By Shanmukh, Aparna, Saswati Sarkar and
A lot has been written about the expulsion
of Hindus from Bangladesh, from the Kashmir valley, Hindus and Sikhs from
Pakistan, and so forth, but very little has been written about the expulsion
and killing – termed missing here – of the Hindus, and Sikhs from regions of
Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Indeed, the very name given – Pakistan
occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a misnomer. A look at the map below shows that
Pakistan occupied region of Jammu and Kashmir consists roughly the then
districts of Bhimber (Mirpur, Kotli and Bhimber tehsils), Muzaffarabad
(Muzaffarabad Tehsil), parts of Poonch (Bagh and Sadhnuti tehsils), Gilgit and
the Frontier Ilaqas, and Skardu and Baltistan part of Ladakh.
[In the case of Poonch/Bagh, the
characterisation is not exact. Some parts of Bagh tehsil are left in India and
some parts of Poonch tehsil are left in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Similarly, the southernmost part of Bhimber has been left in India. However, to
obtain an estimate, these generalisations have been made.]
Of these regions, only Muzaffarabad
(coloured red in the map), which constitutes a small fraction of the area,
belongs to Kashmir region of the Jammu and Kashmir. Consequently,
Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) is the accurate term.
PoJK had a substantial number of Hindus and
Sikhs, who went missing from PoJK when Pakistan invaded Kashmir in 1947. In
this article, we attempt to quantify the number of Hindus, and Sikhs that went
missing from PoJK. It may be added that there were no Buddhists recorded in
PoJK consists of Bhimber and parts of Poonch
in Jammu, Muzaffarabad in Kashmir Valley, the whole of Gilgit and Baltistan
areas in the north.
In the Gilgit and Baltistan areas, there
were few Hindus and Sikhs outside state officials and armed forces. Originally
Buddhists, these had been long converted to Islam before the 1947 war. However,
Muzaffarabad, Bhimber and Poonch had significant Hindu and Sikh minorities.
This is reflected in every census since 1881.
In the census in 1941 (as in other census
documents), it was reported that the presence of both the Hindus and the Sikhs
in PoJK has been found since the earliest times. The Brahmins constituted over
19,000 in Poonch Jagir, and over 14,000 in Bhimber district p. 12, . There
were over 8,000 Hindu Rajputs and over 16,000 Jats in Bhimber district p. 12,
Reporting about the Sikhs, the census says,
“The largest aggregations [of the Sikhs] are found in Poonch Jagir, Mirpur and
Muzaffarabad… Whilst the main influx of the Sikhs to the country followed its
conquest by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, there is evidence to show that there were
Sikhs in small numbers in the country as early as the sixteenth century. Guru
Nanak visited Kashmir and is said to have made converts.” p. 12, .
Consequently, it may be affirmed that the
Hindus and the Sikhs did not constitute the seasonal traders, but were landed
families too. This clearly indicates that the expelled Hindus and Sikhs did not
constitute merely the refugees and seasonal traders, but established land
owning classes too. This is confirmed in a cursory statement by Balraj Madhok
who says about Hindus of Pakistan occupied Jammu region, “The situation in the
Punjabi-speaking western districts of Mirpur and Poonch, including Bhimber and
Rajauri, was different. This is a predominantly Muslim area. About a lakh of
Hindus, who were less than 10 per cent of the total population of this region,
constituted the business community though some of them tilled the soil as
well.” p. 48, .
Later on, in this article, we shall see
that the long-standing bonds with their Muslim neighbours did not save the
Hindus and Sikhs.
Pakistani Invasion of Jammu and Kashmir
In 1947, with the Maharaja of Jammu and
Kashmir refusing to accede to either India or to Pakistan, the Pakistanis, in a
bid to pressurise the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan, first ensured an economic
blockade, then small-scale skirmishes at the border p. 15, , and then
invaded the state using a combination of tribals and Pakistani troops.
[Operation Gulmarg, under Major General Akbar Khan, who styled himself General
Jebel Tariq, a product of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, p. 16, ,
and had established his HQ for the purpose in Rawalpindi.]
Dr Karan Singh, in his autobiography
recounts the horrors caused by the skirmishes that took place before the actual
invasion, p. 54,  “Intelligence reports from the frontier areas of Poonch
and Mirpur as well as the Sialkot sector started coming in which spoke of large
scale massacre, loot and rape of our villagers by aggressive hordes from across
the borders. I recall the grim atmosphere that began to engulf us as it
gradually became clear that we were losing control of the outer areas.”
In pp. 83-85, , Jagmohan recounts how
the first indication of the raid became apparent only on October 24, 1947 to
the commanders-in-chief of the three wings of the armed forces in India. The
Muslims, especially the Mirpuris and Poonchis, who constituted a considerable
part of the Jammu and Kashmir state army, defected to the invading Pakistanis.
This is again confirmed by Dr Karan Singh,
who relates, p. 56, , “The main recruiting area for the Muslim component of
the forces had been the provinces of Mirpur and Poonch, from where several
martial classes of Rajput Muslims provided also thousands of recruits for the
Indian Army. With the creation of Pakistan, all those regiments opted for that
country, and the people of these areas, directly contiguous to the new nation,
and bound to West Pakistan by bonds of religion and family relationship, were
naturally swayed against my father despite their traditional loyalty. Thus not
only were the State Forces dangerously over-extended, but one third had in
effect switched loyalty to the other side, and were waiting for the opportunity
Colonel Narain Singh, the commander of
Muzaffarabad, was shot by his own Poonchi Muslim troops, who slaughtered the
sleeping Dogra soldiers p. 36, . Even the personal Muslim friends of the
Maharaja had melted away, including Effendi Bhaijan, who was close to Dr Karan
Singh p. 54, . The state troops in Gilgit and the subsidiary Rajas of the
north revolted and a Pakistani “political agent” was invited there.
In this context, it is important to note
the role played by the British. Both Lord Mountbatten and Sir Rob Lockhart,
viceroy and commander-in-chief of the Indian army claimed no knowledge of the
impending invasion till Muzaffarabad had been sacked by the raiders p. 19, .
Even field marshal Auchinleck did not even call India’s attention to a possible
Pakistani invasion of Jammu and Kashmir before October 24, 1947. p. 21, .
General Sir Frank Messervey (commander in
chief of Pakistani army) and General Sir Rob Lockhart used to have long
telephonic conversations, but neither alerted the Indians to the danger to
Jammu and Kashmir. Neither did Sir George Cunningham, the governor of NWFP,
from where the raiders were brought to invade Jammu and Kashmir p. 21,
In 1935, the British had taken Gilgit under
lease for 60 years and raised an irregular force, the Gilgit scouts, officered
exclusively by British officers, to deal with the Soviet presence in Eastern
Turkestan. The Gilgit Scouts opted to
serve Pakistan when the lease ended in 1947 (due to British exit from India). The Maharajah’s Governor of Gilgit, Brigadier
Ghanshara Singh, had his home surrounded by the Gilgit Scouts and he and his
administration were made prisoners. A provisional government was installed and
the British Commandant of the Gilgit Scouts, Major Brown, hoisted the Pakistani
flag in his lines of command and on November 21, 1947, a Pakistani political
agent arrived and established himself in Gilgit.
Effects Of The Pakistani Invasion
The Pakistani invasion of 1947 devastated
the Hindu and Sikh communities of PoJK to the extent that there are no more
Hindus and Sikhs left in PoJK . The atrocities perpetrated by the invaders,
who often stayed behind to loot the towns they “liberated” has been pointed out
to in . Jagmohan points out that when Baramulla fell to the invaders, the
horrors were recounted by the New York Times correspondent, who wrote,
“Surviving residents estimate that 3,000 of their fellow townsmen, including
four Europeans and a retired British officer and his pregnant wife, were
slain.” p. 87, .
Several indignities were heaped on Hindu
and Sikh women, who were often sold in bazaars of Peshawar, Jhelum and
Rawalpindi. pp. 50-51,  The suffering of the Hindus and Sikhs in the wake of
the Pakistani invasion has been eloquently catalogued by Krishna Mehta , a
survivor of this genocide of Hindus and Sikhs, who narrates her own personal
experience when she fled from pillar to post, with local Muslims fleecing the
hapless Hindus often and the Pakistani raiders and Kashmiri defectors
slaughtering all the Hindus and Sikhs they could lay their hands on.
Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan-occupied
Jammu and Kashmir:
From the census of Jammu and Kashmir, 1941
, we find the following numbers for the Hindus, and Sikhs of/in the affected
From the above table, it is clearly
observable that the total number of Hindus and Sikhs in the regions overrun by
the Pakistanis constituted 84,806 and 33,525 respectively in 1941. The decadal
growth rates of Bhimber, Muzaffarabad, and Poonch in 1931-1941 were 12.15 per
cent, 9.39 per cent and 8.89 per cent respectively. The numbers of Hindus and
Sikhs in Gilgit and Ladakh are very small, and seem to have been comprised of
the state armed forces and state officials often, so the growth rates do not
The annual growth rates turn out to be 1.28
per cent, 1.25 per cent and 1.24 per cent respectively for the districts.
Assuming that the growth rates of the previous decade held (which is
conservative, since with improving medical facilities, the growth rates
generally improved across the state), we find that the number of Hindus and
Sikhs in Bhimber, Muzaffarabad, Bagh and Sadhnuti to be 87,391 and 34,591
There are no estimates of Hindus or Sikhs
left today in the region and the entire population is assumed to have either
been expelled or killed. Snedden, who surveyed the region (published in  in
2012), does not mention any Hindus or Sikhs in PoJK. Consequently, a rough
figure would be 1.225 lakhs to be the number of Hindus and Sikhs who went
missing from PoJK. This is the base figure of the Hindu and Sikh residents of
PoJK. However, thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees had flooded the border
towns (now in PoJK) in the wake of the Partition.
Madhok points out that Bhimber had at least
2,000 refugees, Mirpur had at least 15,000 refugees, Rajouri had 5,000 and
Kotli, an uncounted number. Almost all refugees (along with Hindus and Sikh
residents) of these towns, with the exception of those in Kotli, perished. pp.
Consequently, a figure of 1.5 lakh seems
the base figure of missing Hindus and Sikhs from PoJK. Even the notoriously
pro-Pakistan Alastair Lamb has conceded that at least 60,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees
fled Poonch and Mirpur areas p. 63, .
It is interesting that Pakistan, to this
day, complains of the expelled and/or killed Muslims of Jammu, but no mention
is made of the unfortunate Hindus and Sikhs of PoJK by the Indian government.
Further, the Indian government made no great efforts to retain even the Hindu
regions of Jammu and Kashmir, not even the Bhimber Tehsil of the PoJK. Bhimber
Tehsil consisted of a total population of 1, 62,503 and Hindus constituted
48,666 and Sikhs an additional 8,469, making Hindus and Sikhs 35.16 per cent of
the population of the tehsil cumulatively.
However, it was overrun by the Pakistani
raiders in the early days of the war in 1947, since Pakistan had easier access
to the region and the Indian and Jammu and Kashmir state armies did not have
similar easy access from Jammu. It was never recovered by the Indian army.
Nehru cabinet allowed Sheikh Abdullah to
oversee the army operations and the focus of the army was, consequently,
heavily on the Kashmir valley, leaving the other regions of Kashmir to the
Pakistani mercy. The end result was that the entire region of Gilgit, Skardu
region of Ladakh and large regions of Jammu, including areas that had large
Hindu and Sikh populations, were left to Pakistan.
 Balraj Madhok, Kashmir – Storm
Centre of the World.
 Census of Jammu and Kashmir State,
 Christopher Snedden, Kashmir: The
 Krishna Mehta, Kashmir 1947: A
 Alastair Lamb, Birth of a Tragedy:
Kashmir 1947, 1993.
 Dr Karan Singh, Autobiography.
 Lt. Gen. LP Sen, Slender was the
 Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in