Eye Witness Account by Sardar Nirvair Singh, s/o Sardar Mehar Singh, village Vasaali, Thaana Kallar Sayyada, Tehsil Kahoota, District Rawalpindi.
Following is an eye witness account of great event of 1947, by Sardar Nirvair Singh. It is a must read. Please read and thank Vaheguru for giving us such secure lives. If we cannot do Naam abhyaas and bhagti even in such easy living, then we are the most ungrateful in the world.
On 6th March, 1947 at 12pm a Muslim came and informed us that our village Vahaali was in danger tonight. He asked us to leave immediately. Within seconds this news spread across the village. The Muslims had already attacked the neighbouring villages of Hindus and Sikhs.
All Hindus and Sikhs gathered at the house of Mr. Bal Mukand who was the Superintendent of Police. After the meeting all roads leading to our village were blocked by throwing trees on the roads. Three levels of defence were formed around our village. At each morcha, 20 young-trained Sikhs were asked to defend. Each Morcha had at least one Sikh who understood Pashtu language (language of Pathaans), so that they may understand what Muslims were saying.
At night about 3-4 thousand armed Muslims came from the side of the small hill. They raised slogans against the Sikhs and in favour of Pakistan. Around 9pm they attacked us. Singhs performed Ardaas and raised “SAT SREE AKAAL” slogans. Singhs gave me (Nirvair Singh) the hukam to fire and I fired 20 rounds. Muslims retreated and took their dead along with them.
After one hour they attacked again and this time they attacked the house of Sardar Dyaal Singh Marwaha. One stone hit Sardar Gurmukh Singh and he was seriously injured. From our side we fired from 3 defence posts (Morchay) and the Muslims again retreated and took their dead along.
They came back and attacked the Haveli (big house) of Sardar Hardit Singh. They tried to set it on fire. Sardar Hardit Singh warned them to stop but they did not. At that point Subedar Gopal Singh fired and they retreated and they again took their dead along.
From there they attacked the house of Bakshi Balwant Singh. They tried to set his house on fire. Bakshi jee along with some young Sikh men (gabhroo) attacked the Muslims with Kirpaans and Spears. The Muslims fled and then did not come back but surrounded the village.
The next day all Sikhs gathered at the Gurdwara Sahib and did Karaah Parshaad for 250 rupees. An ardaas was performed before Satguru to protect the honour (sharam and dharam) of Khalsa. Mr. Bal Mukand along with Sardar Sunder Singh Kandhari went to see the morchay (defence posts). This way the Sikhs repelled their attacks for three days.
ONE ON ONE CHALLENGE BY MUSLIMS
On March 9th, a very prominent and known warrior of Muslims – Sharif came with many armed companions and challenged Subedar Gopal Singh jee, “If you are a Sikh of your Guru, then come down and fight me”. Subedar Gopal Singh jee did not stop or hesitate and immediately went out in the open and accepted his challenge. Many Sikhs stopped him but he stayed adamant saying that a “Sikh of Guru” had been challenged.
The fight started but soon Sharif and his group fled. Many died and Sharif himself was seriously injured. Now the Muslims went far from the village and waited for more supply. They went to other towns like Pir Diwan Shah and Subedar Lal Khan etc to recruit more Muslims to fight us.
BRAHMINS LEAVE VAHAALI
By March 13, all villages of Hindus and Sikhs had been destroyed but the Sikhs of Vahaali had not been even been scratched by the Muslims. On March 12, Subedar Lal Khan the head of the Muslims started talks with Mr. Bal Mukand the Police Superintendent. He took all Brahmins along with him and had talks with Subedar Lal Khan. On their way there, an angry Brahmin Dhan Raj, fired on the Muslim crowd who had said some derogatory things to the Hindus. The Muslims got hold of Dhan Raj alive and cut him into small pieces right there. They did not say anything to other Brahmins. That night Bal Mukand and other Brahmins left for safe places.
TALKS BETWEEN SIKHS AND MUSLIMS
That night at 8pm the Muslim negotiators Subedar Lal Khan, Subedar Allahdaad Khan, Ghulam Khan etc. came to the Sikhs of Vahaali for talks. They arrived at Sardar Hardit Singh jee house and they all were served tea. Muslims leaders brought Koran Sharifs (Muslim holy books) along and swore on it that they would not harm any Sikh and would let them leave in peace just as the Brahmins were allowed to leave.
The innocent and simple minded sangat believed what the Muslims leaders were saying but Sardar Nanak Singh and Sardar Gopal Singh vehemently opposed saying, “Don’t believe their pledges and swearing even if they do so thousand times”. Majority of sangat believed what Muslims were telling them. The Muslims laid down following conditions for peace:
1) The Sikhs who had killed Muslims in fight are to be handed over to the Muslims.
2) They asked for 12,000 rupees.
3) They asked for all weapons including guns.
The first condition was hard to accept because the Sikhs who killed attacking Muslims were daas (Nirvair Singh) and Subedar Gopal Singh and they were the most prominent Sikhs. The Sangat after much deliberation agreed to hand us over to them. We too agreed and bowed our heads to the decision of sangat. We thought that if by sacrificing our life, the lives of sangat can be saved, then it is not a bad decision.
We handed over our guns to sangat. Otherwise too we were going to run out of bullets very shortly. The money was handed over to the Khans who took the money the same night and left.
That night after the Khans left, some more Muslims came around 12am and told us, “We are not going to let you off the hook so easily. Until you read Kalma and become Muslims, we will not let you leave alive. So hurry up and accept Islam, become Muslims. Don’t delay. If you delay, you all will die”.
Sangat heard all this in horror and replied that they will let the Muslims know by 4am next morning.
GREAT TRAGEDY AT THE GURDWARA SAHIB
The next morning all Sikhs gathered at the Gurdwara Sahib and a huge cremation ground was prepared there. About 10,000 kilograms of wood was piled up there and many drums of Deshi Ghee were poured over it. All bibiyaan did ishnaan and wore new clothes. They started doing paath and were now getting ready to jump in burning fire alive.
After ardaas and distributing Karaah Parshaad, Sikh women started jumping in the burning fire. No Sikh bibi was seen crying. Bibiyaan lost the sense of moh up to such extent that bibiyaan did not even bid farewell to their families. No bibi gave pyaar to their children. They had only one aim and that was to protect their bodies from getting raped by the Muslim tyrants. These women knew that they were not fighters and they would get gang raped as Hindu and Sikh women in some villages got raped and were then sent to brothels. These women had no choice but to die. (They must have wished that they knew how to fight).
Sardar Harbans Singh Gandhi and Sardar Labh Singh themselves killed their women and children to save them rape and torture in the hands of Muslims. Whichever bibi asked to be killed was killed at their behest.
In the meantime Sardar Chand Suniyaara brought 12 bombs that he had himself made at home. When the attacker came to attack the Gurdwara Sahib, these bombs were thrown at them. Many Muslims were killed as a result of this bombing.
HAND TO HAND COMBAT
The young Sikhs men and women, who were skilled in martial arts, attacked the Muslims with swords, spears and other weapons. The attackers were many whereas the Sikhs were only few. In this hand to hand combat the Sikhs got martyred, killing countless Muslims. Sikhs were fighting for their honour whereas the Muslims were looters. The Muslims were not able to fight with the vigour that Sikhs had.
GREAT SHAHEEDI OF SARDAR DHERA SINGH
Weapons of some singhs broke while they were fighting and they were captured alive. Muslims killed these Singhs after many tortures.
Sardar Dhera Singh was captured alive and he was asked to utter the Kalma and become Muslim.
They said, “Utter Kalma just once and we will spare you”.
Sardar Dhera Singh in response cried out, “SATNAAM SREE VAHEGURU”.
They hit him with an axe and severely injured him and then again asked him to say Kalma.
Sardar Dhera Singh at the top of his voice said, “SATNAAM SREE VAHEGURU”.
They kept hitting him with axe but Sardar Dhera Singh did not stop saying “Satnaam Sree Vaheguru”. He got shaheed this way, enduring countless axe attacks.
SHAHEEDI OF SARDAR DIWAN PAL SINGH AND SARDAR BHAGAT SINGH
Sardar Diwan Pal Singh was captured alive. They asked him to say Kalma. He in turn said “SATNAAM SREE VAHEGURU”. They took out his eye using a spear and poured salt in his eye. He still continued saying Vaheguru Vaheguru but did not yield to their demand of becoming a Muslim. He got shaheed enduring countless tortures.
Sardar Bhagat Singh was fighting with great valour and was causing great damage to them. His body was repeatedly hit with spears and swords but he just would not fall. He kept fighting. In the end, the angry attackers shot him to death.
Teacher, Bibi Raj Kaur got shaheed fighting with great valour and so did Bibi Hira Deyee jee.
Bapoo Trilok Singh was killed very mercilessly.
Bakshi Balwant Singh who was a very devout Sikh, was killed by sangmaar. Sang maar is killing a person hitting with stones. He just stood there and kept doing Vaheguru Vaheguru. Not once did he cry or even moan at the severe pain he was feeling. He got stoned to death but did not give up his faith.
GREAT SHAHEEDI OF SARDAR JEET SINGH JEE
Sardar Jeet Singh jee used to say out very loud jaikaara at the Gurdwara Sahib. The Muslims caught him alive. They asked him to utter the Kalma and become a Muslim. In response to their demand Sardar Jeet Singh jee cried out a very loud jaikaara, “BOLLLLEEEEEEE SOOOOOO NIHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!! SAAAAAAT SREEEEEEEEEEEEEE AKAAAAAAAAAL!!!!
Every time they asked him to say Kalma, Sardar jee responded with a jaikaara. The agitated attackers got mad and filled his body with spear wounds. Sardar jee kept saying jaikaaras. The furious Muslims cut his tongue and then took out both his eyes but he still stayed defiant. They basically cut him into small pieces. Sardar jee stayed in chardi kala to the end.
Labh Singh who was very old was killed mercilessly.
Sardar Diyaal Singh was cut to pieces by the attackers.
The granthi, Giani Darshan Singh was taken on one side and they did him halaal as they do to the animals.
Sardar Niranjan Singh and this writer (Nirvair Singh) fought them for long time and in the end were surrounded at a place. Sardar Naranjan Singh was killed there and I was severely injured.
SHAHEEDI OF A PREGNANT WOMAN AND AN EIGHT YEAR OLD GIRL
Bibi Partap Kaur who was pregnant at the time of the attack was not allowed by sangat to burn alive in the Gurdwara Sahib. She was caught alive by the Muslims and was asked to accept Islam and become a Muslim. She refused. They tortured her but she did not budge. In the end, her stomach was cut apart and her unborn child was put on a spear and killed. She too was killed soon after.
Eight-year-old Sikh girl, Inder Kaur who was one of the daughters of Sardar Chatrath Singh fought the Muslims with a sword. Then she was captured alive. She was asked to become a Muslim. She refused and was tortured to death. (Her shaheedi brings back to life the shahidi of Sahibzada Zorovar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh). She stayed a Sikh and died a Sikh.
The old bibi Parmeshari was killed mercilessly. Santokh Singh was killed by his own servant Iqbal Khan, who was a Muslim.
Any remaining and surviving old women and children were put in a room and burned alive.
In this massacre total 380 Sikhs got shaheed and one Brahmin Dhan Raj got shaheed.
In the mean time military arrived and we were taken to hospitals and relief camps.
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This was a lose translation of this great massacre of Sikhs in 1947. For a long time I wanted to find out about the massacres of Rawalpindi. This is just one example. There are such stories in many villages of Rawalpindi.