Category Archives: Kashmir

Blog Quake Day

Earthquake Relief Day

Desi Pundit (hat tip: Chapati Mystery) has called for organizing a day on October 26 for raising awareness to help the quake victims in South Asia.

More than 50,000 people died in the October 8 earthquake and millions were displaced. As winter approaches the mountainous area, these people need all kinds of help, including food and shelter.

Please donate to a charity of your choice for the relief effort. Your help will be appreciated.

You can also donate to Chapati Mystery’s personal drive or even buy a T-shirt from him with the profits going to the quake relief.

Personally, I donated to the Edhi Foundation. They don’t have an online presence, but the proceeds of Chapati Mystery’s personal drive will be given to them and Association for the Development of Pakistan also have an Edhi Foundation fund (along with others). If you are in the US, you can mail Edhi Foundation a check (which is what we did) at:

Earthquake Relief in Pakistan
Bilqis Edhi Relief Foundation
4207 National St
Corona, NY 11368-2444

They are a registered charity with a Tax ID of 11-345067. Their phone number is (718) 639-5120.

For more information about the quake and relief efforts, check out:

Please help spread the word!

Technorati tag:

Kashmir Earthquake Donations

There have been many updates to my previous post about the earthquake. I have added some information about where you can donate for the relief efforts and some information sources as well.

Now Manan of Chapati Mystery is collecting donations online to send to the Edhi Foundation (my charity of choice).

I created a paypal account to solicit donations on behalf of Edhi Foundation.

[…] I will keep the drive open for 2 weeks. 100% of your donation will go straight to the victims of the Earthquake. I will scan and put-up the paypal check when I receive it. I will scan and put up the wire-transfer receipt when I send it on. I am not a charitable organization so this won’t be a tax-deduction. I will mail a small token of my thanks to anyone who donates over $15 dollars. Please include your mailing address in that case.

[…] Please, please, Donate.

Remember that you do NOT need to be a paypal member to donate and that they take all major credit cards etc.

There is great need for your donations as more than 2 million people have been affected by the earthquake..

Earthquake in Pakistan

There was a devastating earthquake in the northern parts of Pakistan and India about 24 hours ago. The epicenter of the 7.6 intensity earthquake was about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Islamabad. Latest numbers are more than 18,000 killed and 40,000 wounded.

Pakistan says more than 18,000 have been killed by Saturday’s powerful earthquake that also hit northern India and Afghanistan.

The 7.6-magnitude quake, with an epicentre 80km (50 miles) north-east of Islamabad, flattened entire villages.

Another 40,000 people are believed to be injured, said military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan.

[…] The earthquake, which hit at 0350GMT on Saturday, was felt as far away as the Afghan capital, Kabul, and India’s capital, Delhi. Several aftershocks followed. It is thought to be the strongest earthquake to hit the region in a century.

In one incident, around 250 children were said to have died when two schools collapsed in the North-West Frontier Province’s Mansehra district. About 200 soldiers are also thought to have been killed by landslides and falling debris.

[…] The earthquake’s epicentre was close to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Rescue teams have reportedly been airlifted into the city.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said almost 50% of all homes in the area had been destroyed.

Landslides have blocked all access roads to the city, where there is no electricity and telephones.

[…] Indian officials reported nearly 300 deaths in Indian-administered Kashmir, among them 15 soldiers.

The town of Uri, close to the Line of Control that separates divided Kashmir, was worst hit, with 104 dead.

South Asia quake blog is following developments there (hat tip: Chapati Mystery).

I have family and relatives in and around Islamabad. Fortunately, everyone seems to be okay.

UPDATE: Please consider donating to help the large number of victims of this earthquake. Here are some links:

There are also links on the Wikipedia page for the quake and at the South Asia Quake Help Blog.

UPDATE II: Following the news online, BBC looks to have the best coverage. You can also read BBC Urdu.

UPDATE III: My preferred charity in the list above is the Edhi Foundation. We finally got through to their New York office today (I guess they were closed over the weekend). If you are in the US, you can mail them a check at:

Earthquake Relief in Pakistan
Bilqis Edhi Relief Foundation
4207 National St
Corona, NY 11368-2444

They are a registered charity with a Tax ID of 11-345067. Their phone number is (718) 639-5120.

UPDATE IV: If you have Google Earth, you can download this placement map (and another) which show the epicenter, subduction zone, etc.

UPDATE V: E Mullah has Edhi Foundation’s New York bank information so that you can wire transfer any donations.

Kargil

Via The Acorn comes this Nawaz Sharif interview about Kargil.

Insisting that he was kept in the dark over Pakistan Army’s Kargil aggression, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharief has said the then Pakistan Army chief General Pervez Musharraf and two other top military commanders toppled his government in October, 1999 as they feared their court martial for planning and executing it.

[…] “Initially, when the scuffle had started, Musharraf said it was the Mujahideen that was fighting in Kashmir, I thought since Mujahideen keep fighting, therefore, it is not a new phenomenon,” Sharief said in an interview to India Today magazine in its latest edition.

He revealed, “Later, I got a call from Vajpayee saab, saying ‘Nawaz saab, ye kya ho raha hai (Mr Nawaz, what is happening)? Your army is attacking our army. They are fighting our army’. I said there was no Pakistan Army fighting against his army… I suppose I should have known about all this. But frankly, I hadn’t been briefed.”

[…]Sharief said he had wanted to settle the matter directly with Vajpayee but it was Musharraf who was keen that he approach US President Bill Clinton to intervene.

The two-time former prime minister said he had later contemplated removing Musharraf ‘straightaway’ but had avoided ‘this kind of action’.

“I felt the proper thing was to first appoint a commission and have a thorough investigation into the whole matter… While I was in that process, Musharraf acted on that and that is why he took the action against me,” Sharief said.

“Musharraf and those two people, (Lt Gen) Mehmood Ahmed (Commander of 10 Corp) and (Lt Gen Mohammad) Aziz (Chief of General Staff). These three general were the main culprits who toppled my government. They all feared a court martial if an inquiry was conducted,” he said.

Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat refused to consider a commission of inquiry on the Kargil issue and also refuted Nawaz Sharif’s allegations.

Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Sunday categorically rejected a PML-N demand for the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Kargil episode, saying that such a step would amount to opening a Pandora’s Box.

[…]the prime minister said whatever had happened in the Kargil sector was the ‘collective responsibility’ of the Nawaz Sharif government.

He said that as army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf had kept the then prime minister fully informed about what was happening in Kargil, and any assertion to the contrary would be baseless.

He recalled that at a meeting Gen Musharraf had told Mr Sharif the dates, the days and even the time when he had informed the latter about the situation in Kargil. But when the meeting ended, Mr Sharif remarked that he had not been given details.

I think I have mentioned it before that Musharraf (and other planners of the Kargil war) should have been court-martialled. However, Nawaz Sharif can’t escape responsibility as Ayaz Amir points out.

The ill-fated Kargil operation – carried out for no rhyme or reason appealing to the rational mind – is Banquo’s ghost at General Musharraf’s table, a bitter reminder of a misadventure that resulted in hundreds of deaths and cost the nation dearly.

[…]Was Nawaz Sharif kept in the dark about the genesis of Kargil? Of all the questions thrown up by the Kargil crisis this is about the most useless. He was the prime minister and should have known. But if, as he maintains, the wool was pulled over his eyes, what did he do when he came into the picture? He should have asked some searching questions. He seems to have done nothing of the kind, not even at the June 13 meeting in Lahore. Kargil put national security to its greatest risk since the 1971 war with India. Truman sacked Gen McArthur for much less.

All the evidence suggests that Nawaz Sharif was briefed or cursorily informed about Kargil sometime in April, probably at the Ojhri Camp, halfway between ‘Pindi and Islamabad. He may not have been given all the details but then it was for him to find out. If he did not, he was at fault. If he did not understand, he was at fault again.

The real question about Kargil is not whether Nawaz Sharif knew or not. It is something else. What accounts for the army’s institutional capacity to dream up ventures lacking any geostrategic or political context? The 1965 war (which ended up by derailing Pakistan and paving the way for the eventual separation of East Pakistan) was one such venture. The army crackdown on the Awami League in East Pakistan in 1971 was another. Kargil makes up the third of this holy trinity.

Read the whole article. It makes a number of important points.

The Acorn has a number of posts on this topic which have provided me some easy links for this post.

One thing is certain: Nawaz Sharif’s mention of Kargil has brought about a discussion about Kargil in the Pakistani media. Here are some highlights:

  • An editorial in the Daily Times accepts part of Nawaz’s story.
  • Dawn has an editorial arguing for a judicial commission of inquiry into the Kargil affair.
  • An article in Dawn talks about Hassan Abbas’s book Pakistan’s drift into extremism: Allah, the army, and America’s war on terror and concludes that Nawaz Sharif was informed of the Kargil operation in March 1999, which was after the Lahore visit of Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee in February.
  • Khalid Hasan has some more information from Hassan Abbas’s book.
  • Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi claims that Nawaz Sharif was first briefed on the Kargil plans in Dec 1998-Feb 1999. He also says that the Kargil operation was a major diplomatic setback to Pakistan.
  • Nasim Zehra, currently a fellow at Harvard, was a journalist in Pakistan and I think was involved in Imran Khan’s political party Tehrik-e-Insaf. She deconstructs Nawaz Sharif’s statements on Kargil but is, in my opinion, too lenient on the army leadership.

If you need a refresher on the Kargil fiasco, here’s the BBC timeline. However, it tries too hard to be neutral. Global Security.org has a short description of the conflict as well.

Most interesting are the materials related to the Kargil conference at the Center for Contemporary Conflict at the Naval Postgraduate School.

UPDATE: Here is an interview with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

Hope in Conflicts?

There have been some positive developments in two major conflicts recently. I am not sure whether these will amount to much as a little progress is often followed by a lot of backtracking. But may be I’ll be proven wrong this time.

In the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan:

  • Moderate Kashmiri separatists of the All Party Huriyat Conference have welcomed Indian offers of talks.
  • Pakistan and India have declared a ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir after many years of constant shelling.
  • Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee says he’ll meet Pakistani PM Jamali at a regional summit in January.

Meanwhile, in the Israel-Palestine conflict:

  • Israeli army Chief of Staff Ya’alon has criticized government’s hardline security policies.
  • Four former directors of Israel’s Shin Bet security service have also been critical of PM Sharon’s policy.
  • Israeli PM Sharon has announced plans to evacuate some settlements by summer 2004.
  • According to a poll, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians support the Geneva Accords.
  • Colin Powell is meeting the authors of the Geneva Accord in Washington today.

(Links via The Head Heeb who just celebrated his first blogiversary.)

Frankly, I am not very optimistic. I have gotten very cynical and pessimistic about the prospects of peace in both these conflicts. But we’ll see.

Kashmir: More Than Terrorism

In a previous post, I wrote:

[…] would you acknowledge that Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir issues are about more than just terrorism?

Joshua Scholar in turn asked:

What is the situation in Kashmir about?

I’ve been wondering about Kashmir ever since I heard an Indian ambassador claim that militants were killing Hindu civilians simply to drive them out leaving a Muslim majority – ie for no other reason than ethnic cleansing?

Talk about leading questions!

He also got a little impatient, on thanksgiving day and then today.

I guess Zack has no intention of answering my question. That’s disappointing.

Anyway, I notice that Zack didn’t keep his promise and come back to support what he said either in the case of Chechnia nor in the case of Kashmir.

I am sorry, Joshua, but where I live, I still had 6 hours to keep my promise after your last comment.

Joshua has also posted an excerpt of a blog post on a part of the terrorist and Islamist dimension of the conflict in Chechnya. I am going to leave Chechnya aside for now except to ask if anyone here knows about Imam Shamil or President Dudayev.

Back to Kashmir. I have a separate category for my Kashmir posts. I have posted about the geography as well as religions of Kashmir. I have also posted about my Dad’s experiences at the time of partition of India in 1947 in Jammu. I will probably post more about Kashmir history. I should probably clarify again that I am not a Kashmiri and have never lived there.

Pankaj Mishra had a series of articles in the New York Review of Books about three years ago which provide a good source for the current Kashmir troubles which started around 1989.

BBC covers Kashmir here, with a backgrounder on the start of the conflict between India and Pakistan in 1947 here and a timeline here.

The US State Department human rights report for 2002 mentions a number of human rights abuses in Indian Kashmir.

Human Rights Watch has a report detailing government and militant abuses of human rights in Kashmir.

And here is a Human Rights Watch report from 1993 about the threats against Hindus in Kashmir valley.

When the conflict escalated 1989, militant groups issued widespread threats to members of the minority Hindu community in Kashmir. Attacks on Hindus since 1988, and particularly in early 1990, have driven more than 100,000 Hindus to flee Kashmir to Jammu and Delhi, where most remain in increasingly desperate conditions in refugee camps. Tens of thousands of Muslims have also fled. Those militant groups which espouse an extremist Islamic ideology have also issued threats to persons associated with businesses they consider “un-Islamic,” including liquor dealers and cinema hall owners. Militant groups have also issued threats to journalists whom they have accused of “biased” reporting.

[…] The militants have also used threats to compel Hindu families and suspected political opponents to leave the Kashmir valley. Beginning in 1988, many Hindus were made the targets of threats and acts of violence by militant organizations and this wave of killing and harassment motivated many to leave the valley.198 With government assistance, a large part of the Hindu community in Kashmir, numbering more than 100,000, left the valley in 1989-90.199 These threats have continued. According to one report in 1992, when one militant group, the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimin, appealed for the Kashmiri Hindus to come back to the valley, two others, Al-Umar and Al-Jehad, immediately issued press releases warning them not to return.

198 [Footnote in the original report.] The government role in encouraging the exodus, particularly the part played by former Governor Jagmohan, is a matter of considerable controversy in Kashmir and among the Hindu refugees in Jammu and New Delhi. Some reports suggest that while many Hindus left the valley out of fear of militant violence, some may have been encouraged to leave by authorities who hoped to undermine support for the militant movement.

199 [Footnote in the original report.] The precise number of Kashmiri Hindus who fled the valley during this time is not known. Estimates vary widely. According to one press report, as of November 1990, some 50,000 Hindu families had fled. See James P. Sterba, “Valley of Death,” Wall Street Journal, November 9, 1990. India Today previously had reported almost 90,000 Hindus having left the valley for Jammu or Delhi. India Today, April 30, 1990, p. 10. Many began leaving in 1988, and the migrations contined through 1990.

My Life in Kashmir VII

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Previous entry here.

Another brother of our Colonel neighbor was an Additional District Magistrate (ADM). He visited us in mid-November and informed us that Sheikh Abdullah had been freed from prison and made Prime Minister of the state on 7th or 8th November 1947. He also saved us from starvation by sending some food grain. He told us that Sheikh Abdullah wished to see us. A few days later, Sheikh Abdullah came accompanied by the ADM. My cousin and I were advised by the house lady to insist on going to Pakistan. On seeing us, Sheikh Abdullah asked about me. When I went near him, he said, “These 3 telegrams are from your father. If you want to join your parents, we will send you to Palestine but it is better that we bring them here and you live in your own home.” In the mean time, my cousin started weeping and said, “All our relations have gone to Pakistan, we want to go to Pakistan.” I copied him. Sheikh Abdullah said, “OK, we will send you to Pakistan. Do not weep. You are good boys.” Then he asked the ADM, “Why don’t they shift to Jammu?” He replied that there was danger to our lives. (Father had sent 3 telegrams, one each to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India and Sheikh Abdullah, to locate and send us to Palestine.)

Some days later, we were shifted under security cover to Usdad da mohallah in Jammu and placed in the house of Colonel (retired) Peer Muhammad. My cousin went to the bank and brought some money. Thus, we were able to purchase edibles and ate properly cooked food after about two months. We lived in Ustad da mohallah for about 2 weeks. During this period, accompanied by a Muslim Inspector Police and a few policemen, we visited our home. Everything in the house had been looted. Suitcases and even G I sheet boxes had been taken away. What we found there was large empty large G I sheet boxes and the large brass-made double bed. On the floor were scattered papers of our property and family pictures. My sister and I collected all these papers and photographs but we could not bring those because of weight. We saw blood at two places, on the roof of a relative’s house and on our roof near the place where Pakistan flag was hoisted. (After reaching Pakistan we came to know that the blood on the relative’s roof was of my father’s young cousin and on our roof top was of a 16 year old son of a neighbour. Both received bullets from machine guns of the army. The young boy died instantly and the cousin had died after 3 days without getting any medical aid.)

A plan was made to send to Pakistan minor children and injured women, parents or guardians of whom were supposed to have gone to Pakistan. Thus, on December 18, six small buses with children (including us) and women started off to Sialkot. Total drive was about 38 Km (about 24 miles). Sheikh Abdullah was leading this caravan in a military jeep and it was moving under protection of the Indian army. Sheikh Abdullah and the army stopped at the border. The buses finally reached and stopped at Sialkot Cantonment. In our bus, my sister was sitting near the window next to me. On seeing our aunts, we were very happy. However, their state of mind, that had been under persistent tension for about 2 months, can be judged from the fact that one of our aunts (whose children were with us) came near our bus and asked my sister Y, “Have you seen X, Y or Z?” She replied, “Auntie, it is me, Y.” It took our aunt some time to realize that she was indeed speaking to Y. Then we got down and hugged our aunts. They started kissing us while tears rained from their eyes.

Meanwhile in Palestine
In November 1947, having learnt of killings of Muslims in Jammu, my father sent a telegram to his cousin in Sialkot enquiring about the welfare of the family. By that time, my grandparents and aunt had reached Sialkot, so he sent a reply, “Elders arrived, children missing.” That took away my parents’ senses. My father left his business and belongings in Palestine and started the journey to Yemen in his car, accompanied by my mother and two younger brothers (the elder 7 years old was born in Jammu and the younger 9 months old was born in Palestine). The civil war was just starting there at the time. It took them several days to enter Saudi Arabia where the journey was safe but monotonous (no trees and rare inhabitance). After a long tiring drive, he reached Yemen, abandoned his car at Yemen seaport and reached Karachi, Pakistan by ship. In those days, only one train in a week used to run from Karachi to Wazirabad [a town near Sialkot] which was due after 3 days. A friend of my father’s in Karachi told him that the children have reached Sialkot. After traveling by train to Wazirabad, my parents reached Sialkot by Tonga [horse-drawn carriage] (a jouney of 44 km) in the end of December 1947.

My Life in Kashmir VI

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Previous entry here.

A few days later, three women came to the house we were staying in. They were the mother, sister-in-law and elder sister of my sister’s friend. The sister-in-law had a deep one inch wide wound in her neck which had become septic. They were also in the caravan of 6th November, in which people were killed near the canal. My sister’s friend, who was not with them, was a very beautiful girl. The rioters were abducting beautiful young girls. Her mother directed her to jump in the canal and not take her head out. So, she drowned herself in spite of being a good swimmer. Her brother who was my classmate was also killed. They informed us that the sister-in-law, after being pierced with Balum, had fallen unconscious. They had lied down on the ground to escape being hit by bullets. Some people got killed and fell on them. They did not move and waited till the rioters were gone. They had reached us after wandering for several days. They ate tree leaves and grass and drank stagnant water to survive.

The brief of what the ladies and the young man narrated is: “The scattered Muslims in Hindu areas of Jammu city had been mostly killed. Only very few lucky ones shifted to Muslim areas. The 3 Muslim areas became under siege of Sevak Sang, Mahasabha, Akali Dal and the army. The army had taken positions on top of high buildings around Khalka mohallah. They fired on any Muslim coming in sight and kept on firing bursts towards the Muslim area with pauses. Muslims in Jammu city had no weapons after the search but they decided to stay in their houses, their past experience being that such quarrels used to be over in a week or two. They made holes in common walls of their houses, so that they could move to each other without going out to road or street. At some points, however, they had to cross a road or street but surrounding was all Muslim population. The holes were also a precaution in case a quick exit was needed because of an attack.

Only a few Muslims got killed during over 3 weeks’ period. In spite of the army cover, the rioters did not dare to come near the Muslim areas. Then one morning, it was announced, on a loudspeaker fitted on a Tonga [horse carriage], “This is a message from Colonel Peer Muhammad. Pakistan has sent buses to evacuate Muslims to Sialkot. All people desirous of going to Pakistan should gather in the Police Lines.” The Police Lines was on south edge of Jammu city near river Tawi, about 2 kilometers from the farthest end of Khalka mohallah. Though Col (Retd) Peer Muhammad was a leader of National Conference [a political party] yet people believed in the message because of his name, but that was a trap. Any person, who went to see the arrangements, did not return. If somebody carried a suitcase, that was snatched on way by the army. A lot of Muslims reached Police Lines where they saw buses lined up with Pakistan flags on top. On 5th November 1947, people were asked to board the buses and the first caravan started. There was another caravan on 6th November, 1947. The second caravan traveled bypassing Jammu Cantonment. When it reached a forest near a canal, the buses stopped. The passengers of the buses noticed Indian army personnel at a distance on both sides. They thought it was for their protection. Soon they heard slogans of Jai Hind and Sat Siri Akal. Then appeared hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs carrying swords, Balums and daggers. The rioters passed though the Indian army line and headed towards buses. Seeing this, Muslims started jumping out of the buses. At that moment rifle fire was opened by India army on both sides of buses. Men, women and children started running for their life. Many of them jumped in the canal but Balums, swords and bullets pierced them.”

After reaching Pakistan, we came to know that the only living brother of my grandfather had joined the caravan on 6th November and was never seen again. Further, a few persons who had gone with the caravan on 6th November, somehow reached Police Lines early morning on the 7th and informed Captain (Retired) Naseer (a leader of Muslim Conference) about what had happened. By the time a strategy could be decided, people had mounted the buses present there. Capt Naseer passed by all the buses saying loudly, “Hurry up get into the buses.” But, at low tone, he kept on saying, “If you want to stay alive, come out of the buses.” Within an hour all the people came out of the buses. Then Capt Naseer addressed the officers of Indian army present there, “Fire the machine guns fixed on top of the Police Lines and kill all of us. Why are you taking trouble of carrying the people to kill? Thus wasting petrol and time. Start the fire, I promise that not a single person will try to run.” That created a stir. Then Sheikh Abdullah was freed from prison and appointed prime minister of the state. He delivered an emotional speech. The gist was “Muslims and Hindus of the state are brothers. Henceforth, there will be no killing. I will go round and see myself that peace and tranquility prevails.” It is said that Sheikh Abdullah, before accepting premiership, had demanded that Indian army from Nabha and Patiala must be replaced by army from Madras who were known to be neutral. Two days later, caravans from Police Lines started reaching Sialkot without being attacked. My grandparents and some other relatives reached Pakistan on 9th November 1947.

Next in this series here

My Life in Kashmir V

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Our neighbour and his brother were Colonels in Maharaja’s army. They were on the border but their families were at home. Same day it came to be known that their families had planned to shift to some safer place. Our guardians requested them to take six minor children of our family with them: 3 cousins, my 2 older sisters and me.

During the next night, we were asked to quietly move to a military truck parked on the road keeping our heads low. We took with us some rice, flour, lentils, one liter tin of olive oil, one single-sized quilt and some money. We reached Jammu Cantonment, Satowari, and stayed in a military residence protected by 4 military men who did not stand around the house but lived in a room about 20 meters away from the house. Only one of them had a gun while armed rioters used to come in fifties. We lived there under fear of being murdered. Sometimes, after the sunset, we used to hear “Jai Hind” and “Sat Siri Akal”. Those nights particularly we used to pass under great fear, praying to Allah for help and security. Six of us used to sleep on a Namda (felt) 6 ft x 4 ft and one single size quilt over us not covering my head and feet, others were taller than me. Nights in those days were cold. Allah protected us otherwise we should have died of Pneumonia.

I and a cousin used to go for collecting fire wood. Till we returned our sisters used to stand behind the outer door and prayed for our safe return. I used to break and collect wood and he used to pull the bundle. Normally, we got dried cactus. My palms were full of thorn pricks.

The edibles and water being available in small quantity, each one of us used to eat one small piece of bread or a little rice with lentils. When olive oil was finished, we used to eat boiled rice with boiled lentils (no salt or pepper). When lentils were finished, we ate only boiled rice. Rice was about to finish and we were worried but Allah was kind. When I and my cousin went out looking for firewood, a burqa clad lady came near me and whispered, “Where are you living ?” She knew us. She followed us keeping a distance and entered some minutes after us. Having come to know of the food problem, she promised to arrange something. Her residence was half a mile away and an easy route. Two days later, I went to her residence with money and she gave me some lentils and rice.

In the end of October, the houselady informed us that Muslims in Poonchh, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad had started fighting on 24th October, 1947 for freeing the state and that fierce battle was going on between them and the state army.

During those days, the tap water was hardly sufficient for drinking in Jammu city as well as in the cantonment. So, we could not take bath for about one month. On 6th November 1947 (about noon), five of us boys went to take bath in the nearby Canal. We saw many clots of blood floating in the canal water. We got scared and rushed back. When we informed the people in the house about that, we were advised not to go out and not to open the outer door.

That afternoon, somebody knocked at the outer door hysterically. I was standing in the courtyard near the outer door. The lady of the house asked all the female members to go to the rear room, send the boys out and lock the room door from inside. She directed the boys to give me cover and signaled me to open the door. As I opened the door, a tall young man in his early 20s, wearing a sleeping suit rushed in, shouted, “Sab mur gayay” [everyone died], fell on his face and fainted. I closed the outer door immediately. The other boys rushed to the young man, turned him over and two of them screamed, “what happened?” Somebody sprinkled water on his face. He got up, shouted and fainted again. Then he was lifted and taken to the room and all children were ordered to leave the room. Only wives of the two colonels and the oldest boy remained inside. In the evening, we came to know that he was son of our neighbor’s elder brother who lived in Pthanan da mohallah. They had started for Pakistan in a caravan 6th November. All family except him was killed. He knew the way to our residence and had come hiding and running. He informed that a caravan had also gone on the previous day. This made us think that all our relations in Jammu were dead. So, we all started weeping and there was no one to console. We kept crying and did not eat anything. On evening of the next day, the two ladies, still sobbing, consoled us and gave us rice to eat.

Next in this series here

My Life in Kashmir IV

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Initially, Muslim majority provinces were to form Pakistan and the rest India. States were to decide their future according to wishes of their people. Baluchistan, Sind, NWFP, Punjab and Bengal were Muslim majority provinces. It was decided to divide Punjab and Bengal on district basis. The state of Kashmir was overwhelmingly Muslim. See this post for the population figures according to religion. In Jammu town, Muslims were a minority. Muslim population areas in Jammu town were (1) Khalka mohallah (Khalka means at comparatively lower altitude) (2) Ustad da mohallah (3) Pthanan da mohallah. (Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan [Chief of Pakistan Air Force and politician in later years] lived in Pthanan da mohallah). Khalka mohallah was much larger than the other two combined. We lived at an edge of this mohallah at a T-junction of roads. The diagonally opposite houses were of Brahmins. I had heard them some of cursing Muslims. I did not go to that area during 1947.

Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Sialkot and Gurdaspur touched the state and were Muslim majority districts, and the state being overwhelmingly Muslim, the Muslims of the state were sure to be a part of Pakistan. Muslims of Jammu used to take out processions. Once small children were included in the procession including me. The slogans used to be “Lay kay rahain gay Pakistan” [We will get Pakistan], “Bun kay rahay ga Pakistan” [Pakistan will be founded], “What do you want ? Pakistan”, “Pakistan ka matlab kia ? La ilaha il-Allah” [The meaning of Pakistan? There’s no god except God]. During July 1947, Muslims of the state passed “Accession to Pakistan Resolution” and 14th August, 1947 [the date of the founding of Pakistan] was celebrated with immense joy. On my wish, my grandfather hoisted a large Pakistan flag on top of our two-storey house using steel pipe 32 ft tall.

Boundary line of Pakistan and India in Punjab was not announced till 14th August, 1947. In the final boundary commission award, district Gurdaspur was divided which provided India with a clear land passage to Jammu.

After announcement of division of Gurdaspur, Nehru, Patel and another Congress leader reached Jammu and started pressing Maharaja Hari Singh to declare accession to India. They went back after 3 or 4 days without any formal announcement. Soon after, Indian army started forced landing in Jammu. Also, militant wings of political parties of India (Sevak Sang, Maha Sabha and Akali Dal) started entering Jammu in large numbers with Balums, daggers, swords, rifles, etc. under the protection of intruding Indian army.

It was announced in Jammu that all people must deposit everything that could be used as a weapon. After a few days, a search of houses of Muslims was conducted and even domestic knives of over 4 inch blade were confiscated while Hindus and Sikhs wandered around carrying all types of weapons.

With the start of October 1947, killing of Muslims in the villages had started. We saw villages on fire from top of our house. The number of villages on fire increased as the days passed. On sighting the moon of Zil-Hajj [the Islamic month in which Haj is performed and animals sacrificed on Eid in commemoration of Abraham’s offer of sacrifice of his son], rumors spread, “Pehlay Muslay qurbani kartay thay, iss Eid per hum Muslon ki qurbani karain gay” [In previous years, Muslims used to sacrifice animals; this year, we’ll sacrifice Muslims]. A few days later, curfew was imposed on the city and attacks on scattered houses of Muslims within the Hindu areas of city started. News of Muslims being killed or injured started pouring in but nobody could go out to assist anybody due to curfew which was being supervised by the army.

One night, roar of machine gun fire was heard coming from two sides of our house. Target was our house because my grand father used to finance Muslim Conference [a political party of Kashmir] and that the large and high flag of Pakistan was still fluttering on our housetop. There were shouts of Muslims raising slogans “Nara-i-Takbeer – Allah-o-Akbar” [God is great] and “Pakistan zindabad” [Long live Pakistan]. Next morning, one of our tenants for over a decade (a Brahmin Hindu) came to our house with a bucket of milk and gave it to our aunt saying, “I thought that milk from your lands may have not arrived. So, I have brought it of my own cow for the children.” None of us was in a mood to drink milk or even eat anything. Next morning, my aunt threw the milk in the drain outside the house. A cat came and drank some milk. After few minutes we heard some strange voice. We rushed to the door and saw the cat dying.

Next in the series here.