Expulsion of the Sikhs in Lahore During the 1947 India—Pakistan Partition

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Introduction:— In May 1947, the Sikhs were increasingly arming themselves for an anti-Muslim militancy movement in order to stop the partition from happening, giving out 125 kirpans regularly per week in Gurdwaras, and mass converting over to the radical Nihang sect (Sikh militant[n. 1]).[1] Khushwant Singh, an agnostic writer—known as a challenger of hypocrisy and a critic of the Indian establishment—was from a Sikh family himself, and was greatly influenced by the events of the partition.[2] Of the Lahore riots in 1947, Singh pointed out that it was the Sikh leader, Master Tara Singh[n. 2] who "unsheathed his kirpan" and bellowed "death to Pakistan!",[3] a proclamation that was declared outside the Punjab Legislative Assembly, a Muslim county—which both frightened and angered the Muslims of Lahore.[4] Singh wrote that it was like the "hurling" of "a lighted matchstick in a room full of inflammable gas", which ignited much of the violence across the city.[4] By June 1947, "the Muslim goondas collapsed one hot afternoon", proceeded with "no sounds of gunfire or the yelling of slogans" with "only the black clouds of smoke billowing from the city"; the Sikhs and Hindus had effectively been driven out, having been "sparked" by Tara Singhs actions.[4] Even before these events however, the Sikh leadership had been attacking trains going from Lahore to Rawalpindi. In one case two White English girls from the British army were attacked by 3 Sikhs, one died from stab wounds, and the other was rescued by Muslims.[5]

Khushwant Singh noted the Sikh chanting of "death to Pakistan" triggered the May-June 1947 riots.[n. 3]
Tara Singh made plans to instigate genocide on Punjabs Muslims in 1940.

The Sikh leadership had even plotted to overtake the Punjab and enforce their religion on the Muslim majority or else kill and expel them in a pre-planned genocide years prior to this incident. According to the "Sikh-Muslim Tarikh" (1958) by Abul Aman Amrirsari (issued by the "Idarah Saqafat-i Islamiyyah"; or the "Institute of Islamic Culture", a publishing house based in Lahore), the Sikhs had been planning it at least since 1940; 7 years before the partitioning of India.[3] Even in late 1945 Master Tara Singh gave an interview to the Punjabi journal, the "Panj Dariya"; further declaring his anti-Muslim animus and giving support to the British invaders;[n. 4] "[w]hen in 1940, France was defeated by Germany, there was nervousness here; people thought that the British would be defeated. I also had this possibility before me...With this idea we used to discuss things amongst us. We organised the Jathas, and made arrangements by which Sikhs could gather quickly at some places. In our plans Lahore occupied a special place. We felt that there would not be much difficulty in taking possession of the city of Amritsar, and made arrangements so that Jathas of Sikhs could simultaneously attack Lahore from all four directions".[3] He even gathered both absconding murderers and rapists, sheltering them in Gurdwaras as "in case there was disorder in the country, these desperadoes may prove useful".[3] Ironically, Tara Singhs overtaking of the Punjab ended up in total failure; the Sikhs had been expelled through his own violent actions.[n. 5]

Khushwant Singh noted the Sikh chanting of "death to Pakistan" triggered the May-June 1947 riots.[n. 6]

Introduction:— In May 1947, the Sikhs were increasingly arming themselves for an anti-Muslim militancy movement in order to stop the partition from happening, giving out 125 kirpans regularly per week in Gurdwaras, and mass converting over to the radical Nihang sect (Sikh militant[n. 7]).[1] Khushwant Singh, an agnostic writer—known as a challenger of hypocrisy and a critic of the Indian establishment—was from a Sikh family himself, and was greatly influenced by the events of the partition.[2] Of the Lahore riots in 1947, Singh pointed out that it was the Sikh leader, Master Tara Singh[n. 8] who "unsheathed his kirpan" and bellowed "death to Pakistan!",[3] a proclamation that was declared outside the Punjab Legislative Assembly, a Muslim county—which both frightened and angered the Muslims of Lahore.[4] Singh wrote that it was like the "hurling" of "a lighted matchstick in a room full of inflammable gas", which ignited much of the violence across the city.[4] By June 1947, "the Muslim goondas collapsed one hot afternoon", proceeded with "no sounds of gunfire or the yelling of slogans" with "only the black clouds of smoke billowing from the city"; the Sikhs and Hindus had effectively been driven out, having been "sparked" by Tara Singhs actions.[4] Even before these events however, the Sikh leadership had been attacking trains going from Lahore to Rawalpindi. In one case two White English girls from the British army were attacked by 3 Sikhs, one died from stab wounds, and the other was rescued by Muslims.[5]

Tara Singh made plans to instigate genocide on Punjabs Muslims in 1940.

The Sikh leadership had even plotted to overtake the Punjab and enforce their religion on the Muslim majority or else kill and expel them in a pre-planned genocide years prior to this incident. According to the "Sikh-Muslim Tarikh" (1958) by Abul Aman Amrirsari (issued by the "Idarah Saqafat-i Islamiyyah"; or the "Institute of Islamic Culture", a publishing house based in Lahore), the Sikhs had been planning it at least since 1940; 7 years before the partitioning of India.[3] Even in late 1945 Master Tara Singh gave an interview to the Punjabi journal, the "Panj Dariya"; further declaring his anti-Muslim animus and giving support to the British invaders;[n. 9] "[w]hen in 1940, France was defeated by Germany, there was nervousness here; people thought that the British would be defeated. I also had this possibility before me...With this idea we used to discuss things amongst us. We organised the Jathas, and made arrangements by which Sikhs could gather quickly at some places. In our plans Lahore occupied a special place. We felt that there would not be much difficulty in taking possession of the city of Amritsar, and made arrangements so that Jathas of Sikhs could simultaneously attack Lahore from all four directions".[3] He even gathered both absconding murderers and rapists, sheltering them in Gurdwaras as "in case there was disorder in the country, these desperadoes may prove useful".[3] Ironically, Tara Singhs overtaking of the Punjab ended up in total failure; the Sikhs had been expelled through his own violent actions.[n. 10]

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ The original Nihangs, who were soldiers that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries, had, by the 20th century gone extinct. The 20th century Nihangs were said to have borne no resemblence to the original Nihangs. Within Sikhism and Sikh cultures, they are distinct group who are known for using their own semantics, way of dress and approach towards religion.
    1. Pashaura Singh; Louis E. Fenech (27 March 2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. OUP Oxford. pp. 379–. ISBN 978-0-19-100411-7.
    They turned towards militancy during the partition.
    1. Associate Professor History Ayesha Jalal; Ayesha Jalal (4 January 2002). Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850. Routledge. p. 526. ISBN 978-1-134-59938-7.
  2. ^ He was actually a recent convert to Sikhism.
    1. Careers Digest. 1968. p. 50.
    Tara Singh became president of the Akali Dal, holding the position from 1930 to 1962.
    1. Norman Dunbar Palmer (1971). The Indian Political System. Houghton Mifflin. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-395-11926-6.
  3. ^
    • On February 28th, 1947, the Sikhs had even openly declared their intentions for an all out war with the Punjab's Muslim population. Master Tara Singh, when interviewed with the New York Times, stated;
    Quote: "I do not see how we can avoid civil war. There can be not settlement if the Muslims want to rule the Punjab. We cannot trust the Muslims under any circumstances. The Sikhs had the ability to keep the Muslims out of Eastern Punjab but why should we stop there(?) We shall drive them out of the Punjab entirely. The Sikhs have started to reorganize their own private volunteer army in response to the Muslim League month-old..."
    1. S.M. Ikram (1992). Indian Muslims and Partition of India. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 425. ISBN 978-81-7156-374-6.
    • This was despite the Sikhs being a small minority in the Punjab, and despite the fact that the the state of Punjab had been a Muslim-majority state for centuries before the Sikhs. These words would come to haunt Tara Singh when his threats became too much in May 1947 which ended up in the expulsion of the Sikhs from Lahore.
    1. Khushwant Singh (1 February 2003). Truth, Love and a Little Malice: An Autobiography. Penguin Books India. p. 111-112. ISBN 978-0-14-302957-1.
  4. ^ This loyalty to the British invaders is notable, as since the 1857 joint Hindu-Muslim rebellion against the British, the Sikhs have actively worked against the interests of their homeland. Had the rebellion been successful, approximately 100 more years of British rule would have been obliterated. The reason why the Sikhs turned traitor was down to a rumour spread by the British that the Muslims had wanted to create another empire, which the Sikhs refused to ever let happen. The ploy worked and ended up suppressing the rebellion. It had even longer lasting consequences for the Sikhs; their demands for their own homeland would never be honoured, either by the British or the Hindus.
    1. Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (1 January 2002). History of Modern India: 1707 A.D. to Upto 2000 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 203. ISBN 978-81-269-0085-5.
    Sikh historians prefer not to remember this episode of history, and victimizing themselves, further claiming that the Sikhs totally avoided participating in the rebellion.
    1. The Sikh Review. Volume 31. Issues 355-360. Sikh Cultural Centre. 1983. p. 4.
    However, the Sikhs special treatment is well documented in British history, they were often called a "martial race" (as were some Hindus and Muslims; a foreword, ironically, meaning nothing more than the British empire's canon-fodder for controlling their invaded territories) and, unlike non-Sikhs, were treated with even more favour after the rebellion for helping suppress it. They were given high civil service positions and military ranks, not because they were good military men, but because they were loyal to the invaders and not their native homeland. Karen Armstrong, for instance, notes that the Sikhs were portrayed by the British in stereotypical ways, which caused tension with the non-Sikhs, being repeatedly portrayed as a "warlike" and "heroic" people; and by 1857, this had been cemented by the admission of the Sikhs into the British Imperial Army for their services towards the 1857 suppression.
    1. Karen Armstrong (25 September 2014). Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. Random House. p. 313. ISBN 978-1-4464-6771-8.
    2. Hugh J. M. Johnston (22 April 2014). The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar. UBC Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-7748-2549-8.
    3. Ziauddin Sardar (22 March 2012). Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain. Granta Publications. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-84708-684-6.
    Another reason for the Sikhs participating in the suppression of the rebellion may have been because the Sikhs regarded themselves as better than the Hindus in terms of being soldiers, whereas the Hindus regarded the Sikhs as barbarians.
    1. Douglas N. Anderson (31 March 1994). The British Troops in the Indian Mutiny 1857-59. Osprey Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-85532-369-8.
    In the end, the Muslims were blamed by the British for being the chief instigators of the rebellion, and this drives further proof of why the Sikhs decided against freeing India, deciding instead to prevent it and let the Hindus and Muslims die in the process.
    1. Karen Armstrong (25 September 2014). Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. Random House. p. 313-315. ISBN 978-1-4464-6771-8.
    Serving the enemy of their country has been a recurring tradition amongst the Sikhs in Asia, where they actively supported the colonialism and imperialism of the Europeans and Japanese; something similar happened with the Sikhs in Malaysia, where they would brutally abuse the native Chinese and native Muslim-Malay populations, so much so that the Sikhs would become the prime targets of guerrilla warfare.
    1. Boon Kheng Cheah (January 2003). Red Star Over Malaya: Resistance and Social Conflict During and After the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, 1941-1946. NUS Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-9971-69-274-2.
    For more information of the 1857 Revolt, consider the following supplements;
    1. Shamsul Islam (2008). Sikhs in 1857. Vani Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-8143-795-2.
  5. ^ By 1967 he'd even lead the breaking away of another two thirds of Indian Punjab, taking away even more land claimed by the Sikhs. Tara Singh had long protested about the "Punjab Reorganisation Act" (1966) on September 23rd, 1966), claiming that the act was done in order to "enslave the Sikhs". As the representative of the Akali Dal, he lead protests against the act, despite it being of his own making (he had undergone a hunger strike in 1961, in order to campaign for the Punjabi Suba to be created but broke it without ever acomplishing the goal). It was not until 1966, did the Sikhs achieve the Punjabi Suba's creation, which by that time, Tara Singh had changed his mind. It was obviously too late as the Indian government had capitulated to the decades long demands of the Sikhs.
    1. J. C. Aggarwal; S. P. Agrawal (1992). Modern History of Punjab: A Look Back Into Ancient Peaceful Punjab Focusing Confrontation and Failures Leading to Present Punjab Problem, and a Peep Ahead: Relevant Select Documents. Concept Publishing Company. p. 88. ISBN 978-81-7022-431-0.
    2. J. C. Aggarwal; S. P. Agrawal (1992). Modern History of Punjab: A Look Back Into Ancient Peaceful Punjab Focusing Confrontation and Failures Leading to Present Punjab Problem, and a Peep Ahead: Relevant Select Documents. Concept Publishing Company. p. 72. ISBN 978-81-7022-431-0.
    As a result of the incompetent Tara Singh, Indian Punjab was split into three separate states by 1966 (had this not been done, the Sikhs would still be a minority in the Eastern Punjab amongst the Hindu majority).
    1. John Elliott; Bernard Imhasly; Simon Denyer (2008). Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia. Penguin Books India. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-670-08204-9.
  6. ^
    • On February 28th, 1947, the Sikhs had even openly declared their intentions for an all out war with the Punjab's Muslim population. Master Tara Singh, when interviewed with the New York Times, stated;
    Quote: "I do not see how we can avoid civil war. There can be not settlement if the Muslims want to rule the Punjab. We cannot trust the Muslims under any circumstances. The Sikhs had the ability to keep the Muslims out of Eastern Punjab but why should we stop there(?) We shall drive them out of the Punjab entirely. The Sikhs have started to reorganize their own private volunteer army in response to the Muslim League month-old..."
    1. S.M. Ikram (1992). Indian Muslims and Partition of India. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 425. ISBN 978-81-7156-374-6.
    • This was despite the Sikhs being a small minority in the Punjab, and despite the fact that the the state of Punjab had been a Muslim-majority state for centuries before the Sikhs. These words would come to haunt Tara Singh when his threats became too much in May 1947 which ended up in the expulsion of the Sikhs from Lahore.
    1. Khushwant Singh (1 February 2003). Truth, Love and a Little Malice: An Autobiography. Penguin Books India. p. 111-112. ISBN 978-0-14-302957-1.
  7. ^ The original Nihangs, who were soldiers that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries, had, by the 20th century gone extinct. The 20th century Nihangs were said to have borne no resemblence to the original Nihangs. Within Sikhism and Sikh cultures, they are distinct group who are known for using their own semantics, way of dress and approach towards religion.
    1. Pashaura Singh; Louis E. Fenech (27 March 2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. OUP Oxford. pp. 379–. ISBN 978-0-19-100411-7.
    They turned towards militancy during the partition.
    1. Associate Professor History Ayesha Jalal; Ayesha Jalal (4 January 2002). Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850. Routledge. p. 526. ISBN 978-1-134-59938-7.
  8. ^ He was actually a recent convert to Sikhism.
    1. Careers Digest. 1968. p. 50.
    Tara Singh became president of the Akali Dal, holding the position from 1930 to 1962.
    1. Norman Dunbar Palmer (1971). The Indian Political System. Houghton Mifflin. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-395-11926-6.
  9. ^ This loyalty to the British invaders is notable, as since the 1857 joint Hindu-Muslim rebellion against the British, the Sikhs have actively worked against the interests of their homeland. Had the rebellion been successful, approximately 100 more years of British rule would have been obliterated. The reason why the Sikhs turned traitor was down to a rumour spread by the British that the Muslims had wanted to create another empire, which the Sikhs refused to ever let happen. The ploy worked and ended up suppressing the rebellion. It had even longer lasting consequences for the Sikhs; their demands for their own homeland would never be honoured, either by the British or the Hindus.
    1. Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (1 January 2002). History of Modern India: 1707 A.D. to Upto 2000 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 203. ISBN 978-81-269-0085-5.
    Sikh historians prefer not to remember this episode of history, and victimizing themselves, further claiming that the Sikhs totally avoided participating in the rebellion.
    1. The Sikh Review. Volume 31. Issues 355-360. Sikh Cultural Centre. 1983. p. 4.
    However, the Sikhs special treatment is well documented in British history, they were often called a "martial race" (as were some Hindus and Muslims; a foreword, ironically, meaning nothing more than the British empire's canon-fodder for controlling their invaded territories) and, unlike non-Sikhs, were treated with even more favour after the rebellion for helping suppress it. They were given high civil service positions and military ranks, not because they were good military men, but because they were loyal to the invaders and not their native homeland. Karen Armstrong, for instance, notes that the Sikhs were portrayed by the British in stereotypical ways, which caused tension with the non-Sikhs, being repeatedly portrayed as a "warlike" and "heroic" people; and by 1857, this had been cemented by the admission of the Sikhs into the British Imperial Army for their services towards the 1857 suppression.
    1. Karen Armstrong (25 September 2014). Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. Random House. p. 313. ISBN 978-1-4464-6771-8.
    2. Hugh J. M. Johnston (22 April 2014). The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar. UBC Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-7748-2549-8.
    3. Ziauddin Sardar (22 March 2012). Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain. Granta Publications. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-84708-684-6.
    Another reason for the Sikhs participating in the suppression of the rebellion may have been because the Sikhs regarded themselves as better than the Hindus in terms of being soldiers, whereas the Hindus regarded the Sikhs as barbarians.
    1. Douglas N. Anderson (31 March 1994). The British Troops in the Indian Mutiny 1857-59. Osprey Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-85532-369-8.
    In the end, the Muslims were blamed by the British for being the chief instigators of the rebellion, and this drives further proof of why the Sikhs decided against freeing India, deciding instead to prevent it and let the Hindus and Muslims die in the process.
    1. Karen Armstrong (25 September 2014). Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. Random House. p. 313-315. ISBN 978-1-4464-6771-8.
    Serving the enemy of their country has been a recurring tradition amongst the Sikhs in Asia, where they actively supported the colonialism and imperialism of the Europeans and Japanese; something similar happened with the Sikhs in Malaysia, where they would brutally abuse the native Chinese and native Muslim-Malay populations, so much so that the Sikhs would become the prime targets of guerrilla warfare.
    1. Boon Kheng Cheah (January 2003). Red Star Over Malaya: Resistance and Social Conflict During and After the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, 1941-1946. NUS Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-9971-69-274-2.
    For more information of the 1857 Revolt, consider the following supplements;
    1. Shamsul Islam (2008). Sikhs in 1857. Vani Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-8143-795-2.
  10. ^ By 1967 he'd even lead the breaking away of another two thirds of Indian Punjab, taking away even more land claimed by the Sikhs. Tara Singh had long protested about the "Punjab Reorganisation Act" (1966) on September 23rd, 1966), claiming that the act was done in order to "enslave the Sikhs". As the representative of the Akali Dal, he lead protests against the act, despite it being of his own making (he had undergone a hunger strike in 1961, in order to campaign for the Punjabi Suba to be created but broke it without ever acomplishing the goal). It was not until 1966, did the Sikhs achieve the Punjabi Suba's creation, which by that time, Tara Singh had changed his mind. It was obviously too late as the Indian government had capitulated to the decades long demands of the Sikhs.
    1. J. C. Aggarwal; S. P. Agrawal (1992). Modern History of Punjab: A Look Back Into Ancient Peaceful Punjab Focusing Confrontation and Failures Leading to Present Punjab Problem, and a Peep Ahead: Relevant Select Documents. Concept Publishing Company. p. 88. ISBN 978-81-7022-431-0.
    2. J. C. Aggarwal; S. P. Agrawal (1992). Modern History of Punjab: A Look Back Into Ancient Peaceful Punjab Focusing Confrontation and Failures Leading to Present Punjab Problem, and a Peep Ahead: Relevant Select Documents. Concept Publishing Company. p. 72. ISBN 978-81-7022-431-0.
    As a result of the incompetent Tara Singh, Indian Punjab was split into three separate states by 1966 (had this not been done, the Sikhs would still be a minority in the Eastern Punjab amongst the Hindu majority).
    1. John Elliott; Bernard Imhasly; Simon Denyer (2008). Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia. Penguin Books India. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-670-08204-9.

References

  1. ^ a b Associate Professor History Ayesha Jalal; Ayesha Jalal (4 January 2002). Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850. Routledge. p. 526. ISBN 978-1-134-59938-7.
  2. ^ a b Reginald Massey (March 20th, 2014). Khushwant Singh obituary. The Guardian. Retrieved April 3rd, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h S.M. Ikram (1992). Indian Muslims and Partition of India. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 425. ISBN 978-81-7156-374-6.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Khushwant Singh (1 February 2003). Truth, Love and a Little Malice: An Autobiography. Penguin Books India. p. 111-112. ISBN 978-0-14-302957-1.
  5. ^ a b Khushwant Singh (1 February 2003). Truth, Love and a Little Malice: An Autobiography. Penguin Books India. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-14-302957-1.

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