From the book India's Partition and Human Debasement by Lieutenant General Francis Tucker of British Indian Army.
Letters written by Army officers to Francis Tucker narrating the situation in their villages and the countryside of Punjab.
Dist. Jullundur (Punjab), 22 Sept. 4.
My dearest Sir, Very many thanks for your kind letter dated 3 Sep. received here yesterday evening. It is heard that boundary force disbanded w.e.f. 15 September and I hope Major — — Sahib might be back now. No train is yet running on the line near to my home. It is also heard that only special or refugees trains are run- ning on main line which are also attacked by villagers and very heavy casualties inflicted. It is very easy to enforce Law & Order in cities where there is much military aid available at any moment but in the rural area it seems impossible by the New Governments. Every body is sick of this wretched life and desire the British to rule as before. Millions of people have been rendered homeless. Many who were masters of Lakhs a few days ago are no better than beggars. Peasantry is totally destroyed on the both sides. One who had not the courage to kill a hen even has now killed dozen of men, women and children. It is hoped that at least of the population of Punjab has been killed. In rural area there are NO signs of peace or Law & Order as NO military or police has even been seen. It appears as if thei'e is no Government ruling over this area. Every body is at present at liberty to kill as many as he likes. Nearly 50% of my village folk have left the village of which a few have been killed. About 16 persons including children and women of my relative family are missing on their way from Pakistan to India. They were living in Lyallpur Distt. None of them has so far arrived here.
From a British Officer, Lahore Cantonment, West Punjab, 29.8.47.
I am sorry I haven’t written earlier. I have been landed with the job of . . . and I am on the run from breakfast till 9 or 10 every evening. The accommodation here not being very goo 5 we can’t read or write in our rooms and I don’t get much time to steal during office hours. . . . ... I believe that G.H.Q^. now circulate some form of intelligence summary, so perhaps you are more in the picture about events up here than we were ten days ago. I’m afraid it is still pretty grim. It started in the begin- ning of August with reasonably small parties of Sikhs beating up isolated Muslim villages in E. Punjab. It rapidly deteriorated until 14th & 15th August, when there was a pretty good blood bath in the whole of E. Punjab.Muslim villages and quarters of Amritsar, Jullundur and all the main towns were eliminated by arson. Women and children were butchered and anyone who defended them was as well. The Muslims then retaliated on their side of the line. Sikhs and Hindus got out of Lahore as fast as they could with the result that all the commercial world, banks and shops, more or less ceased to function. There were then streams of refugees going in both directions. I should say there are over half a million. They have no homes, no clothes and very little food. The E. Punjab Govt forbade refugees to take food with them into W. Punjab. These wretched people are wandering about dying of starvation, exposure, and attacks from Sikhs or Muslims as the case may be. About possibly more, of the Punjab Boundary Force is S.E. of tlie border, where the vast majority of the ‘ incidents ’ have so far occurred. The P.B.F. here is in aid of the Civil Power. On both sides of the line the latter is virtually nil, and at any rate in the east will give no assistance to Muslim refugees, and in the west to the Hindus and Sikhs. The local politicians appeal to the army to do everything for them. When any- thing can’t be done, the politician’s reply is a note to Delhi or the newspapers saying that the P.B.F. is one-sided and will give no help whatsoever to so and so. A telegram was sent to Supreme H.Q,. saying that the P.B.F. were killing' 50,000 Hindus and Sikhs a day west of the line. I don’t know where these local politicians were brought up, but they can neither listen to nor speak the truth. Due to the atrocities committed here, and I don’t think there can be any worse in history, it is quite natural that the troops in the P.B.F. should get affected. To a very small extent they have been, but the incidents in this respect are negligible. Unfortunately they have been exaggerated and given big publicity, which tends to make matters worse. The Muslims want B.O.R.s as they reckon they are the only troops who know what impartiality means and even if they would not be enthusiastic about doing duty here, they would at least protect adequately their women and children, which is the Muslims’ greatest worry. Apparently the others won’t play for fear of drawing attention to the matter, and give out as their reason that the Congress Party embraces all faiths, and m^kes no discrimination between Hindus and Muslims. Therefore it is impossible for their troops to be partial. Although very sordid and insane, the situation is very interesting.
Yours, etc. ------------
Francis Tucker in his book further writes about the situation in East Punjab in August/September 1947.
However, all the remaining British officials departed during the next fev/ days and nothing happened regarding these men. We know nothing happened as we had several witnesses who' would have been required for the prosecution. The next serious incidents were north of Jullundur. In the first case, the Sikhs of Sus attacked and destroyed six or seven villages in the Ganvah area, killing over 20 and the Sikhs of Haripur attacked Talwandi Araiyan, killing some 15 people. - In the first case, the D.G. of Hoshiapur went out and imposed a fine of Rs. 1,200/- on Sus, which has so far not been collected ! In the case of Haripur, the civil authorities did little more than take down the names of the casualties at Talwandi Araiyan. It was then apparent that the new civil authority was not prepared to take drastic action against the Sikhs so as to protect the Muslim minority. Several responsible officials in my hearing stated that you could not really blame the Sikhs who were after all only getting their own back for Rawalpindi !
The pace now hotted up. The new S.P. of Hoshiapur was a Sikh. The D.G. was a well-meaning Hindu. Reports on possible trouble resulted in patrols going out repeatedly, often to find civilian reports completely unreliable. Finally, sufficient troops were called out to surrounding rural areas, leaving four sections only for Hoshiapur City. Hoshiapur City then went off in a big way and complete Muslim Mohallas were looted and burned. The only places looted and burned were Muslim. It was an extraordinary fact that adjoining Hindu shops and houses had been spared. I went up with the Bde. Comd'. the next morning and found that ‘ all was under control ’. I went round the police Thana and found that in spite of all the damage being done to Muslim shops, people injured being Muslim, the ceils were full of ‘ criminals ’ also all Muslim. Not one Sikh or Hindu was under arrest. The Bde. Comd. immediately returned to- wards Jullundur to meet the Commissioner and acquaint him with the completely partial behaviour of the Hoshiapur police. The disciplinary action demanded by the Bde. Comd. was politely refused, as police morale may have suffered.
In addition to the above, a large-scale attack by the Sikhs had been made in the rural areas south and south-east of Hoshiapur to wjthin a distance of only a mile or so. A large number of villages had been completely destroyed and about 500 Muslims killed. A ‘ refugee ’ train was also attacked but was saved by the timely arrival of two British officers who engaged the attackers, killed several and drove them off. All this literally wthin a stone’s throw of Sikh S.P., who had, of course, received no information whatsoever. Military patrols had estimated that the Sikh jathas (bands) in this area numbered several thousand, and up to 15,000. It is too much to ask me to believe that the large numbers of Sikh police in the area were unaware of this plan.
Up to this date, the only casualties inflicted on the Sikhs were by military patrols comprising either neutral or Muslim troops. There was no case on record of a Sikh or Hindu policeman having shot anyone except a Muslim. The situation in Hoshiapur was checked by putting in two platoons, one Pathan and one Punjabi Muslim. Jullundur It was Jullundur’s turn next. The Muslim policemen, having been disarmed, fled. At the Commissioner’s specific demand, the Bde, Comd. had put Hindu troops into the City. The reason for this was to avoid another ‘ Amritsar ’, where it was reported that Muslim troops had fired on and killed Sikh and Hindu police, thus making a co-ordinated effort to restore order impossible. A further reason why this request had been acceded to was that we had no more Muslim troops available. All the civil authorities and the police had stated that they would keep the peace in Jullundur and that with suitable military aid there would be no trouble, Jullundur, however, did go up in a big way.
Again entire Muslim Mohallas were looted and destroyed. After two days, the civil authorities stated that their estimate was about 30 Muslims killed. We had seen that number of bodies in three houses alone ! During this period, one coy. of Muslims had been made available (50 per cent Punjabi Muslim, 50 per cent Pathan). The civil authorities (it was now after 15th August) refused to accept Muslim troops !
Finally, the situation was restored by the arrival of the 2nd Bihars whose two Christian Adibassi Coys, went into the City and peace was restored. During this period, in the rural areas immediately around Jullundur, several large Sikh jathas had been engaged by military patrols, and considerable casualties inflicted. Several prisoners were taken and handed to the police. These were in most cases released as police investigation had discovered that they were ‘ innocent wayfarers ’, not\ con- nected with the jatha. Gradually, complete mob \rule gained its ascendancy over the rural areas. The Army was only just sufficient to cope with keeping the roads open ^d the large towns and cities reasonably safe. Refugees were pouring in by the thousand, and a dozen camps were or- ganised by the Army around protected Muslim villages. In a very short time, 50,000 counted refugees were around us. Much larger numbers had been absorbed into the bigger Muslim villages 'that had still been saved by mobile patrol action.
The situation in the rural areas of Hoshiapur, Jullundur and Ludhiana was out of control. Pockets of refugees existed. Large Sikh jathas were spotted by Auster aircraft and some were successfully intercepted. The troops were completely inadequate, and the police completely useless. The only untouched town was Ludhiana. The troops again were inadequate. Contrary to all demands from the civil authorities, all possible reserves of Muslim troops supported by C.I.H. tanks moved in shortly after trouble started, and in a few hours the situation was under control. Previous to the arrival of these troops. Daily Express Cor- respondent Sydney Smith had spoken to a Hindu Sub-Inspector of Police who was standing at a street corner of Ludhiana whilst a Sikh mob, aided by Sikh policemen in uniform, attacked Muslim houses and shot Muslims right in front of him. When asked what he intended to do, the reply was ‘ We are doing very well. We expect to exterminate every Muslim.’ I met Sydney Smith an hour after this, and he was an astonished wde-eyed correspondent. He had heard us make allegations to this effect previously, but actually seeing and hearing for himself had finally convinced him.