Partition of India

It is estimated up to a million people were killed during the Partition, with the Punjab suffering the highest death toll - Imperial War Museum, London

The dead & the vultures

Courtesy: BBC

Several hundred dead Hindus and Sikhs lying around the platform

Time Magazine, 8th September, 1947

"You have full liberty to go the limit. Take revenge as you like, but if there is one Hindu or Sikh left alive in my district after you are through, I swear to kill them myself." - Deputy Commissioner of a Western Punjab District in Pakistan to young muslims

A member of the U.S. Embassy arrived in Lahore from Delhi with another tale of horror. Reaching the small station of Okara, near Montgomery, he found the station platform utterly deserted except for several hundred dead Hindus and Sikhs lying around the platform, apparently slaughtered only a few hours before while waiting for the train to escape. All these people were workers in a textile mill which had been attacked by Moslems. Their bodies were mostly stripped and in several instances limbs had been torn from the bodies. The wife of a British textile factory manager told how a Moslem mob had attacked the Hindu and Sikh workers in another factory. When Moslems broke into the ground floor, the Sikhs slashed the throats of their own wives, and afterwards tried to fight through themselves. All were killed.

At Lahore's Central Station, Sikh and Hindu refugees from North or West Punjab were mobbed on the platform, often stabbed to death and their few belongings looted. A major incident involved a big convoy carrying perhaps 1,000 from Sialkot to Amritsar. The convoy was stopped and attacked at the Ravi River bridge. Hundreds were stabbed to death and other hundreds wounded.

Refugees from Lyallpur in West Punjab say that so many Sikhs and Hindus were murdered and their bodies thrown into the canal that the canal actually had a pinkish color for a day after.

Only 1,500 known survivors from a community of 120,000 Sikhs

Time Magazine, 15th September, 1947

Near Rohri in Pakistan several hundred Moslems stopped a train, hauled out 13 Sikhs, clubbed them to death with hockey sticks. An Indian Army courier told how, in the remote Shakirgarh district of Pakistan, a small Hindu military force had found only 1,500 known survivors from a community of 120,000 Sikhs. He estimated that over 100,000 had been butchered, caught between a howling Moslem mob and the flooded Ravi river.

I saw some Moslems carrying away my 16-year old daughter

Time Magazine, 27th October, 1947

The Eyewitness. On this point, the witness Niranjan Singh, a Sikh, testified. Singh, a few weeks ago a prosperous merchant in the Montgomery district of the Punjab, now moves about New Delhi on crutches.

He said:"I shall never rest until revenge is taken upon the Moslems for all the wicked atrocities they have perpetrated upon innocent people. Moslems killed my old father, abducted my young daughter, slew my son and maimed my foot. No mercy whatsoever should be shown to them. I've always treated my Moslem laborers with kindness but the dirty swine have repaid me with brutality.

"I smelled trouble in my village when Moslems began gathering at the mosque every day for long conferences. One morning Moslems from all neighboring areas gathered around our village and attacked it. But although we were outnumbered, we held them for eight hours. We had only our kirpans [swords] and a few old rifles. They had modern weapons. When finally they broke through, there was not one among us who had not sustained some injury or other. The brutes killed my 90-year-old father and when my young son rushed to his defense, they speared him to death. I had been injured on my forehead and gushing blood had made me partly blind. A young, cowardly Moslem attacked me from behind with a hatchet, injuring my foot. Before I fell and fainted, I saw some Moslems carrying away my 16-year-old daughter, who put up stiff resistance.

"I was left among the dead for two days, dying of thirst, when at last a Hindu battalion of the Indian Army visited our village and rescued me. I insist revenge be taken on these traitors and brutes. We ought to declare war on Pakistan."

90 women jump into well to avoid capture

15th April, 1947

About a month ago, a Muslim communal army 3,000 strong, armed with sticks, tommy guns and hand grenades surrounded it. The villagers defended themselves as best they could. They had two guns which they put to good use. But in the end they had to raise the white flag.

Negotiation followed. A sum of Rs. 10,000 was demanded by the besiegers. It was promptly paid. The intruders gave solemn assurance that they would not come back. The promise was broken the next day.

They returned to demand more money and in the process hacked to death 40 of the defenders. Heavily outnumbered, they were unable to resist the onslaught. Their women held a hurried meeting and came to the conclusion that all was lost except their honour. Following the example of Indian women of by-gone days, they decided to evade inglorious capture. Ninety women jumped into a small well. Only three were saved. There was not enough water in the well to drown them all.

Extract from Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947 compiled in 1947 by Sardar Gurbachan Singh Talib, Principal of the Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jullundur, and published in 1950 by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Read the Complete Book

How Sikhs saved their women from Muslim Mobs during Partition of 1947

Suggested Reading

- Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab - 1947, Gurbachan Singh Talib (SGPC, 1947) Read the Complete Book Online
- Stern Reckoning, Gopal Das Khosla (Oxford India Paperbacks, 1949)
- Now it can be told, A.N. Bali (The Akashvani Prakashan Ltd., 1949) Download Complete Book (PDF)