........MUSLIM LEAGUE ATTACKS ON HINDUS/SIKHS #36
The district of Gujrat lies between Gujranwala and Jhelum. Although large-scale wiping out of Hindu and Sikh populations had occurred in Rawalpindi and Jhelum districts from March, 1947 onwards, yet the district of Gujrat as a whole had remained more or less quiet. That was perhaps because after the experience of Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Multan and the fear of Hindu-Sikh reprisals in the Eastern districts of the Punjab, the Government had tightened up security measures and large military forces were sent to the Western part of Punjab for keeping order. Anyhow, such steps were taken as kept the Muslim League elements in Gujrat under proper check.
Trouble, however, began immediately after the establishment of Pakistan, when mass murder of Sikhs and Hindus began in Sialkot, Wazirabad, Gujranwala and other parts of central and western Punjab. The district of Gujrat was particularly badly situated from the point of view of Hindus and Sikhs. It had no easy route of escape into Kashmir State, as Sialkot had. Towards the West of it the entire Hindu and Sikh population had been evacuated or murdered in the March riots. So, in towns and villages fanatical, League-directed Muslim mobs, Pakistan Military and Police fell upon Hindus and Sikhs, as usual murdering, burning, raping, looting and abducting.
Lala Musa, which is an important junction on the Delhi-Lahore-Peshawar main line, became the scene of Muslim League operations on the 18th August.
The technique adopted was the raising of a false cry that Sikhs had attacked Muslims. The entire town was blockaded by Muslim mobs from the town and the countryside with the help of Pakistan Police and Military. A vigorous attack was started against Hindus and Sikhs. Looting and arson occurred on a large scale. The loss of life was comparatively less. One of the features of this attack was that three big Gurdwaras in the town were set on fire, and their inmates were burnt alive. Hindu and Sikh women were molested by Pakistan Military. The train which carried Hindu and Sikh refugees from Lala Musa to India was stopped near Shahdara (Lahore) and a number of these refugees were killed.
Attack on the village of Murala, which has a well-known Sikh Gurdwara and is the home of Mahant Prem Singh, M.L.A. started as early as the 14th August, the day on which celebrations were going on in Karachi to receive the Crown of Pakistan for Mr. Jinnah from the British Viceroy. Here Muslims played a confidence trick. They got hold of all the valuable possessions of Sikhs on the pretext of guarding them from being looted. These valuables were, of course, never returned. A number of Sikhs of Village Dhalla were persuaded to come together into one house by Muslims, the reason given for such a step being that this was necessary for their safety. This house was then locked, and the trapped men, women and children left to burn inside the house which was set on fire. All were burnt alive inside. Those who tried to escape were caught hold of, thrown on the burning heap and finished in this way. On the 18th August which was the day of Id, the Dera of Murala, seat of Mahant Prem Singh and held in reverence by Sikhs, was attacked. 400 Sikhs and Hindus had taken shelter inside this Dera. All of them would have been butchered but the intervention of some Muslim notables of the area, personal friends of Mahant Prem Singh, turned back the attacking mob. The besieged, like all other Hindus and Sikhs of the area, went into the Refugee Camp at Gujrat in a destitute state. The station master of Kharian and 5 Sikhs were killed at Kharian railway station. Some Sikhs were also killed in the village of Loharian.
Jokalian and Mitha Chak and other places in this area began to be attacked on the 18th August. Muslims of this area had given assurance of safety on the oath of the Koran to their Hindu and Sikh neighbours. On the 18th August, however, the well-known technique of raising a false alarm of attack by Sikhs on Muslims was employed and the Muslims of the area were incited to attack Sikhs. Stabbing of individuals and harassment continued for some time.
On the 3rd September Muslims from about 60 surrounding villages gathered at Jokalian for attack. The number of this mob was about 20,000. The Gurdwara of the place, where Sikhs had collected for shelter, was attacked, and in one hour 800 Sikhs including women and children, were killed. Later almost the entire remaining Sikh population was killed also. The volume of Guru Granth Sahib was tom and desecrated. Looting continued for 3 days.
After Jokalian, the Hindus and Sikhs of Mitha Chak were given the ultimatum either to embrace Islam or to face death.
People of some forty villages were forcibly converted. (A list of these villages is included in the appendix containing summary of attacks).
The Hindus of village Ghanian were threatened by Muslims with dire consequences if they made common cause with the Sikhs. This left the Sikhs altogether friendless, as their number was already very small (about a dozen in all). Finding the situation grown desperate, these brave and unbending Sikhs killed their womenfolk with their own hands. After this the men gathered in a house, set fire to it and perished in the flames. The Muslims after the Sikhs had been finished, fell upon the Hindus who had so unwisely put trust in their promises, killed several and abducted sonic young women. These incidents occurred round about the 21st August.
Bharowal was attacked on the 17th August. Here a general massacre of Hindus and Sikhs occurred. Out of a total Hindu-Sikh population of 1,200 only 123 survived. Looting took place after this massacre on a very large scale.
Mandi Bahauddin is an important trading centre of Gujrat district. Here Muslim military came into operation early. Sikhs were taken out of their houses, bayoneted and otherwise tortured and forced to embrace Islam. The refugee camp established here was run on barbarous lines by the Muslim officials, and no torture and indignity was spared to the Sikhs. Piteous appeals for removal from this camp to India continued to come from Sikhs to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the East Punjab Government and the Government of India.
At Dinga, a fairly large town, 3,300 Sikhs were killed.
In villages Shadiwal Kalan and Shadiwal Khurd, while Hindus were forced to accept Islam, all Sikhs were killed. These occurrences took place on the 18th and 19th August.
The Sikhs of Mangat, an important village were attacked on the 5th September. They gave a very stiff fight to the invaders and were later all evacuated to Mandi Bahauddin Refugee Camp, from where they were evacuated to India.
Hindu-Sikh refugees from Gujrat district, numbering 2,000 were being evacuated to India in trucks. Obstruction was placed in the way of these trucks near Kunjah bridge. The Indian Military escort accompanying these trucks fired on the Muslim assailants, cleared the point of obstruction and dispersed them (September 9). Later, these trucks were again attacked in the Mozang area of Lahore.
In Kotla Kasim Khan, on the 27th August a Muslim mob of 4,000 attacked Hindus and Sikhs. Many houses were burnt, 70 Hindus and Sikhs were killed and 30 were wounded. Even women and children were not spared, and were ruthlessly cut to pieces.
Kunjah, in Tehsil Phalia, was attacked towards the end of August. Here a large number of forcible conversions took place. Hindu and Sikh houses were forcibly occupied by Muslims. The Gurdwaras and their inmates were burned in flames. Not a single Sikh of this place was left alive.