Karan Thapar attacks those who, according to him, are selective in their approach, but he conveniently ignores what Pakistan and Muslims did to Hindus and Sikhs in what is now called Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir PoJK
Commentator Karan Thapar is extremely unhappy these days. He is angry with those who talk about what happened to Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 and who describe it as ethnic cleansing and genocide. His fundamental complaint against them is that they are selective in their approach and they do not utter a word about what happened to Muslims in Jammu city five decades earlier. To express his unhappiness, he came out with an essay, “We cannot be selective about the past in Jammu and Kashmir”, (Hindustan Times, September 15, 2019).
Expressing his anger, Thapar wrote: “These days, we hear a lot about what happened to Kashmiri Pandits in 1990. It’s often described as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide‘. For some, it’s justification for the recent de-operationalisation of Article 370. But not a word is spoken about what happened to Muslims in Jammu five decades earlier. That’s been completely forgotten. Yet, as Wajahat Habibullah, who was divisional commissioner (Kashmir) in 1990, when the Pandits were targeted, tells me this was, even more, a case of genocide or ethnic cleansing”.
He just didn’t stop here. He went on to suggest that Hindus of “Muslim-majority Jammu city” massacred thousands of Muslims and expelled lakhs to convert it into a “Hindu-majority city”. He based his wild accusations on what he described as contemporary accounts and accounts of historians.
All these statistics speak for themselves and expose the propagandists. These suggest that Jammu City was not a Muslim-majority City.
What exactly did he say? He said: “I turn now to Jammu just after Independence in 1947. At the time, it was a Muslim-majority city. But literally, in weeks, communal riots, mass killings and forced migration turned it into a Hindu-majority one. Both contemporary accounts and those of historians put the numbers killed or expelled in hundreds of thousands. Writing in The Spectator in January 1948, Horace Alexander says: ‘Hindus and Sikhs of the Jammu area…apparently with at least the tacit consent of state authorities, have driven many thousands of their Muslim neighbours from their homes’. Christopher Snedden, in Kashmir: The Unwritten History, estimates between 70,000 and 237,000 Muslims were killed. Arjun Appadurai and Arien Mack in India’s World believe 200,000 could have been killed and a further 500,000 displaced. Last year, the columnist Swaminathan Aiyar wrote: In sheer scale, this far exceeded the ethnic cleansing of Pandits five decades later”.
After dubbing the Hindus of Jammu as killers of Muslims, Thapar says that it is immoral not to remember what happened to Muslims in 1947 and suggests that if our memory becomes selective, it also becomes one-sided and that could divide us.
“I realise that in terms of how much has changed since 1990, leave aside in 1947, India is a very different country today. I also accept we need to move on and must not keep reliving the past. But if we’re going to recall what’s happened to Pandits in 1990, then it’s wrong – actually immoral – not to remember what happened to Muslims in 1947. This is not a matter of intellectual honesty, though it’s that as well. It goes far deeper. It touches upon the unity of the multiple peoples and their identities that constitute India. We need to be conscious of all of them. If our memory becomes selective, it also becomes one-sided and that could divide us. We could end up a very different country to the one we want to be”.
Was what Thapar wrote and suggested based on facts? Was the Jammu City a Muslim-majority City? Did the Hindus of Jammu City actually kill 70,000 to 237,000 Muslims? Did the Hindus of Jammu City expel 500,000 Muslims?
It would be only desirable to quote verbatim the relevant statistics from the Census Reports. Such an exercise will help us put things in perspective and expose the propagandists.
The total population of Jammu City in 1941 was 50,370. It was 31,506 in 1921; 38,613 in 1931; and 76.558 in 1951 (A-4 town and urban agglomeration classified by population size class in 2011 with variation since 1901 census). It needs to be underlined that while the population in Jammu City increased by 26,188 persons between 1941 and 1951, it was increased by 11,757 persons in Jammu City between 1931 and 1941. As for the total population of Jammu City/Urban Agglomeration, it was 31, 508 in 1921; 42,794 in 1931; 58,847 in 1941; and 83,847 in 1951 (Ibid.)
The population of Jammu City
It would also not be out of place to quote statistics relating to the population in the Jammu District between 1921 and 1951. These statistics will also help debunk the outrageous claim that the Hindus of Jammu City murdered and expelled Muslims to convert it into a Hindu-majority City or convert the whole district into a Hindu-majority District.
The total population of Jammu District was 285,361 in 1921; 316,647 in 1931; 364,253 in 1941; and 401,532 in 1951 (A-2 Decadal Variation In Population Since 2001, Census of India 2011).
The population of Jammu District
Karan Thapar suggested that the Hindus of Jammu City killed 70,000 and 237,000 Muslims and expelled 500,000 others.
What was the total Muslim population in Jammu city, Cantonment and Town Area Committees (TACs) in Jammu district in 1941? The total Muslim population in Jammu City (Municipality) in 1941 was 15,920 (Males 9,751 and Females 6169). As for the Cantonment, it housed 8,468 Muslims (Males 6,552 and Females 1, 916). And the total Muslim population in the Akhnoor TAC was 1,564 (Males 852 and Females 712); in the Samba TAC, it was 1,246 (Males 633 and Females 613); and in the Sri Ranbirsinghpura TAC, it was 1,060 (Males 592 and Females 468). To be more precise, the total Muslim population in Jammu City, Cantonment, Akhnoor TAC, Samba TAC and Sri Ranbirsinghpura TAC was 27,012 (Census of India 1941, J&K, parts I and II, PP. 102-103).
Year Place Po
1941 Jammu 15,920
–do– Cantonment 8,468
–do– Akhnoor 1,564
–do– Ranbirsinghpura 1.060
All these statistics speak for themselves and expose the propagandists. These suggest that Jammu City was not a Muslim-majority City. The question to be asked to Karan Thapar is: How could about 35,000 Hindus in Jammu City kill 70,000 to 237,000 Muslims in Jammu City and expel 500,000 other Muslims from Jammu City? Will he answer this simple and straight question? I leave it to the Thapar’s discretion.
However, to say all this is not to suggest that no Muslim was killed in Jammu City in 1947 or no Muslim quit Jammu City. Some might have been killed like many Hindus. The problem is that there is nothing on record which could throw light on this subject. However, one can say with some degree of confidence that 100s of Muslims had migrated from Jammu City to Pakistan in 1947 in the wake of the communal partition of India. The evacuee properties in Jammu City do suggest so.
Karan Thapar attacks those who, according to him, are selective in their approach, but he conveniently ignores what Pakistan and Muslims did to Hindus and Sikhs in what is now called Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir PoJK. PoJK comprising Jammu’s Nowshera, Rajouri, Poonch, Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, Muzaffarabad, to mention only a few towns of Jammu province, housed lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs. What happened to them and to these areas? All these areas were converted into 100% Muslim in a short span of just 3 months (October 1947-December 1947) through rape, murder, torture, conversion, loot and plunder and it should clinch the whole issue.
Karan Thapar would do well to visit Jammu to meet them, around 1.5 million Hindu-Sikh refugees from PoJK, Pakistan and Kashmir itself and present to the nation a true story of facts.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.