GENOCIDE OF MUSLIMS IN JAMMU -REMEMBERING 6TH NOVEMBER 1947
It is one of the least known genocides in the modern history. It was carried out with such a precision that it is difficult to find its traces, except in the memories of the survivors, and the tales of horror they passed on to their next generation. Around five lakh Muslims were killed with a military precision. It was such an operation that language lacks words to express this offence of demolition of human being.
Though the targeted killing had already started in Jammu around Mid July 1947, the operation got a fillip immediately after fleeing Maharaja Hari Singh & his wife reached Jammu on October 26th 1947. An organised carnage was orchestrated to kill Muslims, wherever found or spotted in Jammu.
British daily "the London Times" quoting its special correspondent in India stated that the Maharaja, under his own supervision, got assassinated 2,37,000 Muslims, using military forces in Jammu area. The editor of "Statesman" Ian Stephen, in his book "Horned Moon" writes that till the end of autumn 1947 , more than 200,000 Muslims were murdered in one go. Horace Alexander wrote in the Spectator (January 16, 1948) that the killings had "the tacit consent of State authority" and put the figure at 200,000.
The Hindu Dogra ruler’s main aim was to change the demographic composition of the region by eliminating the Muslim population. Such was the intensity of carnage that in Jammu province about 123 villages were ‘completely depopulated’. Kathua district ‘lost’ almost fifty per cent of its Muslim population. Thousands of Gujars were massacred in mohalla Ram Nagar. Village Raipur, within Jammu cantonment area was completely burnt down. The Dogra state troops were at the forefront of attacks on Muslims. The state authorities were also issuing arms not only to local volunteer organizations such as RSS, but to those in surrounding East Punjab districts such as Gurdaspur. The state administration had not only demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers serving in the state army, but Muslim police officers had also been sent home. In Jammu city, the Muslim military were disarmed and the Jammu cantonment Muslim Brigadier replaced by a Hindu Dogra officer. Muslims seeking refuge in police stations and/or Deputy Commissioner’s offices were openly handed over to RSS beasts by the Dogra officers themselves. Meanwhile Maharaja of Patiala was not only supplying weapons, but also a Brigade of Patiala State troops were also operating in Jammu and Kashmir, without whose help & assistance ,the objective could not have been achieved with such a precision . The daily Times of London reported the events in Jammu with such a front page headings: ‘Elimination of Muslims from Jammu’ and pointed out that the Maharaja Hari Singh was ‘in person commanding all the forces’ which were ethnically cleansing the Muslims.
That there was a design to change the demographics is evidenced by another well-reported incident. Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehr Chand Mahajan upon arrival in Jammu told a delegation of Hindus, which met him in the Palace, that now when the power was being transferred to the people they should better demand parity. When one of the delegation members wanted to know how that is possible, Mahajan, Pointing to the Ramnagar natural reserve below, where Muslim corpses were still lying said, ‘the population ratio too can change’ like that.( Elimination of Muslims from Jammu’ II, The Times, London, 10 August 1948, p. 5.-See also Ved Bhasin’s interview to” Kashmir life”)
Both documentary and oral sources suggest that the crime committed on the Muslims was nothing less than an organized holocaust. Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, who was appointed “ Chief Emergency Administrator” on 30th October 1947 could not prevent the carnage. He writes in his Autobiography Atish Chinar (page 312)“ that the carnage got impetus after the arrival of Union Home Minster Sardar Patel, Union Defence Minster Baldev Singh along with Maharaja of Patiala, a person known for his anti-Muslim bias, in Jammu. The trio met various Hindu organizations & delegations, after which the massacre attained a great momentum. Hindu fanatics, aided & abetted by Govt. forces, started burning down village after village inhabited by Muslims. Women were raped at will. Weapons were distributed freely to marauders from the Kachi Chawni house of Pandith Prem Nath Dogra and motivated by Balraj Madohk.
On 6th November surviving muslims were told to assemble in an open ground, to be sent to Pakistan, herded in trucks like cattle & killed mercilessly with Machine Gun fire between Digiana & Samba belt. Women were abducted & raped. Even the daughter of Legendary Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas was not spared. Many women preferred death than falling prey to the cruel beasts, who do not tire calling themselves as secular people.
On ground the killing operations were organized, directed & supervised by Maharani Tara Devi in league with her Debauch Guru Sat Dev & Governor Jammu Chet Ram Chopra. At politico-adminstrative level Sheikh puts the blame solely on Dogra ruler Hari Singh and Prime Minster Mahajan . At one point of time Sheikh had even thought of initiating action against the duo for crimes against humanity (Atish Chinar-page 331).But why did’nt he translate his thoughts into action, remains shrouded in mystery. Did he surrender this right before Sardar Patel as quid pro quid for Prime Minstership, which came his way in March 1948? As is generally known, Govt. Of India & Dogra ruler were only interested in conceding him a limited role in a “Mysore type of Govt.”But later this plan was changed & sheikh offered full fledged prime Minstership. Or Was it a result of coercive pressure applied by Patel on Abdullah to imprison his close relative caught red-handed of theft of valuable jewellery in Maharaja of Indore’s(Known as Holkars) Palace where he was employed?
The other aspect of the carnage was appropriation of properties of Muslims. The Muslim names were immediately erased to conform to new ownership. For instance Urdu Bazar became Rajinder Bazar and Islamia School became Hari Singh High School to conform to new ownership. Almost ninety five per cent of left over properties which should have, in the normal course been taken over by State Govt, was allowed appropriated by looters & rioters. ( Daily Telegraph of London dated 12 January 1948). These properties continue to be under the illegal occupation of looters & their descendants and it is precisely for this reason that the Resettlement bill faces a stiff opposition in Jammu fearing vacation of such properties under a due process of law. Even Indira Gandhi expressed such fears in Jammu in her 1983 election campaign.
Another incident needs a mention here. When Hindu refugees from Muzaffarabad & surrounding areas reaching Kashmir, desired to be sent to Jammu or Punjab, local muslims motivated Kashmiri “Tonga-wallas” (horse-cart drivers) to transport them to Jammu against heavy odds. Initially 22 “tongawallas” were hired. They were later joined by many others from Khannabal-Qazigund rural belt. On return all these poor “tongawalls” numbering around ninety were massacred near Nagrota. Their only fault was that they made Hindu refugees to reach their destinations safely.
What makes this holocaust unique is the complicity of State on the one hand & the exemplary treatment of Kashmiri Muslims to its minorities on the other hand, given the grave provocation of Jammu genocide . Mahtama Gandhi was so disgusted with the carnage that on two occasions ( November 27, & December 25 1947), he made mention of it in following words.
"The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside (referring to RSS goons from Gurdaspur & surrounding areas) killed Muslims there. Their women have been dishonored. This has not been fully reported in the newspapers. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what has happened there” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; volume 90, page 115 & 298). It is no wonder then when that when Gandhi was killed by a RSS supported Hindu fanatic, sweets were distributed throughout Jammu in special Thalis supplied from Maharaja’s Palace.
But there have been some valiant efforts on the part of few Hindus also to save the caged Muslims in Jammu those days. The names of Krishen Dev Sethi, Ved Bhasin etc. top that list. But such instances have been few & far.
(The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant-feedback at email@example.com)