give up the hearth, his community.

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