Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back

Delhi Riots: 1947 Amritsar Riots Re-Run

Author: Sanjay Dixit संजय
Publication: Medium.com
Date:  March 5, 2020
URL:      https://medium.com/@Sanjay_Dixit/delhi-riots-1947-amritsar-riots-re-run-86d949349af8


A lot of discussion has taken place on the Delhi Riots of 24/25 February 2020. Many people have likened it to the Great Calcutta Killings starting 16th August 1946. However, the Calcutta killings, though similarly planned as the Delhi riots, lasted only a week. Moreover, after the initial shock, the Hindus under Gopal Patha (Gopal Chandra Mukhopadhyaya) organised themselves and inflicted great damage on the Muslim hordes. The League government of Bengal was in total conspiracy with the rioters. The provincial government of Suhrawardy had openly supported the Direct Action Day of 16th August, 1946.

In Calcutta, the Hindu and Muslim areas were clearly marked out. Muslims could not create a siege like situation as they did in Delhi in Shaheen Bagh, or tried to create in the Maujpur-Jaffrabad area of North-East Delhi.

In Amritsar, however, the Hindu-Sikh areas were mostly located in an inner circle, with Muslim areas forming a ring outside. The League militia, the Muslim National Guards, was the strongest in Amritsar. It also had the support from the Khaksars and the Tahrars. The League had wanted the whole of Punjab, but partition was now in the air. The League had started its well planned attacks on the Hindu-Sikh minority in accordance with the Hidayah of Deoband and Fatwa-e-Razvia of Bareilly in West Punjab with a clear strategy to chase the Hindu-Sikh minority in order to grab their properties. The League had Amritsar as its most ambitious target. If it could succeed in demoralising the Hindu-Sikhs in the highest seat of Sikh spiritual order, it reckoned that it could have a vantage bargaining position at the time of partition.

On 2nd March 1947, the Unionist-Congress-Akali coalition government fell as the Unionist CM Khizar Tiwana resigned under pressure from the Muslim League, which created disturbances through its militia right through the tenure of the coalition.

Amritsar in early 1947 had a 50–50 Muslim-Non-Muslim population scenario. Hindus and Sikhs were prosperous and well-to-do. Muslim league intended to make a pitch for the Golden Temple and the Khalsa College. They bargained that if they could either grab them, using the excuse of Shahidganj Mosque of Lahore, or lay a siege to them, they would have an upper hand in any negotiation in future. The planning had been going on right since the coalition had formed the government. They only needed an excuse, as happened in Delhi in 2020.

Police in every city of Punjab was minimum 70–30 Muslim-non-Muslim (overall proportion in Punjab was 76–24), and so was the civilian administration. The Muslim population in Punjab had gone up to 53.2% in the 1941 census, from 46.7% in the 1881 census. With this thin edge in population, they wanted the whole of Punjab.

On 4th March, a peaceful Hindu-Sikh students procession protesting against the possibility of a communal Muslim League government in the wake of the coalition government falling, was fired upon by the police without provocation. On the 5th of March, planned attacks began.

The Muslim National Guards had been creating disturbances right from the day the coalition government took oath. They had amassed in the houses and mosques:

1. A large supply of stones;

2. A large number of swords and spears;

3. Machetes;

4. Chemicals and incendiary spirits;

5. Illegal firearms.

This was exactly the arsenal that one has discovered in the Delhi Riots. Is that a coincidence, or merely a familiar scene playing out?

The Sikhi Wiki describes the event:

‘(1) In Amritsar the Muslim National Guards Organization was the strongest anywhere in the Punjab. This organisation, according to reports received by the authorities, had a membership of over 8,000 when the ‘war’ started in March. Later on recruitment to it proceeded apace in every Muslim ward and mohalla. Working hand in hand with the National Guard, were two other well-equipped Muslim organizations, the Khaksars and the Ahrars. The former of the two had a long record of secret violent training and activity. The Muslim National Guards headquarters were shifted from Lahore to Amritsar in March, as Amritsar was the most important front on which the League had to fight.

‘(2) The Muslim localities were situated in a ring quite deep all around the town of Amritsar. Hindu and Sikh areas were in the interior of the circle, and once the Muslims decided to close in upon these areas and shut egress and ingress into the city, Hindus and Sikhs were shut in and cut off from the rest of the world. Excepting an opening through Sultanwind Gate, which is away from the Railway Station, the Courts, Civil Hospital, Telegraph Office etc. there was no opening in the deep Muslim belt through which any Hindu or Sikh could come out without running the gauntlet of large and well-posted Muslim mobs, ever ready with their murder squads. A very large number of casualties among Hindus and Sikhs occurred round the city walls.

‘(3) Proportion of Muslims in the regular and additional police force in the Punjab, as has been pointed out, was everywhere very heavy, that is, over 70%. So was the proportion of officials in the Civil list. These two classes of Government employees could and did make all the difference for the peace and safety of an area. A separate and detailed study is needed to assess the true role of the Muslim police and officials in riots in Bengal and in the Punjab, especially the latter. Majorities no doubt tell in such a total warfare as the Punjab Muslim League attacks of 1947, but even the majority in population without the collusion of the police and officials cannot inflict such losses as those sustained by Hindus and Sikhs in the Western districts of the Punjab.

‘And in a place like Amritsar, where the two sides were balanced in population, without the police and officials working ‘all out’ for one side, Hindus and Sikhs could not have been held at bay by Muslims for so many months. Most of the Hindu and Sikh policemen were posted in the Southern and Eastern districts of the Punjab, in which the majority in population was Hindu and/or Sikh. In Amritsar as in Lahore one might rarely come across a Hindu or Sikh policeman, else all the force was Muslim. The Muslim police helped Muslims to collect arms both lethal and firearms and ammunition. Smuggling was done in collusion with the Muslim police who were posted on all strategic points. Storage of arms and petrol, the latter for purposes of quick arson, was done in houses and buildings which were protected from detection by the Muslim police.’

The Curfew worked in the favour of Muslims, as the partisan police did not let the Hindu/Sikhs come out to defend themselves. Muslim hordes were free to move around and torch the shops and houses. A large number of men and women had to take shelter in Durbar Sahib and Khalsa College. The Muslim militia made a determined bid for Durbar Sahib and Khalsa College, but the Hindu/Sikh made a dogged resistance. These riots were carried on right till June. Only after it became clear that Amritsar would remain with India that the outside ring cleared out to Lahore, fearing reprisals. The first train to be attacked was in Amritsar on 6th of March, 1947, when a Muslim mob stopped a train coming from Pathankot in the suburb of Sharifpura and murdered hapless men, women and children. Similar train attacks were carried out on trains coming from Jullundur and Narowal as well. In 5 months, 243 Hindu/Sikhs were killed as against 85 Muslims.

I do not find any difference in the planning and motivation of the Amritsar riots and the present Delhi riots. The similarities lay in the following:

1. Long planning;

2. Siege of Hindu-Sikh localities by choking off ingress and egress;

3. Stocking of arsenal;

4. Arson and murders;

5. Destruction of property.

The differences lay in the following:

1. A neutral police force;

2. Delhi is a large city, which has only some pockets of Muslim dominance;

3. Quick control of the riots;

4. Quick arrest and follow-up action;

5. An orchestrated campaign in favour of rioting mobs by Marxist-Islamist-Liberal media and International media;

6. Police under the direct control of a full majority Central government.

The point to note is that the theological motivation for both the Amritsar riots and Delhi riots of 2020 is the same. The Hidayah of Deoband and the Fatwa-e-Razvia of Bareilly, both regard Jihad as a duty and both define Jihad as forceful conversion of men and territory to Islam. In addition there is the theology that regards it as a holy duty to wage war against infidels in a land where Shari’a is not the ruling Law. Thus the Delhi riots were no different from the riots of the Khilafat movement and the riots of partition. Liberation of Amritsar from infidels was a pious duty that the Muslim leadership commanded to its followers. The followers dutifully carried out the commands, with characteristic brutality, dishonor of women, and murder of innocent bystanders. It was to the credit of the Hindus and Sikhs that in spite of being caught off guard, with less stock of arms, ammunition and incendiary material, and with a partisan police and civilian force, they fought off the aggressors and saved their city.

Also notice the similarity in the events that were used as the excuse to start the riots:

· In Amritsar, a peaceful Hindu-Sikh students procession demanding from the British that a communal government may not be foisted on them;

· In Delhi, a peaceful protest that demanded that the blocked streets may be cleared.

I would urge that all those who are seeking to understand the nature of Delhi riots should carefully read the story of Amritsar riots of 1947.

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements