Throughout their stay in India the British followed a policy of divide and rule. They did everything in their power to create hatred and deep division between Muslims and Hindus. This policy helped along by others over time culminated in the Partition of India and the biggest mass slaughter in the history of the sub-continent. Millions of unfortunate people were uprooted and tried to migrate by train, carts, and on foot. Personal stories like witnessing burning properties, abduction and rape of girl’s family, killing of people ambushes and the long convoys and their arrivals at strange places.
Originally Jullundur was to be a part of Pakistan but when the foundries were drawn Jullundur was given to India as soon as the report was out Hindus and Sikhs rushed out brandishing whatever weapon they could find to slaughter the Muslims. The muslims had no choice but to leave in great haste with only the clothes they had on and with whatever little they could carry they did their best to get to Pakistan in safety.
My grandparents were in Sungroor where the Maharaja had asked him to move to the High Court along with his household. When the Sikhs learnt of their whereabouts they began to position a canon outside the High Court to blow up the building. The Maharaja sent armed guards and trucks to take my grandparents and their family across the border.
Relatives in Jullundur did not have such a lucky escape. One family waited for night-time and then left their house with their four sons on foot. The two older boys, aged 12 years and 13 years, got lost in the mayhem . The younger two were being carried by their parents. They joined thousands who were fleeing for their lives. On their journey they saw decapitated bodies, hands, and legs lying in the dust, screams rising to the skies or old and feeble and weary, like driven cattle ploughing their way to safety. After walking for hours and hours the couple had blisters on their feet and they had to put their two boys down with food, water or shelter they felt that it was impossible to carry their sons any longer. Numb with exhaustion, heartache , the parents decided to abandon their children. They could all drop by the wayside but what if the older boys reached Lahore and had no one to look after them. Before they could do the unthinkable a kindly gentleman offered to carry the boys on his donkey.
When they finally reached Lahore they stayed in a refugee camp and later moved into a house in Srinagar. Six months after their arrival the family was re united with the older offspring’s. The older boys had been kidnapped by Hindus but managed to escape and reach Lahore.
Other relatives were not so lucky, being diamond merchants they managed to book a whole train from Amritsar to Lahore. Anyone who could joined the train in the hope that they would arrive safely on the other side. It was not to be so, when the train arrived in Lahore it was reeking stale blood and was littered with body parts. The Sikhs had attacked the train soon after it left Amritsar station, all the passengers,save four your girls, were killed. These four girls were being taken back to Amritsar as luck would have it a United Nations jeep passed them and the UN representatives stopped the Sikhs because they realized that four burqa clad girls were muslims. The girls were rescued and brought to Lahore.
Those who suffered and saw the carnage were always reluctant to talk about their nightmarish experiences. Tears would fill their eyes and these people would instead talk of the life they had in India. The pain of separation was buried deep within them. The loss of home, family and friends was too great to be forgotten. Those cherished Hindu and Sikh friends who could not or would not help them still had place in their hearts.
Writing this piece I realize how fortunate I am to be living in a time when all this had become a distant memory and no matter how much we criticize and find fault with Pakistan, it is our home and no one can take this sense of belonging and security away. May the souls of all those who lost their lives in death or by migration, so that we could have our own identity and homeland, rest in peace forever. Aeimen.