A rare first hand account of brutalities, deceit, bravery and valour on ground zero during Bharat’s partition in 1947 is recounted through a rare book ‘Now it Can Be Told’ by Rajiv Tuli
Along with independence on 15 August, 1947, we also suffered partition of Bharat. Punjabis, Sindhis, and Sarhadies bore the brunt of partition. For no fault of theirs they were looted, uprooted raped, butchered, forcibly converted into Islam and thrown across the newly formed border. While 97% of the population was rejoicing the freedom,no one was bothered about the rest three percent. The only sin committed by them was believing the leadership which time and again had assured them that nothing would change and everything would be fine at the end.
“Now it can be told” written by Prof. A. N. Bali originally published in 1949 by Akashwani Prakasahn (Jalandhar) depicts the true picture and circumstances leading to west Punjab being handed over to Pakistan by then Congress leadership. The book has been reprinted by Prabhat Prakashan now.
This book is an authentic historical eyewitness’s account of the series of events that led to partition and subsequent giving away of prosperous Lahore division of Punjab to Pakistan despite Muslims not being in majority there.
Giving the account of financial, educational, industrial and medical activities in Lahore, Prof. Bali writes, “ The survey showed that the total value of all dwelling houses owned by non-Muslims within the corporation limits amounted to Rs.12,27,64,800. In other words non-Muslims owned 60% while Muslims owned 40% the share of the Muslims would be further reduced if rural areas were excluded from calculation.”
There were around 300 registered factories in Lahore at that time. Iron and Steel engineering industry constituted half the total number of factories in Lahore. The other important large-scale industries were Hosiery, Oil extraction and flour milling, chemicals and printing. Ninety per cent of these were owned by non- Muslims.
The book also gives a detailed view of financial and commercial activities in Lahore. Lahore was an important banking and commercial Centre and the money market there was fairly well developed the head offices of as many as 26 banks were located in Lahore. A great development of banking had taken place since 1939. The total number of bank offices working in Lahore in 1947 however was 90. Of the Indian banks and branches in Lahore only three belonged to Muslims.
He further writes there were nearly 80 offices of insurance companies in Lahore. These included head offices of 15 insurance companies. Most of these companies dealt in life insurance business but some of the Punjab companies did other insurances also. Most of these companies and offices were owned by non-Muslims.
“There were two stock exchanges registered as limited liability companies in Lahore. Of the members of both of these there was only one Muslim, the rest all being Hindus and sikhs.”
He also gives an account of educational institutions of Lahore as he writes, “Lahore was an important educational Centre of the province and a very great part in its educational development had been played by Hindus,Christians, Brahmo Samaj, Dev Samaj and Arya Samaj. The non-Muslim share in the promotion and development of educational institutions was stupendous.
There were, in Lahore, as many as 270 educational institutions which were recognised by education department or were affiliated to Punjab University. “ About the medical facilities Prof. Bali writes, “ Lahore was well supplied with hospitals. The total number of those run on the up-to-date modern allopathic lines were 12. In addition there were four hospitals run on the indigenous methods of medicine but it should be noted that not a single hospital run on modern allopathic or even on the indigenous lines, was run by Muslims, either for males or for females.”
The book also gives a detailed account of how a Muslim minority Lahore was manipulated to become a Muslim dominated area. Once this was done Sikhs and Hindus started bearing the brunt. The book also tells the deceit of Hindus and Sikhs by Congress party. “Mr. Jinnah was in a defiant mood after cent percent success of Muslim league in the central elections. The Congress had run away, he said, in the first round of the battle when they did not put up a single Congress Muslim leader against the Muslim league ..”
The book also gives a detailed account of how Jinnah and Muslim League were able to pressurise Congress to submit to the demand of Pakistan. “Mr Jinnah by calling for a truce for the first time officially admitted that his followers were waging a war against the Hindus and Sikha in India “.
Professor Bali in his book also details how after the partition or during the turmoil RSS helped Sikhs and Hindus to safely came to this part of the country. “ Who else came to the rescue of the people at this stage but a band of young selfless Hindus, popularly known as RSS. They organised in every Mohalla (area) of every town of the province, the work of evacuation of the Hindu and Sikh women and children from dangerous pockets to comparatively safe centres. They organised for their feeding, medical aid,clothing and care. Parties for the protection of institutions were organised. Even Fire Engine brigades were found in various towns. Arrangements for transport by lorries and buses and provision of escort on the trains getting the fleeing Hindus and Sikhs were organised. Day and night vigil is in various Hindu and Sikh localities was kept and people were taught how to defend themselves when attacked. When the situation on the eve of partition became very serious and law and order utterly broke down or, it would be more correct to say, was now used only to suppress the Hindus and Sikha, several members of RSS showed their proficiency in the use of fire weapons. I could name several Congress leaders of note in various districts of Punjab who openly solicited the help of RSS even for their own protection and the protection of their kith and kin.”