By April 27, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

Population Transfers in Asia, Joseph B. Schechtman, Hallsby Press, NY 1949.

Returning and Redemption
THE phenomenon of mass transfer of population has become a familiar one in our age. The author of this book has, in an earlier work of his (European Population Transfers, 1939-1945), written an authoritative account of the part played by population transfer in the recent history of Europe. In this volume he directs his scholarly attention to some of the outstanding population problems of the giant continent which is steadily assuming a more and more important role in world history. He here applies to Asia the lessons learned in Europe, and the results of his research and analysis will be of interest to every student of world affairs.

A close associate of Jabotinsky for thirty years, Joseph B. Schechtman has based this biography on intimate personal knowledge of his subject and on exhaustive research. Born in Odessa in 1891, Dr. Schechtman was educated in Russia and Germany. In 1917, he was elected to the Ukrainian National Assembly, but left Russia in 1920 to spend the next twenty years in various European countries. After arriving in the United States in 1941, be helped establish the Research Bureau on Population Movements and served from 1944 to 1945 with the Office of Strategic Services as a specialist on population problems. A journalist, author, editor, and political scientist of note, Dr. Schechtman has also been active in Jewish political organizations and was a member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine.


UNTIL very recently students of international affairs thought of minority problems as an exclusively European matter. They seldom gave due consideration to the fact that in Asiatic countries, too, there are many complicated minority questions, some of them of so explosive a nature that they threaten world peace no less than the most acute minority problems of Europe.

The author has made an exhaustive study of the transfer and exchange of European minorities during and after World War II. Against that background he attempts in this work to analyze a number of Asiatic minority problems which, he has become fully convinced, can be solved only by transfer and/or exchange of population,

A few particularly characteristic and instructive instances have been selected for study. The first is the Hindu-Moslem conflict which found expression in the huge, epochal, unorganized exchange of population between the newborn Dominions of Pakistan and India. The second concerns Middle East Christians particularly- the repatriation of scattered Armenian minorities to Soviet Armenia and the desperate plight of the remnant of the ancient Assyrians. A special chapter is devoted to the plan of Arab-Jewish exchange of population, which, in the author’s opinion, offers great promise for the peaceful development of Palestine and the entire Middle East.

The scope and character of this study have been greatly influenced by the fact that it is a pioneer in its field. Because of the very recent or contemporary character of most of the events dealt with here, the author has had to rely largely on newspaper reports. He has made every effort to use this raw and often contradictory material in the most cautious and critical way, in order to piece together a cogent description of the transfers that have occurred and to present a thorough discussion of the problems involved.

March, 1949 Joseph B. Schechtman


I The Hindu-Moslem Exchange of Population

II Transfer of Middle East Christian Minorities

  • Repatriation of Armenians to Soviet Armenia
  • The Abortive Assyrian Transfer

III The Case for Arab-Jewish Transfer of Population



Movements of Refugees from and to India and Pakistan

Distribution of Palestine Arab Refugees in Neighboring Arab Countries


THE 389,000,000 inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent speak 325 recognizable languages, fifteen of them used for official purposes, and many more dialects. In addition to being divided by tribe, nation, caste, and race, they are split into several warring religions and sects, including Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, and Jains. They are separated into a number of distinctly hostile groups, for whom not their country but their religious community is the basis of nationality. “For that reason,” says James C. De Wilde who has had twenty-five years of experience in the Far East, “one will look in vain for an ‘Indian.’ That type, as we in the West fancy him, does not exist; one will only find Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc.”1

All these communities are, of course, bound together by long centuries of common existence. Their conflicts are not fought on racial grounds- Bengali Muslims and Hindus have far more in common with each other than the former have with the Pathans or the latter with the Tamils. But there also are deep-rooted differences in ancestral origin, since some Indian communities are descended from the aboriginal inhabitants of the land, and others from the Aryan conquerors who came from various countries. The Moslems can never forget that they once ruled India as alien conquerors. Although many Indian Moslems today are descendants of Hindu converts to Islam,2 the great majority identify themselves with the Moslems who entered India in successive waves of invasion from the eighth century of our era onwards. Their thoughts constantly turn back to the great period of their rule, the Mogul Empire of Babur and his successors, the [2] greatest of whom was Akbar, a contemporary of the English Queen Elizabeth. Conversely, the Hindus have not forgotten that they were forced, over a long period of time, to act as the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the conquerors.

In America and in Europe the terms “Hindu,” “Moslem,” and “Sikh” are used as merely designating religious groups. Technically that is correct. But in India those terms are understood and used differently. The word “religious” seldom appears in Indian newspaper headlines in connection with group conflicts. Indians refer to these group differences as “communal.” Religious sects or groups are called “communities.” That is closer to the real truth. It is the things that are held or done in common that identify and distinguish each group. Religion in India is not just a faith. It is a way of life, sufficiently differentiated from other ways of life to provide complete self-identification within each group.3 There is a deep gulf between the Moslem religion and mode of life and that of the Hindus. Their notions of social, political and even economic affairs are deeply divergent. Mohammed Ali Jinnah once defined the essential difference between his people and the Hindus as follows- “They worship cow. I eat cow. I defile a Hindu if my shadow falls across him. A Hindu would not take water from my hand. We are utterly different.”4 The Sikh way of life, too, with its denial of caste, that very essence of the Hindu way of life, sets barriers between them and the majority community. But between Sikhs and Moslems, also, there are long generations of conflict. For it was under the hammer blows of Moslem pressure in the Punjab that the Sikhs were forced into religious and military cohesiveness.

There is also a basic economic difference between the 22 per cent of the Indian people who are Moslems and the 68 per cent who are Hindus. The bulk of the Moslems in India are poor agriculturists. It was chiefly the poorest Hindus who became converted to Islam. As a result, Moslems have been less advanced than Hindus educationally and politically. They have found it [3] difficult to compete with Hindus in commerce and, when there was open competition, in obtaining official posts. Thus they have suffered from a dual frustration, caused by the Hindus as well as the British. While the Moslems are for the most part farmers and producers, the Hindus are the middlemen who get the produce to market. The Moslems have become increasingly conscious of their economic inferiority; they cite countless examples in which Moslems have been “driven to the wall” by unfair Hindu business practices. In a study, Pakistan and Moslem India, published in Bombay in 1943 with a foreword by M.A. Jinnah, the Moslem author complains that “there are certain occupations (shop-keeping, the grain and cloth markets, money-lending) entirely reserved for Hindus and the Moslems have been completely shut out of them . . . even in the purely Moslem areas . . . The Hindu middle class is prosperous and flourishing, and controls the internal and external trade of the country. . . . The Moslem middle class in cities has no choice left except to work as laborers or to seek petty jobs in Government service. . . . The Moslems cannot look upon this state of affairs as a fait accompli. Nor can they accept forever the condition of being a debtor community.” (p. 4)5

Inter-communal tension increased noticeably with the preparations for British withdrawal from India. When offering dominion status to the whole of India, the British Government on March 29, 1942 made a special proviso that the future Indian Constitutional Convention conclude a treaty with Great Britain “for the protection of racial and religious minorities.” However, this British scheme for protection of racial and religious minorities in all of India, to be guaranteed by a treaty with Great Britain, has never materialized. Mohammed Jinnah’s campaign for a separate Moslem state of Pakistan achieved its goal, but it also intensified and brought to a climax the mutual distrust and fear among Moslems, Hindus and Sikhs, in particular in those areas where the communities were fairly evenly balanced and one or more [4] of than dreaded becoming a minority after the partition of India. Each of these potential minorities felt uneasy and depressed at the thought of being left to the mercies of the surrounding majority. Embattled Pakistan was looked upon as a promised land by Moslems who felt themselves hopelessly submerged among the over-whelming Hindu-Sikh population of the Dominion of India. Similarly, a “minority complex” developed among the 19,000,000 Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan who began to realize that in that fiercely nationalistic Moslem dominion they might degenerate into second class citizens. To each of these acutely self-conscious minority groups their respective co-racial dominions on the other side of the border became a kind of sanctuary.

Aversion to minority status seems to have been particularly strong among the Moslem community. They pointed to their experience in the United Provinces in 1937-39, as evidence of the fact that where they have been obliged to live under a Hindu majority their rights have been ignored. Choudharry Rahmat Ali, founder and president of the Pakistan national movement, wrote in connection with this question-7

What is the fundamental truth about minorities? It is that there are times when minorities are the heralds of their original nations, and others when they are the symbols of their helplessness. Again, there are times when nations can fully assimilate minorities and others, when minorities can fatally sabotage such nations. Finally, there are times when to leave minorities in foreign lands, or to keep alien minorities in your own lands, is a sound policy, and others, when to do either, is childish folly- also when to do neither is saving statesmanship, but when to do both is sure suicide. It is the last contingency which concerns us in the current phase of our life and calls upon us to remember that, in the past, “minorityism” has ever proved itself a major enemy of our Millat, that at present it is sabotaging us religiously, culturally, and politically even in our national lands . . .

To leave our minorities in Hindu lands is . . . to forget the [5] tragic fate that overwhelmed our minorities which–in more favorable times and with better guarantees than now possible–we left in Sicily, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Austria, and Hungary. Where are they now? To ask that question is to answer it in the most poignant terms.

Leaders in both Dominions have honestly tried to eliminate this tense and dangerous minority complex. On Independence Day (August 15, 1947) they eloquently reiterated their guarantee to minorities, “There is no doubt of the leaders’ sincerity,” Robert Trumbull cabled the New York Times from New Delhi on August 16th, “but the question whether Hindus and Moslems can live amicably side by side remains to be answered by events.” The answer was given quickly. One month later Trumbull reported- “The leaders of both new nations urged these minorities to stay where they were and guaranteed protection. These leaders were simply not in a position to make such guarantees on behalf of the ignorant fanatical masses. Events proved that these assurances were worthless.”8


Trouble started in the strategic province of Punjab. Moslems were a majority–57 per cent of its total population of 28,418,000–and the Moslem League was determined to win the whole of this rich, food-producing province for Pakistan. This plan was violently opposed by the over four million Sikhs (the total number of Sikhs in India is 5,691,000) and by the Hindus. While forming less than 30 per cent of the Punjab population, the Hindus dominated industry, commerce, banking, and the professions in the province and feared that if it went to Pakistan, discriminatory legislation would very soon drive them out of business.

The Hindu Congress demanded the division of the Punjab on ethnic lines as a pre-condition to the cession of Pakistan. This stand was finally accepted by the Moslems and the British. For the [6] Hindu position was logically unassailable. If a Moslem minority could not with any confidence accept its position in a Hindu-majority federative state, a Hindu or Sikh minority could not with any confidence accept a position in a Moslem-majority unit. It was thus reluctantly agreed that the Hindu and Sikh majority districts in the Punjab and Bengal provinces would be attached to the Hindu, and not to the Moslem, dominion.

But having agreed on the principle, boundary commissions representing each side found it impossible to draw satisfactory or even tolerable frontier lines between the two dominions. In point of fact, no doubt seemed to exist on the basis for the division- it was simply a matter of consulting the census of 1941. But the communal representatives seemed unable to reach any compromise. The Hindu Congress and the Sikhs demanded a demarcation line which would have left some 9,500,000 Moslems (41.8 per cent of the entire Moslem population) in Indian East Punjab; the Moslem line would have left 6,725,000 non-Moslems (or 55 per cent of the total non-Moslem population of the Punjab) in West Punjab, where they then constituted 31.6 per cent of the province’s population. At the end, the decision was left to Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the British chairman of the mixed commission, who drew his own line. This line reduced the minorities on either side to what is probably the minimum possible- some 27 per cent of the former Moslem population of the Punjab was left to the east, and 32.5 per cent of the non-Moslems to the west, in each case about 4,000,000 people.9

This demarcation line provoked violent criticism. Hindus, Sikhs, and Moslems alike objected strenuously to Sir Cyril’s refusal to be guided solely by communal groupings in certain instances where other practical considerations were also highly important. As a result, numerous local communal majorities were converted into minorities overnight. Sir Cyril’s own report maintained that considerations of administrative efficiency made these decisions inevitable. He pointed out that “legitimate criticism” would follow, whichever way he ruled.10

[7] In this he was undoubtedly right. For in India, as well as in Europe, no matter where boundaries were drawn, there would be large population islands left in a community and under a government they regarded as alien and hostile. No sharp geographical line corresponds to a rigid communal line. In fact, there was not one district in Pakistan, not even in the North-West Frontier Province or Sind, without a Hindu minority, while in some districts that minority represented a considerable proportion of the total population. Similarly, a good many areas with a large Moslem population were left on the Hindu side of the frontier. The Sikhs fared worst of all- they were split in two. Hopelessly overshadowed by the two larger communities, the Sikhs were not overjoyed at the thought of being ruled by New Delhi, and they would have protested vociferously if they had been placed en bloc within the borders of Pakistan. But to be split into two helpless fragments, partitioned between two alien regimes, was both the most catastrophic and the most humiliating thing that could have happened to them.11

Claims and counter-claims to Punjab areas were pressed so hotly that the fires of communal conflict were ignited several months before partition was effected. Spurred by religious fanaticism, reckless political propaganda, fright and often economic frustration, Moslems, Sikhs, and Hindus fell upon each other with knives, swords, clubs, and the torch.

The first wave of communal riots in the Punjab came when the Moslem League tried to seize power early in 1947. With the support of the British governor, a provincial Cabinet had been scraped together from all the minorities; the League attempted to overturn it and to shake the strong police rule which had been imposed. Gigantic demonstrations by League followers reached strata of the Moslem population which had never before participated in politics, and the Sikh leadership decided to stop the movement by a show of force.12 In February 1947, Master Tara Singh, political leader of the Sikh community, proclaimed a civil war designed to [8] keep Moslem rule out of the eastern Punjab and significantly added- “But why should we stop there? We would try to drive them (the Moslems) out of the Punjab entirely.”13 The Moslems on their part took the offensive. In Lahore, commercial center of Punjab with a population of 671,000, Moslem goondas (thugs) began to set fire to the business houses and residences of the 300,000 strong Sikh and Hindu minority, justifying this as a way of establishing the claims of the majority. “Destroy their houses,” they said, “and with them their claims to Lahore on the basis of property.” Retaliation on the Hindu side came from a nationalistic organization called the Rashtriya Sevak Singh, whose whispered reasoning was, “Bomb the Moslems to death and wipe out their majority in Lahore.”14 The Sikhs retaliated in nearby Amritsar, their holy city, and in hundreds of smaller settlements in predominantly Sikh area. Between March 3 and June 23 (when the Punjab Assembly voted on partition), 3,200 persons were killed in the province of Punjab and at least 100,000 Hindus and Sikhs evacuated the city of Lahore which “was completely at a standstill.” Refugees streamed along the roads, and in spite of strongly worded appeals from Moslem League, Congress Party and Sikh leaders, rioting, bombing and arson continued unabated. The Hindus were the bomb throwers, while Moslems specialized in arson and stabbing.15 The partition of the province into West (Pakistan) and East (India) Punjab did not stop the bitter communal strife. Violence on one side begot revenge on the other. Old bloody accounts were revived and lavishly settled. “Talk to a Sikh,” the correspondent of the London Times cabled on August 24 from Lahore, “and he will declare that this is retaliation for what the Moslems did to the Sikhs in Rawalpindi in March–which was retaliation for the Hindu massacres of Moslems in Bihar, which was retaliation for Noakali, which was retaliation for Calcutta. So it goes back, violence begetting violence.” Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Chief Indian Delegate to the United Nations, aptly said that “when elemental passions infest vast masses of men, the cycle of attack and [9] revenge is apt to spread with lightning rapidity.”16

The communal fighting was attended by a fury never witnessed in all preceding conflicts and left cities and villages looking like battlefields. Neither side spared women and children from ghastly knifing, burning alive and crimes of lust.


For millions of human beings within this vicious cycle of attack and revenge there was only one salvation- flight. The exodus began in the spring of 1947, and by July some 250,000 Hindus had fled to India from predominantly Moslem West Punjab.17 Simultaneously, it was “semi-officially” confirmed in Lahore that there had been a substantial flight of Hindu capital from that city since the beginning of the disturbances in the spring. Similar movements took place out of the Pakistan North West Frontier Province. The Delhi controller of rationing announced on June 24 that approximately 75,000 refugees from all the disturbed areas had by that time reached the capital of the Delhi province.18

These first waves of refugees played a sinister and often fatal role in inflaming and spreading hatred and bloodshed between communities. “I think we can safely say that 75 per cent of what has happened in Delhi is the direct result of stories of refugees,” declared Indian Premier Pandit Nehru at a news conference.19 This does not seem to have been an overstatement. Robert Trumbull reported from New Delhi on September 7th- “These refugees, whose memories of recent horrors are still aflame, constitute the greatest menace to peace in Delhi. They consist of both Moslems and non-Moslems and their temper is kept constantly excited by stories of new outrages being brought to Delhi daily by evacuees from the Punjab. Thousands of them are armed and are eager to avenge themselves and their co-religionists. These newcomers nurse murder in their hearts against all Moslems as the result of atrocities against the Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. The [10] Moslems are equally vengeful for what has happened on India’s side of the Punjab border, particularly in the Sikh country.”20 The Delhi correspondent of the London Times described the refugees as “carriers of infectious hysteria or mental derangement” which has beset India’s communities. The incubation period, he said, is the time it takes a large number of refugees to move from one part of the country to another.21

If bloodshed and consequent mass flight only partly affected areas other than Punjab and a few other provinces, that is largely due to what Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the “strong man” of the Indian Government, ominously hinted at as the role minorities might possibly play as hostages. On October 16, a dispatch to the New York Times stated- “It seems generally accepted that if there is trouble in Calcutta where the Hindus predominate, the reaction will be swift and severe in East Bengal, where millions of Hindus are ‘hostages to fortune’ amidst an overwhelming Moslem majority.” Referring to attacks on non-Moslem refugees in Pakistan, H. S. Suhrawardy, Moslem League leader and former Premier of Bengal, significantly said on October 28, 1947- “For the sake of the life and liberty and honor of the unfortunate Moslem minority in the Indian Union, I beg the Moslems of West Punjab to see that such incidents are put a stop to at once.”22

Members of minority groups who had escaped slaughter or attack but feared that their turn would soon come, took to the road. Early in October, Hindus started leaving the city of Dacca in East Bengal in which the Moslem majority was 70.8 per cent of the population and which has been described as Pakistan’s “eastern capital.” Dacca with a population of 213,000 witnessed serious communal disturbances in the autumn of 1946, but was relatively calm in 1947. Nevertheless, despite assurances by the East Bengal Government, the exodus spread to almost the entire province, and by the middle of October Hindus were reported coming by train, boat and on foot to Hindu West Bengal.23 Similar developments took place in Karachi, capital of the Dominion of Pakistan, with a [11] population of 359,000–55 to 60 per cent of whom were Hindus, controlling the lion’s share of the city’s commercial life, Karachi had long been relatively free from communal disturbances. None the less, in October about 3,000 Hindus were reported leaving the city every day, two-thirds of them on crowded little steamers bound for Okha and Bombay.24 V. Viswanathan, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Karachi, said on October 11 that he could sell 60,000 tickets to India if he had space. By the beginning of 1948, when bloody disorders broke out between the Moslem and Hindu populations, about 100,000 Hindus had already left Karachi.25

In other parts of India, minority groups had to leave under pressure of threats or were “advised” to go. Sikh bands in East Punjab, after having attacked Moslem villages and killed many villagers, drove other villagers away with the warning- “Go to your Pakistan! If you dare come back here, we’ll kill you to the last child.”26 And in Qadian, holy town of the Moslem Ahmediya sect in the Indian East Punjab, the Sikhs offered not to molest the 6,000 Moslems there resident, if only they left for Pakistan–indeed, the Sikhs would even escort them safely to the Pakistan border.27

Successive waves of survivors and of “voluntary” and compulsory refugees flooded every highway, road and cowpath linking Pakistan with India. Every means of conveyance–from airplanes to ox-carts–was used to escape annihilation and reach safety.

Trains were jammed with passengers riding on the roof and hanging from the sides. Special trains moving 1,000 a day in each direction between Lahore and Amritsar were reported on August 21 by the Associated Press. But train travel proved to be both inadequate and extremely hazardous. A military spokesman of the Indian Government revealed on September 24 in New Delhi that at least seven trains had been attacked in both East and West Punjab, with considerable casualties among the refugees. Two thousand Moslems were killed on September 22 when a Moslem refugee train from Delhi, carrying several thousand persons, was [12] attacked near Amritsar, Sikh stronghold in East Punjab; only one hundred persons escaped uninjured. Two trains carrying Hindus and Sikhs to India were also assailed according to a Pakistan army communique.28 There were also numerous cases in both India and Pakistan in which fleeing minority groups were hurled from moving trains. The railroads, like the other roads, were lined with dead.

Andrew Roth witnessed the arrival of a train at the Casur station with a “grisly freight of dead and wounded Hindus and Sikhs who had been attacked by Moslems while fleeing to safety . . . the train reeked with the sickly-sweet smell of death, and flies buzzed around the bodies of men, women and children cut to pieces because they belonged to the wrong community. On the same day the crack Punjab mail arrived in Lahore from Delhi with some four hundred dead passengers.”29 On August 25, the authorities officially declared that rail travel was unsafe in the Punjab. So many trains were halted by politico-religious fanatics that several rail services operating out of Delhi were suspended.30

The Indian Government made a determined effort to mobilize 1,500 trucks to carry refugees and their possessions in special motor convoys guarded by soldiers. But no more than 640 trucks were secured, of which 170 were disabled by lack of tires.31

A very spectacular but necessarily limited form of evacuation was air transport. As early as August 27, the London Daily Express reported that the Government of India had gathered a fleet of planes and trucks to rush Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities out of the Pakistan area of Western Punjab. On the other hand, the Pakistan Government, because of the danger to trains from mobs between Lahore and Delhi, had ordered twenty planes from the British Overseas Airways to fly 7,000 marooned Government officials and their families from New Delhi to Karachi. But air evacuation, naturally, proved to be inadequate, even for those who could afford it. A racket developed in which individuals chartered planes and charged terrific prices for seats.32

[13] By and large, however, the tragic exodus was conducted in the simplest and oldest way–on foot. Like the Children of Israel, but in ten to twenty times their number, millions of Hindus, Moslems and Sikhs began their self-evacuation over footpaths and bullock cart roads. Sometimes the caravans were relatively small, considering the danger they faced; sometimes they were unwieldy columns of hundreds of thousands of people. Forming what may be called the greatest single refugee trek in the world’s history, 800,000 Hindus and Sikhs, coming on foot from Pakistan, were reported by the middle of October as being within twenty-five miles of the Indian border. The procession was forty-five miles long, with 400,000 in a single column and the rest in smaller groups. New Delhi newspaper correspondents reported on October 16th that the immense convoy had been attacked twice and suffered about 1,000 casualties. The exact whereabouts of the marchers was kept as a “military secret” to avoid further attacks.33

A month later, ten Moslem foot convoys, totalling 570,000, were reported moving across the Punjab toward Pakistan.34 In December, foot convoys, 30,000 to 40,000 strong, marched 150 miles from the rich agricultural lands of the Lyallpur and Montgomery districts of Pakistan West Punjab with thousands of head of cattle and hundreds of bullock carts carrying the migrants’ meager possessions.35

Large or small, Moslem or Hindu-Sikh, all these convoys shared common emotions–misery and fear. For those individuals among them who had not been driven out by violence and had had ample time to make preparations before they left their homes, the food problem presented no great difficulty; people who joined the convoys with their bullock carts were generally able to carry sufficient supplies with them to last them for, say, a month. But in many cases the refugees carried only their clothing and a few pounds of food. Moving at the slow pace of the bullocks, ten to twelve miles a day, they had to forage or starve. Often the old and the very young dropped from hunger and exhaustion. Some were fortunate [14] enough to have relatives who could aid them when they fell, but others were simply left behind by the roadside, alone and helpless in a hostile land.

The hardships of the trek, common to most migrations, were compounded by disease and mass murder. From the beginning, cholera flourished in the filthy camps and accompanied the travelers on the road. Armed bands of Moslem, Sikh and Hindu zealots preyed upon each other’s convoys, and sometimes caravans were massacred in miniature wars between groups of refugees bound in the opposite direction.

A great impediment to quick movement of the refugees, according to Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, High Commissioner for Pakistan in London, was the practice of both sides searching the persons and property of the refugees to prevent the removal from each province of prohibited commodities. These searches held up convoys for days and it was soon realized by both sides that they would have to be stopped. Orders were passed allowing refugees to take with them all their movable property, except merchandise in bulk. “Unfortunately,” confesses Sir Ibraham, “it has in practice been found very difficult to enforce these orders.”36

The scope of the Indian migration, as well as its hardships, is almost beyond imagination. Organization and protection of this two-way mass movement became the principal concern of the Indian Army. On September 15, the Army began using tanks to escort long columns of Moslem evacuees moving toward Pakistan through the Hindu and Sikh country of East Punjab. At the same time the Indian Government, under an agreement with Pakistan, sent its own troops across the Pakistan border to protect caravans of Hindus and Sikhs leaving the West Punjab. By September 25, the Army had evacuated 400,000 Moslems to Pakistan and had 850,000 still to move, while in Pakistan 600,000 non-Moslems were marching toward the border of the Dominion of India. Thousands more were evacuated in both directions by train and motor transport.37

[15] The goal was to move this vast populace before famines and epidemics began and in time to harvest millions of acres of crops. The success or failure of this undertaking meant the difference between famine and adequate food for the entire country.38

Control of the situation in both parts of the Punjab was considerably hampered by the lack of liaison between the Indian and Pakistani provincial governments in Punjab. A great deal of this was caused by the refusal of Moslem under-officials to cooperate with their Hindu and Sikh opposite numbers and vice versa. The civil police “have not distinguished themselves,” reported the special correspondent of the London Times (August 28, 1947). “There is ample evidence to show that on both sides the police of one community not only failed to give protection to members of another community under attack, but actively assisted the attackers. Moslems have been murdering Hindus and Sikhs. Hindus and Sikhs have been murdering Moslems. Each side blames the other with passionate vehemence and refuses to admit that its own people are ever at fault.”

The joint Punjab Boundary Force under Maj. Gen. T. W. Rees was, while it existed, the only liaison between the two Dominions. It brought some order into the disorganized and panic-stricken trek of refugees. But on August 29, the Punjab Boundary Force was dissolved and law enforcement was placed under the British-commanded armies of the two Dominions. Moslem, Sikh and Hindu units were segregated and allocated to their appropriate command. The work of the dissolved Punjab Boundary Force was continued effectively under Indian command in the Military Evacuation Organization which was created on September 5.39


The numerical scope of the chaotic population exchange between the two Dominions grew steadily and surpassed all estimates by Indian and Pakistani authoritative sources.

[16] On September 16, a military spokesman in New Delhi stated that from September 5, when the Military Evacuation Organization began to function, up to September 13, 400,000 non-Moslems had been escorted from Pakistan into the Indian section of the Punjab on foot, 115,092 by rail and 51,940 by motor transport. Moslems moved in the opposite direction for the same period were 200,000 by route march, 148,909 by rail and 45,400 by motor. Some hundreds also traveled in both directions by air.

Making these evacuation figures public, the Indian Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation–a new Cabinet department–emphasized that many thousands had crossed the border uncounted before the military organization began to function, while other groups, of whom the military had no count, were constantly moving. At a press conference held on September 13, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister, estimated that the exchange of minority populations between India and Pakistan would total four million, or about two million from each side.40

This huge figure of four million proved to be an underestimate. By October 9, 2,388,120 Moslems and 2,644,687 non-Moslems had already crossed the Indo-Pakistan border on foot. There were 837,498 Moslems and 1,372,329 non-Moslems still en route or waiting to cross. The total count of 7,272,634 included 95,000 Moslems in the Delhi encampments and 128,000 Hindus and Sikhs in New Delhi, some of whom found shelter with friends or relatives. It did not take into account the number who might decide later to migrate from one Dominion to the other.41 By the end of October, military reports stated that 1,800,000 non-Moslems were yet to be evacuated from the West Punjab and the North West Frontier Provinces (Pakistan) and 2,300,000 Moslems were still in the East Punjab (India) waiting to go to Pakistan.

Organized and coordinated evacuation started on October 21, 1947. The position then was that about 2,800,000 Moslems were in India awaiting evacuation and about 1,500,000 non-Moslems had to be brought over to India from West Punjab and the Frontier [17] Province. The period following October 21 was divided into ten-day sections, and in each section arrangements were made both for evacuation by rail and for evacuation by foot and motor transport. The actual working of this system can be seen from the following table-

Approximate Number Approximate Number

of Moslems of Non-Moslems

Period Transferred to Pakistan Transferred to India

Oct. 21-31 600,000 550,000

Nov. 1-10 650,000 130,000

Nov. 11-21 380,000 180,000

Nov. 21-25 770,000 140,000

About November 25 the balance that remained to be moved was close to 400,000 Moslems and 300,000 non-Moslems.42

At a meeting of the East India Association in London, held on November 4, 1947, Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, Pakistan’s representative in Britain, revealed that “by agreement between the two Governments it was decided to send to East Punjab approximately 3 ½ million Sikhs and Hindus, who were anxious to leave the country . . . In return we agreed to take about 5 million Moslems . . . At one time we hoped to confine the migration of the Moslems to those in East Punjab less the Ambala Division and the States. This would have given the reasonable figure of 3,124,000 and would have met a fairly equal exchange. But our hands were forced by the Sikhs making life impossible for the Moslems in the States and in the Ambala Division, and we have to find room now for the very large figure of nearly 5,400,000.”43

Authoritative quarters in New Delhi estimated that the exchange of minority populations in the Punjab, augmented by relatively small numbers of evacuees from other provinces, would involve close to ten million persons- five to six million Moslems were involved in the westward migration to Pakistan while over four [18] million Hindus and Sikhs had moved or were moving eastward into India.44

An Indian Government press note partly corrected these estimates, placing at 4,131,000 the number of non-Moslem refugees who had crossed into India up to November 21 from the West Punjab, North West Frontier, Sind and Baluchistan; the number of Moslems evacuated in the same period to Pakistan from the East Punjab and Delhi was estimated at four to five million. “Every nerve is being strained,” the press note said, “to complete the evacuation of the remaining 500,000 or 600,000 non-Moslems from the West Punjab and North West Frontier by the middle of December. On an average more than 60,000 non-Moslems were brought to safety every day by using available means of transports–trains, motor lorries, aircraft, ships and on foot. Foot columns provided the quickest means of evacuating the largest number of refugees.”45

The population transfer was, however, far from completion by the eve of 1948. New danger spots constantly arose, demanding further evacuation of minority groups. According to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London, “a malicious attempt is being made by some Hindus and Sikhs” to increase the already huge number of Moslem refugees from East Punjab by many more from Delhi and the Western districts of the United Provinces.46 On the other hand, on December 26, a Government spokesman in New Delhi announced that India was negotiating with the Pakistan Government for early transfer of some 70,000 Hindus and 3,000 Sikhs in Bahawalpur State which had acceded to Pakistan, because of alarming reports of murders and forced conversions of the non-Moslem minority.47 About 25,000 non-Moslems were still waiting for evacuation in the North West Frontier Province.48 In the spring of 1948, the total number of transferees exceeded eleven million- a spokesman for the West Punjab Government put the number of Moslems brought to Pakistan to “about 6,000,000,”49 and K.C. Neogy, Indian Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, said that “roughly the total number of refugees (including Hindus and Sikhs yet to be [19] evacuated from Western Pakistan) who needed to be rehabilitated in India would be about 5,500,000.”50 In addition, during the late spring and summer nearly 1,150,000 non-Moslems migrated from East Bengal (Eastern Pakistan) to West Bengal (India).51

It is, it goes without saying, difficult to ascertain the precise number of casualties that have accompanied the communal strife and the ensuing displacement of millions of persons. On September 7, Miter Sri Prakash, the Indian High Commissioner of Pakistan, told a Rotary Club meeting at Benares that almost 150,000 persons had been killed thus far in the two Punjabs (India and Pakistan).52 By the end of October, authoritative circles in New Delhi estimated that deaths directly or indirectly traceable to the Punjab communal disturbances and consequent migration53 would approach one million, the casualties in the different communities being approximately 10 per cent of the number of refugees.54

The huge number of casualties and refugees in the short period of approximately four months seems almost unbelievable if measured by a European population yardstick. But India’s population growth and population losses are both of unprecedented dimensions. Between 1921 and 1941 the population of India increased by about 83 million; the increase in the single decade between 1931 and 1941 amounted to almost 50 million. On the other hand, during the famine of 1943, deaths from starvation in the province of Bengal alone were estimated by the end of October at 100,000 weekly. An expert on India’s population problems aptly wrote in 1946- “A vast population breeds and dies lavishly.”55


The fact that disturbances and ensuing mass flights seemed to have followed the same pattern in widely separated areas, naturally suggested the existence of some organized plan conceived and effected at someone’s instigation. Major General T.W. Rees who [20] commanded the Punjab Boundary Force told the Associated Press correspondent of his belief that “this program (of communal riots) was ably directed by underground leaders, using ancient and modern methods of war, who were deliberately keeping the rioting alive for their own purposes, despite the orders of the chiefs of the Indian and Pakistan Governments.”56

The Pakistan Government insisted that the organizers of the alleged plot were deliberately aiming at the destruction of Pakistan’s statehood. Mohammed Ali Jinnah called on the India Government “to deal ruthlessly with this diabolical conspiracy and extirpate the roots of the plot and the powerful men who are behind the organization.”57 Other highly placed persons in the Pakistan Government categorically asserted that the fierce communal bloodshed and staggering migrations that have beset the Indian sub-continent since it was freed from British rule on August 15, 1947 were the results of a highly organized plot with the Sikhs at the core. They insisted that the Government of India had as early as July, 1947 known of the alleged Sikh conspiracy, but had not taken effective steps against it–through fear of offending the powerful Sikhs and the radical Hindu organizations exploiting the Sikhs’ grievances.58

The Sikhs have thus been deliberately presented as the villains of the entire sad and bloody affair. This is hardly justified. It would be a futile endeavor to allocate blame for the state of affairs created in India after partition. The Indian controversy is too deeply rooted in the tangle of causes and effects, of ends and means, over a period of many decades. No deliberate diabolical conspiracy on the part of any persons or clans in so vast a country could within a period of a few weeks or even months give rise to the massacre of hundreds of thousands and the migration of millions. A far deeper and more complicated background, which the author tried to outline in the introductory remarks to this chapter, lies behind those dramatic events of August-December 1947 that have so drastically revealed the tremendous significance of India’s perennial minority problem.

[21] Foreign observers were quick to recognize the implications of the population movement engendered by partition. As early as August 22, the Lahore correspondent of the London Times reported “the beginning of a vast transfer of populations.” “In a few weeks’ time,” he cabled, “at the present rate of transfer there will not be a Moslem left on the Indian side of the frontier or a Hindu left on the Pakistan side, except perhaps for some Hindu merchants in Lahore . . .”59 Simultaneously, the Associated Press correspondent cabled from Jullundur in Punjab that despite the peace efforts of the authorities, the opinion was expressed on all sides that there could be no respite until minority populations were transferred. Robert Trumbull of the New York Times also related that “more and more, sober observers here, both British and Indian, are coming around to the view that direct transfer of population is the only solution to the communal problem in India’s minority districts.”60

Both Pakistani and Indian leaders, however, stubbornly refused to accept the exchange of population as a bitter but inevitable necessity and to conduct it in a constructive way. Mohammed Ali Jinnah was the only one to foresee the unavoidable developments. In an interview with Sidney Jackobson of the London Picture Post in January 1947, he expressed his conviction that only a wholesale exchange of minority populations between the future states of India and Pakistan could offer a solution to the ever growing conflict between the communities.61 But Mohandas K. Gandhi, the most outstanding spiritual personality of India, was categorically opposed to that idea- he told his prayer meeting in New Delhi that even at the risk of standing alone, he would oppose the large-scale transfer of populations between India and Pakistan. “The transfer of millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems is unthinkable and wrong,” he declared.62 A few days later, the Government of India and the Acting High Commissioner for Pakistan in New Delhi joined in efforts to halt the flow of Moslems from India’s capital into refugee camps whence they would be evacuated to Pakistan. Both announced that steps were being taken to provide “adequate protection” for the [22] Moslem minority in the twin cities of Delhi and New Delhi. A military spokesman told a news conference at Government House, residence of Governor General Viscount Mountbatten, that the Government wanted to keep the Moslems in their homes.63

At a press conference held on October 12 in New Delhi, Mr. Nehru frankly admitted that the Government of India “had no policy with regard to exchange of population and that there was no talk of it before August 15, although since March about half a million people must have come through the frontiers of the Punjab to the United Provinces and other places. We only accepted them because they came and there was no question of a general migration. None of us (Indian leaders),” said Mr. Nehru, “envisaged a major transfer of population at any time,” and he humbly confessed- “perhaps this was due to lack of judgement on our part.” The transfer undertaking, he added, “was thrust upon us and we had to admit that facilities had to be given and to face the problem squarely.” But even men, a clear distinction was made between Punjab and the Northwestern Frontier Province on the one hand, and the rest of India on the other. “We took,” said Mr. Nehru, “the Punjab as a whole and decided that it should be treated as one problem and the major transfer of population as between east and west Punjab; to that we added the Frontier Province. For the rest the problem is one of individuals wanting to go and to be given facilities to go or to come.” Motivating this position, Mr. Nehru stressed that “if this business of transfer of populations was extended to the rest of India, it would become not only a terrific problem but almost a problem impossible to deal with; we have no desire to spread this out all over India.”64

Following these statements, a very enlightening exchange of questions and answers developed between press representatives and Mr. Nehru. The first question was-

“So far as this migration is concerned you have faced the inevitable. But instead of that why not take up the offer that Mr. Jinnah has made in his latest statement that exchange of [23] populations may be considered at Governmental level? After all it is not merely the exchange of human heads that is involved but very largely the exchange of property, means of production and means of earning income. Hindus and Sikhs may leave valuable assets on that side and Moslems on this side which may be all wasted. A regulated exchange of population might bring about such exchange as would preserve and maintain the assets on this side and on that side.”

To this Mr. Nehru replied-

“It is perfectly true that if the thing is to be done it should be done properly on a Governmental level without the loss of any property to any one. But to think in terms of this being done on an all-India scale is a problem which, I think, inevitably reduces itself almost to an impossibility–apart from its undesirability. You take the census figures and the distribution of the population; it can take us half a generation. But what is likely to happen is that it will be done improperly, because once this happens it will involve volcanic changes, it will upset the whole economy of India, a great deal of the production will cease, there will be starvation, there will be mass movements, there will be no railway system or any system whatever. Tens of millions of people will move and we will sink as a nation without any resources–a starving and a dying population.”

“My question is,” persisted the press representative,

“whether you would consider it on a Governmental level in a way which would make an appeal to the people and make it feasible. I think if the two Governments did it on a basis of friendliness and goodwill it may end up with an exchange of the urban population, though the rural population may not be affected at all.”

Mr. Nehru’s answer was that “so far as the Punjab is concerned, both Governments have tried and are trying to talk on that level.” He did not, however, suggest extending that policy to the rest of India. For his part, Liagat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, insisted that there was to be no deliberate transfer of minority populations in the Punjab, but only an organized evacuation “of those who wish to go.” Replying to a previous statement by Sardar [24] Vellabhbhai Patel, Deputy Prime Minister of India, the Pakistani Prime Minister denied that the two Dominion Governments would ever agree that all Moslems and non-Moslems in East Punjab should be transferred “as a matter of policy.” According to Liagat Ali Khan, the respective Governments agreed merely to facilitate the movement already taking place. He raised the strongest objection to any enforced evacuation of individual Moslems, reminding the Indian Government of its obligation to protect minorities.65

The only group in India which has unconditionally endorsed and favored the exchange of minorities is the Sikh. As early as May, 1947, the foremost political leader of the Sikh community, Master Tara Singh, insisting on partition of the Punjab, emphatically stated his belief that Jinnah’s demand for exchange of populations in India as a whole was impossible of execution because of climatic, linguistic and cultural difficulties, but that such exchange was altogether practicable within a province and particularly in the Punjab.66 Several months later, he openly condemned what he said was the policy of both Mohandas K. Gandhi and Indian Prime Minister Jawharlal Nehru’s Government in inducing Moslems to remain in the East Punjab and in Delhi.67 The Sikhs, he said in December, 1947, would bring pressure upon the Indian Government to continue the exchange of minority populations with Pakistan because “in case of war, minorities in both Dominions would be loyal to the other side”–Hindus and Sikhs to India and Moslems to Pakistan.68

Instead of anticipating developments and preparing a constructive scheme for channelizing the imminent mass movements, Hindu and Moslem leaders in both Dominions persisted in urging the minority populations not to move, promising fullest protection of life and property. These promises proved to be worthless, and Robert Trumbull cabled on September 14 to the New York Times- “The same leaders who so recently counseled minorities to stay put, now concede reluctantly that a tremendous exchange of populations must take place. It has taken place.”69 But being [25] unplanned, unwanted and merely tolerated, this unprecedented population movement took on a ghastly and ominous aspect. The Times correspondent rightly stated- “It may be argued that an exchange of populations is the best solution to this question. But for it to happen in this manner, accompanied by blood and violence, is not only to cause incredible misery among hundreds of thousands of simple people, but to sow the seeds of lasting bitterness between India and Pakistan, This cancerous growth may poison their whole relationship permanently, unless excised soon.”70 It was because of their reliance on the assurances of their respective Governments that the millions of victims had decided to stay where their families had lived for centuries. Mr. Nehru himself recalled at a press conference in New Delhi that he once came across a few hundred people trekking along the road, among whom he recognized old friends and colleagues of his. “They came up and charged me with having deluded them. They were referring to a broadcast I had made ten days previously from All-India Radio in which I had appealed to the people not to migrate but to stay on. They told me that they had followed my advice and this was the consequence; their families were all dead and they were the sole representatives left. After that it became impossible for us to talk in terms of asking them to stay on, in spite of those consequences, and face greater dangers.”72

On another occasion, when the Indian Prime Minister visited the refugee camp of Montgomery Gurdwara, southeast of Lahore, to comfort 1,500 Sikhs who had moved there in panic, one of the refugees angrily charged Nehru’s Government with responsibility for the tragic developments. “Why didn’t you tell us this was going to happen?” he asked. “Why didn’t the Government arrange for a peaceful migration of Sikhs and Moslems many weeks ago instead of letting it happen through violence and terror?” The Prime Minister gave the only possible answer–the inability of anyone to foresee the events which have convulsed the Punjab.73

[26] 6.

Bloodshed and massacre have, it is true, largely been limited to the Punjab with its population of 28,400,000; only a few serious outbreaks have occurred elsewhere, mostly in Indian Delhi (with its 918,000 inhabitants) and the Pakistan North West Frontier Province (with its 3,038,000 inhabitants). Using the 1941 census as a basis, one concludes that about 357,000,000 citizens of India, Pakistan and the Princely States have been living their normal lives in peace. Nevertheless, the partition and disruption of the Punjab–long famous as the “granary of India”–has had a serious economic effect upon virtually the entire population of both Dominions, with Pakistan as the greater sufferer.

Aside from these disastrous communal disturbances and the dislocation of millions of lives, the partition of India into two countries within four months’ time, completely destroyed efficient organization in Government services. At a joint meeting of the East Asia Association and the Overseas League on January 21, 1948, Sir Archibald Rowlands, speaking of the economic effects of partition, said- “Consider what happened to the railways. The East India Railway was manned to a considerable extent by Moslems, and they had left under the idea that it was unpatriotic to work for the Indian railways. Then, again, the commercial community in the Punjab was largely in the hands of Hindus. The only banks which could be said to be working at all were two British banks and one Moslem bank; the others had practically thrown their hands in; a large part of the financing and the growing of the cotton crop was in the hands of the Hindus, and it was difficult to get it into the factories.”74

The gigantic movement of over eleven million people has undoubtedly been one of the most staggering problems ever to confront any government. As a technical problem, it involved placing troops, patrolling roads, requisitioning trucks and railroads cars [27] and setting up emergency camps. Once the technical phase was over, even more complex questions faced both Governments–questions involving the entire economic and political structure of India and Pakistan.

K.C. Neogi, Indian Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, did not exaggerate when he said on November 29, 1947 that “the magnitude of the refugee problem has been such that there has been no historical parallel to it. Nowhere in history has a transfer of population of such dimensions taken place in such a short time and under such circumstances.” The problem itself was “not really one problem, but literally scores of problems, each one having an importance and urgency of its own.”75 Neither of the two Dominions was prepared for competent handling of the situation, for partition had thrown their administrative machinery out of joint. To quote Mr. Neogi once more, the “Government had no experience in this matter and our method has, in many instances, been one of trial and error . . . we have learnt by experience, by mistakes that we have made.”76 When making this statement before the Indian Constituent Assembly on March 12, 1948, Mr. Neogi had in mind his own Government, but his remark applied fully to the Government of Pakistan, as well.

Some of the problems resulting from the exchange of populations can be solved adequately only on the basis of mutual agreement between the Dominions. The most complicated of these problems is the question of property, both movable and immovable, left behind by refugees. Besides millions of acres of land abandoned in India and Pakistan, a considerable number of industrial and commercial concerns have remained ownerless. In Lahore alone, the non-Moslem minority owned 167 factories (out of a total of 215) with a registered capital of over 60 million rupees ($18,000,000). Ninety-two per cent of the exporters of raw cotton, 88 per cent of the raw wool exporters, and 89 per cent of the exporters of miscellaneous items were non-Moslems; non-Moslems also owned 63 per cent of the shops.77

[28] In the early stages of the unorganized two-way flight, when the abandonment of property was considered a temporary phenomenon, the joint Hindu-Moslem Partition Council came to the conclusion (on August 6, 1947) that because “no arrangements have so far been made for the management of refugees’ property, and because, so long as the local population and the majority community in villages and towns maintain a hostile attitude, the refugees will be unable to return and look after their property–the two Governments have decided to appoint managers, at a suitable level, for the administration of refugees’ property in the various areas; the expenses of these managers will be paid out of the proceeds of the properties which they are appointed to look after.” It was also decided that, where this had not already been done, Provincial Governments should be asked to set up machinery for the assessment of damages to both the movable and immovable property of the minority groups involved.”78

Later on, when the exchange of minorities proved both unprecedented in scope and final in nature, the Pakistan and India Governments agreed on the principle that the ownership of refugees’ property, movable as well as immovable, should remain vested in the refugees. Custodians were appointed to look after and manage such property on behalf of the owners.79 Similarly, Registrars of Claims were appointed and instructed to make records of the property left behind by the evacuees.80 Where the Custodian assumed possession or control of any undertaking or business, he had to report to the Ministry of Industries and Supplies regarding the feasibility of reopening and continuing the undertaking or business, which could only be reopened or continued in accordance with directions received from that Ministry. The Custodian was entitled also to sell livestock, standing crops or any evacuee property which was subject to speedy and natural decay or the sale of which would be for the benefit of the evacuee-owner.81 It was agreed that the Custodian’s control and management, whether exercised by himself or through a lessee or any other person, would operate [29] only during the absence of the evacuee-owner. It would be open to the owner of such property or his legal heirs to claim its restoration on payment of the excess, if any, of expenditure over receipts during the period the property had been under the Custodian’s management.82

All these de jure guarantees of the inviolability of abandoned property do not seem to have reassured the refugees themselves. They repeatedly expressed their anxiety about their property and demanded final settlement of their accounts on the governmental level. It was suggested that in each case “the Government receiving the refugees should claim compensation on their behalf for the losses they have sustained from the Government from the territory of which the refugees have to come away” and that the same principle should be applied to expenditures incurred during rehabilitation. As an instructive pattern for such procedure, it was recalled that after the disturbances in the province of Bihar, the then Government of Bengal claimed that the cost of maintaining and rehabilitating Bihar refugees in Bengal should be borne by the Government of Bihar. When this matter was referred to the Government of India, which was at that time headed by Pandit Nehru and Liagat Ali Khan, the Government accepted the validity of the claim and introduced it on an all-India basis. “Now if that formula had been agreed to, there is no reason why it should not be revived again in the context of Indo-Pakistan population transfer,” insisted Bimal Chandra Sinha.83 Thus far, no agreement on this or any similar basis seems to have been reached between the two Dominions. In August, 1948 the Governments of India and Pakistan signed an agreement for the removal and disposal of evacuees’ movable property, envisaging the establishment of a joint government agency on which the two Dominions would enjoy equal representation. The agency would supervise the execution of agreements and would set up an organization to facilitate the movement of movable property by rail and road.84 A particularly painful and still unsolved problem for both India [30] and Pakistan is that of the recovery and repatriation of abducted women. During the troubled months of violence, tens of thousands of women, Hindu, Moslem and Sikh alike, were kidnapped. According to a broadcast of Mrs. Shrimati Rameshwari Nehru, the wife of India’s Prime Minister, “their honor was outraged almost publicly while they were sold out to markets as chattels. The trader was not dealt with by law, the buyer was not penalized, and even the neighbor did not take exception in this trade. The Government could do nothing, while the Police never rounded up the criminals. This happened in a free India and in a free Pakistan.”85

On December 6, 1947 the Governments of Pakistan and India entered into an agreement binding them to make every attempt to return abducted women to their homes. The lists supplied by India contained

Posted in: Towards Statehood

Post a Comment