Monday, July 14, 2008




7000 BC – Neolithic settlements in the Indus Valley

3000 BC – The Indus Valley Civilization.
2300 BC – The civilization of Mohen-jo-daro.

1500 BC – The Aryan rule with the Vedic Civilization, known as Hinduism.

519 BC – The Persians conquered Sindh

326 B.C. The Greeks under Alexander controlled Sindh.

320-293 Chandragupta Maurya conquered Sindh

273-232 B.C. Ashoka’s reign whose conversion to Buddhism popularization it in Sindh.

711 A.D. The Muslim invasion of Sindh under Muhammad bin Qasim.

This was followed by various Muslim dynasties that ruled Sindh.

1783 to 1843: The Muslim reign of Talpur Mirs in Sindh.

February 1843: Charles Napier, a British general, conquered Sindh from the Talpur Mirs with the help of the rich Sindhi, Seth Naomal Bhojwani. Mr. Bhojwani’s father had been kidnapped and ill-treated by Muslims and he wanted to end their rule. It was only after the British rule in Sindh, that Hindus were allowed to buy property, where they had none earlier.

The Hindu Sindhis also gained in power and position since they took to education quickly and were adept at learning languages. They quickly learnt English and made themselves useful to the British for administrative jobs.

1847 Sindh was annexed to Bombay Presidency. British colonialism brought two immediate and far-reaching changes in Sindh’s history: firstly, it broke the uninterrupted Islamic rule right from 712, transferring power from Muslim to non-Muslim authorities. Secondly, it effected the merger of Sindh with Bombay Presidency, terminating Sindh’s geographical, cultural and political isolation from India. This resulted in Sindh seeing, in the 19th century, the emergence of modern social and political institutions.

K.R.Malkani, in “The Sindh Story” narrates how Hindus became rich, “When the British took over, the Hindus did not hold any land. The British gave land to the retiring officers, most of them Hindu. The wealthy began to buy lands at market price. The improvident Muslim landlords began to mortgage lands to the Hindu money-lenders, who gradually acquired the same on default. In one century of British rule, the Hindus had come to, acquire about 40 per cent of the land. Another 20 per cent was believed to have been mortgaged to them.

Some Muslim League leaders --- particularly Sir Abdullah Haroon --- made this into a big issue. Here was a gentleman who started life as a cycle-repair assistant on four annas a day, and ended up as a crore-pati, who grudged 30 per cent of the population .(Hindus) owning 40 per cent of the land! He could never see the initial iniquity of the Hindus (30 per cent of the population) holding zero land under the Muslim rule. However, many other Muslim leaders noted that the peasants were happier with the Hindu zamindars than with the Muslim zamindars. They also noted that many Muslim zamindars did not want education to spread --- for fear the next generation of educated tenants might ask for more rights.The real reasons for this shift of land-ownership were two: the Hindus who had been starved of land for centuries, felt the natural human urge for land --- and now they went in for it. Secondly, the impecunious Muslim habits stood in sharp contrast with Hindu prudence. A Muslim tended to spend beyond his means; a Hindu tended to save and invest. A popular saying was that when a Hindu had money, he would buy or build more and more houses (Jaye Mathan Jaye); when a Muslim had money, he would marry more and more wives ( Joye Mathan Joye).”

1934: The formation of the Sindh Separation committee. Earlier, as Sirajul Haque Memon says in his piece in the “Daily Dawn” ( 23. 3. 2001) entitled, Genesis of Separatist Sentiment in Sindh, “A campaign was started through the vernacular press for separation of Sindh from Bombay. It gathered momentum when looking at the trend of public opinion, political parties such as the Congress and the Muslim League too joined in. No political party could survive in Sindh if it opposed the Separation Movement. Hindu Maha Sabha was the only party, which opposed the separation. But soon it lost face in the towns and villages of Sindh and slowly and gradually it ceased to be an influential political party in Sindh.”

April 1, 1936: Sindh was made into a separate, autonomous province—separated from Bombay Presidency. Gobindram Mukhi of Hyderabad, was the only one to vote against this move (with similar protests from Swami Harinamdasji of the Sadhubella of Sukkur); they could both see that this move would reduce Hindus in Sindh to a voiceless and powerless minority. However, others estimated that with the separation from Bombay, many opportunities would come their way and they would gain in power; accordingly, they all voted, along with the Muslims, for the separation from Bombay Presidency. Sindh became autonomous and Hindu Sindhis went on later to lose their homeland because the foundation of the separation was population strength. Hindus were a minority in a Muslim province. Abdullah Haroon, says Prof Sharif al Mujahid, played an important role: “A strenuous advocate and campaigner for the separation of Sindh from the Bombay Presidency, he continuously lobbied for it, proposing resolutions at all-India moots, from 1925 onwards. He repeatedly urged the Aga Khan who led the Muslim delegation to the Round Table Conference (1930-32) and Jinnah to get the Sindh separation issue settled favourably during the London confabulations. Along with Muhammad Ayub Khuhro and Miran Muhammad Shah, Haroon also played a leading role in getting Sindh to acquire an autonomous provincial status in the Act of 1935.”1936-1937: Hindus subjected to discrimination (see Ram Ramchandani’s account.)

October 1939: Gandhi received a telegram from Dr. Choitram Gidwani, Vice President of the Sind Provincial Congress Committee, from Shikarpur: It read:" Riots, loot, incendiarism, Sukkur district villages Hindus mercilessly butchered. Women and girls raped and kidnapped. Hindu life, property unsafe. Situation most critical. Government policy not firm. Pray send enquiry committee immediately to see situation personally.” Gandhi's intervention, in his words, was “Now the only effective way in which I can help the Sindhis (is) to show them the way of non-violence. But that cannot be learnt in a day. The other way is the way the world has followed hitherto, i.e. armed defense of the life and property. God helps only those who help themselves. The Sindhis are no exception. They must learn the art of defending themselves against robbers, raiders and the like. If they do not feel safe and are too weak to defend themselves, they should leave the place which has proved too inhospitable to live in.”March, 23, 1940: Muslim League passed the Pakistan Resolution at Lahore, visualizing a Confederal arrangement where units or states will be autonomous and sovereign.

August 9, 1942: Mahatma Gandhi started the “Quit India” movement, asking the British to leave India through non-violent means of protests and non-cooperation.1946 Sindh, with its Muslim majority, was already under the Muslim League. The Muslim League got its toehold in Sindh earlier thanks to a Muslim League candidate who stood for election against Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a secular Muslim. The latter was defeated because he refused to rise to the Muslim League’s challenge to perform namaz in public. The opponent made capital of his refusal and won the wrested the seat from Mr. Bhutto, giving the Muslim League an entry into Sindh politics.

August 16, 1946: Jinnah declares the day as “Direct Action Day” to get Pakistan, letting loose loot and murder. Gandhiji agrees to the Partition of India the very next day. (See Prof. G.A.’s account.)

March, 1947: One learns what happened from the biography, “Mountabatten, the Private Story” by Brian Hoey: “Lord Mountbatten was once again interrupted—this time by Prime Minister Clement Atlee, who summoned him to an urgent meeting. He was informed that the then Viceroy of India, Lord Wavell, had failed in his efforts to obtain a settlement between the various political parties and the main Hindu and Muslim leaders… Atlee wanted Mountbatten to take up the job. Every demand of Mountbatten’s was met by Atlee, who did not want to be bothered by mere details as long as the result was a peaceful end to this massive burden of what had become a troublesome Empire. Independence had been promised in 1942 as a reward for the support of Indian troops against the Japanese, and even earlier, in the 1920s, moves towards granting independence had started. In any case, the cost of maintaining a government in India was proving a drain on the finances of a Britain whose own funds were sorely depleted after six years of the most expensive war in history. So, in monetary terms alone, Britain wanted out of India…He was given fifteen months to achieve a solution to a problem.

By June 1948, the handover of power was to be complete. Mountbatten knew that if he was going to get the job done in the time allotted he would inevitably make some enemies…When he arrived in India he realized that fifteen months was far too long for the period of transition…He knew that the longer the negotiations went on the more bloodshed there was likely to be. So he insisted on a shorter period, which was immediately reduced to five months, so that instead of June 1948 as the deadline, he now had August 1947 as the date by which he had to complete the handover. Papers in the Mountbatten archives appear to confirm that Atlee did not have a firm withdrawal date in mind and that it was Mountbatten’s idea. Mountbatten felt that to go to India without the Hindu and Muslim leaders knowing there was a definite date for withdrawal would weaken his position immeasurably. They would be suspicious that he was not there to end colonial rule, merely to delay the decision… The means were not all that important—it was the end that counted. Britain wanted to be rid of its Empire and Mountbatten was the man to do it…. The only guidance which Mountbatten had from the British government when he took over as Viceroy was that they fully recognised that India fell naturally into two parts, Muslim and Hindu, and that it was possible that these parts could be separated geographically. The last Viceroy arrived in Delhi on March 22, 1947. “

June 1947: The British announce the Partition. The first wave of migration from Sindh.

August 14-15, 1947: Withdrawal of the British, the birth of independent India and Pakistan, with Sindh in Pakistan.

August 19, 1947: Riots in Quetta, many Hindus killed (see Lila Kripalani’s account.)

August 20, 1947: Second wave of migration (see Dr. Ram Buxani’s account.)

August 27, 1947: Riots in Nawabshah organised by Mr. Masood, the Muslim collector of Nawabshah( see Gul & Pahilraj Ramchandani’s account.)

September 1947: Curfew in Hyderabad Sind. All Hindu families were informed that the refugees were out of control and that all Hindus were at risk( see A. Daswani’s and Javhar Advani’s accounts.)

November 22, 1947: Riots in Hyderabad Sindh( see Chandru Gurbaxani’s account.)

December 1947: Hindu houses and businesses were marked overnight. The very next day Muslim mobs began open looting and occupation with the full connivance of the authorities (see Dr. Niranjan Dudani’s account and also Shewak Nandwani’s.)

Jan 6, 1948 Riots in Karachi and Hyderabad. The third and the largest wave of migration after these riots.( see Mangharam Sipahimalani’s account as well as Meena Rupchandani’s and Dr. Motilal Jotwani’s accounts among several others.)

Jan-Mar, 1948: The highest numbers of Hindus migrated from Sindh to divided India. Most settled in the outskirts of Mumbai. The population of Sindhi Hindus before the Partition in Sindh was 14, 00, 000.

By 1950, 12, 25, 000 had left Sindh for India and other parts of the world.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have received a lot of interesting responses(by email) to my book. However, I am posting this one which was received by me soon after I posted this chapter on the blog.

This is from Dr Dur Pathan from Pakistan and it came to me in two parts. I have followed these two emails with my own response to Dr Dur Pathan.

Here are Dr. Pathan's words: I quote:“Sindh History”picturises her love and keen interest in the history and glorious Past of Motherland of her forefathers.I am of view that due to non-availablity of the sufficient & authentic Source-Material there prevails an idea in minds of Young generation that Hindus/their forefathers were compelled by Sindhi Muslims to quit Sindh.Where as historical facts and ground realities do not this misconception.It was due to mishandling of the situation/issue by political parties including the Congress.Parties were in run to add feathers in their caps.Every body was aware of the fact that Britishers intended to leave the country therefore the Congress & other parties for want of taking credit and in the urge of earning the title of “The Father Of nation”ignred most important human,social and other interests/demands of the time.The Congress committed blunders in Sindh since beginning.All-India or Regional Parties failed to get feedback from the masses and were not capable to pick any problem of the people of the country and unite masses to agitate and offer tough time to Britishers,they (all parties) selected Khilafat Issue for making stage for their political Drama. Khilafat was not the issue of the people,by the people and for the people-neither of the people nor of the country-,it was imported issue that due to mishandling divided the Nation inspite of efforts to unite Hindus & Muslims. not only this but this Movement set ugly trend of migrating to un-seen Land. This Tahreek created love and affection for “Dreamlands”.Sindh saw a Uncotroled migration after partition as people had previou experience and record of the unwanted Migration.This may kindly be put on record that it was not peoples’policy or agenda to get rid of Hindus from Sindh,but it was result of misguiding by Parties and their Leaders and later on desire of imported leaders those where without their own “Constituencies”,in future the they wanted to be accepted as elected leader/learers of the people,therefore the misused their power (being in the power) to create such conditons as to bring their own of the most important causes of the Migration on lage scale was that one as stated.Prior to the Great Migration,lradres also played negative role in inspiring masses to leave their own country.For example Mahatma Gandhi-the great preacher and strenuous advocate of the Non-violance-asked Sindhi Hindus that “They must learn the art of defending themselves against robbers, raiders and the like.If they do not feel safe and are too weak to defend themselves thet should leave the place which has proved too inhospitable to live in”.Recommendations like these made masses to uproot themselves from the land that gave them name,fame,cultre,history and identification.Problems are every where,robbers are in every country and raiders have no any country. It was not the solid and genunine reason to leve the country. Masses were misguided and history was compelled to take very ugly and unwated course in this way.Therefore Young generation must look into the matter keepinghidden causes and reasons in mind.

-------to be continued-------.

part 2

While reading the article common reader will form opinion that Sindhi Hindus faced rainy days in Sindh due to discriminating attitude of the Muslim segment of the society.But is not true as we can not divide masses from religious point of view.Masses are masses what so ever their religion may be.Neither it was Sindh State policy nor masses ever supported it to victimize Sindhi Hindus.They were other reason responsible for victimization of some individuals.It has been said that Seth Naomul helped Foreigners to conquer Sindh in reaction to his father’s unwanted humiliation and converting to Islam.No doubt,this ugly event happened in the last days of Talpur Rule,but we must not ignore the fact that event underreference was not outcome of the State Policy.Talpurs/Mirs were Shias by faith where as their Muslim subjects were Sunnis.There was clach and difference of faith.Sunnis were bent upon to give tough time to Shia Rulers,therefore they either made mistakes on their own or were misused bt Anti-Government elements including Agents of the East India Company.Hindus were made target with special reference to their right of religion.Talpurs failed to protect Hindus from Anti-Govt elements in a fear that they might face uprising from Sunni Muslims.In protecting their own power and Interests they made Hindus scape goats.Sindh History can not accept (and not even afforded as future conditions proved) the excuse of Seth Naumal to victimize his own Motherland in reaction.His father was made target by the Merchant class as he was ever rising figure in trade & commerce and threat to other Merchants.Anti-Bhojwani group hired purchaseable Mullas and raiders.There might be involment of any Agent of the East India Company.Illwillers acheived their purpose support of an influential man-Naumal-was diverted and Britsher availed this opportunity.While going through the pages of the “Memoirs of Seth Naomal”one can see that how the Rulers take care of Seth Hotchand.Seth Naumal has narrated the story of sorrows and longings of his father honestly and correctly.He has not claimed himself as a Hero of Hindu community,but later on some Hindu writers gave that impression and they were wrong.Also some Muslim Writers with purpose to give Muslims impression that Hindus have acted against the interests of Motherland,condemned the rolerole of Seth Naumal.Both kind of writers damaged Hindu-Muslim trust and relationship.Seth Naumal was not an angle he was a human being and all human beings are not mistake-free.He is character of our history by virtue of his unwanted reaction he provided Foreigners to Rule & ruin us.Sindh has unfortunately produced people like Seth Naumal.What to say about Khuhro and Pir Ali Muhammad shah Rashdi who imposed One Unit on Sindh? So Seth Naumal is not Hero of Hindus, nor enemy of all Sindhi Muslims.Therefore his special reference in our history is to be made in the capacity of an Scholar & Historian but not as a Hindu or Muslim Writer.Dr.Pathan

end of 2nd email

My response to Dr Pathan's email follows

Firstly, thanks for taking the trouble to write to me at length. it is only through discussion and calm dialogue that we can arrive at the truth, and that's what really matters.

There were several points in your emails 1& 2 which I would like to address, with humility but also with honesty.

The very first contention is that my source material was not sufficient or authentic for my perspective of the partition to be in order.I am sure there are many books written on this subject on both sides of the border and both of us might have not read some. However, in my defence, I would like to add that perhaps I cannot be faulted more than any other historian on this subject since this was my quite substantial bibliography:

1. "Centenary Presentation, Life and Works of Principal Nirmaldas Gurbaxani" published by S. C. Samtani.

2. "Sadhu Navalrai, the Maker of Modern Sind and Sadhu Hiranand, the Soul of Sind" written by Sita C.Samtani

3. "Hiranand, the Soul of Sindh by Dayaram Gidumal by Sita C. Samtani

4. "Vidya 1909-1998," by Kamla High school, Bombay52.

5. "My Times" by Acharya J.B. Kripalani

6. "Vidya 1985," Kamla High School, Bombay 52.

7. "A Brief History of the Sind Brahma Samaj" by Dr. Bhagwandas D. Gurbaxani

8. "Success is Our Birthright" By Reena Rupani

9. "Taking the High Road" By Ram Buxani

10. "The Future of Pakistan." By Prof. D. H.Butani

11. "A Saga of Trials and triumphs of Sindhis" by Mira G. Advani

12. "The Advent of Advani" by Atmaram Kulkarni

13. "Sindh, A Scattered Treasure" by Popati Hiranandani

14. "National Integration of Sindhis"by Dr. Subhadra Anand

15. "Ram Jethmalani," Nalini Gera

16. "My Times" by J.B.Kripalani
17. "The Sindh Story" by K.R.Malkani

18. "Lal Advani, The Man and His Mission" by Gulab Vazirani

19. "Dr. L.H.Hiranandani, Born to Heal" by Subhadra Anand

20. "Cosmopolitan Connections" by Mark-Anthony Falzon

21. Those were the Days and then" by Mira Govind Advani

22. "Seth Naoomal Hotchand Bhojwani" by Lal Pushp

23. "History of Sindh" by Richard Burton

24. "The Aftermath" by Rajendra Prasad

25. "Sindhi Culture" by U.T. Thakur

26. "The Jagtiani Family" by Harish Jagtiani

27. "Mountbatten, the Private Story" by Brian Hoey

28. "Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel" by B. Krishna

29. "Sadhu T.L.Vaswani" by Mira G. Advani

30. "Freedom at Midnight" by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins

31. "Sind's Role in the Freedom Struggle" by Baldev Gajra

32. City of Hyderabad Sindh (712-1947)by Dr. Qammaruddin Bohra

33. "Jai Sadhubella" by Acharya Pandit Sitaram Chaturvedi

I am sure therefore on that front you are more or less convinced.However, I would be happy if you could add references in your contention.History is often written by victors, which does not mean it is true. Of course, Hindu Sindhis lost their ancestral homeland, and so we are no longer in posssession of the records in Sindh and that is our loss; however, it cannot be ruled out that "inconvenient documents' are often burnt or destroyed so that the victors appear faultless. To this extent it is possible for both sides to err.

That is why my book records first hand accounts, undiluted by political powers or vested interests.This is the reason why I attempted to directly ask those who migrated what they had personally seen, what had happened to them, so that the truth may be obtained from ordinary Hindu Sindhis, from all parts of the world today, and from all parts of Sindh then, before the Partition.I do believe that these people whether they were in Singapore or USA had no loyalties to the Congress or anybody and were really keen to be noted by history as having experienced certain events at that time. I don't believe any one of them lied to me, and they all spoke straight from their hearts, sometimes with a tear in their eye.Further you remarked that this "mishandling of the situation" was because of "political parties including the Congress". While you have mentioned the Congress at several places you are reticent about the other political parties, which I believe is not being even-handed; also, you have not specified in which way these other political parties( Muslim League included) helped deprive Hindus of their Sindh homeland.

It is important for us to be fair if we wish to obtain the truth, I have always believed this. I am sure you agree.

Additionally, I dont think Gandhiji wanted to be called "Father of the Nation" kindly let me have the source of this impression that you have formed about Gandhiji. If I remember correctly he used to get annoyed when somebody addressed him as "Mahatma". I agree with you that Congress made some mistakes( I have already said this in my history section) but why refrain from talking about the Muslim League and its role in this loss to Hindus?I am surprised and dismayed that you believe that it was Gandhiji that caused the migration of Sindhis to secular India away from Islamic Pakistan. Yes, when he was repeatedly being told about the troubles to which the Hindus were being subjected he was forced to say this.

What will a sane Hindu say to his fellow Hindus if he finds they are unequal to the Muslim numbers in Pakistan? How many Hindu Sindhis were there in Sindh? What was the climate like in those days? Did the Muslim migrants into Sindh come with anger, ambition and revenge when they arrived in Sindh? I am sure you can enlighten us on this as well.

Then in your second email you have claimed that there "were other reason responsible for victimization oif some individuals". Kindly furnish these reasons so I may be enlightened and be in a position to accept or refute the claim.You also state that the masses were misguided, be so kind as to elaborate on this.While the British were foreigners, it is true that when they took charge of Sindh Hindus were allowed certain humane rights like the right to buy land in their own ancestral home after so long! Don't you think that discriminating against Hindus when they were in power would have already damaged Hindu Muslim trust and relationship? Perhaps Seth Naomal may be seen differently by Muslims and Hindus, but it is a fact that under the British the Hindus in Sindh were accorded better status than under Islamic rule.Of course the British made their mistakes and so did the Congress, but it is surprising that you have not said anything at all about Jinnah and the Muslim League.

I don't believe that one can straight away go towards amity between Hindu and Muslim Sindhis all over the world by glossing over facts, or by keeping silent about inconvenient realities.It is by being honest that we will have true peace, or else we will be just hoodwinking each other to come around to our point of view. And we know that this only creates more anger when discovered.

Kindly also let me know which history books I can obtain to learn more on this subject. Meanwhile it would be good if perhaps you too can read the stories of the Hindus who lost their homeland because they belonged to the wrong religion.

Respectfully from an Indian Hindu Sindhi,

Lata Jagtiani

Sunday, July 13, 2008



Gandhiji had a special fondness for Sindhis which he developed over the years.

He visited Sindh on seven occasions between 1916 and 1934.

There were a whole series of events that took place, albeit unconnected, to make Gandhiji recognize the Sindhis as a community that was warm and caring.

Early in his life when he was studying in London it was a Sindhi gentleman who saw that Gandhiji was living in an expensive hotel, one that he could barely afford, and he found him alternative economical lodgings so he could study law. It was the small kindnesses and the generosity of Sindhis that endeared them to Gandhiji. Naturally, then, he valued greatly a beautifully framed welcome address done in the artistic Sindhi style given to him on his visit to Sindh in 1916. It was also a Sindhi, Jairamdas, who encouraged Gandhiji to focus on writing his autobiography, which became the internationally acclaimed, “My Experiments with Truth”.

Gandhiji and Acharya Jivatram Bhagavandas Kripalani were, at first, at sixes and sevens with each other. Kripalani found him, ``queer and even quixotic”; however he also saw that they were both similar, “He was trying to know me and measure me. I too on my side was doing the same.''

Gandhiji observed in his autobiography: ``Acharya Kripalani, when I first met him in 1915, was already a seasoned warrior. He was then earning Rs 400 per month but was a brahmachari, taking only Rs. 40 for himself and sending the balance to Dr. Choithram who was conducting a Brahmacharya Ashram at Hyderabad (Sindh).''

They became friends and had many debates on ahimsa. After much introspection Kripalani more or less came around to his point of view and saw that indeed India and Indians were a non-violent country and ahimsa was indigenous to Indians.

Despite their many differences there was an underlying respect they shared for each other. In 1942 Gandhiji jocularly remarked, ``Kripalani was morose formerly because I thought he was not married. But even when he is married and has a very good partner in life, his mood haunts him''.

In 1946 when Gandhiji suggested Kripalani for Congress President, Nehru, Syed Mahmud and Yunus, opposed. Nehru observed that JB Kripalani had a temper.
Gandhiji was quick to counter,`But how about your temper?''
Kripalani became the Congress President. However, Kripalani soon resigned because both Nehru and Patel went ahead on numerous occasions on major issues without even consulting JB, the Congress President. After that, from 1947 to 1977, Kripalani became the conscience of the country.

K.R.Malkani, in his book, “The Sindh Story” has detailed the respect that Gandhiji had for Acharya Gidvani. “Gandhiji's relations with Acharya Gidvani were equally dear, except that the latter died too soon, in 1935. Gidvani resigned as principal of Ramjas College in Delhi, to head the Gujarat Vidyapeeth. Gandhiji said of him that he was ``not only a scholar but, on the touch-stone of character, gold.''

The Sikhs were agitating in 1923 against the deposition of the patriotic prince of Nabha. Nehru,Acharya Gidvani and K. Santhanam went to observe the scene and were arrested, sentenced, and then sent out. When the atrocities continued, Motilal wired Gidvani to go and see on the Nabha border what was happening. On one occasion not only was a satyagrahi shot dead, his child, who was being breast-fed, was also shot dead. Gidvani thereupon rushed to the scene of firing just inside the Nabha state border. He was immediately pounced upon and kept in jail for almost a year. Writes Nehru in his autobiography: ``I felt inclined to go to Nabha myself and allow the (British) Administrator to treat me as he had treated Gidvani. Loyalty to a colleague seemed to demand it. But many friends thought otherwise and dissuaded me. I took shelter behind the advice of friends and made of it a pretext to cover my own weakness.''

Gandhiji noted: ``He did not even wilfully cross the Nabha border. His humanity pushed him in.'' And when Gandhiji heard from Shrimati Gidvani after an interview that Gidvani was locked, his clothes were dirty, he looked much reduced as he had fasted for seven days,'' Gandjiji wrote: ``The whole of the civil resister rose in me and I felt like giving battle. But I realized my powerlessness and hung my head in shame. With an India cut up into warring parties and torn with Hindu-Muslim squabbles, civil resistance seems to be an impossibility. One's only comfort is that Acharya Gidvani is a brave man and well able to undergo all the suffering he may be subjected to. May God give him the strength to go through the fire!''

When Gidvani died prematurely, Gandhiji wrote: ``Such servants of humanity never die. They live through their service.'' He collected a Gidvani Memorial Fund and built Harijan Hostel in his honour at Kheda in Gujerat.

Nor did he forget the Gidvani family. He greeted Ganga Behn as ``the brave wife of a brave husband'' and gave her a letter of introduction that helped her set up an insurance business and bring up her young children.
Years earlier, Gidvani had told Gandhiji not to worry about petty personal things. But Gandhiji had told him: `The personal things you call petty are of as much interest to me as Bardoli, for I have to know all about co-workers.'' And he had added- ``Tell Ganga Behn not to forget her Gujerati!''

Gandhiji admired Sindh for giving so many excellent professors to the country. Referring to the Sindhi professors at the Gujerat Vidyapeeth as ``the treaty made between Gujerat and Sindh'', he asked the Gujerat students to go as flood relief workers to Sindh and repay ``the debt to Sindh''.

However, perhaps his sweetest relations were with Jairamdas. At the Amritsar session of the Congress, 1919, acute differences had arisen on the reforms resolution between Gandhiji on the one hand and Tilak, C.R. Das and Mohammed Ali on the other.

Recalled Gandhiji years later: ``Jairamdas that cool- headed Sindhi, came to the rescue. He passed me a slip containing a suggestion and pleading for a compromise. I hardly knew him. Something in his eyes and face captivated me. l read the suggestion. It was good. I passed it on to Deshbandhu.
'Yes, if my party will accept it' was his response.
Lokmanya said, `I don't want to see it. If Das has approved, it is good enough for me.' Malaviyaji (who was presiding anxiously) overheard it, snatched the paper from my hands and, amid deafening cheers, announced that a compromise had been arrived at.''

When Gandhiji was launching the ``Salt Satyagraha'' in 1930, he wrote to Jairamdas, who was then member of the Bombay Legislative Council: ``I have taken charge of the Committee for Boycott of Foreign Cloth. I must have a whole-time secretary, if that thing is to work. And I can think of nobody so suitable like you.'' Jairamdas immediately resigned his seat, took up the new charge, and made a tremendous success of the boycott of foreign cloth.

When some Muslims alleged that Jairamdas was communal, Gandhiji told them: ``I swear by Jairamdas. Truer men I have not had the honour of meeting. He is not anti-Muslim. I decline to think of him --- or of Dr. Choithram --- as anything but promoters of Hindu-Muslim unity.''

In 1941, when Dr. Choithram, President Sindh PCC, consulted Gandhiji on a particular issue, the latter told him: ``Do as Jairamdas advises. My faith in his wisdom is a constant factor.''

And he wrote any number of letters to and about Anand Hingorani and his wife Vidya, concerning their health, work, welfare. When Vidya died and Anand started worshipping her, Gandhiji wrote to him: ``Vidya was good but cannot take the place of God. I am an iconoclast. If you can forget her easily, do so. Then Vidya will rise and also you.''

Gandhiji's humour infected even the Congress dames. He jokingly asked Ganga Behn Gidvani, who was doing insurance business, in 1936, to ``insure'' his life. "
She joked back: ``No, I will not insure an old man like you.''

After a meal with Malkani. he asked Shrimati Malkani for dakshina. And the tatter returned: ``I have given Malkani to you. What more dakshina do you want?''

All this interest in individuals was not only intensely human; it was calculated to promote the causes dearest to him. And these apart from Swaraj, were Khadi and Hindi. He was delighted when Acharya Gidvani draped Guru Granth Sahib, not in the customary silk or satin, but in Khadi. This, he said, was a great example to those who draped even the Puri idols in foreign cloth.

However, Gandhiji noted in 1924 that the Sindhis did not take Khadi seriously. He found Sindh yarn ``a sorry affair'', with ``little trace of practised spinning''. Even years later he noted that ``with a few honourable exceptions, they are not interested in Khadi…

Gandhiji added: ``The Amils of Sindh are probably the most advanced community in that province. But in spite of all their advance, there are some serious abuses of which they seem to have monopoly. Of these the custom of Deti-Leti is not the least serious.... The parents should so educate their daughters that they would refuse to marry a young man who wanted a price for marrying and would rather remain spinsters than be party to the degrading custom.''

When Malkani informed him that he had spent only 2000 rupees on the wedding of his daughter Mithi, Gandhiji wrote back on 4 October, 1928:

``If it was not tragic, I should have a hearty laugh over your considering the expenses of Rs. 2,000 a little thing. Ramdas' marriage cost me probably one rupee, that is one or two coconuts and two taklis for the bride and the bridegroom, two copies of the Gita and two copies of the Bhajanavali. Rs. 2,000 in Gujerat will be considered a fairly large sum even outside the Ashram limits…But I know that if I measured Sindh by Gujerat foot rule, it would be a hopelessly false measurement. I suppose for you it is progress from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 2,000. You will perhaps have to renounce your mother-in-law and to have a divorce from your wife. Considered from that point of view, Rs. 2,000 is perhaps not a bad bargain.''

When the Hindus complained of continued systematic violence against them in 1939, Gandhiji told them to ``learn the art of defending themselves''. And ``if they do not feel safe, and are too weak to defend themselves, they should leave the place which has proved too inhospitable to live in.''

He returned to the subject in January 1940 and wrote: ``I have suggested hijrat. I repeat the suggestion. It is not unpractical. People do not know its value. High and mighty have been known to have resorted to it before now. The Second Book of the Old Testament is known as Exodus. It is an account of the planned flight of the Israelites. In exile they prepared for a military career. There is, therefore, nothing wrong, dishonourable or cowardly in self- imposed exile. India is a vast country. Though poor, it is well able to admit of inter-migration, especially of those who are capable, hard-working and honest.''

And when in 1947 the Sindhi Hindus did begin to leave, Gandhiji wrote: ``If even a single Sindhi leaves Sindh, it will be a matter of shame to Mr. Jinnah as Governor-General.''
He added: ``The Sindh Hindus are first-class businessmen. Why are they running away to Bombay, Madras and other places? It will not be they who will be the losers, but Sindh. For they will make money for themselves, wherever they go. One finds Sindhis in South America. There is hardly any place in the world where Sindhis are not found. In South Africa they were making big money and gave of it liberally to the poor.''

.. Although the Sindhi leaders had the sweetest of relations with Gandhiji, be it said to their credit that they did not hesitate to speak up when they thought him wrong. Jethmal Parasram described the Khilafat as
``aafat'' (catastrophe). And when Gandhiji asked Choithram in 1930 what Jethmal thought of the proposed ``Salt Satyagraha'', he told him: ``Jethmal says that in 1920 you wanted freedom with balls of yarn; now you want it out of ladoos of salt.'' Choithram reported that Gandhiji visibly slumped at the remark.

When Partition came in spite of Gandhiji, he persuaded the Government of India to do everything for the refugees. He spoke to the Maharao of Kutch and got Kandla land for the Sindhu Resettlement Corporation. He told a Sindhi delegation, led by Dr. Choithram, on 30 January, 1948: ``If there can be war for Kashmir, there can also be war for the rights of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan.''

Professor Malkani met him only an hour before Gandhiji was shot. Malkani had been just appointed Additional Deputy High Commissioner to organise the migration from Sindh. Gandhiji gave him a resounding blessing-pat on the back with the words: ``Take out everybody. See that you are the last to come out. And tell Khuhro I want to visit Sindh to re-establish peace. Let him consult Jinnah and inform me telegraphically.'' When Malkani told him how the Hindus in Sindh had to wear ``Jinnah Cap'' and carry about an Urdu paper or Dawn to pass off as Muslims, for security reasons, he said he would mention it in his prayer meeting that evening.

Alas, he died before he could visit Sindh --- or expose the excesses there!

This is an excerpt from Malkani's book, "The Sindh Story".

Friday, June 13, 2008





A little while and you will have forgotten everything:a little while and everything will have forgotten you... Marcus Aurelius

"Somebody should write about our Sindhi elders and their Partition experiences before we lose that history forever."

This is what many Sindhis were saying until last year. I wondered why nobody was writing a book on the experiences of Hindu Sindhis. The subject kept re-surfacing online. From Dr. Nargis Awatramani (USA) to Govind Jhangiani (U.K) from Arjan Daswani (Singapore) to Shewak Nandwani (Thailand), the question was practically a refrain. In Mumbai, it was me saying--Somebody, write the book before its too late! But there were no volunteers.

I began work. Now that I have collected true stories of Hindu Sindhis, do read the book and preserve it for generation next. This is a serious work of research, of historical significance for all Hindu Sindhis.

The journey through this book has been interesting, to say the least. Sometimes, to my surprise, I met total strangers who welcomed me warmly, at other times, with sadness I interviewed elders with multiple aeging troubles; and then, I met many who were too cynical to "waste their time" being interviewed for something which promised no monetary returns. Access to the rich and famous was often blocked off by over-zealous secretaries. One day I was shocked, another day delighted and on a third day, depressed, it was a real roller-coaster. I often asked myself why I should continue. I lost count of recorded interviews that became useless with one phone call. One 85-year old told me of all the mischief he had done, after the Partition. He became embarrassingly rich, divorced his wife, and sailed through life. I watched him agape, as he really walked into the sunset with a spring in his step, towards his girl friend and chauffeur-driven expensive car. I wrote the account out, and a week later, he said he would prefer to keep his life private.

I kept my focus on ordinary Hindu Sindhis and their experiences during the Partition. However, these 100 plus accounts and profiles are a very small number when one compares it with the 12, 25,000 Hindu Sindhis evacuated from their homes between 1947 and 1950. I am one of those who believe that big oak trees grow from small acorns, and I offer you my tiny, hopeful acorn of a book.

Subjected to communal cleansing in Sindh, with the tacit compliance of Jinnah's Muslim League, most Hindu Sindhis had only one option: leave. A friend told me the story of a Papadawaree (a lady who sells Papads door-to-door). She was a woman living in Sindh and had several children. Her teenaged daughter was sitting outside in the back of the house, sunning herself and wara paee sukaye (drying her wet hair.) Suddenly there were shouts, telling the woman to run, there were riots, and people were coming for them. Along with her several children, she ran to the station, practically with one chappal, and boarded a train leaving Sindh. However, it was only on the train that she noticed the absence of her teenaged daughter. It was already too late. What happened to the girl? For long, nobody knew. Then years later, she got news. A Muslim family had adopted the abandoned teenager, raised her to become a well-established doctor. A meeting was arranged between the daughter and the mother in Ulhasnagar. After the initial joy at the re-union, they parted and returned to their lives, the mother back to selling papads in India while her daughter healed the ill in Pakistan.

I read a story where a writer, Wali Ram, about one Viundri Tejomal from Hyderabad Sindh, who hid written a note in Sindhi and hidden it her cupboard before rushing away from home. The note read: Vundri Tejomal jo hee kabat jeko kholeendo, un khi pap lagando."(Opener of this Vundri Tejomal's cupboard will be sinning.) Who was she and what became of her during and after the Partition? This is a mystery. Inside the note it appears she expressed a desire to return home to take care of her personal belongings. She might had left her things behind, packed quickly and left the note behind.

Another family that was torn asunder was that of Maama Rupachand Mahtani, a close in-law who had another story. He wanted to cross over to India, but his wife didn't. She and their sons remained in Sindh while he crossed the border. His children went on to become highly qualified professionals, but weren't too keen on meeting with their father. In Mumbai, Maama Rupa's life was full of interesting twists and turns, he was an impish gypsy who spread his grin and jokes from Sindhi home to Sindhi home. He charmed ladies with poetical lines from Shakespeare alternating them with absolutely witty and wicked jokes. He had the Dev Anand debonair air about him and he was a hit with both sexes. He praised the cooking in his tobacco-laden voice, listened attentively to the men, and hugged children affectionately. He brought the house down everywhere. Once he admitted that he missed his family, in a moment of candour, before taking refuge behind his favourite line with a twinkle in his eye, "Sigh no more, man, sigh no more, women were deceivers ever!"

I believe Hindu Sindhis are a wonderful community of survivors. I have presented the journey of this brave and strong Hindu community, forced into poverty and terrorized out of home and hearth. These Sindhis stepped out of inhospitable barracks, wore brave smiles when they went in search of work in new, strange lands. Many had a zero balance after they left Sindh; today, it might be difficult to count the number of zeroes in most of their balance sheets. If the Sindhi community ever gets a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, it would surprise me if Warren Buffett isn't amongst its first investors. Sindhi Hindus are multi-baggers all right.

I would like to add that our elders left Sindh not out of cowardice but in fact, they chose wisdom over foolhardiness--they faced an unpleasant reality and did what was necessary for survival. Imagine a USA and UK where 75 percent of the population is Muslim and the government is Muslim as well. Even George Bush and Tony Blair would run for cover. How could 22 percent Hindus stand up to 75 percent Muslims? And then, matters were deteriorating by the day, with Hindus decreasing and Sunni Muslim numbers rising. When the mayhem began, survival was all everything.

Had Netaji Bose and Sardar Patel been at the helm of national affairs, to my mind, the Muslim League would have failed. The British played their divide-and-rule to the hilt, Jinnah played his, "We are different, we are Muslim" tune, Gandhiji undemocratically by-passed Patel to hand over power to Nehru, and the rest is history. Nehru told Sindhi journalists "Partition, yeh sab bakwas hai!" (Partition, this is all rubbish!), Gandhiji also stated that Partition would take place over his dead body. These remarks lulled Hindus into a dangerous
complacency. Finally, when things got ugly, Hindu Sindhis left.

The Sindhi Hindus paid the highest price. Gandhiji's idealism was expressed when he said, "Aap baithe raho aaram se!" (You stay in Sind, without fears!) In Bombay, Morarji Desai, wanted the refugees to stay on the outskirts of the city and not come into Bombay, treating Sindhis as pariahs or pollutants. Nehru, on his part, admitted he felt little for Sindhis, when he said, `I don't know Sindh. I don't feel attracted to it.'' In a letter he wrote,``The Sindhi people have their good qualities and I rather like them. But they are a curious mixture of the Muslim feudal classes and the Hindu bania class, neither very admirable, as classes go. Still they have push and energy and that is something to be thankful for. They seem to be singularly devoid of any artistic sense. And the colour they sport in their striped pajamas are a trial." If he had tears, Nehru wasn't prepared to waste them on Sindhi Hindus, as Dr. Choithram Gidwani, a Congress leader, discovered, to his dismay.

We went from being a prosperous community, to the new untouchables. There was a push from within--the Muslim League and the Mohajirs wanted us out, and there was a push from without—Indians found us, "chee"(yuck) and a needless burden. Hindu Sindhis were inconvenient on both sides of the border. Who can call the great Sadhu Vaswani a coward? Even a wise man of spiritual depth, had to leave Sindh along with Dada J.P. Vaswani. Can we entertain any doubts on this subject after reading their story?

Doors of Hindus were marked with a red cross, making Hindus sitting ducks for fortune-seekers. Hindus watched as armed bands of people roamed the streets, crying, "Hindu ko maro!"(Kill the Hindu!") All weapons had been surrendered to the government by law, so, self-defense was out. Muslims went to Hindu homes and business premises, with documents declaring them as "Intending Evacuees." They had to vacate since the authorities had chosen to assume they were "intending" to leave; therefore, they had no business to continue living there. Nobody knew on what fact the assumption was rooted, nobody knew who was next. Everything Hindu was up for grabs.

Many Sindhi Muslims protected their Hindu neighbours from attacks by Mohajirs; but there are also stray instances of those that gleefully occupied their homes. Sadly, their glee was short-lived since they soon had to surrender their gains to the Mohajirs. Sufis at heart, many Sindhi Muslims saw their neighbours depart with a tear in their eye.

Now where are the Sindhi Hindus? Rootless, we were now a community, which chose to blend, adapt, and wear masks. We succeeded, full marks to Sindhi Hindus. But, now that we have, why do we continue with those useless masks? Do we have to change our names and surnames? Are we flattered if somebody mistakes us for Punjabis or Parsees? What's wrong with us? If Narayan Murthy and Azim Premji can make it in the world with their difficult names, can't we do the same with ours? But we want to say to the world-- Look, look, I am like you, I am not a Sindhi. And so Harry (Hariram) cries over the shoulder of Sally (Sundari), "Sally, why do Sindhis lack culture?" Sally replies, "Charyo thyo aahen,( are you mad) naturally, it's all about money, Harry!"
One of the subjects of many discussions is the issue of the Sindhi script. I am grateful to Mr. Mangharam Sipahimalani who first educated me on this subject when I interviewed him. But, in a nutshell this is the reality of the script and its history. The original script of Sindhi was not one, but eight, Devnagri, Thattai, Khudabadi, Luhaniki, Memonki, Gurmukhi, Khojiki and Hatvaniki. At the time of Mahmud Ghaznu, Al Bruni found three scripts current in Sindh—all three were variations of Devnagri.

Later, when the British arrived they found the Pandits writing Sindhi in Devnagri. Traders were using the secret Hatvaniki, which has no vowels. The women men were using Gurmukhi and the government employees were using a form of Arabic script. British scholars felt that the Devnagri script would be right for Sindh. Government servants, many of whom were Hindus, favoured the Arabic script, since they did not know Devnagri. A debate went on with Capt. Burton favouring the Arabic script and Capt. Stack favouring Devnagri. Sir Bartle Frere, the Commissioner of Sindh, referred the matter to the Court of Directors of the British East India Company, which favoured Arabic on the ground that Muslim names could not be written in Devnagri. Sir Richard Burton, and local scholars Munshi Thanwardas and Mirza Sadiq Ali Beg evolved a 52-letter Sindhi alphabet. The Indian government recognizes both the Devnagiri and Arabic scripts.

Sindhi is an ancient language, with over seventy percent words in Sanskrit. Professor E. Trumpp in his monumental `Sindhi Alphabet and Grammar' (1812) writes: "Sindhi is a pure Sanskritical language, more free from foreign elements than any of the North Indian vernaculars." The Rev. Mr.G. Shirt of Hyderabad, one of the first Sindhi scholars, considered that the language is probably, so far as its grammatical construction is concerned, the purest daughter of Sanskrit. It has small sprinkling of Dravidian words, and has in later times received large accessions to its vocabulary from Arabic and Persian. Writes Dr. Annemarie Schimmel, Harvard professor of Islamics, and versatile linguist: "Since every word in Sindhi ends in a vowel, the sound is very musical." After understanding the background of the Sindhi script, one can only hope the controversy will be give a decent burial. Sindhi is our mother tongue, Devnagiri is our mother script.

Sindhi Reflections is divided into many equally important sections. Where more than one family member was involved, I have put them under one umbrella heading. All chapters has been edited. Photographs were included practically at the last minute.

If you are ashamed to be a Sindhi, I hope this book changes you. Do add your comments here or email your feedback

at Jagtiani


Contact Lata Jagtiani for the book in Mumbai 022 22047283/85 and mobile 9820260962.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sindhi Reflections: Foreword by Mr L.K.Advani


Nearly sixty years after the partition of India, looked at from the Sindhi Hindu perspective, it seems almost unreal that our community suffered so much, when what you get to see is educated, progressive and successful Sindhis today.

But like many tragedies that have happened—tragedies that have defined the existence of a people—the partition of our country too was a defining moment in history. This is true for Indians in general, but even more so for those that actually experienced being dispossessed of home and hearth, and of the trials that came their way in the years after the partition.

Sindhis in particular have another, unkind cut to be unhappy about, that being that while Bengal and Punjab were divided on August 14/15, Sindh was not. As a consequence, the distancing from our culture and language began to happen soon after the partition itself, something which is an unfortunate development.

And yet, it is amazing that our community has survived, and survived well. Like the Phoenix from the ashes, we have risen from being down and out, to a people who take the lead in commerce, and have fair representation in the Arts, in Medicine, in Engineering, and a variety of fields. And the upside is also that we are truly ‘transnational’.

Lata Jagtiani has attempted to bring together many people together on a stage, so to speak—people who had direct experiences of before, during and after the partition. This she has done mostly through interviews, and in some cases, through articles, biographies etc. I am sure students of history, as well as Sindhis in general will find this compendium of much value.

L.K. Advani