Unanimous adoption of the Joint Declaration at G–21 Summit held at BHARAT MANDAPAM, New Delhi from 8 Sep to 10 Sep 2023, has garnered immense applause from the world community. It has generated a great hope for millions of under privileged people in the developing countries. I visualize the rise of a new civilization on the horizon which is struggling to get out of its amniotic sac “The Global Civilization”. Initiative on India – Middle East Sea – Rail Link, the new Trade Corridor passing through once hostile nations like Jordan and Israel, the agreement on respecting the sovereignty and integrity of each state and inclusion of the African Union are just auspicious indicators for the future of mankind.
Team Bharat led by Mr. Amitab Kant and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Shiv Shankar worked overtime for unanimous acceptance of the joint declaration. While going through the declaration I hear an echo of my answers to London based Ms. Manu Singh Khajuria, founder of “The Voice of Dogras,” during a video interview recorded on 22 Oct 2020 after she had gone through my autobiography “EMBERS the BEGINNING and EMBERS the END of MIRPUR” first published on 30 Aug 2018 by Olympia Publishers, London, Second Edition Published by White Falcon Publishers in 2022. The interviewtitled “A Survivor’s Recount of The Genocide of Hindus and Sikhs of Mirpur, 1947.” (Available on https://m.youtube/watch?fbclid =. . . . .) Ms. Manu Singh had gone through every word and every letter of the book hence she could pose focused questions about my experience and my outlook.
Before going through the questions/answers I would like to introduce myself and my autobiography. I, Dr. (Ex-Capt) Kulvir Gupta am a survivor of the Holocaust that engulfed Mirpur –my birthplace, (Now in POJK) following invasion by Pakistan in 1947. A resume of my autobiography “EMBERS THE BEGINNING AND EMBERS THE END OF MIRPUR” would enlighten the reader about the very purpose of bringing out the story of my life. In fact it is the story of death and destruction that followed the invasion of Pakistan on Mirpur on 25 Nov 1947 where twenty thousand Hindus and Sikhs were massacred mercilessly. Thousands of women were abducted and raped or sold to the brothels in various towns of Pakistan. More than being a story of my life it is the story of Mirpur an important town of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir which formed the most tragic chapter of the history of the state. Before going into the questions and answers with Ms. Manu Singh Khajuria the following excerpts from my book should enlighten the reader about the magnitude of atrocities committed on the innocent children, and women, the ailing old men and old women of a town that was a paradise for its people.
“26 Nov 1947: In the evening we reached the premises of a school where we were accommodated like sardines in the empty class rooms without water or food for over last thirty six hours since we had left our homes. The rooms were bolted from outside. The children were crying for
food and water but soon everyone fell asleep because of the exhaustion. Hardly had we rested for an hour or two when the doors opened with a bang, soldiers holding torches in their hands were looking for the young girls and women, the victims were snatched away who so ever they liked. At my age I did not understand why the women were being taken away liked. Who so ever, father, brother or husband, resisted were kicked with the military boots or rifle butts.”
“Early in the morning we were awakened by whistling of the soldiers and ordered to move. Some of the women who were taken away during the last night returned with tattered clothes, crying and their eyes dug into the ground. We had hardly covered 100 meters when we spotted a dead body of a half-naked woman, her family members were prevented to go near her, crying and moaning we moved on.”
“03 Dec 1947: Late in the afternoon soldiers blew whistles and asked all able bodied males to assemble in the lawn. About forty odd men, my father was one amongst them, were asked to move out of the main gate, of the Gurudwara Ali beg turned detention camp, no one knew where they were being lead to. Later on we learned from one of the survivors that they were taken to the banks of Mangla canal, lined up and asked to strip, the one nearest to the canal was picked up by four or five soldiers and brutalised by kicking on his genitals, abdomen and head with military boots, butts of therifles and the bayonets before dumping him into the canal. The process was repeated with one after the other, I do not know at what rank my father was positioned if he had not swooned as many of them had collapsed after watching the torture while others pleaded for mercy and a quicker way to kill them. Finding a gap between two soldiers one of the victims ran towards the canal and jumped in the cold water not knowing whether he’ll hit a boulder or a thorny bush. His action was not aimed at saving his life but to escape the torture he had witnessed before him. By providential grace he survived to tell the story.”
“After about ten days Men were segregated from women and the children and taken to the different parts of the ruins of the Gurudwara and were subjected to strip search. My eyes were focused on my mother’s frail naked body who was one of the fifteen odd women in the room soldiers examined each one of those skeletal forms as none of them had a wholesome meal since they had left their homes on 25 Nov 1947. Women kept moaning, crying and praying with their eyes closed. We continued to suffer the torture and humiliation for the next four months until repatriation to India in Mar 1948.”
Ms. Manu’s inquisitiveness about the place and its people covered the preliminaries of my interview and then she moved to the more specific questions:
Q: “Because I want you to know it I don’t know why?” Quoting from the poem “Mirpur a Paradise and Mipur a Tragedy” written by my daughter, Dr. Shwaita Gupta which forms the fore drop of my story Ms. Manu Singh asked me why is your story important and what has been the purpose of writing the same?
A: Having observed death and destruction at a very tender age, from very close quarters, I felt that it was an obligation for me to bring before the world how a beautiful and prosperous town of Mirpur (now in POJK) was annihilated in 1947 following invasion by Pakistan. More than twenty thousand Hindus and Sikhs were massacred mercilessly and thousands of young girls and women were abducted and raped. History of the world is replete with similar tales down the ages and across the continents. My sufferings have strengthened my faith in the collective wisdom of mankind that shall defeat the demon of hate among different faiths, communities and countries.
There are two very important reasons for writing my story and the story of Mirpur. Firstly I wanted to bring before the world the magnitude of inhuman brutalities perpetrated on the innocent citizens, young and old women and children which has remained buried under the ashes of its own funeral pyre for the last seventy-six years. Secondly through the story of my sufferings I want to tickle the sensibilities of mankind to observe and enjoy the grandeur and beauty of mother earth, its diversity of colour, climes, flora and fauna, its contours and the unfathomable wealth and the resources. Further its capacity to wear a new coat with every change of season, that is loaded with resources enough not only to feed a thousand generations and more of human beings but also the entire life on this planet. Then why is there so much of struggle to grab the wealth and territory of neighbouring countries? War shave been fought throughout the recorded history of mankind and across the continents with the sole purpose of grabbing territory and wealth of the weaker nations
Q: So much has been written about the exodus of KPs from the Kashmir valley in 1990 why very little material is available on the tragedy that overtook Mirpur in 1947, though we should not be comparing the two tragedies?
A: It is not only Mirpur but very little has come before the world about what happen edat Muzafarabad, Baramulla, Bhimber, Rajouri and the neighbouring areas where massacre of Hindus and Sikhs had taken place in large numbers. About seventy per cent of the population of these areas was eliminated which included the elite and the educated while those who escaped had to fend for their survival by picking up odd jobs from daily wagers to petty vendors while few of those who were in govt service like teachers and doctors were rehabilitated on their jobs. So there was none to record their story.
In case of the KPs who had faced selective killings of a good number of the members of the community their exodus was well organised under proper security and on arrival at Jammu they were accommodated in Refugee camps, provided with free rations and monthly allowance in cash and all those with govt jobs started getting their salaries with or without a job. Right from the outset KPs organized themselves into cohesive society and the intelligentsia took upon itself to record their stories which were immediately picked up by the media and broadcast to the world.
Few attempts however were made by Mirpuries, the first book in Hindi was writtenin1949by one Pt. Vipin s/o Pt. Ganpati ji who gave his life by going on fast until death at Alibeg Camp. Sh. P. N. Saraf after his retirement as a Judge had recorded his memories “Massacre at Rajouri.” Sh. Bal Krishan Gupta, now settled in Atlanta – USA had published his memories on Mirpur about twelve years ago. In my own way I have tried to record the brutalities committed on the innocent civilians, young and old, women and children of Mirpur which I had witnessed with my own eyes. Story of Mirpur forms the most tragic chapter of the history of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Q: You have mentioned somewhere that writing the story of your life has been your dream project. Would like you to elaborate?
A: Yes, lived in experience through death and destruction at a very tender age had left a lasting influence on my thought process. As a young boy I would often sprawl on green patch and watch for hours the white clouds sailing across the blue sky in their fascinating forms, a lion, a bear, a boat, aswan, a chariot and myriads of other worldly things. I would select a cloud of my liking and ride it to sail
into the world of my dreams, a world without violence, a world without hunger and greed, a world without religious or national frontiers.”
Ancient civilizations, The Egyptians, The Greek, The Romans, The Persian, The Chinese and The Indians have contributed a lot for the emancipation of mankind. Architectural wonders of those times be it the Pyramids, Necropolis at Athens, The Great Wall of China, Temples of Angkor wat, Remains of Maya Civilizations and many Ancient Temples of in India speak everything about those civilizations, their knowledge of science, engineering, mathematics and their faiths and culture. Unfortunately those very civilizations have left the harrowing legacy of wars, a curse with which humanity is embroiled with even to this day.
Road map for a better tomorrow lies in cessation of hostilities anywhere and every where in the world with immediate effect, boundaries between the nations, despite the differences in perception, claims and counterclaims must be frozen forthwith. The armed forces must remain vigilant but inactive. Interaction amongst the people of neighbouring countries over a period of time shall render the borders irrelevant. Formation of European Union is a very promising indicator of the times to come member countries which had fought bitter wars in not very distant past have now joined hands to improve the life of their citizens. Similarly fault lines between various faiths and religions too must be attended to. Religions and creeds are sacred and are meant to beacon us to lead a purposeful life. Faiths are dear to one’s soul, why then should there be need to kill or die for the sake of an individual’s faith.
When Prime Minister Modi said, “This is not the time for war” during the Leader’s Summit ‘G – 21 of 2023’ at Bharat Mandapam the world leaders nodded in unison, it augers well for a new world order. In fact there is no time ever good for war! We have come a long way since the days when there was no civilized order to run the societies. Ancient civilizations have given us so much but the destiny of man has eluded peace and tranquility for him. Greed and hunger for occupation of land and its resources from the weaker states are the root causes of strife anywhere in the world.
War between Russia and Ukraine which is going on for the last nineteen months, has caused unimaginable damage to the, beautiful cities, heritage sites, places of worship and the beautiful homes of common citizens. The world community is grappling helplessly to bring an end to this horrible war.
As if this was not enough another curse of war has been inflicted on humanity in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas since 07 Oct 2023 with all its brutal and ugly manifestations. Humanity has been shamed once again as we all watch helplessly.
“Children of Abraham and followers of Moses are at each other’s throat” it is a paradox facing the world which is bringing about the unimaginable degradation of human values and perpetrating atrocities on young children, women and the infirm. Those belonging to Non – Abrahamic religions are watching with abated breath as the present conflict has the potential of engulfing the areas beyond the frontiers of the warring nations. Let us pray and hope that the wiser council prevails and brings about peace in the area.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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