H C Singh

To Me Mahatma Gandhi

As young and immature man of below 12 years I used to follow Gandhi and considered him real mahatma. I was very much impressed since 1942 Quit India movement in which I had little bit participated as a lad of under 12 years. But going to college, studying politics and history independently I came to conclusion that Gandhi was not either very intelligent or very honest or upright. By his so called non violence, which suited the British rulers of India before independence in comparison to demand and fight for independence come what may be Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh and many other revolutionaries, Gandhi was made an icon of non violence and a mahatma.

As M.K. Gandhi’s performance as an advocate was not only below expectations from a Bar-at-law but poor, as has been described by POLAK in Great Men of India. It will be pertinent to reproduce below his comments on Gandhi’s ability and courage.
“On return from England after being Bar-at-law he continued practise in Bombay high court. His first case was a trial, not so much of his knowledge and ability as of his courage. To speak in public had always been an ordeal for him and now to have to conduct a case, even the placing of bare facts of it before the court, was more than he could do. He rose to speak but became tongue-tied. Baffled he begged to be relieved of his case and hastened from the court in shame and anguish, vowing never to appear again until he had learned to master himself and could use his brain and body as the instrument of his will.”

So to start with despite of having lived in England and having been called to Bar he was an utter failure as an advocate. So he first joined his brother in business and thereafter went to South Africa at the request of an Indian businessman, where it was more politics than law.

Though from 1942 to 1949 I considered Gandhi as Mahatma and Father of Nation and raised slogans like ‘Inqilab Zindabad’ and ‘Mahatma Gandhi Zindabad’ and on hearing that he had been assassinated by a Hindu fanatic because Gandhi was instrumental in the payment of Rs. 55 crore (Rs 550 Million) to Pakistan though Pakistan had waged a war against India in Kashmir, I kept fast for full 24 hours, not drinking even water and attended condolence meeting at the bank of Satluj river near Sardar Bhagat Singh’s smadhi.

Till 1949 I had not read and known about Gandhi’s high handedness not befitting a Mahatma or Father of nation in forcing rightfully elected Subhash Chandra Bose who defeated Gandhi’s candidate Patabhi Sitaramya. Instead of accepting the verdict of people and allowing S C Bose to function he indirectly made all the earlier members of congress working committee not to cooperate with Subhash Bose and not to join his Working Committee. It is to credit of Subhash Bose who was not yet ‘Netaji’ to resign instead of dividing the party. In this connection I reproduce below once again extracts from an article by POLAK expressed in an article in Greatmen of India.

“After the re-election of Subhash Chandra Bose as president of the congress… inspite of Gandhi’s support for another candidate the annual session of the congress that followed expressed complete confidence in him, resolved to support his politics and virtually instructed Mr. Bose to appoint a Working Committee that would enjoy Gandhi’s confidence: Mr. Bose however failed to get support of Gandhi’s nominees and resigned the Presidentship, the new President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, being an old colleague of the Mahatma’s and the new working committee being composed entirely of his supporters.”

In the face of Bose’s demand to present Britain with an ultimatum in the prevailing international arena in order to compel her to grant India’s freedom Gandhi’s view was that “it would not be proper or generous on her part to take advantage of Britain’s embarrassment in the international field….”

… “In the following passage from a letter from Gandhi to Bose, in reply to later’s proposed ultimatum, under a threat of new intensive civil disobedience campaign, just before his resignation, expressing Gandhi’s profound disbelief that such a campaign (as pointed out by Bose) could be conducted without Violence”

“To many he (Gandhi) is a strange enigma, an aggregate of inconsistencies, and his subtilty of argument is often uncomprehending and baffling. But of his courage, his integrity of purpose, the splendors of his idealism his deep patriotism and his fine example of public conduct and personal sacrifice there is an all but universal recognition.”

This is how Mahatma Gandhi who worked for India’s Independence all through his life refused to celebrate Independence because of large scale riots from July to September 1947. Because of partitions riots which were instigated and initiated by Muslim League in August – September 1946 in Bengal particularly in Calcutta, it is pertinent to quote Ram Chandra Guha from his book India after Gandhi: “By starting a riot in Calcutta in August 46 Jinnah and the League hoped to polarize the two communities further and thus force the British to divide India when they finally quit. In this endeavor they richly succeeded.”

Mahatma Gandhi was hardly secular as he was a staunch Hindu and considered India after partition to be a Hindu country. It is significant to quote what Gandhi ji said on December 4, 1947 hardly a couple of months before his assassination by a fanatic Hindu Nathu Ram Godse.

“Even Guru Nanak never said that he was not a Hindu nor did any other Guru. It can not be said that Sikhism, Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism are separate religions. All these four faiths and their off shoots are one. Hinduism is an ocean into which all the rivers run. It can absorb Islam and Christianity and all other religions and only then can it become ocean” (Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Publication of Government of India of various years, volume 90 p 177)

In the words of Nirad C Chaudhary , ‘Gandhi had the capacity for prevarication of a Hindu Bania and Hindu Guru combined and like both he think that what he desired must be necessarily right’ (C Chaudhary ‘The Hand of Great Anarch’ India 1921-52 , Laden 1987 p 792)

After talks with and influenced by Suhrawardy Gandhi became more pro-Muslim and anti-Sikh. He started calling Muslims as a separate religion but continued to call Sikhs (Sheekh) as culprits and criminals who killed Muslims (in retaliation so as to stop killing of Hindu and Sikhs in Pakistan.)

Because of large scale riots Gandhi did not take part in celebrations of Independence day on 15th August 1947 but instead undertook a 24 hour fast saying ‘Do you wish to hold celebrations in the midst of this devastation’

This proved that Mahatma Gandhi truly believed and propagated non-violence. This also proves that M K Gandhi had become a Mahatma in real sense and rightly known throughout India and the world as Mahatma Gandhi – apostle of Non – Violence.

To conclude, we cannot forget or minimize Mahatma Gandhi’s emphasis on non-violent struggle for independence, which was adopted by many leaders of America and Africa. In USA, Martin Luther King’s struggle for racial equality and end of discrimination against colored people particularly Africans was crowned with great and unique success. In South Africa, the South African leader NELSON MANDELA who had been imprisoned for 30 years by colonial government and that, too, in a solitary confinement for many years in a far off island of south of South Africa, emulated Gandhi’s non-violence and though after independence of South Africa he became the first African (non-white) President of South Africa he did not harbor any grudge against the erstwhile white rulers.

Highest tribute was paid by great scientist Albert Einstein, recognizing Gandhi’s contribution to peace, brotherhood of mankind, absence of hatred and above all non-violent struggle for attaining independence with truth honesty and sacrifice, all rolled into one. It is very pertinent to quote Einstein: “generations to come will scarcely believe that such a man as this (Gandhi) walked the earth in flesh and blood”

August 25, 2009 Posted by | India, Indian History | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Great Calcutta Killings (1946)

Speech by Shyma Prasad Mookerjea in Bengal Assembly.

“Direct Action Day itself was not the day for commencing Direct Action, it was at the same time printed out that the war had begun, the days of peace and compromise were over and now the Jehad Muslim leaders want Civil War. Only a pattern of civil war, according Mr Jinnah, was witnessed in the very city of Calcutta. Khwaja Nizamudin said that Muslims did not believe in non-violence at all, Muslims knew what Direct Action meant and there were one hundred and one ways in which this was made clear by responsible League leaders……….. it is astonishing fact that a gun shop within two minutes walk from Government House was looted. Not a single policeman turned up in the streets to control the situation in any part of the city”. Another stailing revelation by Mookarjea in Bengal Assembly was…. “the Muslim League party wanted 500 gallons of petrol from Bengal Government. That was not granted, but petrol coupons were issued in the name of individual Ministers general coupons—100 gallons being issued in the name of Chief Minister. Evidence is available that these coupons were used… it is not in Calcutta alone that atrocities were committed in a large scale but we find that troubles are spreading in the whole of Bengal….. The concerned of Action of the All India Muslim League has ordered that prepositions have to be made for giving effect to the Direct Action Program”.

From the above extracts it is clear that Jinnah had instigated the Calcutta Killings as a prelude to ‘Civil War’ when to implement the Direct Action gallons of Petrol were supplied to Ministers of Muslim League Government in Bengal.

Riots had started in West Punjab in April 1947 and hundreds of innocent unarmed Hindus and Sikhs were killed. Women molested and many jumped into wells to save honour. Half a dozen families of my relatives reached Ferozepore Cantt from our village and Peshawar Cantt, where we were living in a military bunglow. We gave one room of the main bunglow and all the five servant quarters and a garrage to the families of our relatives from our village Mangwal in District Jehlum and Peshawar Cantonment. Our House was a minor Refugee Camp from April 47 to September 47. When Muslims from Ferozepore either got killed in retaliation or migrated to Pakistan. As a result, our relatives, each family occupied, a Muslim migrant house.

All this had great impact on me and in April 47, I visited my college Hostel and addressed all the hostelers telling them of the cruelities heaped on Hindus and Sikhs in West Punjab. I led an open sword procession in April – 47 against likely creation of Pakistan Shouting – ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ Nahi Banega Pakistan ie Hell with Pakistan and Pakistan can not come in existance. We had passed through Muslim areas of Ferozepore Cantt without any mishap becuase Muslims of Ferozepore knew that Ferozepore can not go to Pakistan as it was Sikh-Hindu Majority district of undivided Punjab, so they remained confined to their houses and shops.

But AngloIndian S.P. (Police Kaptan) of Ferozepore rang up my respected father who was Captain and Acting Major in British Indian Army. S.P. Evens told my father in unambiguous words: “Captain saheb, you control your son Harcharan Singh who has led a procession against Pakistan, shouting provocative slogans against creation of Pakistan and that too, through areas of Muslims. Luckily there was no retaliation and no riots but anything could happen.” My respected father who had all the love for me and had never even scolded me, what to speak of beating or even slapping, told my eldest brother. While father dear had gone to office, my eldest brother called ne in his room bolted the room from inside and gave severest possible thrashing, I was crying. But my respected mother was crying, too, because she, too, had never scolded me or beaten me since I was a child of 4-5 years. She was shouting ‘stop it now Nirmal’ ( my eldest brothers name who too was in Army and later retired as Major), she was knocking and crying. Ultimately I got free from my brother’s clutches and stopped crying as I was no more a 4-5 year old child but a young boy of 16-1/2 and a college student and knew what I was doing.

My respected father had BSA double barrel gun and a sophisticated revolver both duly licenced. I knew where these were lying in what room and in which box. So to test my ability to fire in case of attack on our family when all other male members were in office or away, I took out first the double barrel gun put a cartridge in it, put a small circle on the back of a servant quarter, of another officer house and fired. So i could fire in case of emergency fight the terrorist and save the family. Next day I took out revlover a put one bullet, little knowing that bullet of the center does not get fired so continued and the revolver revolved fully, the bullet got fired. Luckily I had fired up in the sky and there was no damage or injury to me or mishap. I did not stop there, realizing that bullet that got fired was before the central hole of revolver so I put another bullet before the central hole and fired and the bullet went as I expected. I was satisfied. I had told my respected mother what and why I had done. She embraced me and blessed me.

But when my father dear and eldest brother reached home they came to know. They, instead of scolding or slapping me advised that I should have first learned how to fire a gun or revolver. But when I fully explained the reason they kept quiet neither scolded me nor blessed me but just ignored the incident which could be an accident.

Luckily in May 47 I got an opportunity to attend Selection and Training Camp in Taradevi, near simla. Headquarter of United Punjab Scouts Association. I went to attend the Camp for a fortnight. I had participated in cross country race, in other activities plus I led the ‘Bhangra’ reciting a Punjabi poem about Basakhi Mela and all the scouts sitting and standing round the ‘Camp fire’ joined in Bhangra Dance and at the end of each stenza Shouted with me Halla Belia, Halla Belia meaning yes dear friend, yes dear friend. This item was instrumental in my selection for World scouts Jamboree in Paris from 5th to 20th August 1947.

So along with other scouts from all over India numbering about 80. We boarded the Ship S.S Alcantra from Bombay on 4th July 1947 reaching Southampton port on 23rd July after 19 days. The most interesting part of my first journey abroad was that all the butlers of the Ship were British and they served us saying. Sir what would you like to have for breakfast. Omellet, Fried eggs or boiled eggs. This gave us the feeling that though we were yet to gain independence on 15th August, we had virtually become free and equal to British. It was interesting to visit Aden for a few hours then passing Suez Canal, crossing Mediteranean Sea touching Malta and Gibraltar and ultimately reaching Southamption Port and Rail journey to London.

The stay in London was brief while on way to our destination Paris, where world scouts Jamboree Camp was about 30 miles out of Paris. After crossing the English Channel. From London the entire Common wealth contingent travelled by same train and there British photographer took our snaps standing in window – myself, a British scout a ceylonese scout. This photo by Reuter appeared in London Times, copy of which I have with me even today as a memory and the same was valued by my parents and sisters and brothers and now by my Children and grand-children. They often say “Papaji you get it beautifully framed” as a parmanent record as prior to independence very few Indians used to visit England and France and hardly anyone had photograph by Reuter. But I have left it to my Children and grand children as I am already 78 years old and busy writing my diary, poems in Punjabi and English and this Book.

In the World Jambaree Camp we daily visited some country’s camp or other particularly visiting American, Canadian, some African Countries’ camp including that of South Africa which was then a British Colony, some Latin American Country’s Camps and of course British and French Scouts Camps. This broadened our outlook and we took autographs and addresses of many scouts from many countries.

The most interesting and memorable part of our visit to world scout jamboree at Paris was on 15th August 1947 when in Indian Camp both Indian and Pakistani flags were hoisted replacing the British Union Jack.

A van from Radio Paris had come to our camp to record the hoisting of flags of free India and newly created independent state of Pakistan. On behalf Indian scouts I was honoured by being asked by the Indian scout contigent leader Rao Bhadur Thadeus, to speak on behalf of Indian scouts. I immediately agreed as I felt it to be great honor and recognition. So I spoke for a couple of minutes concluding with ‘Jai Hind’ thrice and all the Indian scouts enthusiatically and loudly said Jai Hind. This speech by scout Harcharan Singh was hooked up and broadcast on All India Radio after to 9:30 PM. Prime Time News in English by Melvelle De Mello. This was heard by any parents and all the family members though I had not mentioned my name but my parents and all relatives recognised my voice as some sentences I spoke in Punjabi, too, Similarly a Muslim boy from Punjab contingent spoke for Pakistan concluding ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. My photograph where I am speaking before mike and other Indian scouts standing behind me appeared in French News Paper La Monde and some French scouts recognised and showed me. I have a copy of that photo, too, as a great honour and I value it very much.

The INA and its fight for India’s independence and Navy rebellion convinced Labour Party that India should get independence as early as possible thus Labour Government of Attlee proposed for India’s Independence in contrast of Churchill who was adament and not in favour of Indian independence saying “I have not become First Minister to preside over lequidation of British Empire.”

Krishna Menon who was before Independence of India, a member British labour Party, in his interview with Michael Breher, describes the way India’s Independence was expedited. This is how Attlee the socialist and the Cabinet Mission under the chairmanship of Pathic Lawrence functioned half heartedly encouraging Muslim League and indirectly working for partition of India and so could be held responsible for partition massacre of millions initiated by Muslim League first in Bengal in 1946 and then in west Punjab. Menon Says: “Negotiations and missions they did not envisage that the thing (end of British rule) was really to come so soon. They probably thought it was going to be just a newer session of a Simon commission and would mean more protracted negotiations, and that gradually our difficulties would lead to a partnership with England or something of the kind. This was how it appeared to them in 1943-5. That situation soon changed. I would like to think that a man like Mr Pathick – Lawrence made a big contribution towards abdication, saying, ‘We have to go.’

But my own feeling is that if Attlee had the imagination to realize in 1945 that it would happen in 1947 he would have worked it another way. The British had sufficient power at that time to see that it happened. The same thing could have been said to the princes. It must be remembered that as a socialist, Attlee had certain limitations. He had not understood the character and the passions that went into nationalism, posed a contradiction. Having fed the Muslim league for half a century with seperatism, the British created a Frankenstein monster; they should have laid it low, at least when leaving. Instead they used it as a spectre and to create pressure against Indian nationalism. Yet after all it was a great achievement for Mr. Attlee. I think that Pathick – Lawrence was a much greater man that most people thought at the time. He was the chairman of the cabinet mission. He was really the functioning member. He had a good grasp of things.

I had attended the world scouts jamborer in paris from 5th to 25th August 1947. After Independence of India on 15th August when India and Pakistan flags were unfurled at Indian Camp, On behalf of Indian scouts I had addressed on Radio Paris concluding with “Jai Hind” thrice. I had virtually become scout leader of Indian Scouts particularly those from Punjab.

When we returned to London, we stayed in the scout and girl guide headquarter where British girl guides accompanied us for first couple of days to show us London, places famous for sight seeing – Parliament, Big Ben, national Museum, Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. The girl guide accompanying me was so beautiful and affectionate that when I was to leave London for India she came to me and said “Singh, you take me to India”. Of course I could not though a while parting she kissed my bearded face and I returned the mild kiss but she got my address and wrote a couple of letters to me at Ferozepore and I did reply.

After girl guides help for a couple of days I used to go alone by ‘Tube’ i.e. underground railway, and visit all the places shown by her independently. I always carried my snacks. In the Museum library a junior librarian showed me all the reading rooms and book shelfs and even told me that this was the table where Karl Marx used to sit and write for 30 years or more till his death. We had heard the name of Karl Marx but not yet known his political philosophy and contribution to political philosophy.

In London we read about partition riots in London Times and other papers. There were news about retaliation by Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab which excited Muslim scouts and Punjab’s contingent leaders Mr. Qureshi. They even indirectly threatened us particularly teh Sikh scouts who were just 8 and Muslim scouts were 30 and Hindu scouts of Punjab contingent only 10 or 12. From their looks many Hindu scouts of the age of 12 to 15 came to me and expressed their fear. I took up the courage and told Indian contingent leader a Keralite Christian about all that. He simply said he will look into it. But not to rest. I wrote a letter to Chief scout of Punjab Sardar Hardyal Singh at Taradevi, simla hills. I think he rang up both Mr. Qureshi and Mr. Thadeus because after 10 days the muslim scouts from Punjab and NWFP became quiet and looked on the other side instead of staring at us. The result was that after independence Muslim and Hindu-Sikh scouts of punjab contigent got seperated. There was no talk or exchange of greetings between us. We were virtually too independent sub contingents.

As we boarded the ship for return journey to India and Pakistan we had no contact between us for 15 days of journey. And at Bombay port we got completely separated, the Muslim scouts left for Karachi, the temporary capital of pakistan and we remained in Bombay for 3-4 days till we got a safe train for Delhi. From New Delhi there was no train going to Punjab so we went by goods trucks to our various places and Sikhs and Hindu scouts who had come from West Punjab, now part of Pakistan in turmoil, remained in Bombay to be sent to their parents or relatives who had migrated or were turned out of Pakistan occupied Punjab. It was not immediately known about the parents and the whereabouts of Hindu and Sikh scouts from Lahore and beyond. So they were taken to Scout headquarter in Taradevi or continued to stay in Bombay.

On 14th October I reached by truck to Ferozepore Cantt bus stop(Adda) there was no tonga available so I walked with my baggage on my shoulders about 4 miles and reached my home unaccompanied by anyone ar about 11 pm. My parents and relatives were happy, rather ecstatic, and also surprised and excited to how I had reached safe and sound. I immediately opened my bag and showed two wrist watches for my elder sister one gents and one ladies as she was likely to be married in couple of years. I also brought small gifts for younger sisters like bangles and clips and for my dear mother a shawl and for my father a Parker pen and for home an electric iron which was nowhere in Ferozepore or even in India in those days. All were very happy and blessed me.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My first encounter with British Soldier

I was studying in 10th class in 1945 and was returning from my school on my bicycle when on the way and near to my residence (Indian Military Officers Banglows) I saw a British soldier walking, towards British regimental Centre which was about 1 km from our residence. On the spur of moment, I speeded up my bicycle and while crossing him removed his cap and shouted – you Tories quit India. I threw his cap at a distance of about 50 yards as I saw him running after me. I speeded up so that I would not be caught by him. I heard him shouting in his inaudible voice. Fully exhausted I reached home : my respected mother asked me what was the matter. I replied that somebody was running after me to snatch my bicycle. I did not tell this episode to any one except my closest friend and class fellow Ramesh also warning him that he must not tell anyone this incident as I was Military Officer’s son.

Why did I do that I pondered over it. In August 1942 I had participated in Quit India Movement in Delhi as a young boy of 11 to 12 years and had raised slogans like “Inqilab Zindabad” and “Angrezo Bahrat Chhodo”, at that time my respected father had just been commissioned as Lieutenant in British indian Army but in 1945 he was Captain and acting Major. So I was a little bit cautious.

Another fact that prompted me to remove the cap of British Soldier was that in 1943 we had purchased a Radio which was rare in those days. There was no shop selling or repairing radios in Ferozepore and I and my elder brother had gone to Lahore to purchase a radio. There was only one shop selling Radios in Anarkali Bazar of Lahore. Because of war there were no radios of Phillips and Murphy Brand. Only radio set available was Westing House from USA which we purchased at Rs 400/- i.e. equivalent to Rs 20,000 of today as in those days gold was Rs 50 per 10 grammes and now it is more than Rs 2500 for 10 grames. Only few Indian Military Officers used to have radio sets. As a result we used to put our radio on teh table outside our room and put some chairs round, as it was summer, for neighbouring officers and their families to come and listen ti news of 9 PM read by Melvelle de Mello or Roshan ‘Menon’. I too used to listen to the news both in Hindustani and English.

After the guests had gone and I had brought the radio inside. I used to sit in the drawing room and after half an hour or so by 10:30 PM. I would listen to speech by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose from Radio Sheonan Singapore. That speech of Netaji starting and concluding with Jai Hind enthused me always. So this was the reason that I took the risk of removing the cap of a British soldier and then escaping as fast as I could. Thus I became a great fan of Netaji and like him wanted t fight for India’s Independence. Here is my tribute in a brief sketch.

Netaji had fundamental differences with Mahatma Gandhi’s approach for forcing British to Quit India. Gandhi relied on Ahimsa while Netaji was in favour of using all means to win independence. During war Netaji got the opportunity to fight the British by all means, even by waging war.

In 1940, Subhash Chandra Bose escaped from British custody posing as a pathan and through Afghanistan he reached Germany to wage war against British by helping the Germans in their fight against British Empire. In Germany Bose managed to raise Indian force of 3000 men composed of Indian POWs. Some of these jawans of Netaji’s Free India Legion saw action against Allied troops invading France in 1944.

Bose expressed his desire to go to south east asia to fight the British. So the Germans agreed and in mid 1943 Bose was transported on submarine. Once in Singapore Bose reorganised the Indian National Army (INA) originally created by captain Mohan Singh who came to be known as General Mohan Singh. His INA was short lived because Singh had no political background and following in India when Singh resisted Japanese interference in INA of 16,000 men he was arrested and ordered the disbanding of INA which was complied by all INA personnel.

For Japanese who had taken over South East Asia, Subhash Bose, who had been as big a name in India as Gandhi and Nehru, suited them as chief of INA. Netaji created Provisional Government of Azad Hind so as not to annoy Japanese, Bose made little attempt to rehabilitate or consult with “Mohan Singh” (A Military History of India and South Asia)

About 40,000 Jawans had joined Netaji’s INA which was divided into Gandhi Brigade, Azad Brigade, Rani Jhansi Brigade and Subhash Brigade. They did fight against the British Indian Army right upto Burma and finally planted India’s National Tricolour after taking the village of Mowdok in Bengal (now in Bangladesh). It was of symbolic significance though thereafter INA troops were defeated and surrendered as Japanese Army was being beaten and was fast retreating.

Bose had left with retreating Japanese some have criticised. But it is explained in chapter on INA in the military history: “Would churchill, had he been at Tobruk, when Romel’s tanks came charging have surrendered with his men? I think not.” It is said that Bose died in a plane crash in Taiwan but Taiwanese government had denied that there was any plane crash between August 14 and September 20, 1945. “Thus the ashes in Renkoji temple in Janpan were not those of Netaji: It continues to be a mystry as how, where and when Netaji died. But one thing is established that Netaji was a great, if not the greatest freedom fighter that India had and India is rightly proud of Netaji.

From imminent Independence of India and partition of India and creation of Pakistan there were partition riots initiated by Muslim League Government in Bengal in July-August 1946 and thereafter in part of West Punjab, particularly in Jehlum and Rawalpindi Districts and ultimately from August to November 1947 killing of a million of innocent Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims. As a result Muslims of India and Pakistan became more fanatics and Sikhs and Hindus, too of India became equally fanatics so as to take revenge of the killing of Sikh and Hindus un newly created Pakistan and migration of Sikhs and Hindus in millions from their homes from entire Western Pakistan. Trains full of dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus had started reaching India even a fortnight before actual partition of India and declaration of Independence of Pakistan on 14th August 1947 and India on 15th August 1947.

With a view to stop the massarac of Sikhs and Hindus in West Punjab in particular, partition riots started in Indian Punjab in particular and trains of Muslims dead and alive started going from Indian Punjab to Pakistani Punjab. This retaliation though cruel and criminal led to hue and cry in Pakistan and finally they stopped killings Sikhs and Hindus there so that Muslims of Indian Punjab and Delhi are not butchered in retaliation by Sikhs and Hindus particulary by those who suffered loss of their kith and kin and seen the molestation of their wives and daughters before their very eyes.

This was a dangerous period of murders, tortures and molestations particularly in West Pakistan and Indian Punjab, unforgiveable and unforgetable. As a result during these years I became more religious Sikh as will be seen by my humble tribute to Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, like Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru, considered all human beings as the cration of one and the same god, the Creator, whom Hindus called Karta and the muslim called Karim both refer to the same almighty God. In Guru Gobind Singh’s own word “Hindu Turk (Muslims) Kou (Rafhi, Imam Safi) manas ki Jaat Sabhe ek Pehchanbo.”

One of the most important and the most democratic hymns of Guru Gobind Singh Ji is: “What Ever I am it is because of the Khalsa. Otherwise, but for the Khalsa I am nothing.” No saint or leader of humanity has said and written such touching ans selfless words and meant what he said. To emphasise the universal greatness of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. I take this opportunity to quote Gurujee’s words from hymns of Dasam Granth:

Judh Jeetai inhi ke parsad aur daan kare
Aah oag taray inhike parsad, inhike kirpa faan dhaam bharray.
Inhi ke prasad vidya lee, inhi ki krippa sabh shatru mare
Inhi ki krippa ke sajje hum hein
Nahin moh sou gharib karor paray.

Translated in simple English, The great guru means:

I have won wars because of Khalsa and able to give charities because of Khalsa.
I have been able to overcome all sorrows and ailments because of Khalsa and fill treasury of Khalsa. It is through the grace of Khalsa that I have got education and triumphed over all enemies. It is because if Khalsa that I have attained such high status otherwise there are millions of poor and insignificant people like me.

This hymn was written by tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Here in my humility and reverence for great Guru I say with confidence that in the annals of world history these have been a few human beings who during 42 years of llife attained unparalled distinction as a poet and scholar, who learnt Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit and Punjabi and wrote poetry and prose of examplry distinction. His ZAFAR NAMA in Persian where the great Guru, follower of saint par excellence Guru Nanak Dev Ji, gave justification for taking up arms against Mughal Army. Saying “Hama Heelta Dar Guzasht – Halal Ast Burdan Ba Shamsheer Dast”- meaning when all other alternatives of trying for justice and peace fail it is justified to take up arms to end cruelty.

Guru Ji was a great warrior too. He led the battles himself to inspire his followers, (the Khalsa) that he had created, were both high in spirit and valour. So Guru Ji said: Khalsa is my true face and I live in Khalsa.

Guru Ji sacrificed all his four sons, two aged 15 and 17 Sahibzada AJIT SINGH and Sahibzada JUJHAR SINGH died fighting against hordes of Mughals soldiers and Guru Ji’s Sahibzada ZORAVAR SINGH and Sahibzada FATEH SINGH two younger sons aged 8 and 10 were captured by the viceroy of Sirhand who was so cruel that he got the innocent children bricked alive. As Guru Ji’s children, they naturally refused to abandon the Khalsa faith and accept Islam. Guru Ji did not mourn the demise of his all the four children as mortals do but said “What does it matter if he have lost four children there are many thousands of Khalsa who are alive.”

Guru Ji was a great organizer. He founded the Khalsa the Pure who would be ready to sacrifice all for the sake of justice who would die fighting and never surrender. After creating the Khalsa by giving them nectar, Amrit, the great Guru Ji first asked for 5 Sees (heads) then he gave Amrit to 5 who became 5 pyaras. Thereafter the great guru himself bowed before them and got Amrit from them and so the congregation acclaimed wah wah Guru Gobind Singh, Appe Guru and Appe Chela – that the great guru is both the guru and the disciple.

Guru Gobind Singh was a rarest possible genius, philospher, poet, organizer, a valiant soldier and a brave leader of khalsa soldiers and one of the rarest and greatest who willingly sacrificed all his four sons. Not only the Sikhs but whole humanity bows before him for his greatness, selflessness, spirituality, honesty and integrity. Guru Gobind Singh Ji always emphasized on good deeds, helping the needy and destitute. In this famous couplet he says:- “Deh Shiva Bar Mohi Ehe Shibh Karman Te Kabhum Naa Tarron.”

Oh god bless me that I never hesitate or waiver from doing good to others and live for helping others. This is the message often quoted by many eminent saints, social, religious and political personalities in Gurudwaras, Mandirs and others Congregations.

Guru Gobind Singh ji declared that he is servant of God and no one should call him God. Who so ever calls him God may go to hell. In Guru Ji’s own words:

“Mein huin Parampurakh ka dassa dekhan Ayun Jagat Tamasha. Jo humko Pamashar uchar hoe te sabh Narak Kund mei porehein jai”.
To sum it up, these are in brief teachings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji which are enshrined in our hearts and minds for the last 300 years since Guru Ji’s demise and these shall guide mankind to truthful, helpful and selfless living till eternity. It is opt to recall great Calcutta Killings of 1946 endorsed by Jinnah.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1939-47

I was born in Quetta (Baluchistan) in 1930 and had early education in Peshawar Cantt (NWFP) both provinces are now in Pakistan. Our entire family including myself were lucky that my respected father was transferred to Peshawar Cantt, just a couple of years before the worst ever earthquake in Indian subcontinent in which 80% of Quetta perished. In those days Peshawar was absolutely peaceful as it was ruled by Dr Khan Sahib as Congress Party’s chief Minister and his cabinet included Mehar Chand Khanna a devout Hindu and Ajit Singh sarhadi a devout Sikh. We as family members after 1939 used to listen to discussion about Indian Independence which my father used to have with other friends. We often heard the names of Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan known as Frontier Gandhi, Dr. Khan Sahib as well as Hindu and Sikh Ministers of NWFP. Often there was mention Subhash Bose and Saif Udin Kitchleu.

As children we used to participate in Congress processions from 1939 onwards led by one of the above mentioned leaders. Slogans like Mahatma Gandhi Zindabad, Inqlab Zindabad, Frontier Gandhi Zindabad, Hindustan Zindabad and Angrezo Hindustan Chhodo. We children just responded as loud as possible ‘Zindabad, Zindabad’.

In 1941 my respected father was transferred to Delhi and at the age of 11 I had for the first time glimpse of India’s capital Delhi as well as of independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of Congress Party. I vividly remember going to Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Chandani Chowk, Khooni Darwaza, Delhi Gate Cannaught place was very attractive vast and neat and clean; so was to an extent Jantar Mantar.Viceregal Lodge (now Rashtrapati Bhawan) and adjoining Central Secretariat and India Gate on Kingsway ( now Rajpath ) as children of 11-12 years we felt as if we were in paradise. All Delhi was quiet as there were no scooters, very few cars and only some buses. Tongas plied in old Delhi alone. Mostly office goers used to go on cycles or many on foot from nearby government quarters called squares which were hardly a mile from central Secretariat.
From Rabindra Nath Tagore Speech (Shantiniketan April 1941)

After delivering the speech at Shantiniketan in April 41 Tagore felt that his end was near and he criticized the western barbarity in the war as the British legacy of centuries rule over India:
“Thus while other countries were marching ahead, India smothered under the dead weight of British administration, lay static in her utter helplessness.”
About the death and destruction during Second World War Tagore was shocked and moved and in his speech shows how much he felt and the way he expressed his agony is proof of Nobel Laureates command over English as well as the events:
“In the meanwhile demon of barbarity has given up all pretense and has emerged with unconcealed fangs, ready to tear up humanity in an orgy of devastation. From one end of the world to the other the poisonous fumes of hatred darken the atmosphere. The spirit of violence which perhaps lay dormant in the psychology of the west, has at last roused itself and desecrates the spirit of Man.”
About India’s Independence which in his view in 1941 was quite near Tagore criticized the British administration of India as no Indian leader had done:
“The wheels of Fate will someday compel the English to give up their Indian empire. But what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? When the stream of their centuries’ administration runs dry at last, what a waste of mud and filth they will leave behind them’, I had at no time believed that the springs of civilization would issue out of the heart of Europe. But today when I am about to quit the world that faith has gone bankrupt altogether.”
Had Tagore lived for six years more and had seen the British mischief of leaving India divided and killing of Lakhs of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims he would have wept and cried.

Sixty seven years ago, when I was under 12, I had participated in the Quit India Movement for India’s Independence, when my school in New Delhi was closed and almost all the students left in the form of a procession towards Central Secretariat Via Baird Road and Gole Dakhana. I vividly remember our dismanteling the trenches on the sides of road and setting in fire the wooden structures and even uprooting a few letters boxes that were considered symbols of British Rule (Royal Mail service) On reaching Central Secritariat we raised slogans like “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Angrezo Bharat Chhodo”. There were rumours or news that police had opened fire in Chandani Chowk on those participating in Quit India Movement and Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders had been arrested.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dedication

To my blessed grand daughters- Avval Prit Kaur aged 12 daughter of Simar Prit Singh and Harmeen Kaur, and Gaaviya Singh aged 8 daughter of Harman Prit Singh and Binwant Kaur. Both my grand daughters are very intelligent and hardworking. Besides both are all rounders: both play tennis, do skating and both are very good at paintings and are very good speakers for their age.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Introduction | Leave a comment

Family Background of Harcharan Singh

My respected father Captain Kartar Singh was born in Peshawar cantonment in 1896. Both his parents died when he was just 10 years old. But he came from a renowned and illustrious family. His father Sardar Mool Singh had to leave his village and start business, a retail shop of edible goods and a flour mill. He had employed one of his relatives as assistant who after the demise of Sardar Mool Singh became the virtual owner as ‘Kartar’ was a young boy of only 10-11 year without any brother; only a sister about 3 years older who had been married off just before Sardar Mool Singh’s demise. So, young boy ‘Kartar’ became dependent. But he was determined to study and be someone who would  revive the memories of his noble father and ancestors. When his children had grown up he used to tell that his father’s grandfather and his young brother were in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army as Panjhazari ‘Ghurcharhas’ as valiant selfless soldiers of Khalsa Army who would be spear-heading all important campaigns of Khalsa Army in Kashmir, Ladakh, West Punjab and North Western Frontier Provience (NWFP) which was a then a part of Afghanistan. While Captain Kartar Singh’s great grandfather Sardar Kanihya Singh died fighting in Second Sikh War, his younger brother Sardar Gurmukh Singh did not surrender to the British army and remained unmarried on his horseback. Accordingly British Government confiscated ‘Jagir’ given to both the brothers by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. That is the reason our family in our village Mangwal and in the District Jehlam (now in Pakistan) was known as ‘Ghurcharhan Dee family’. The Muslims of that area were so scared that when their children cried they would silence them by saying ‘Keep quiet otherwise Mukha (Sardar Gurmukh Singh) will come.’

This was in brief ancestral background of the family of renowned Captain Kartar Singh. There was no high school in Peshawar Cantonment at that time. So ‘Kartar’ after passing middle standard refused to sit on the shop but joined Khalsa High School Peshawar City, which was about 4 mile from his home in Peshawar Cantt. For two years he walked up and down and ultimately was employed in the British Indian Army. As soon as the 1st World War started he was posted to Gilgit (now in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) where he spent 4 years in extreme cold below 10-20 degree temperature for six months of the year.

Sardarni Ishar Kaur had accompanied her husband with a 2-year-old son to Gilgit Traveling on horse back throughout Kashmir reaching Gilgit after a fortnight or so. There, despite extreme cold they lived happily as Sardar Kartar Singh was respected by all soldiers of Indian Army stationed in and around Gilgit because of his being incharge of all the supplies from food, clothing, etc for the entire regiment. Kartar Singh was respected by all because of his honesty, hard work and integrity.

After the end of 1st World War S Kartar Singh was posted back to Peshawar Cantt in ASC Department dealing with all types of supply and transport in NWFP. He worked directly under a British Major who was so much impressed by efficiency, hard work and honesty that in 1941 when he had risen to rank of Major General, he called his old Head Clerk from Peshawar Cantt and got him Commissioned as Lt. within a couple of months. He rose to rank of Captain in two years and acting Major in 1944 when during the war no Indian officer enjoyed the rank of above Major.

During stay in Peshawar Cantt from 1920 to 1941 Sardar Kartar Singh had become so popular that he was by rotation made President of Gurudwara and Khalsa School which in 1936 had become first High School in Peshawar Cantt, mainly because of his influence with British Officers and his dedication. In 1941 when he was transferred to Delhi, the entire Hindu and Sikh population and good number of educated Muslims, some of them were close friends, came to bid him farewell with garlands and flowers at the Railway Station. Even modern days Chief Ministers and Governors do not get such a hearty and affectionate farewell by thousands with no space left on platform. Many were overwhelmed and had tears of love and affection for Sardar Kartar Singh (Bhapa Ji) called by young and old out of sincere love.

Captain Kartar Singh was god personified for his children and grand children because he would never use harsh words towards anybody as he was totally following the gist of Sikh faith, reading Gurbani every morning and giving always 1/10th of his income for Charitable purposes as “Daswand”. During war when he was getting Rs. 1,700 per month he was particularly setting aside Rs. 170 pm. In contrast when in 1951 he got a meager pension of Rs.285 pm he set aside Rs. 28.50 for charitable purposes for which he had instructed the Bank of Patiala where his pension was credited.

His children and grand children have done well. His eldest son retired as major from the Indian Army. His second son became an honest and renowned businessmen in Cuttack (Orissa). His third son retired as Senior Administrative officer from Indian Council of Agricultural Research. His oldest daughter’s Children are settled abroad, one son is a Canadian Citizen, another Citizen of Holland and third a British Citizen. His second daughter was married to a brilliant young man who got 300 out of 300 marks in BA(Maths) but settled as a good businessman in Mandsaur/Neemuch in MP. Captain Kartar Singh’s third daughter Attarjeet Kaur was married to Sardar Kulwant Singh Suri son of illustrious father Sardar Nanak Singh Novelist, the greatest Punjabi novelist who was the first Punjabi Novelist to be awarded Sahitya Academy Award. His daughter-in-Law Professor Attarjeet Kaur Suri wrote more than 20 books in Punjabi and was awarded Punjab Sahitya Academy Award. Captain Kartar Singh’s fourth and youngest daughter after her MA was married to an Electrical Engineer Shri D.S. Chadha who retired as Chief Engineer MPEB.

His one grandson is an IFS officer – Navdeep Singh Suri who was first Secretary in Washington and is now Commissioner in South Africa. His another grandson Herman Prit Singh is an IPS currently IG, posted in West Bengal, was on deputation to UN in East Timor. His another grandson Simarprit Singh is CMD of Compare Infobase a Computer Software Company with offices in Delhi and Kolkata and San Jose in the US.

His grandchildren Herman Prit and Simarprit have already established a Charitable Foundation in the name of their demised mother as “G.K.Saberwal Foundation”. Within first six months this foundation has already allotted more than Rs.2 Lakh for orthopedic Centre. They have decided to set aside atleast Rs.2 Lakhs every year under “G.K.Saberwal Foundation” for poor and destitute.

On the same lines “Sardarni and Captain Kartar Singh Trust” was founded. It also sets aside Rs 1 to 2 lakhs every year for charitable purposes. Rs 50,000/- was paid for 84 riot victims through Sardar Phoolka, Senior Advocate looking after their welfare and Rs 50,000 to Parena welfare Society of Bhopal through my sister Hanwant Chadha and her husband Shri Chadha retired Chief Engineer MPEB who are looking after the Welfare of poor and starving without discrimination on the basis of caste and religion.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Introduction | Leave a comment

Introduction

After getting published my two books, one of Poems in Punjabi Payyar Te Rossa and another in English Pluralist Politics and Poems of Reverene Love and Sorrow, I felt encouraged and decided to keep on writing. I have been writing my diary since 1947 when as a Scout in France. This prompted me to write more and more as long as I am alive, as I am already 79 years old and have entered 80th year of my life.

Present book Political History of India from 1939 to 2009 as observed by me is more of my personal feelings and in a way autobiographic. I do hope it will be well received and read with interest

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Introduction | Leave a comment