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.