The Great Sindhi Exodus (Nakba??)

……When I rose to touch his feet and take his leave, he clapped me
firmly on my back. This clap on the back used to be his blessing…..‘Now you go and evacuate people from Sindh. You leave only after
evacuating everyone else. Make sure you don’t leave before that…..
I saw what appeared to have been flourishing
townlets before, complete with houses, temples, fields, now entirely
deserted, the whole of the population – evidently all Hindu – gone to
the last man.’
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We mean Sindhi Hindus of course, driven out by the irreversible logic of the two nation theory. 
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If it is any solace, in two generations time-span they have occupied the first row of Indian business, politics, art….one giant Sindustrialist called* the late, lamented C-Sarkar as “apni dukan.” Also the fact that BJP has conquered Delhi today is because of the effort of these four (horse) men: AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, MM Bhagwat, and ND Modi. Such a transformation from rags to riches is nothing short of astonishing.
……………..
…Narayandas Malkani was then a 57-year-old Congress worker, who had
worked closely with Gandhi in Delhi’s Bhangi Colony.
He had narrowly
escaped being attacked during the Karachi pogrom. After this, he and
Govardhan Vazirani, secretary of the Congress, were deputed to fly to
Delhi to convince the Congress high command to evacuate Hindus from
Sindh. 

Narayandas Malkani recalls:

“On arrival, I met Gandhiji
and other senior leaders and I told them face to face about the Karachi
riots. I was there for a week, and I met everyone about two or three
times. Pandit Nehru told me to go meet Bajpayee, the secretary general
in the main office. I met him, and I briefed him about the conditions in
Sindh; I told him that the time had now come for the Hindus to be
evacuated from Sindh and resettled in India by the government. He
listened to everything attentively and then I took his leave.

“Finally
Vazirani and I came to the conclusion that our work was done and that
we could return to Karachi by air the next morning, that is 31 January.
Before returning, I went to meet Gandhiji for the fourth and last time,
to take his leave. It was about four in the evening, and he was sitting
outside Birla House in the sun, with a straw hat on his head.

“His
voice was not weak any longer, and his bare body shone, burnt in the
sun. When I rose to touch his feet and take his leave, he clapped me
firmly on my back. This clap on the back used to be his blessing. He
said, ‘Now you go and evacuate people from Sindh. You leave only after
evacuating everyone else. Make sure you don’t leave before that. Give Mr
Khuhro a message that I will come to Sindh and make efforts towards
securing peace in Sindh. But for that, he will have to take Mr Jinnah’s
permission and send me a telegram.’”

Malkani used to stay with
Gandhi’s son, Devdas, whenever he visited Delhi. Shortly after he
returned to Devdas Gandhi’s home, they were informed of Gandhi’s
assassination. A grieving and distraught Malkani flew back to Karachi
the next day, where he was astonished to find that staff from the Indian
High Commission had come to receive him in a car, and that he had been
appointed additional deputy high commissioner in Karachi, specifically
for the purpose of evacuating Hindus and Sikhs from Sindh. Malkani
supervised the work of evacuation in Karachi and Hyderabad, by turns,
and also toured other towns in Sindh, to assess the situation of the
Hindus there.

Special trains were run from Hyderabad and Mirpur
Khas to Pali and Marwar Junction in present day Rajasthan, where refugee
camps were set up. These trains went directly – and safely – from Sindh
to Rajasthan and had no need to traverse Punjab, with its history of
violence. Moreover, the organised evacuation of Hindu and Sikh refugees
from West Punjab by rail had been completed by the first week of
December 1947,and now the Indian government could divert its attention
and resources towards refugees from Sindh.

Owing to the
determined intervention of the Indian government, and the assistance of
Sri Prakasa, the Sindh government was obliged to facilitate the
relatively smooth departure of non-Muslims from the province. The Sindh
government announced that there would be no more searches of women among
the departing Hindus and Sikhs.

Also, a large number of Hindu
government employees now wanted to either resign or to go on leave. The
Sindh government relaxed its rules, permitting these employees to
withdraw advances from their provident fund, and granted them long
leave, thus enabling them to escort their families to India.

The Sindh government was keen to avoid congestion in Karachi of Hindu
emigrants from the interior of Sindh: by the end of January 1948 there
were about 40,000 Hindus in the city waiting for passage to India, and
many more in the hinterland. In order to control and slow down the
passage of Sindhi Hindus through Karachi, and so minimise chances of
renewed violence, [Chief Minister] Khuhro imposed a permit system on 15
February 1948, whereby no Hindu could leave his or her town of origin
without a permit issued by the local authorities. While this was meant
to preserve law and order, it only caused greater distress to the
Hindus, impatient to leave.

More often than not, local officials
demanded bribes in order to issue permits. Sri Prakasa [India’s High
Commissioner in Pakistan] recalls the flood of Sindhi Hindus who came to
his office, requesting permits to travel to India:

“In the
office of the High Commission, we had to encounter heavy crowds. It was
difficult to regulate them. Everyone wanted to get a permit as soon as
possible so that he could go away. Everyone wanted to reach India […]
as soon as possible.

“The High Commission, however, had to act
warily and to keep all practical considerations in view. We could give
permits at a time only to as many persons as could be provided with
trans-port. Even this tragic scene was not without its lighter side.

“One
day I was looking after the arrangements myself. A woman came up to me
and quietly told me that a particular young lady of her family was in an
advanced stage of pregnancy. The child may be born any day. In these
circumstances, would I think of giving priority to her? I did so; but
the very next day, a strange scene presented itself before me. I found
that all women suddenly found themselves in an advanced stage of
pregnancy!

“They came to know that the High Commissioner was
partial to women in that condition, and was willing to treat them with
particular consideration. They thus found a good opportunity of saying
that all of them were in the self-same condition. It was obviously
impossible for the High Commissioner to get them medically examined!

“I
had smilingly to tell them that I did not think it was possible that
all of them would suddenly find themselves in such a delicate condition,
and I was therefore compelled to give these permits in the ordinary
course without making any distinctions between one person and another.”
 

By
the middle of June 1948, 10,00,000 Hindus had been able to migrate to
India; 4,00,000 more remained in Sindh. In August 1949, there were
incidents of renewed communal violence in Shikarpur and Sukkur, giving
new impetus to the exodus. Evacuation continued for three whole years,
finally tapering off in 1951. By this time, the transit camp set up at
Karachi still had 644 evacuees waiting to leave, but Sindh was largely
emptied of its Hindus: It was estimated that a scant 150,000 to 200,000
remained in their home province.

Sri Prakasa tells us, ‘On my
tours in the interior, I saw what appeared to have been flourishing
townlets before, complete with houses, temples, fields, now entirely
deserted, the whole of the population – evidently all Hindu – gone to
the last man.’

Yet, it should be noted that the stream of Hindus
fleeing Sindh only thinned down to a trickle by 1951, and never dried up
entirely. There has been a continuous migration of Sindhi Hindus from
Pakistan to India from the 1950s to the present day, varying in
intensity over the decades.
……………
Here is the narrative of a Sindhi
Hindu’s departure in 1949, which depicts the large crowds still in the
process of migrating to India. Kirat Babani, the prominent Sindhi author
and journalist, was a young man of 25 in 1947, working with the
Communist Party in Karachi. He and his other Communist friends decided
not to migrate, but many of them were arrested in 1948. Babani was
jailed for 11 months and released on the condition that he would be
externed from Karachi.

Later, in 1949, he thought he would visit
his family, which had migrated to India, and then return to Sindh. When
he boarded the ship at the Keamari docks, government officials searched
his belongings extremely roughly, and then served him a legal notice of
exile from Pakistan. He recounts his departure from Sindh in his
autobiography:

“Evening has fallen as I sit on the empty steel
trunk. I have no idea when the ship weighed anchor and set sail towards
its destination. My belongings are still scattered around me, and there,
on the entire deck, people are scattered. Entire families, mostly from
villages in the interior of Sindh, have been thrown here.

“They
are from the poor and middle class, their dress and behaviour is Sindhi.
Some mothers also have suckling children with them, whom they are
nursing, covered with their dupattas, and with their backs to the men.
This transgression of custom must cause them mental agony. […]

As
night falls gradually, and as the ship starts to careen up and down and
sideways like a rocking horse, subjected to the blows of the forceful
waves of the deep sea, the condition of the travellers on deck begins to
worsen. Many begin to feel dizzy and their stomachs start to churn.
Many are retching, and some are actually vomiting. The crying and
wailing of the children has cast a pall of gloom everywhere.”

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Link (1) : http://scroll.in/article/671669/The-Making-of-Exile:-Sindhi-Hindus-and-the-Partition-of-India

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* Mukesh Said, Haan Yaar, Ranjan, Congress To Ab Apni Dukaan Hai’.

Link (2): http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Mukesh-Said-Haan-Yaar-Ranjan-Congress-To-Ab-Apni-Dukaan-Hai/268088

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regards

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