Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Partition of India: purge that took place in 1947 completely unbalanced society in Pakistan

Muhammad Akram says he is still proud of having taken part in the lynching of Niranjan Das Bagga in Gujranwala in 1947, shows this very brief documentary published on 15 August 2017 on YouTube, one of the many that the BBC produced to mark the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India.

Bagga was a local politician who was trying to calm tensions in a public place after a 'Muslim' was killed, says the 2:20 minute long documentary film.

While he did that someone egged the people gathered there to target Bagga for killing and succeeded in generating the lynching frenzy.

"(We) finished him in less than an hour," Akram tells the BBC reporter.

I had watched this documentary a day or two after it was published on YouTube in August and wrote something in the comments section. 

Nobody replied to my comments until a few days ago when an 'Ali Maksud' (presumably a Pakistani) posted something. 

He wrote that his grandfather's family had similarly been killed by a "mob of Hindus and Sikhs" in Jalandhar district. 

I made a rejoinder to him.

My comments, the response by 'Ali Maksud', and my rejoinder are pasted below, after which I have added some more of my thoughts.
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My comments

"Whoever does not hit him with a stone is not the son of his mother and father. Then everyone hit (him) -- some threw two stones, some one. Well within an hour, (we) finished him". 

Who was he: A "Hindu"

Who were they: "Muslims"

Muhammad Akram, who was a member of the lynch mob, refers to "Muslims" with Punjabi words "sadyan bandyan" (our people) and refers to "Hindus" with the word "unan" (their).

He says he wanted to kill more of "them" and he continues to be proud of contributing to the lynching of one of "them".

So the lynching had no reason other than that Niranjan Das Bagga was a "Hindu" -- especially as Akram says he had absolutely nothing against Bagga.

The old man (Muhammad Akram) comes across as bigoted, benighted and churlish. He cannot be an example to any young person anywhere.
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Ali Maksud

All the family members of my grandfather were killed by a mob of Hindus and Sikhs in Patti, Zila Jalandhar (adjecent to Zila Kasoor in Pakistan), only he survived. A sikh woman saved him and later sent him to Pakistan. 

Those who would've killed my grandfather's wouldn't probably have had no guilt about it, just like that old man from Gujranwala.

More muslims were killed in the partition becausw More people migrated to Pakistan than India. So India has more such killers than Pakistan. 

The sad thing is nobody took judicial action against such people across both sides of the border.
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My rejoinder

I sympathize with your grandfather for the terrible loss he suffered on account of a terrible crime that was committed.

However, your comment doesn't show you have tried sincerely to see beyond the Hindu-Sikh versus Muslim narrative -- which is why you make assertions like "India has more such killers than Pakistan".

That assertion does not convince me.

India currently has more than 20 crore people who call themselves 'Muslims' (with birth rate that has always been more than the national average). 

Pakistan has no more than 2-3 million people who are labelled 'Hindu'.

(The population of 'Hindus' in what was united Pakistan has been declining since 1947 -- from about 23 per cent to less than 10 per cent in what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh.)

One can see clearly that in the provinces that were turned into West Pakistan in 1947, there had been an ethnic cleansing of people labelled 'Hindus' and 'Sikhs'.

(Given the population mix in India since 1947, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for any sensible person to assert that there had been a reciprocal ethnic cleansing of 'Muslims' in partitioned India.)

My father -- who was born in Haripur Hazara in 1939 and lived there until his family was uprooted by the Partition -- tells me he remembers the day Pakistan Day was celebrated, implying his family never wanted to leave.

But the ongoing violence forced his family within a day or two to flee their home to save their lives, and to eventually cross the border.

(In Hazara district, mobs had started killing 'Hindus' and 'Sikhs' and looting and burning their property as early as December 1946.)

The oral histories that I have gone through so far show that a huge number of people labelled 'Hindu' and 'Sikh' would never have left what became Pakistan, had they not been forced to leave their homes and hearth through rape, violence and loot.

And so the current population of Pakistan would have had a more balanced ethnic mix today, had all those people been allowed to stay.

A more balanced society would also have helped Pakistan to save itself from sliding into Islamic radicalism.

The uprooting and exchange of populations was obviously a disastrous idea, but it's impossible to ignore the ultimate cause -- namely that some people who called themselves 'Muslims' wanted a separate country for themselves.  

And they wanted separation on the false ground of being a "separate quam"!

I think many Pakistanis have come to realise the falsity of the ultimate cause (which was especially driven home through Bengali separation), but a lot of Pakistanis continue to be vulnerable to the propaganda that continues to promote the fraudulent concept of "quam" and reinforces the 'Muslim' identity at the cost of more syncretistic and accommodating cultural identity.

I believe 'Muslim' identity will neither allow Pakistanis to live in peace with non-Muslims, nor with themselves; it will continue to cause turbulence and strife in Pakistan.
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I have heard at least one Pakistani admitting that what happened in 1947 (and since then) in the areas that went to Pakistan was ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims. 

(It's also clear that a similar ethnic cleansing took place in 1947 in parts of Punjab that went to India in which 'Muslims' were looted, killed, raped and driven away from their homes. So violence took place on both sides.)

Pakistani politician and lawyer Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan says in this video (relevant part 58:50 min. to 1:00:55 min.) that Pakistanis like to criticize India for riots in which Muslims suffer violence. 

"However, Muslims live in huge numbers there. We (in contrast) have carried out ethnic cleansing (here)... sparing no Hindus, Christians. The few who are left here want to leave this country and we can give them no reason as to why they should stay," said Ahsan in a discussion on 'Sindh Sagar and creation of Pakistan' at Karachi Literature Festive-2015.

In my rejoinder above, I have also mentioned Hazara district. 

Both my parents were born in Hazara in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). 

(NWFP is now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.) 

My father was born in Haripur town in 1939 and my mother in a village called 'Bagra' somewhere around 1944.

My father has quite vivid and chronological, but understandably sketchy, memories of his life there.

The first time I heard someone narrate an account of Partition violence in Hazara which was not personal-anecdotal was when I chanced earlier this year upon Amrit Pal Singh's YouTube channel.

His channel describes Amrit Pal Singh as a hermit, an independent researcher, and a seeker of truth.

He has narrated the violence perpetrated on 'Hindus' and 'Sikhs' during Partition in Hazara, Lahore and Pothohar region very coherently, chronologically and in great detail.

Amrit Pal Singh's own family belonged to Hazara and was uprooted in the Partition violence.

He has described the violence in Hazara during Partition in a series of five videos of which this is the first part.

I hope to write more on Partition, especially my own family's experience of that cataclysmic event, in future posts.
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This post has used the following Web links in the order of occurrence. 

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FJdEXTazoQ&t=

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOJ3lXXlMvg 

3. https://www.youtube.com/user/amritworldnetwork/videos

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f107BeFW6M8

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