Poignant recollection by Dr. MS Jillani on the Jullundhur carnage of August 1947. Also the author discusses the underlying reasons behind the Partition riots.
Anti-Muslim slogans were raised at night and bonfires were lit on roofs to create insecurity and dread.
After the announcement of the Radcliffe Award (August 17th), all hell broke loose. There was firing from roof tops all over the city: day and night; there was a virtual siege. My little sister, who was only five days old, cried all the time due to the noise of the firing, my mother and other ladies, old men, children were short of one thing or the other. Finally, the elders decided to move. The next day, before day break, we were ordered to jump over the wall of the house in the direction of the rest of the Muslim homes, i.e., away from the Hindus.
The news of carnage of Muslim areas as well as fresh refugees reached the camp in steady stream. They confirmed that the Muslim population was being eliminated randomly and in some areas, systematically. I remember the new arrivals wailing, crying and weeping for the loved ones who had been killed, lost, missing, kidnapped and the loss of their homes.
Why were the Sikhs treated at par with the Hindus while their beliefs and culture was nearer the Muslim sufis? Who changed their belief?
Majority of the killings in East Punjab took place in the Sikh areas. Even at places where Sikhs were not in majority, the Sikhs appeared to be in the forefront in killing Muslims. Were they hired by the Hindus or were they encouraged to dislodge the Muslims in exchange for keeping the spoils and loot?
Moreover, it was made a religious duty to arrange the atrocities committed by each religious community. This may sound as over simplification, yet the conditions prevailing years after partition hold this hypothesis valid. The get-rich-quick phenomenon spread from the initial grab of lavish homes, businesses, gardens, agricultural lands left by the forced migrants.