“Shaheen Bagh Protest” Lessons: Gujjranwala Story Can Happen Again – This Time in India


By: Dr Vashi Sharma (studied at IIT Bengalore and taught at IIT Kharagpur on Energy Science, Defence, Religions and Pakistan)

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This is a true story. This happened in Gujjranwala, a place that was once the part of India and is now in Pakistan. This happened in 1947. This story may happen again – and this time in the remaining part of India, where we live today. Many of us Indians may not believe that this can happen in India but, likewise, many of those who lived in Gujjaranwala then did not believe that it could happen to them. They were proved wrong. It happened before their own eyes. This can happen again. And, this can happen again and again till we all are destroyed and finished – unless we learn lessons from the past and take adequate measures to put an end to even the possibility of preparing the ground for such genocide on fanatic religious basis. There have been in the past – and there are in the present – people who have a mentality on religious grounds to commit such crimes.

Today, people of such mentality are protesting at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi against a law – CAA – enacted by Indian Parliament that is elected by people of this country. What they are trying to do is to prepare the religious grounds for repeating the story that happened in Gujjaranwala – and this time in the remaing part of whatever is left for India.

The mentality of those who are protesting at the Shaheen Bagh for about a month now against CAA and are prone to commit such crime of genocide against people not belonging to their religion as was done by them in Gujjaranwala in 1947, is well reflected in what one Faizul Hassan has publicly said recently (January 2020). This Faizul Hassan is though a non-entity but his voice represents the mind of a large number of people – people who were his audiance, heard him say objectionable things and did not protest – or even did not object – to what he said. Faizul Hassan is an ex-President of the students Union of Aligarh Muslim University. It is not relevant that the complaint has been made against him to the U.P. police or that the police will take legal action against him. What is relevant is that in India such people are still living in  good number who think in this way and this country has not been able in 73 years to eradicate their roots. What this Faizul Hassan has said is this:

“दुनिया मे कहीं सब्र देखना है, तो हिन्दुस्तान के मुसलमानो का देखिये। 1947 से 2020 तक मुसलमान सब्र कर रहा है कि हिन्दुस्तान टूटने न पाये। हम उस कौम से हैं, अगर बरबाद करने पर आ जायें तो छोडेगे नही, किसी भी देश को खत्म कर देंगे। (Translation: If one wants to see the patience anywhere in the world, see this patience in the Muslims of India. The Muslims are having patience from 1947 to 2020 so that India is not broken into pieces. We people come from a race that if we come to decide to destroy, we will not spare anything, we can destroy any country.)”

I wrote this stoey on the insistence of my close friend, a scientist in US. This is his story. He poured out his painful heart to me. I penned it in simple way but the reality was way too disturbing to write.

Here is the story of what happened in 1947 in Gujjaranwala. Please keep this story in mind when you read any article on why CAA-NRC is must for India and for its survival. Read it carefully but be warned it is disturbing to weak mind and heart.

During semester end at IIT, I picked fight with a senior. He was a Malang (who didn’t care about world). I said – “money is everything”. He replied – “Didn’t you have it in Gujranwala? Why did you run away from there? And what’s the guarantee that you won’t run away from Amritsar 40 years later?” I was furious. I had no idea what he was saying.

Next week, I had a train to Amritsar in night. I was going home in semester break. The Malang came to see me off to station. “You got everything in life. But.. ask your grandfather. Could money save his family?”

Train arrived. Malang returned. But I was stunned. What did he know about my grandfather that I didn’t? The train started moving.

I was home next day. Big beautiful house. Loving parents, but always under stress of business. I am going to meet Nanaji (maternal grandfather) tomorrow, I told Mom. “What happened? Stay with us for some days. Will go together to meet Nanaji. He is ill”, she told.

I was in Jalandhar the next day.

I : Nanaji, what happened in 1947?

Grandfather (G): Nothing, Puttar (son). What happened?

I : Where are your siblings currently?

G : I don’t have any. I was lone child of my parents.

I : How come? In your times, parents used to have 10-12 kids on an average. Why didn’t your parents have more?

G : Haha! They were great planners! Take rest now.

Next day, I was playing video game in my room. Nanaji came, sat besides me.

G : Playing Contra?

I : Yes.

G: Have you seen 7 colours of sun-rays ever?

I : No.

G : Let me show you, come to terrace.

We both went up. Beautiful sunshine. Sun was about to set.

G : Do you see the saffron?

I : Yes, whole sky is saffron!

G : There are 7 colours in this saffron. But they will be gone soon. There will be darkness all over.

I : That’s natural. It happens every evening.

G : Hmm. It happens once in centuries too. Do you know I have named 7 rays of sun as – Lajjo, Rajjo, Bhaggo, Paro, Gayo, Isho, and Urmi?

I : Why?

G : There was a Balwant Khatri in Gujranwala, a rich landlord. Big Haveli was among largest in Gujranwala. He had 7 daughters and a son from wife Prabhavati Devi.

Baldev (son) – 20
Lajwanti – 19
Rajwati – 17
Bhagvati – 16
Parvati – 15
Gayatri – 13
Ishvari – 11
Urmila – 9

Theirs was a beautiful family. A rich Punjabi Hindu Khatri family. They were looking for suitable grooms for Lajjo and Rajjo. However, something was not right in Punjab.

Barrister Jinnah had declared Direct Action Day for Pakistan. Hindu-Sikhs knew that Gandhi Ji’s ideals can’t be defeated by some miscreants. After all Hindu-Sikhs sang “Avval Allah Noor upaayaa” (The light of God has created us all). Hindu-Sikhs used to sing Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid’s poetry and visit Sufi Mazars. After all Gujranwala was full of Jatt, Gujjar and Rajput Muslims. How could they – the blood brothers – harm their own blood?

Soon, the news of massacre of hundreds of Hindu-Sikhs started coming from nearby places. Mobs chanting Allahu Akbar and “Pakistan ka matlab kya La ilaah illillah” (What does Pakistan stand for? There is no god but Allah) were heard shouting – “No woman of Kafir will go to India, we will take them”.

It was morning of 18th Sep, 1947. A Sikh postman almost barged into the Haveli shouting – “Lala Ji, leave the place. They are coming for your daughters. Lajjo will be Salim’s. Sheikh Muhammad will take Rajwati. Bhagwati will go to…” Lala Balwant slapped him hard on the face. What rubbish? Salim is Mukhtar Bhai’s son. Mukhtar Bhai is like our family.

“Mukhtar Bhai only is leading the mob, Lala Ji. All Hindu-Sikhs are fleeing to India. Will go in lots of 300-400 people in an hour. Get family to city Gurudwara fast”, the Sikh shouted and fled.

Lala Ji rushed to Prabhavati who was 7 months pregnant. She was in tears already. She had overheard everything.

Prabhavati : We need to go, Lala Ji.

Balwant : We are going nowhere. Sardar is lying. Mukhtar Bhai can’t do that. Ideas of Gandhi Ji can’t be defeated.

Prabhavati : It’s not time to discuss ideas. We must go. I have asked daughters to pack jewellery and papers.

Balwant : But Mukhtar Bhai… I have to talk to him.

Prabhavati : He came last month when you were not home. He told Salim likes Lajjo and wanted to do Nikah with her. Lajjo told that Salim eve-teases her with his friends. She has stopped going out because of him.

Balwant : Why didn’t you tell this to me earlier? I could have talked to Mukhtar Bhai.

Prabhavati : You are too naive. He himself wanted to take Lajjo for Salim. Now he is coming to take her by force. Let’s leave.

City Gurudwara was full of Hindu-Sikhs. Men with swords and spears were guarding Gurudwara boundaries. Gujranwala, known for wrestlers, had Akhadas (wrestling arena) in many temples and Gurudwaras. Well built Hindu-Sikh men were deployed at the main entrance. Many were guarding the terrace. Many were sharpening swords on the stone near the well. Women, girls, and children were terrified. Mothers had pulled Infants /kids close to them.

Suddenly, a huge cry broke the silence. It came from the Badi Masjid from across the road. A mob of thousands was shouting slogans-

Pakistan ka matlab kya la ilah illillah (Pakistan means there is no god but Allah)

Hass ke litta vai Pakistan, khoon naal lavaange Hindustan (we took Pakistan with smile, will take India with blood)

Kaafron, kattna asi dikhaavange (Kafirs, we will show you how to butcher you)

Kise mandir vich ghanti nahi vajjugi hun (Now no bell will be allowed to ring in any of the temples.)

Hindu di janaani bistar vich, te aadmi shamshaan vich (Hindu women belong to our bed, and their men to crematorium)

Prabhavati was sitting near window surrounded by seven daughters. Her only son was guarding the main gate outside. Suddenly the mob from the mosque across had turned silent for some reason. In a minute, the screams of “La ilah illillah” started again. And this time, the volume kept going louder.

The mob with swords, daggers, spears and chains was approaching the Gurudwara. Prabhavati was first to witness from the window. She shouted – “They are coming” and held all her kids tightly in fear.

Gates of Gurudwara were locked from inside. All men took positions inside near walls and gates. All Hindu-Sikh men were asked to listen the announcement. Sukhdev Sharma, a wrestler and priest, stood up and said –

“They are coming for our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Their swords are for our necks. They will ask us to convert to their faith and surrender. I have decided. I won’t surrender. I won’t convert. Neither shall I allow them to touch our women.”

There was a pin drop silence for 3 seconds. And the Hindu-Sikhs roared:

“Jo bole so nihaal sat Shri Akaal! Wahe Guru Ji da Khalsa waahe Guru Ji di fateh! (A war cry of Sikhs). No one will leave Dharma of our ancestors. Let them taste our swords”.

Mob had entered the Gurudwara. The first lot of 50-60 attackers was slaughtered in no time. People inside Gurudwara were prepared and in better position for small mob. There was hardly any casualty on this side. Hall of women & children was locked from inside.

The mob of hundreds chanting religious slogans stood at 50 meters distance from the Gurudwara for 30 minutes. They were waiting for something. Soon the reinforcement came. This time, they were in thousands. Hindu-Sikhs inside Gurudwara were hardly 400. Men were 50-60. Rest were old, women and children.

This had to be the final battle. The mob had displayed a Sikh woman they abducted from her home being dragged in front of everyone. Her clothes had been torn. She was being paraded naked while the men were cheering assaulting her sensitive organs. She fell unconscious. But many vultures from mob kept playing with her body. Finally, someone cut off her breasts and threw them towards Gurudwara.

Hindu-Sikhs of Gujranwala had heard about this barbarism in news. They were seeing it for the first time. Suddenly, everyone started thinking about their women. What if our women fall in their hands after we die? This was the moment when even death was looking easy. Something else was scarier.

Mob had started breaking the gates.

Lajjo : Tusi katto bapuji, Main Musalmaanani nahi banugi (go ahead father, cut me to death, I won’t go to a Muslim)

Balwant : (crying, not able to speak)

Lajjo : Karo bapuji, te bhajjo jaldi etho (do it fast father, and run away from here)

Balwant : (crying more, it was gut-wrenching) I can’t, my daughter. How can I?

Lajjo : If you don’t, they will cut my breas…(thak, the sword struck Lajjo’s neck)!!!

Lajjo’s head rolled down the well. Balwant’s strike of sword was accurate. Her headless body was pushed down the well too. Now the mob could not touch her clothes. Nobody could cut her…. She was liberated.

It was Rajjo’s turn next.

Then Bhaggo’s.

Then Paro’s.

Then Gayo’s.

Then Isho’s.

and finally, Urmi’s.

The father would kiss forehead of each and take the head next.

Balwant liberated his seven daughters on 18th Sep 1947. The mobs chanting religious slogans were so close to the 7 sisters. But their father could manage to save them. What if the cost he paid was their lives? At least their breasts were intact. Their honour was intact. Their freedom was intact.

Even the remaining bodies were fed to the well, because even the dead bodies of girls were not safe.

(Comment by editor: It was worse many times more than the Jewish holocaust of Nazi Hitler).

Gates of the Gurudwara had been broken. Swords of Hindu-Sikhs were chopping rioters left, right, and centre. Heavily outnumbered, the Hindu-Sikhs killed many times more. A great resistance was put up. The natives of Gujranwala showed for the last time that this land still belonged to Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa and Ram.

Balwant : Prabhavati, Lala Jagjeevan’s Tongas are waiting at the back gate of Gurudwara. He has just messaged me to escort as many women and children as we could. Take all women and children there. Baldev! You will go with mother.

Baldev : (silently nodded his head).

Prabhavati : But you? I wont go without you (she was crying).

Balwant : You have to live. For the unborn. Baldev and you must reach India. I will come too.

Prabhavati : Why won’t you come with us?

Balwant : You are going with Baldev and the unborn. I will come in next lot. Lalaji and few men are taking you to station.

Balwant kissed her forehead, hugged Baldev and gently caressed the unborn. “Hurry up”.

Tonga of Prabhavati and Baldev had left for station.

Balwant had lost sanity. He was perhaps the only father to have killed seven of his own children in order to protect them from something more gruesome. With trembling legs, he went to the well and shouted – “Two kids have their mother with them. 7 kids here must have their father. Jai Shri Krishna..”

Balwant had stabbed himself and jumped into the well. This man gave 7 Padminis to the society. (Note by editor with reference to Padamnis: 13000 women had jumped into the fire (called Jauhar) and  perished in Chittor of Rajasthan in 1303 AD to escape falling into the hands of Muslim invader Alla-ud-deen Khilji. Such is this land of Hindus!!! Will Hindus learn something from the history?)

Nanaji’s tears couldn’t stop. Neither could mine.

I : How do you know all this?

Grandfather : Baldev was my friend in college.

I : Where is he now? I want to meet him.

Grandfather : He died.

I cried a lot that night. But suddenly, I recalled my senior’s words – “ask your grandfather, could money save his family?”.

I went straight to Nanaji’s personal room where his documents and belongings were kept. I slowly and quietly unlocked the locker.

There was a photograph of his teenage. With his parents sitting in middle while he stood at their backside. And there were seven smiling sisters. Like the seven rays of sun.

We lost 28 family members in creation of Pakistan. My great grandfather, his brothers, sisters and their families were killed. All hailed from Gujranwala, Pakistan. All in the name of “La ilah illillah – there is no god but Allah”.

Protesters of Shaheen Bag, Delhi are no victims. I am the victim. There are millions more trapped in fanatic lands of Afghanistan-Pakistan-Bangladesh who have been subjected to worst religious persecution, who are the victims and who need to be rescued. Who else will come to their aid to rescue them but India? We must salute Narendra Modi for fulfilling this moral obligation of India by enacting CAA.

We have moved on. But Pak-lovers in India haven’t. And now I believe unilateral moving on from history is dangerous. It can make culprits victims and vice versa. So no unilateral moving on for India from now on – unless and until the culprits change themselves, in fact and in their deeds, and proven too under all reasonable tests to the satisfaction of this victim nation of Hindus.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Santanu Dey
    Jan 27, 2020 @ 18:36:06

    There are umpteenth heartrending examples like this and all this was the handiwork of a few politicians of those days whose motives could be guessed but the motive of M K Gandhi is a mystery. A huge population depended on him so much but how could he ditch these innocent countrymen of his? And 70 long years the farce that has gone on in the name of ‘Sickularism’ is simply exemplary. And today someone is trying to restore the position of this humiliated lot who have been tortured for 70 years on both sides, the same ‘sickularists’ are up in arm against it.

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  2. IPC
    Jan 27, 2020 @ 20:02:41

    It is really amazing how a country of 50 crores of people like India then in 1947 and 130 crores now would not see the naked truth before their own eyes – testified by long history of Jauhars of women (self immolating of women to save their honour at the hands of Muslim invaders) and beheading of Guru Teg Bahadurs and killing of sons of Guru Govind Singh etc. See, what the people of Gujranwala in 1947 were believing in: “The ideas of Mahatma Gandhi cannot be defeated by small miscreants like Jinnah?” The idea of Mahatma Gandhi was “Love cannot be defeated by violence” and what miscreants like Jinnah were doing against this idea was “Direct action for creating Pakistan.” Direct action means exhortation to kill and the meaning of Gandhis idea was “You cannot be killed.” How people in 1947 were too far from the reality – the reality that a person can still be killed even if he loved the killer!! For this foolishness, people believing in Gandhi’s invincibility – like people of Gujranwala – had to pay with their life. Should we not conclude that people were fooled and mislead? That is of past. That idea of love towards a person – whether he deserves for this love or not – has (post 1947) been TRANSFORMED into secularism. This secularism holds that all have equal right to believe in and practice of his creed – whether his creed advocates killing of human fellows or loving them and the State will not interfere in holding such belief and executing that belief. Rather, under this secularism the State will protect this right to everybody. This is nothing but giving right to a person to believing in killing humans (dubbed as Kafirs) and execute that belief in practice. All the communal violence (whether started by those who belive and practice such killings or started by those who defend themselves against such belief and practice) in India today arises out of this secularism. If one exposes this truth, he is accused of being a communal!!! What should one say of this attitude of people towards a truth? Hindus are sleeping? Hindus are fools? They are ignorant? Is it not amazing? Who can save India and such people? India would need one hundred of Modis to awaken such people !!!

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