The Jammu Genocide

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Precursors to the Genocide

Such a climate of fear and uncertainty, by April 1947, non-Muslims from the violence in the Rawalpindi division were arriving in other parts of the Punjab and the Kashmir region, expecting to return after the violence ceased. With in a week of the killings, 'a large flock' of the Hindus and Sikhs from Rawalpindi division started migrating to neighbouring Kashmir region. The embittered Sikh and Hindu refugees' tales of violence raised animosities wherever they settled. They planned revenge and produced and circulated wildly inflammatory pamphlets and brochures.

At the time also the Dogra Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh's own preference was that the State should remain independent or accede to India, knowing that majority of the State's populace was inclined to link its future with Pakistan. In order to maintain his stranglehold, the Maharaja had initiated systematic tyrannical campaign against the 'dissenters' as early as the outset of May.

Catalysts for the Genocide

By the mid-August, the state administration had not only demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers serving in the state army but also the Muslim police officers, whose loyalty was suspected, had also been sent home. The State's Muslim majority contagious to the Punjab, particularly in Poonch, started organizing resistance forces in the border districts, There were regular reports of 'persecutions' and 'mass murders of Muslims in Poonch'. The violence sparked off an exodus and Muslim refugees flowed in the opposite direction. A large number of Kashmiri Muslim families from Poonch started pouring into the border districts of Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Gujrat and Sialkot.

The refugees related harrowing tales of massacres by the state Dogra troopers. This image of Kashmir inflamed the Punjabi Muslims and, in particular stirred up the movement of tribes of NorthWest Frontier Province. The Muslim Pukhtoon tribes of North-West Frontier Province stirred up the movement and declared a 'jihad'. The raiders who numbered about 20,000 crossed the border and smuggled arms into Kashmir. They, along with the Muslim army deserters from the state forces and retired army men, came to help rouse the peasantry of Poonch. Indeed around 60,000 Poonchis and other 'hill men' had served in the British Indian Army during the Second World War.

Genocide of Muslims begins

On 26 October the Maharaja fled from Srinagar to Jammu as the threat of 'liberation' armed activists poised to capture the city. The situation was much the same in Jammu. The danger for Muslims multiplied 'every hour' as hordes of Hindu and Sikh refugees started pouring into Jammu from areas that were going to become Pakistan. In April, the first trickle of refugees had already arrived in Jammu followed the March 1947 violence in Punjab Rawalpindi, Attock, Murree, Bannu and Hazara. The daily flood peaked in late 1947 when an estimated 160,000 population of Hindus and Sikhs migrated from the western districts of Pakistan. By that time, majority of the non-Muslim population of Sialkot had fled to Jammu during the partitionrelated disturbances. Sialkot and Jammu were nothing less than twin cities. The north-eastern part of Sialkot was principally inhabited by the Dogras inhabitants. They were closely linked culturally and linguistically with the Hindu Dogras of Gurdaspur on the one side and Jammu on the other. As the Punjab boundary award was announced and the disturbances worsened, about 100,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Sialkot migrated to Jammu.

In Jammu city alone, by mid- September, they numbered 65,000. Their arrival brought the communal tension to 'the breaking point'. They carried with them harrowing stories of Muslim atrocity, which were retold in the press and given official sanction by the state media. For example, a Jammu based Hindu paper boasted that 'a Dogra can kill at least two hundred Muslims' which illustrated the communal level to which the media and parties had sunk. This further intensified the Muslim killings and exodus. Almost immediately, the disgruntled Dogra refugees backed by their relatives from Jammu started a general clearing of the Muslim population. They were provided arms and ammunition by the state officials. Sikh deserters of the Sialkot Unit, who migrated in Jammu and also had taken away with themselves rifles and ammunition now utilised them.25 The daily Telegraph of London journalist reported on 12 January 1948: 'Yet another element in the situation is provided by Sikh refugees from the West Punjab who have sized Muslim lands in Jammu… they originated the massacres there last October to clear for themselves new Sikh territory to compensate for their losses in Pakistan and to provide part of the nucleus of a future Sikhistan'.

Aftermath & impact of the Jammu Genocide

The level of destruction was worst in Jammu city where Muslims were in minority. Their concentration was in Ustad da Mohalla, Pthanan da Mohalla and Khalka Mohalla. The latter was much larger than the other two combined. These Muslim localities presented a picture of destruction by mid-September 1947. Hundreds of Gujars were massacred in mohalla Ram Nagar. Village Raipur, within Jammu cantonment area was burnt down. The killings and dispersal of the Muslims from Jammu city were a clear example of the ethnic cleansing of a locality. By mid September, Jammu city's Muslim population was halved. By late November, hundred of thousands Kashmiri refugees had arrived in the border towns of Sialkot, Gujrat and Jhelum.

The Dogra state troops were at the forefront of attacks on Muslims. The state authorities were also reported to be issuing arms not only to local volunteer organizations such as RSS, but to those in surrounding East Punjab districts such as Gurdaspur. G. K. Reddy, a Hindu editor of the Kashmir Times said in a statement published in the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, 'I saw the armed mob with the complicity of Dogra troops was killing the Muslims ruthlessly. The state officials were openly giving out weapons to the mob'. The state administration had not only demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers serving in the state army, but Muslim police officers, whose loyalty was suspected, had also been sent home. In Jammu city, the Muslim military were disarmed and the Jammu cantonment Brigadier Khoda Box replaced by a Hindu Dogra officer. There were also reports that the Maharaja of Patiala was not only supplying weapons, but also a Sikh Brigade of Patiala State troops were also operating in Jammu and Kashmir. The state authorities intended to create a Hindu majority in the Jammu region. The Dogra troopers ejected the entire population of Muslims of Dulat Chak on 28 November, claiming it was a part of the state. The troops of a Sikh Brigade raided the bordering villages and forced the Muslims there to evacuate and go beyond the old Ujh river bed.The daily Times of London reported the events in Jammu with such a front page headings: 'Elimination of Muslims from Jammu' and pointed out that the Maharaja Hari Singh was 'in person commanding all the forces' which were ethnically cleansing the Muslims.

After the closure of Sialkot-Jammu railway line, the Muslims started concentrating in a camp from isolated pockets to the large enclaves within the Jammu Police Lines. They sought assistance from the Pakistan government to take immediate steps to ensure their safety. In the first week of November, the Pakistan government despatched many buses to Jammu city to transport the refugees into Sialkot. When the convoy arrived at Jammu-Sialkot road, Dogra troopers, RSS men and many armed Sikhs attacked the caravan and killed most of the passengers and abducted their women.

'Terrible Fate 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Jammu Muslims in 1947, Illyas Chatta'