Untold Horrors: How Sikhs Endured the Wrath of the Muslim League

by Saloni Poddar

The story of the terrible carnage wrought by the Muslim League’s campaign of conquest against the minorities during the partition of India remains largely untold. The harrowing events, particularly in the Rawalpindi and Multan regions, highlight the immense suffering and brutality endured by the Sikh and Hindu communities.

Rawalpindi: A Prelude to Catastrophe

The Rawalpindi Division witnessed one of the earliest and most violent outbreaks of communal violence. According to reports, approximately 7,000 individuals were killed in this region alone. The number of injured was even higher, and between four and five thousand women were abducted or dishonored. The scale of destruction was immense, with thousands of houses and shops set ablaze, and hundreds of Gurdwaras, Hindu temples, and schools desecrated or burned.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, then Vice-President of the Interim Government of India, expressed his horror at the atrocities, stating that the deeds committed in the Rawalpindi district would shame even beasts. J.A. Scott, Deputy Inspector-General of Police in the Rawalpindi range, also condemned the barbarity, declaring it unbelievable that such acts could occur in Punjab.

SGPC Archives

Despite these horrific acts, there was no condemnation from the Muslim League leaders. They either remained silent or continued to propagate imaginary atrocities against Muslims, further emboldening the perpetrators. Defence Leagues of Muslim lawyers and others were established to rescue the murderers and criminals from legal consequences, while the Muslim League Press protested against police actions, claiming police excesses even when actions against criminals were inadequate and belated.

Multan: A Parallel Tragedy

On March 5th, the violence spread to Multan with equal ferocity. The day marked the beginning of the Muslim League’s offensive in Punjab. In Multan city, a procession of Hindu and Sikh students demonstrating against the formation of a communal Muslim League ministry was brutally attacked by a Muslim mob, aided by the police. Many students were killed, and the mob then targeted Hindu and Sikh quarters of the town.

The initial attack resulted in the deaths of at least 300 Hindus and Sikhs, with another 500 injured. The mob was led by a Sayad, a Muslim holy man, reportedly a descendant of the Prophet of Islam, who rode a white charger and inspired the mob to destroy ‘Kafirs’. The police did nothing to stop the violence, despite being witnesses to the massacre. The Muslim League’s propaganda had whipped the Muslim population into such a frenzy that even Hindu and Sikh patients in the local hospital were not spared. Whole families were slaughtered on mere suspicion of being non-Muslims.

Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, President of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee, was a guest in the house of Seth Kalyan Das on that fateful night. His host and the entire family were butchered, and Dr. Kitchlew survived only by proving his Muslim identity to his attackers. Hindu shops were looted and burned on a massive scale, and more than a dozen Sikh and Hindu holy places were desecrated and destroyed. Eight factories belonging to Hindus were looted and set on fire, and entire quarters of Hindu and Sikh homes were reduced to ashes.

The Aftermath

The widespread violence in Rawalpindi and Multan was not isolated but indicative of the broader campaign of terror orchestrated by the Muslim League during the partition. The lack of condemnation and the active support from Muslim League leaders and the Muslim League Press only fueled the violence further, allowing it to spread unchecked.

The brutal persecution of Sikhs and Hindus during this period is a dark chapter in the history of the partition. It serves as a stark reminder of the horrors that communal hatred and political manipulation can unleash on innocent and defenseless human beings. The memories of those who suffered and perished in Rawalpindi and Multan should not be forgotten, and their stories must be told to ensure that such atrocities are never repeated.

Saloni Poddar

You may also like

Khalsa Vox

Khalsa Vox is a new-age online digest that brings to you the latest in Punjab politics, history, culture, heritage and more.

Latest Stories

Khalsa Vox, All Right Reserved.