After the Partition of India, during October–November 1947 in the Jammu region of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, many Muslims were massacred and others driven away to West Punjab. The killings were carried out by extremist Hindus and Sikhs, aided and abetted by the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh. The activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) played a key role in planning and executing the riots. An estimated 20,000–100,000 Muslims were massacred. Subsequently, many non-Muslims were massacred by Pakistani tribesmen, in the Mirpur region of today's Pakistani administered Kashmir,[a] and also in the Rajouri area of Jammu division.
|1947 Jammu massacres|
|Date||October 1947 – November 1947|
Jammu province, Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir
|Goals||Genocide, ethnic cleansing|
|Methods||Rioting, pogrom, arson, mass rape|
At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their suzerainty over the princely states, which were left with the options of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent. Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, the Maharaja indicated his preference to remain independent of the new dominions. All the major political groups of the state supported the Maharaja's decision, except for the Muslim Conference, which declared in favour of accession to Pakistan on 19 July 1947. The Muslim Conference was popular among Muslims in the Jammu province of the state, while the National Conference was popular in the Kashmir region.
With the support of Mian Iftikharuddin, Muslim Conference leader Sardar Ibrahim met Pakistan Colonel Akbar Khan for the 1947 Poonch Rebellion. Sardar Ibrahim requested and received arms for the rebels. Establishing a base in Murree in Pakistan Punjab, arms and ammunition were attempted to be purchased in NWFP which were to be smuggled into Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Maharaja was informed of 400 armed Muslims who had infiltrated from Kahuta for the purpose of terrorising Hindu and Sikh minorities. Pakistan was informed and urged to control the infiltration.
On 12 September 1947, then prime minister and defense minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan approved two plans for an invasion of Kashmir prepared by Colonel Akbar Khan and Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan. Pashtun tribes were mobilized for an armed attack.
Roughly 100,000 Muslims and non-Muslims from East Punjab and West Punjab respectively were safely escorted through Jammu by Jammu and Kashmir State Forces.
Violence against Jammu Muslims
Unlike the Kashmir valley which remained mostly calm during this transition period, the Jammu province which was contiguous to Punjab, experienced mass migration that led to violent inter-religious activity. Large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs from Rawalpindi and Sialkot started arriving since March 1947, bringing "harrowing stories of Muslim atrocities in West Punjab". According to scholar Ilyas Chattha, this provoked counter-violence on Jammu Muslims, which had "many parallels with that in Sialkot". He writes, "the Kashmiri Muslims were to pay a heavy price in September–October 1947 for the earlier violence of West Punjab."
Observers state that a main aim of Hari Singh and his administration was to alter the demographics of the region by eliminating the Muslim population, in order to ensure a Hindu majority in the region.
Scholar Ilyas Chattha and Jammu journalist Ved Bhasin blame the mishandling of law and order by Maharaja Hari Singh and his armed forces in Jammu, for the large scale communal violence in the region.
On 14 October, the RSS activists and the Akalis attacked various villages of Jammu district—Amrey, Cheak, Atmapur and Kochpura—and after killing some Muslims, looted their possessions and set their houses on fire. There was mass killing of Muslims in and around Jammu city. The state troops led the attacks. The state officials provided arms and ammunition to the rioters. The administration had demobilised many Muslim soldiers in the state army and had discharged Muslim police officers.[b] Most of the Muslims outside the Muslim dominated areas were killed by the communal rioters who moved in vehicles with arms and ammunition, though the city was officially put under curfew.[c] Many Gujjar men and women who used to supply milk to the city from the surrounding villages were reportedly massacred en route. It is said that the Ramnagar reserve in Jammu was littered with the dead bodies of Gujjar men, women and children. In the Muslim localities of Jammu city, Talab Khatikan and Mohalla Ustad, Muslims were surrounded and were denied water supply and food. The Muslims in Talab Khatikan area had joined to defend themselves with the arms they could gather, who later received support from the Muslim Conference. They were eventually asked to surrender and the administration asked them to go to Pakistan for their safety. These Muslims and others who wanted to go to Sialkot, in thousands, were loaded in numerous trucks and were escorted by the troops in the first week of November. When they reached the outskirts of the city, they were pulled out and killed by armed Sikhs and RSS men, while abducting the women.
There were also reports of large-scale massacres of Muslims in Udhampur district, particularly in proper Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar, Bhaderwah and Reasi areas. Killing of numerous Muslims was reported from Chhamb, Deva Batala, Manawsar and other parts of Akhnoor with many people fleeing to Pakistan or moving to Jammu. In Kathua district and Billawar area, there was extensive killing of Muslims with women being raped and abducted.
|"To recall those days of communal orgy my only objective is to point out that a communalist and killer has no religion. It was the humanity that was the victim of communal fanatics... we should better learn appropriate lessons from history and not allow the communal fanatics of one or the other community to vitiate the atmosphere and disturb communal peace and harmony."|
Mahatma Gandhi commented on the situation in Jammu on 25 December 1947 in his speech at a prayer meeting in New Delhi: "The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside killed Muslims. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what is happening there…A large number of Muslims have been killed there and Muslim women have been dishonoured."
According to Ved Bhasin and scholar Ilyas Chattha, the Jammu riots were executed by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who were joined by the refugees from West Pakistan, and were supported strongly by Hari Singh and his administration with a main aim to change the demographic composition of Jammu region and ensure a non-Muslim majority. Bhasin states, the riots were "clearly" planned by the activists of RSS. Observers have noted that the Akali Sikhs and some former members of the Indian National Army (INA) also participated in this violence along with the RSS and state forces.
Bhasin says that the massacres took place in the presence of the then Jammu and Kashmir's Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan and the governor of Jammu, Lala Chet Ram Chopra, and that some of those who led these riots in Udhampur and Bhaderwah later joined the National Conference with some of them also serving as ministers.[d]
Estimates of people killed and displaced
An early official calculation made in Pakistan, using headcount data, estimated 50,000 Muslims killed. A team of two Englishmen jointly commissioned by the governments of India and Pakistan investigated seven major incidents of violence between 20 October – 9 November 1947, estimating 70,000 deaths. Scholar Ian Copland estimated total deaths to be around 80,000, while Ved Bhasin estimated them to be around 100,000. Scholar Christopher Snedden says, the number of Muslims killed were between 20,000 and 100,000. Justice Yusuf Saraf estimates them to be between 20,000 and 30,000.
Much higher figures were reported by newspapers at that time. A report by a special correspondent of The Times, published on 10 August 1948, stated that a total of 237,000 Muslims were either killed or migrated to Pakistan.[e] The editor of The Statesman Ian Stephens claimed that 500,000 Muslims, "the entire Muslim element of the population", was eliminated and 200,000 "just disappeared". Scholar Ian Copland finds these figures dubious.[f]
The Pakistani newspaper Nawa-i-Waqt reported that more than 100,000 Jammu refugees had arrived in Sialkot by 20 November 1947. Snedden, on the other hand, cites a "comprehensive report" in Dawn, which said that 200,000 Muslims went as refugees to Pakistan in October–November 1947. An unidentified organisation in Pakistan counted refugees from Jammu and Kashmir during May–July 1949, and found 333,964 refugees from the Indian-held parts of the state. Of these, an estimated 100,000 refugees returned to their homes in 1949–1950, leaving an estimated 233,964 refugees in Pakistan. Based on the electoral rolls of Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 1970, the number that remained in Pakistan is estimated to be in the range 219,718 – 259,047.
Violence against Hindus and Sikhs in Rajouri and Mirpur
Muslims in the western districts of Poonch jagir began an agitation against taxes in mid-1947, which escalated into an armed rebellion against Hari Singh's government, and expanded to Mirpur district. In October 1947, a force of Pathan tribesman crossed into Kashmir from Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province and the adjoining princely states and tribal areas. The rebels took control of most of the countryside in these districts by the end of the month, driving non-Muslims to seek shelter in towns where the State troops were garrisoned. Beginning on 24 October, the towns themselves fell to the rebels: Bhimber (24 October), Rajauri (7 November), and Mirpur (25 November).
Rajouri was held by the "Azad Kashmir forces", or rebels from Poonch, and the raiders, until April 1948, when the town was taken by the Indian armed forces. The town was surrounded by Muslim mobs who carried out extensive killings, loot and rapes of Hindu residents. The Hindus facing this persecution included the town's residents as well as refugees. Some Hindus were able to escape, while others were sheltered by sympathetic Muslims. Mass suicides and killings, including by beheading or poisoning, occurred among women, sometimes at the hands of men in their family. These were the result of fears that they would be sexually abused by the raiders. The capture of Rajouri from the raiders is commemorated on 13 April, and a monument honoring the incident was erected in the town.
After the Indian army repelled the Pashtun raiders from near Srinagar on 25 November, the raiders turned to Mirpur, in present-day Azad Kashmir. Political scientist Christopher Snedden writes of unverifiable allegations that 20,000 non-Muslims were killed on and shortly after 25 November in Mirpur, and a further 2500 were abducted. In the district of Mirpur and nearby regions of Poonch, Hindu and Sikh women were also raped and abducted. November 25 is now commemorated as "Mirpur Day" in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The table below compares the 1941 percentage of Muslim population with the present percentage for the Indian-administered part of the Jammu province and gives figures for estimated 'loss' of Muslims, due to deaths as well as migration.
|Region||1941 Population||1941 Muslim proportion||2011 Muslim proportion||Loss of Muslims (est)[g]|
|Udhampur District (inc. Chenani)[i]||306,013||42.7%||41.5%||5,975|
|Jammu province (exc. Poonch and Mirpur)||1,172,950||44.5%||27.9%||246,356|
Scholar Ian Copland tries to estimate how many Muslims might have been killed in the Jammu violence based on demographic data. If the headcount figure of 333,964 refugees from the Indian-administered parts of the state is used to calculate an estimate, one ends up with a surplus rather than a deficit.[k] However, Justice Yusuf Saraf estimates that 100,000 Jammu refugees returned to their homes in 1949–1950.[l] If we deduct this 100,000 from the original headcount figure, the estimate of Muslims killed would be a few tens of thousands.
The table below compares the 1941 percentage of 'Hindu & Sikh' population (H/S population) with that in 1951 for the areas of Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir (comprising 89 per cent of the Mirpur District, 60 per cent of the Poonch Jagir and 87 per cent of the Muzaffarabad District).
|Region||1941 Population||1941 H/S proportion||1951 Population[m]||1951 H/S proportion||Loss of Hindus/Sikhs (est)|
|Azad Kashmir Districts[n]||1,073,154||12.7%||886,153||0.09%||113,210|
- Christopher Snedden writes of unverifiable allegations of 20,000 non-Muslims killed in Mirpur.
- According to the accounts of refugees, the Maharaja was "in person commanding all the forces which were ethnically cleansing the Muslims".
- Ved Bhasin (17 November 2015), Jammu 1947, Kashmir Life: "The curfew, it appeared, was meant only to check the movement of Muslims."
- Ved Bhasin (17 November 2015), Jammu 1947, Kashmir Life: "Another incident that I recall is about Mr Mehr Chand Mahajan who told a delegation of Hindus who met him in the palace when he arrived in Jammu that now when the power is being transferred to the people they should better demand parity. When one of them associated with National Conference asked how can they demand parity when there is so much difference in population ratio. Pointing to the Ramnagar rakh below, where some bodies of Muslims were still lying he said “the population ratio too can change”.
- To quote 10 August 1948 report published in The Times:
The number of 237,000 was out of 411,000 Muslims said to have lived in the 'eastern Jammu' province. No calculations for the exact figure were given and the figure was not broken down into deaths and escapes. The 'Special Correspondent' that authored the report is later identified as Frederick Paul Mainprice, the former Assistant Political Agent of the Gilgit Agency, who worked as a Deputy Secretary for the Pakistan government during 1948–49 "specialising on the Kashmir problem".
"237,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated – unless they escaped to Pakistan along the border – by the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs. This happened in October 1947, five days before the Pathan invasion and nine days before the Maharaja’s accession to India."
- Copland, State, Community and Neighbourhood 2005, p. 153: "None of these figures, however, are authoritative.... And the Times man, too, seems to have harboured Pakistani sympathies and, more importantly, offers no clues as to the source of his information."
- These figures are notional. They represent the number of Muslims lost to the state, due to either deaths or out-migration, so that the 2011 demographic percentage could have been obtained. It is derived by multiplying the 1941 population figure by the factor (1941 percentage – 2011 percentage)/(100 – 2011 percentage). If there was in-migration of Muslims or if the Muslim population grew at faster rate than the rest, these figures would be underestimates. If there was in-migration of non-Muslims, these figures would be overestimates.
- The 1947 Jammu district is now divided into Jammu and Samba districts
- The 1947 Udhampur district is now divided into Ramban, Udhampur, Doda and Kishtwar districts
- The 1947 Reasi district is now divided into Reasi and Rajouri districts
- An even higher figure of 500,000 Muslim refugees was reported in Dawn on 2 January 1951. Scholar Ilyas Chattha has claimed that over 1 million Muslims were uprooted owing to the violence. Evidently, such high figures are not supported by the demographic data.
- Jammu and Kashmir government has claimed that 200,000 refugees returned.
- Figures from the 1951 census of Pakistan. They only cover the areas that came under Pakistani control.
- Mirpur and Poonch were part of the Jammu province in the princely state whereas Muzaffarabad was part of the Kashmir province.
- Copland, The Abdullah Factor, p. 254 (citation 119): "... the census reveals that the Muslim population of Jammu dropped (as a result of emigration, genocide and other factors) from 61 per cent to 38 per cent between 1941 and 1961."
- Ved Bhasin (17 November 2015). "Jammu 1947". Kashmir Life. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
- Chattha, Partition and its Aftermath 2009, p. 179, 183.
- Chattha, The Long Shadow of 1947 2016, p. 150.
- Noorani, A.G. (25 February 2012). "Horrors of Partition". Frontline. Vol. 29, no. 4.
- Snedden 2015, p. 167.
- Snedden, What happened to Muslims in Jammu? 2001.
- Chattha, Partition and its Aftermath 2009, pp. 182, 183; Chattha, The Long Shadow of 1947 2016, p. 149
- Snedden, Kashmir: The Unwritten History 2013, p. 56.
- Das Gupta, Jammu and Kashmir 2012, p. 97.
- Puri, Balraj (November 2010), "The Question of Accession", Epilogue, 4 (11): 4–6,
Eventually they agreed on a modified resolution which 'respectfully and fervently appealed to the Maharaja Bahadur to declare internal autonomy of the State... and accede to the Dominion of Pakistan... However, the General Council did not challenge the maharaja's right to take a decision on accession, and it acknowledged that his rights should be protected even after acceding to Pakistan.
- Snedden 2015, pp. 164–167.
- Bhattacharya, What Price Freedom 2013, pp. 25–27.
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- State, Community and Neighbourhood in Princely North India, c. 1900–1950 By I. Copland. Palgrave Macmillan. 2005. p. 143. ISBN 9780230005983.
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- Chattha, Partition and its Aftermath 2009, p. 180, 182.
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- Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Volume 2 2015, p. 133: "In the 1970 elections for A.K. President as well as the Legislative Assembly, the number of voters from Jammu province, residing in Pakistan, was 2,29,152. The population percentage of voters for Pakistan elections which were held in the same year was about 50%. It would take the population figures of Jammu refugees in Pakistan in 1970 to about five lakhs." Based on the population growth rates of Pakistan given (1941–1951: 17.9%, 1951–1961: 26.9%, 1961–1972: 52.1%), this corresponds to a population level of 219,718 in 1941 and 259,047 in 1951.
- Bhatia 2020, pp. 80–82.
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