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