Monday, July 14, 2008
SINDHI HINDU HISTORY
A BRIEF SINDHI HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
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.
END OF HISTORICAL SECTION
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
RESPONSE TO SINDHI HISTORY
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 voters.one 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-------.
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,