A few deliberations on Jammu and Mirpur massacres

On November 6, the government of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and the Islamic religious organisations commemorated the attack on a Muslim refugee convoy that had left Jammu city on the day in 1947 for Sialkot in Pakistan. It was attacked by a gang of Hindu and Sikh mobsters who butchered down most of the members of the convoy.
November 6 is remembered as Yom-Shohida-e-Jammu (Remembrance Day of the Jammu Martyrs). It is claimed that this act of barbarity was part of a larger agenda of Muslim genocide and that over 250,000 Muslims were massacred on the day.
I would like to shed some light on two incidents of gross human right violation that took place in Jammu as well as in Mirpur on November 6 and November 25, 1947, respectively, that targeted both Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir.
Let us first deal with the number of fatalities that took place on November 6, 1947. According to Kashmiri historian and human rights activist Sameena Raja, the convoy consisted of 30 buses.
Therefore, it is not hard to calculate that if 50 people boarded each bus then the total number of Muslim refugees would be 1,500. Suppose they were double that number and 100 people boarded each bus even then the total number of refugees could not have exceeded 3,000.
Therefore, to claim that more than 250,000 Muslims were killed on and around November 6, 1947, does not stand firm.
The reason the Hindu and Sikh gangs were able to attack and kill the Muslim refugees is that the then Chief executive of the besieged state of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah, had refused to send a military escort with the convoy, therefore, leaving it exposed to any vulnerability.
On November 9, 1947, a second convoy of Muslim refugees was attacked at the same point while travelling to Pakistan. However, on this occasion a massacre was averted since the convoy was accompanied by a para-military escort. Upon coming under attack the para-military opened fire which ended up with 150 Hindu and Sikh attackers dead.
There is no evidence that after that day a Muslim refugee convoy ever came under attack again.
This was an isolated incident that took place in the backdrop of the Muslim-Hindu communal violence that had engulfed the northern and north-eastern parts of India during the time of partition in 1947.
It was a time of total madness as insanity prevailed among those Muslims and Hindus who had been incited by the British policy of divide and rule and seemed as if a spell had been cast over the minds of the people who were involved in such violence.
The fact is that thousands of Hindus and Sikhs had taken refuge in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. This above all is a testimony to the fact that Jammu and Kashmir had been very peaceful and that communal harmony was still intact despite the air of suspicion.
When the Hindus and Sikhs from the Punjab began to arrive in Jammu with tales of massacres carried out by the Muslims in Punjab, it infuriated the locals and this was the main cause of the unfortunate attack of the above-mentioned Muslim convoy. It was conducted as an act of revenge and not as a general policy of genocide of Muslim population.
Late Yousef Saraf, former Chief Justice of Azad Kashmir, estimates the total number of Muslims killed during communal violence between the entire period of communal violence that spread into the state of Jammu and Kashmir was between 20,000 to 30,000.
However, the British press at the time presented its readers with highly exaggerated figures. The Times stated that a total of 237,000 Muslims were killed or migrated to Pakistan. Ian Stephens, the editor of The Statesman, claimed that 500,000 were eliminated and 200,000 simply disappeared.
Why was the British press reporting such exaggerated figures? Sameena Raja is of the opinion that it was part of a greater colonial plan to keep Indians fighting among each other on communal basis and that it was in line with the Raj’s policy to divide and rule. But there might be another sinister plan that needs deeper examination.
Three very important princely states that were of immense strategic importance were engulfed in Muslim-Hindu communal violence and ended up being divided. Bengal ended up being divided into East Pakistan and West Bengal, Punjab into west Pakistan and East Punjab and the state of Jammu and Kashmir into PoJK and Gilgit-Baltistan and the state of Jammu Kashmir.
The purpose of blocking India’s land access to Central Asia and Soviet Union’s access to the Indian Ocean was thus achieved by the withdrawing British. A price that to this day the people of the Indian sub-continent are paying dearly.
The Jammu massacre was no act of Muslim genocide but was part of a larger plan to sow the seed of Muslim-Hindu communal hate that unfortunately remains to this day.
On the other hand, the Mirpur massacre of Hindu and Sikh community that began in Mirpur district on November 25, 1947 was purely of genocidal nature.
Firstly, it targeted a religious minority with the aim of exterminating Hindu and Sikh communities so that the ‘land of the pure’ (Pak-is-tan) could be extended into PoJK.
Secondly, it was conducted by the invading Pakistan army and the tribal Lashkar that were acting as mercenaries.
Finally, no action to stop the genocidal violence, the killing of Hindus and Sikhs, was initiated at any stage by the Pakistan government or its invading Jihadist military or even Sardar Ibrahim the then president of so called “Azad Kashmir”.
Worse still, Sheikh Abdullah, the chief executive of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that was liberated by the Indian troops, made no effort to send Indian troops to save the Hindus and Sikhs stranded in the district of Mirpur or elsewhere. On the contrary he refused to send troops to rescuethe Hindu and Sikh men, women and children.
As a result, more than 100,000 Hindus and Sikhs were massacred and as a result today not a single Hindu or Sikh is found in PoJK.
The genocide of the Hindu Pandits during the late eighties and early nineties that took place in the Valley of Kashmir is a stark reminder for us that if lessons are not learnt from history it repeats itself as a farce.
In hindsight, the Jammu massacre was an isolated incident of communal riot whereas the massacre of Hindu and Sikh communities in PoJK was simply genocide against a religious and cultural community, a genocide that continues to this day.

( is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK)

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