History of the Jats/Chapter XII

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History of the Jats

Ram Sarup Joon

1967 (Eng Tr by Lieutenant Colonel Dal Singh)

Printed at the Jaitly Printing Press, 147, Lajpat Rai Market,Delhi-6

Chapter XII: Jats under British rule

Adverse effects of British Rule on the country

The Muslim rule and the British rule in India were basically different. The former was outwardly more unpleasant but the latter was internally more injurious. The aim of British, whether in the days of East India Company or in the reign of British Crown, was purely based on drawing away the wealth of this country by milking away its natural resources by trade or by securing highly paid services.

Initially the country was kept under-developed in all spheres. Up to 1900 AD there were practically no schools. Postal facilities were almost non-existent. My grandmother used to narrate that when her son, my uncle, had gone to field in Kabul in 1879, AD the first letter was received from him after thirteen months. It was written in Urdu and had to be taken to the Mohammadans living in Bahadurgarh because no one in the village could read it.

I started my studies in 1900 AD when I was eleven years old in one of the first schools to be opened in our area. The means of communication i.e. Railways and Roads were developed later but only to satisfy the needs of their trade. Internal Policy was based on keeping the Indian public uneducated and politically backward, narrowing their mental horizon and to weaken their moral and social fiber, which we are finding difficult to rebuild even today. Maintenance of law and order was assigned to the Police Department and the Patwari played a pivotal role in the revenue department. Their salaries were so ridiculously low that they had no alternative but to exist on bribes.

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These two departments directly affected the majority of the Indian population dwelling in the villages. They were permitted to be exploited by middle men, who bought their farm produce at cheap rates and later resold them at higher prices by creating an artificial scarcity. Indigenous products were procured at very cheap rates, exported to England, converted into commodities of daily use imported to India and were sold in Indian markets at very high prices. There were no means of irrigation and the public mostly remained in perpetual fear of successive famines. The famine of Bengal is a grim reminder.

The farmers suffered. I have myself seen grain being sold at 28 seers for rupee, barley at 32 seers and ghee at 22 chhatanks for a rupee. The farmer was therefore mostly in debt. The rates of interest were exorbitantly high. The loan, however trivial multiplied and once taken could not be easily paid. The moneylender had the right to liquidate his loan by having a decree from the court and confiscate the individual's property. Land was attached at the price of ten to fifteen rupees a bigha (1/5 of an acre). Nothing was protected by law. The money lender by virtue of fictitious figures which the farmer could not challenge, took away his land, his house cattle, clothes, furniture, utensils, his stock of grain and even the modest trousseau of his daughter, just as she was preparing to go to her husband's house.

The system of money lending was not operative during the Muslim Rule. The Muslim rulers, except the adventurous invaders, never took away the wealth of country to foreign lands. The British deliberately did not establish any factory in India, thus keeping the country industrially backward The English language was so effectively introduced in the life of the nation that we cannot do without it even now. It induced the elite of India to adopt English culture and forget their own. It however proved to be a double edged weapon, as it give them a wider perspective and the greater

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realization of the humility of being ruled by a foreign people.

Indians were careless, and idle due to climatic effects, whereas the British were punctual, hardworking, well informed and well disciplined. They were very royal and sympathetic to their subordinates. They had a unique character, which had a good effect on the Indian life and various drawbacks were discarded.

The uprising in 1857 was given a religious tinge, which also permeated in the Army. A new type of cartridge besmeared with fat, believed to be of cow and pig, had come from England and to touch it or bite it was against both Hindu and Muslim religions. Much against the will of the soldiers, they were made to fall in on the parade ground and ordered to receive training in loading the gun with this new cartridge by biting of its front portion with their teeth. When they refused they were arrested and tried. This started the rumor that it was intended to convert the soldiers to Christianity. The soldiers therefore mutinied.

The real people behind this movement were certain Rajas and Nawabs who resented interference by the British in their rule. The Emperor of Delhi and other Muslim Nawabs joined this mutiny because this they hoped to revive the old Islamic rule. But various Hindu and Sikh rulers did not join the mutiny, as they had no hopes of re-establishing a Hindu Raj. They had always regarded the Islamic Raj worse than the British Raj. For full 700 years the Hindu society had suffered greatly under the Islamic rule. They fought on the side of British army. The Phulkiyan rulers who had been protected by the British against the expansion of Ranjit Singh, and were therefore indebted to them also helped. The Jats generally they kept out of this movement.

The influence of East India Company was mostly confined to Southern and Eastern Part of India and

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people of these areas were affected by British Policies. Even after the extension of British rule over other areas, Jat rulers retained their Kingdoms and had friendly relations with the British. The Jats did not suffer any outward ill effects of British rule and were educationally not sufficiently advanced to understand their deeper motives.

Only Rao Raja Tula Ram of Rewari and Raja Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh joined in the mutiny from their area, as they had also ties with the Emperor.

The Rajput rulers of Rajasthan also kept out of it. When the mutiny was suppressed, the Mughal Emperor and other Nawabs were all awarded different types of punishments and ousted from their kingdoms. Before the mutiny, the Indian Army mostly consisted of men from East and South India.

After the Mutiny the British began to recruit soldiers from North India, and Gurkhas to make their army more powerful and trustworthy. About 70% of the total combatants were composed of the Jats belonging to all the three religions. They displayed outstanding fighting qualities, won many difficult battles for the British and were considered very trustworthy till the end of 19th Century. When the Hindu Jats came under the influence of Arya Samaj, the British began to be suspicious about their trustworthiness.

The adoption of Arya Samaj By the Jats

The adoption of Arya Samaj By the Jats and it’s repercussions:

Swami Dayanand Saraswati was born in 1814 AD. Born with innate greatness and bring fortunate in having a learned teacher, he attained high knowledge. He went out into the world to fulfill the ambition of his teacher, to revive the knowledge of the Vedas, which alone, according to him, was the revelation from God. He devoted

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all his life to work on social reforms. He founded the Arya Samaj and laid down 10 principles :—

  • (1) God is the source of all knowledge.
  • (2) God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, formless, faultless, just, kind and indestructible.
  • (3) Vedas are the books of complete and true knowledge. Reading and teaching, hearing and talking of Vedas is the sacred duty of every Arya.
  • (4) One should always be ready to accept truth and give up falsehood.
  • (4) Every action should be done according to Dharma, i.e. after due consideration of truth and falsehood.
  • (6) Welfare of the world, physical spiritual and social is the main aim of this Samaj.
  • (7) One’s behavior with others should be full of love, according to Dharma and as is due to them.
  • (8) One should try for the progress of knowledge and destruction of ignorance.
  • (9) One should not be satisfied with one’s own progress only but should consider one’s progress of all.
  • (10) All should obey the rules of society. Yet every one should be free to choose his own path.

Swami Dayanand defeated Pandits of various religions in religious discourses and proved that only the Vedas were divine revelations and that the Vedic Religion was the only Divine religion. None of the Pandits, Maulvees and Padris (Christian priests) could stand before him in these discourses.

Every year many lakhs of rupees were

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spent by the Europeans for the spread of Christianity in India were spent and then they were suddenly disappointed because of the teachings of Arya Samaj.

In Satyarth Prakash, Swamiji criticized teachings of various religions, which were not in accordance with the Vedas. He wrote one full chapter on criticism of Christianity. The British, who were Christians, felt defeated. There was nothing but disappointment for them. They tried to declare him a political rebel, for in the Satyarth Prakash Swamiji had clearly written that self Government was the best government and that it would be the best for followers of all religions. He also preached that people should prefer indigenous to foreign goods. Swamiji never took active part in political activities. He was only a social and religious reformer. Nevertheless, religion does play an important role in politics. After his death his followers continued to propagate his teachings, which appeared to go against the British rule in India. Arya Samaj appeared to them like white ants eating into the tree of British rule in India.

In the beginning, the teachings of Arya Samaj were limited to large towns only. But in the early part of the 20th century, Arya Samaj became very popular, in all towns the Punjab. D.A.V. College of Lahore produced a large number of patriots. The Jats in the rural areas of Haryana adopted Arya Samaj with great enthusiasm. Criticism of the old Pauranic religion by Arya Samaj greatly appealed to the Jats. It was disconcerting to the British that a martial race like the Jats should fall under the influence of Arya Samaj.

Leaders of Arya Samaj like Lala Lajpat Rai raised a forceful voice. He never used a loudspeaker yet each word uttered by him exploded like a bomb " Swaraj (Independence) is our birth right and we shall attain it’, was his main slogan. Further restrictions were imposed on Arya Samaj gatherings were prohibited and dispersed

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by force. Nambardars and Zaildars who took part in Arya Samaj functions were removed from their jobs. Sacred thread-wearing followers of Arya Samaj were not to be recruited in the Army. A large number of army men, who were suspected for Arya Samajic view, were thrown out. Jat soldiers were the worst sufferers in this. In spite of their unquestionable loyalty to the Government, they were suspected. All temples in Army units were based on Pauranic Mat, where in place of religious education only idol worship was practiced. This was not acceptable to the Jat soldiers. They were ordered to attend the temples, but, instead of worshipping the idol, they would sing Arya Samaji songs, which were not in keeping with the Puranic faith One of the most popular of these songs, had the following meaning.

“O, God, how to please you, I cant see anything worthwhile to offer to you, you are omnipresent, so how to call you, to try to call you by ringing a bell would be disrespect to you; To try to feed you also sounds ridiculous. How can I feed you, who feed the whole world? The Sun moons and stars all takes light from you. It would be ignorance to light a lamp before you. You have no chest, no neck, no forehead; you are formless, O God, where can I put sandal paste on you. You are in this idol and so are you present in the flowers. How can I offer God to God ‘O, God.”

This type of songs disturbed the Pandits who considered these an insult to the idol. Through the Risaldar Majors, Pandits complained to the British Officers against Jat soldiers.

The First World War started in August 1914. The non-Jat communities could not meet the increased requirement of recruitment. Whereas Jats, due to their fondness for military chivalry were available in sufficient numbers. A circular was therefore, published in 1916, lifting restriction on the recruitment of sacred

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thread wearing Arya Samaji Jats.

The Jat troops displayed unparalleled fighting qualities during this war and the number of Jat Units was therefore increased.

However, in about 1935 or 1936, when the British had enough time to forget the services of the Jats, another secret circular was issued to dismiss army men with Arya Samaj views. And this naturally applied to Jats only because there were no Arya Samajis amongst Muslim and Sikhs. At that time I was senior JCO of the Jat Squadron and also officiating Risaldar Major in 19 King George V’s Own Lancers. The Commanding Officer Lt. Colonel R. Dening called me and said, “I want you to give me the names of all with Arya Samaji views. I have full “trust that you will give me a correct list.” I replied. “Sir. I will give you all the names, but you may be disappointed because myself in whom you have full faith, have been a staunch Arya Samaji ever since I joined the Army All the persons in Jat Squadron are Arya Samaji and I am sure most of the Jats in the Indian Army are Arya Samajis. But they are absolutely loyal to the Government. The Commanding Officer said in much anger ‘I didn’t want to hear so much of truth'. His reply to the circular was that there were no Arya Samaji’s in the Regiment.

The struggle for independence

The Jats could never be drawn wholehearted into the Congress folds in their struggle for independence. This was because Congress had always been basically urban oriented and dominated by the business community. They have been able to guide the destiny of the nation for some time because they were privileged to acquire better education than the rural class. The Congress has, never devoted itself to protecting the farmer from exploitation by business class middle men.

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The so-called land reforms envisaged by the congress party or congress government were impracticable. They have been aimed at depriving the landholders of their land, under the subterfuge of cooperative farms and limited concerns. The slogan of land to the landless has resulted in sub division of land into uneconomic holdings in the hands of people who are not experienced in farming and created a disrespect for manual labour in a class who used to subsist on labour. The plan of cooperative farming died in the womb. The so-called social services are only a collection of Khadi clad bureaucrats, a burden on the villagers and the nation. The only thing they did effectively is to white wash cowdung heaps to give an impression of model villages for visiting VIPs.

Whatever following the congress has therefore, been able to obtain from the Jats, and most of the farmers have been induced, not by the enlightenment and enthusiasm but prompted by the absence of an alternative.

There were basic differences amongst urban Congress leaders and the farmers on subjects like Mortgage act and Tenancy Act. When these were eventually passed, in favour of protecting the farmers, the urban congress took out processions and labeled that legislation as ‘Black acts’.

In view of these circumstances, Zamindar League was founded in Punjab. The founders of this party were Sir Fazal Hussain, Rao Bahadur Captain Lall Chand and Sir Sunder Singh Majithia. But soon after that Sir Chhotu Ram became the fore-runner of this party, along with his colleagues Sir Sikander Hayat (chief Minister of Punjab) and General Sir Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana. This party demanded that there should be proportionate representations of villagers in the Punjab Government. The Unionist party of Punjab comprising of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs ran the

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Government with such efficiency that no congress governments in other provinces could compete. Due to this the Congress and Muslim League had no hold in the Punjab, and the British Government, as well as the Congress Party remained unhappy with the Unionist Punjab Government.

However, there have been a number of prominent persons amongst the Jats who actively opposed the British rule and made outstanding sacrifices in the struggle for Independence.

Sardar Ajit Singh Sandhu, Sardar Bhagat Singh and Raja Mahendra Pratap are well known names

Sardar Ajit Singh Sindhu

Sardar Ajit Singh Sindhu was from a proud military family. He was the first man in the Punjab who resented the high handedness of the British rule and he openly criticized the government. He was declared a political rebel and he had to spend all his life in jail. Sardar Ajit Singh was the uncle of Sardar Bhagat Singh. At that time there was full awakening in Bengal The Bengalis considerably frightened the British by their bomb outrages and acts of violence and compelled the government to take stern steps. The British government drew up a plan for building government colonies in the jungle areas of Lyallpur etc. They also wanted to propose amendments in the taxation system and zamindari rights. Sardar Ajit Singh’s jagir was in this very area. Sardar Ajit Singh opposed their move vehemently and instigated other Zamindars also to oppose the government. His popular song ‘Pagri sambhal Jatta' was sung in every corner and roused much pride amongst the people. Sardar Sahib was thrown into jail, but the government had to give up the scheme,

Raja Mahendra Pratap

Raja Mahendra Pratap was from the Royal family

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of Mursan. At the age of 18 he went out to Europe and imbibed the idea of freedom and liberty. On his return he organized an engineering institute in his state for the poor people. He attached all his land to the Gurukul and worked a lot for removal of untouchability.

In 1914 when the First World War began he left for Germany quietly to help the Germans and to obtain independence for India. He was declared a political rebel and had to spend 32 years of his life in foreign countries. He could come back to India only when she became independent.

The First World War

The First World War took place between 1914, and 1918, in which Indian Regiments fought with great bravery and boosted the prestige of Mother India. A large number of Indian soldiers were killed, wounded or incapacitated due co exposure to rigorous weather conditions. India gained one thing i.e. our soldiers got an opportunity to go abroad to Britain, France and other countries and appreciated the value of freedom and liberty. Infused with these new ideas, when they came back to India they could understand the elements of selfishness, favoritism and injustice in the British rule and they considered it a weakness of their own to accept this injustice any longer. There was a vast difference between the food, uniform and other amenities provided to the British and Indian soldiers. The French people often questioned Indians about this. The French soldiers and the civilians saluted the Indian VCOS when they saw stars and crowns like those of British Officers on their shoulders. But the British disliked this and they tried to stop the French from doing so. The salary of a British soldier was five to six times higher than that of an Indian Soldier.

In America and European countries the British had tried to convince the people that the Indian soldiers were far inferior to the British soldiers because they

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were semi barbarians and incapable of manning guns and other modern weapons. When the soldiers of these countries saw the Indian soldiers working with great zeal, enthusiasm and devotion, they could do nothing but condemn the British attitude, who were unjustified, it was felt, in keeping India enslaved much longer. The Indian soldiers also appreciated these things and they developed a strong urge for obtaining independence. No more did they fear the British Officers. The British too realized this change in their attitude and understood that it would not be possible for them to keep India under their rule for much longer. They made a number of promises for future to the Congress.

The Rowlat Act And Civil War

At the end of World War I the British Government passed the Rowlat Act with a view to putting an end to India's demands and suppressing the rising National spirit. Indian members of the legislature refused to vote for the bill, but it was passed inspite of their opposition.

This act created passionate views among the Indians. Gandhi launched the nonviolent non-cooperation movement, but the temper of people could not be restrained. British manufactured goods began to be boycotted, government orders were disobeyed and government buildings and essential services began to be shut down. The British had to post troops to maintain law and order. The Indian troops maintained their discipline, although it was very difficult to kill their own kith and kin. Mahatma Gandhi, the messenger of peace, diverted the attention of the people by organizing the Indians to fight out the war of Indian liberation, on peaceful lines. He had already experimented the technique of non-violence, while fighting for the rights of the Indians against the government of South Africa. This technique stopped bloodshed. Non combatant people from towns joining the movement, were thrown into jails or beaten with

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police batons, which only made them more brave and courageous. The leaders of the martial races felt that if their people joined the movement it would be impossible to keep them from violence. If they did follow non-violence they would be useless as fighters. Therefore, they, particularly the unionist Government of Punjab kept out these people from joining up the non-violence movement.

Sardar Bhagat Singh Sindhu

Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sandhu

Under the shadow of his patriotic father and uncle, Bhagat Singh was brought up in an atmosphere of sacrifice for the nation. He passed his B.A. at the age of 16. He fled away from home to avoid early marriage. For some time he worked in the Pratap Press of Kanpur under the name of Balwant Singh. There he met B.K. Datt a great patriot. In 1925 there was a bomb outrage during Dashehra celebration. He was tried for this, but was acquitted. On 20 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai, while leading a procession organized against Simon Commission, was beaten by the police on orders of the superintendent of Police, Mr. Scott and died as a result of the injuries. Within a month of this event the revolutionaries killed Superintendent Scott and a bomb was thrown in to the Assembly Hall at Delhi. Sardar Bhagat Singh threw aside his loaded revolver and offered himself for arrest. On 30 October 1930 he was hanged, along with Sukhdev and Rajguru, in Lahore Jail. The bodies were taken into the dense jungles on the bank of the River Sutlej in the darkness of the night, cut into pieces and burnt.

Akali and Babbar Akali

Till the beginning of the 20th century the Sikhs were considered to be very reliable by the British. They had, however, not forgotten their old history, when they had fought valiantly against the Moghul

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rulers. Unlike the Hindus they did not believe in untouchability, and they were fearless. Moving out of the Punjab they had gone to Singapore. Burma, Rangoon, Hongkong, China and America. They would join any profession, business, service or labour and grew rich, After living in the Western countries they breathed the air of freedom. Some of the more enthusiastic Sikhs brought weapons in a ship called Kamagata Maru to fight against the British Imperialists but they were discovered and arrested. Some became great revolutionaries and created a new spirit in the Punjab. Huge Jagirs were attached to the Gurudwaras, but the Sikh Panth as such was not deriving any advantages from the income out of these jagirs which was being misappropriated by Granthis who were leading a life of great luxury and license. The 'Prasad', which was left undistributed in the Gurudwaras, was often given away to the cattle reared by them. A new system was introduced to reform the Gurudwaras and the Panth tried their level best to bring the Gurudwaras under their control. The British government was not interested in such reformist movements of the Panth and they sided with the Granthis. Mahant Narayan Das of Gurudwara Nanakana Sahib was responsible for getting 146 Sikhs butchered in the Gurudwara itself. This created a lot of restlessness in the Sikh Panth. The British Government tried to help the Mahant by suppressing this movement, which was called the Akali Dal. The Akalis waged peaceful war and a large number of them were thrown into the Jail. The movement went on becoming more powerful.

Baba Kharak Singh. The British very cruelly beat a great leader of the Akalis, but he faced all this quietly, Some spirited Sikhs could not bear this. They formed a parallel party, called Babbar Akali and killed a number of offending British officials and their Indian informers. The Babbar Akalis was declared rebels. During this very period the Raja of Nabha was removed from his throne. In the Jallianwala Bagh of Amritsar General Dyer

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opened machine gun fire on unarmed innocent people who were killed in a large number. The Sikhs were later stopped from entering Gurudwara Bhai Jetu and performing the Akhand Path. On their refusing to leave the site, machine guns were fired on them. The processionists faced machine guns and boldly marched on. Ultimately the British Government had to yield and Akhand Paths were performed there. Some time later, the government took over the control of the Amritsar Gurudwara and this too created roused much passion amongst the Sikhs. Thousands of them filled the jails. The Gurudwara was returned to the Panth and the Gurudwara Act was eventually passed, but the British lost confidence in the Sikhs.

The Second World War

The Second World War began in September 1939. The Congress leaders opposed India taking part in this war. They openly declared that the Indians would have nothing to do with the war as the Indians had no enmity against Germany or Japan. The British knew well that the real aim of the Congress was to gain independence. They had no hopes of getting cooperation from the Indians in their war against the axis powers. The Indian Army was not in a mood to betray the British, but they also knew, their own interests, fully well. Feelings of nationalism and patriotism were strong in the hearts of the Indian soldiers. Of course the British could enter the war only on the strength of Indian Army. They could not get such good soldiers in such a large number on such a low salary from Australia or Britain. They were, therefore helpless and had to trust that the Indian Army would remain fully loyal to the British. As the war progressed some factors emerged to reduce British faith in the Indian Army. A whispering campaign, based on the Gurbani, started among the Sikhs that time had come when the British must quit India.

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The Gurbani predicted those harder times was imminent, when one Rupee would fetch only one seer of grain; the Muslims would replace the administration, and the Sikhs would be completely ruined. Putting full faith in such propaganda the Sikhs became very suspicious, and the Government began to find it difficult to get Sikh recruits. The Sikh squadron of Central India Horse refused to board a ship, and got themselves arrested with cries of 'Sat Sri Akal'.

Another big reason was that the Congress working Committee passed the Quit India resolution. All members of the working committee were thrown into the Jails and the country went out of the control. There was great fear of a large-scale revolution-taking place in the country. People again started indulging in violent acts. The third big factor was the organization of INA in Burma with Indian soldiers who had been taken prisoners by the Japanese. The British were uncertain as to how long Indian Army would remain loyal. However, there was no change in the loyalty of Indian Army. British officers also did not show outward signs of their apprehension.

The Indian National Army

The leader of this National Army was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He had passed ICS examination in London but preferred to join the National Movement for the independence. He was elected President of the Congress. In 1939, he was elected the President for second time despite the opposition of Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders, by defeating Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Mahatma Gandhi and his followers refused to work in co-operation with Subhash Chandra Bose, as they did not approve of his violent views. Therefore he resigned from the Presidency of the Congress. When the war started the Government decided to confine him to his house and posted heavy police guards. Subhash Chandra Bose did not like to

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lose this golden opportunity of taking full advantage of the war going on against the British. He succeeded in escaping from his house. Disguised as a Maulvi he went out of India first to Germany and then to Japan. He organized Indian Nationals with the cooperation of Japanese Government, and he organized the Indian National Army out of Indian prisoners in which the Jats were naturally in the largest number, as they formed the largest part of the Indian Army. He infused a new spirit in the Indian National Army, whereby distinction of caste, creed and colour was completely disregarded. The British were afraid that this would have bad effect on the loyalty of their own army. Even normal desertions were attributed to the influence of INA movement.

Japan surrendered and the Indian National Army also had to surrender. The British decided to try all those who had joined the INA. However, the whole Indian Nation and Indian Army was in favour of their being pardoned. In a confidential assessment of views, 85% of the Indian Army was found in favour of the Indian Nation Army being pardoned. This clearly indicates how the Indian Army was becoming more and more nationalistic minded. The Congress took over the responsibility of fighting the legal case. The Commander-in-Chief finally pardoned them with the remarks that although they were guilty, taking into consideration the trend of opinion in the country; they have been pardoned,

The divide and rule policy

The divide and rule policy of the British government:

The British had followed the policy of divide and rule in administering India and they had always been very successful in their efforts. But towards the end of their rule in India they felt rather disappointed. They succeeded in winning over Mr. Mohamad Ali Jinnah, and with his help they succeeded in creating a new fear in the minds of the Muslims, that Islam was in danger and, that they would be at the mercy of the Hindus if united India was given independence.

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This new feeling in the minds of the Muslims proved a serious hurdle in the way of India obtaining freedom. Mahatma Gandhi tried his best to appease Mr. Jinnah, but this appeasement policy was a complete failure. Mr. Jinnah's demands went on increasing every day, and he became determined for the partition of India. Mr. C. Rajagopalachari, who enjoyed great respect in the Congress circles, made a great mistake in supporting the demand of Mr. Jinnah. He even put forth his scheme, very well known as Raja Ji formula for the partition of the country. This scheme ultimately proved very harmful for the whole country, especially to Bengal, and Punjab, and partition was accompanied by unprecedented bloodshed.

Rahbre Azam Sir Chaudhri Chhotu Ram

Sir Chhotu Ram

Rahbre Azam Sir Chaudhri Chhotu Ram our guide, friend and philosopher:

Sir Chhotu Ram was born in family of a very poor farmer in village Garhi Sampla District Rohtak. From the very beginning he was interested in the service of the society. Whatever time he could spare after his professional hours, he devoted to social work. He was an Arya Samaji for a few years. He was the president of the District Congress. But due to mutual dissension in the Congress he left it When world War II broke out in Sept. 1939, Indian National Congress led by Gandhi, refused support for the British Government on the grounds that after the conclusion of The 1st War the Government did not satisfy the Indians by honoring the commitments it had earlier made. Consequently the recruitment for the Army from the provinces having a Congress hold was very thin. Ch. Chhotu Ram opposed this policy of the Congress. He said that for the survival of democracy and to save the world from the clutches of Nazi and Fascist Dictatorship, it was imperative that the Allies must be victorious. He

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asserted that if perchance the Allies were defeated, India would not gain freedom, rather she would be in stronger chains of slavery by losing all that what had been gained by that time from the British Government. By opposing recruitment for the Indian Army, India would be helping the Nazis, the staunch enemies of freedom and democracy. He further argued that the time was not far when the British would have to free India. Free India would need a strong army well versed in the latest techniques of warfare. If the Indians did not participate in the war they would be deprived of the advanced training obtained by the soldiers of other countries of the world. Thus the boycott of recruitment would leave free India militarily much backward and weaker. So he openly and strongly helped the Government in the matter of recruitment for the Indian Army. Due to his efforts enrollment in the Punjab was so heavy that it made up the deficiency of other States.

This farsightedness of Sir Chhotu Ram proved a blessing to free India, as she had to confront a war in Kashmir just at the dawn of freedom. Other national problems like the integration of states, especially Hyderabad, would not have been so simple but for the strength of the Indian Army.

This policy had an indirect but deep effect on the people of the Punjab. It provided good jobs for the Punjabis during these famine days and thus improved their economic position. Secondly it made the people of this border state tougher, stronger and more enterprising having modern outlook which enabled them to make the Punjab more advanced and prosperous than any other state despite of partition, bloodshed and mass migration. Moreover it is the military mindedness of the Punjabi's, which is greatly responsible for giving a befitting reply to Pakistan in the recent conflict with her. Later on, Sir Chhotu Ram devoted all his time in improving the conditions of the poor farmers who were badly oppressed by moneylenders. He wrote a book

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called ‘Bechara Zamindar’, in which he condemned the attitude of the government, officers and criticized them for their irresponsibility and high handedness. He brought together the Zamindars of the three religions. Leaders of the Punjab had great respect for his views and gradually they too joined him. Mian Sir Fazle Hussain, Shaft Mohammad, Sir Sunder Singh Majhitia, Sir Sikander Hayat Khan and Sir Khizr Hayat Khan were his great friends. All of them rendered British maneuvers ineffective in the Punjab. Although the government considered him an opponent of their Policy, they failed to take any action against him because he was supported by all eminent leaders of the Punjab, there was a time when due to the Divide and Rule policy of the British, communal riots had be come common in most of the towns of India. But Punjab was the only province where, inspite of the fact that the Muslims were in a majority, such unfortunate events seldom took place. Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, the Premier of the Punjab, solved such a knotty problem as that of Shahid Ganj in favour of the Sikhs. The scheme for constructing a big butchery in Lahore had been sanctioned. Lakhs of Rupees had already been spent on the construction of the buildings but the whole scheme was later on quashed. Sir Sikander Hayat Khan made clear in his announcement. :

“I am a staunch Muslim leader and I have sympathy with the Muslim league but I will not tolerate opposition by the Muslim league in the Punjab”.

The leaders of the Unionist Party repeated the same demand everywhere in public gatherings,

“We are all with the Congress in our demands for full freedom. We must have independence. But whatever we obtain we will obtain united - Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs together.”

The Muslim league had honored Mr. Jinnah by giving the title of Quaid e-azam. Muslims and Hindus of the Punjab joined together and honoured Sir Chhotu Ram with the title of Rahbar-e-Azam in a function at Lyallpur.

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Punjab’s challenge to Mr. Jinnah

After the death of Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, Sir Khazir Hayat Khan Tiwana, rather an inexperienced young man, was chosen as the Premier of the Punjab according to the wishes of Sir Chhotu Ram, who became his chief supporter. On this occasion Mr. Jinnah thought it a golden opportunity to interfere with the Punjab affairs. He tried to influence Sir Khizr Hayat Khan through articles, lectures, and personal messages and also by threats from religious leaders. Sir Chhotu Ram, however, succeeded in cautioning his friends and helping them to arrive at a firm decision, that they would stick to their policy and refused to be bothered about the communal virus being injected into the party politics of India by Mr. Jinnah. Sir Chhotu Ram warned Mr. Jinnah also. When Khizr Hayat Khan took leave due to the death of his father, Chaudhary Chhotu Ram was the acting Premier. The Punjab Assembly was in session.

Mr. Jinnah, declaring that Islam was in danger forcibly entered the premises of the Legislative Assembly, and invited the Muslim members to come under the banner of the Muslim League. Mr. Glancy, Governor of the Punjab, advised Sir Chhotu Ram to adjourn the Assembly, but Sir Chhotu Ram refused to do so and continued the session. He said ‘this is the occasion to test my Muslim friends. I hate artificial friendship. Whosoever wants to join the Muslim League may do so’. The result was that out of 73 Muslim members, only three crossed the floor. The Governor was astonished and Mr. Jinnah felt humiliated. Chaudhry Chhotu Ram advised the Governor to send a message to Mr. Jinnah at his residence instructing him not to stay in Lahore beyond one week and, if in spite of receiving this order he continued to stay he would be arrested.

The Governor felt surprised to learn of this line of action taken by Chaudhry Chhotu Ram and advised him to withdraw the order. He told Sir Chhotu Ram that

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Mr. Jinnah was a Muslim leader, just as Gandhiji was a Hindu leader, and if Mr. Jinnah was thus insulted this might create lot of excitement among the Muslims and the question might be raised even in, the Privy Council. Chaudhry Sahib refused to withdraw the order and urged that the order be immediately communicated to Mr. Jinnah. The Governor gave the order to Mr. Jinnah on phone. Mr. Jinnah grew very angry, and urged the Governor to reconsider the notion before issuing such an order. Mr. Jinnah told the Governor that Sir Chhotu Ram could not oust him from the Punjab. The Governor however, told Mr. Jinnah that it was Sir Chhotu Ram’s order and he had no right to interfere in that case. The news was soon published in the newspapers and it created lot of excitement among the Indians. People felt that it might not be very easy to solve this knotty problem, but before the week ended Mr. Jinnah left Lahore. This was a great setback to the Muslim leaders. Sir Chhotu Ram openly declared that religious bigots could not be successful in the Punjab. Whenever we achieve independence, we will achieve it collectively and with full cooperation with each other. For the first time ever the bitterest opponents of Chaudhary Sahib appreciated his guts and congratulated him. Mr. Jinnah’s words show the importance of Sir Chhotu Ram in the Punjab politics. He said after the episode, :

”But for the adamant attitude of Sir Chhotu Ram, I would have been successful in the Punjab “.

Had Sir Chhotu Ram lived for some time more, Punjab would not have been partitioned and even if it were so, much of bloodshed ruin and ravage would not have accompanied it. An historic letter of Sir Chhotu Ram written to Mahatma Gandhi against Rajaji Formula is reproduced below:-

August 15,1942
Respected Mahatma ji,

Whatever, has been written to you in connection

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with Raja Ji’s formula, I want to make some additions to it.

Being a true member of unionist Party, I say that I am against the Division of India and communalism. Although I was at one time a staunch Congressman I opposed the demands which were made by the Congress. Now that you are busy in finding out the solution of the religious and political tussles. I must be allowed to express my thoughts, which are equally shared by all the other Non-Muslims and also by some of the Muslims of the Punjab. With the help of powerful propaganda Muslims have been made to believe as follows: -

  • 1. That the Hindus are selfish, greedy, unjust and anti Muslim.
  • 2. Muslims can have no hopes of justice at the hand of the Hindu.
  • 3. After Independence Hindus will be in majority in the centre as well as in all the provinces except Sindh, Punjab, Bengal and N.W.F.P. and Muslims will be troubled continuously from the centre.
  • 4. The only solution for this is that by dividing India, a separate Muslim Federation may be carved out.
  • 5. A separate Muslim Federation afterwards with the help of other Muslim states will be able to conquer India.
  • 6. It is the duty of every Muslim to assemble under one flag to form such a state, which may be governed according to Mohammadan Law.
  • 7. Islam does not accept the geographical and religious differences existing therein.
  • 8. Congress is a Hindu Party and the English are

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against its leaders so they will help the Muslim demands.

Point of view of the non Muslims

On the other hand, Hindus and the Sikhs of the Punjab were much afraid of the Muslim rule. They think that India cannot be divided and if it is divided a state of civil war will continue and India will be an easy prey for any foreign power. When they looked to the past history of Muslim rule, though it may be wrong, they considered Muslim rule as some thing horrible- and terror striking to non-muslims, which will be a danger to their religion, liberty, honour, property and fundamental rights.

Rajaji’s formula

The division of the Punjab was to be accepted under this formula. It will result mass migration of the population and yet a large number of Muslims to remain in India. Similarly a large number of Hindus will continue to be in Muslim part of India, So Rajaji’s formula does not solve any religious problem. Neither is it conclusive to eliminating any political controversy. Nor will it help to arrive at a solution to ease the religious tension. What ever Mr. Jinnah gained by first sticking to it he will use it to achieve something new from the British and the congress. Even in its proposed shape, Rajaji's formula seems dangerous, because it gives recognition to communalism.

The idea is that if Mr. Jinnah disapprove the Rajaji’s formula the people will take him as obstinate and : uncompromising and he will lose the favour of the public, and his position will grow weaker. This is not wrong as Mr. Jinnah being totally careless of other things, cares only for the betterment of Muslims and the eviction of English which is possible only by disapproving the Rajaji formula. The acceptance of

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this formula means accepting Jinnah as the only leader of the Muslims, this formula will throw before the wolves all these Muslims who have remained with Congress through thick and thin.

Criticism Of Rajaji’s Formula

The following are some of the objections which can not be neglected :-

  • 1. The Hindus of the Punjab and Bengal should be properly consulted before the working committee's decision.
  • 2. The following points should be asked to be explained by Mr. Jinnah-
(a) What will be the geographical description of Pakistan in Bengal and the Punjab?
(b) What type of Government will exist in Pakistan, capitalist, socialist or, communist?
(c) An explanation of the rights of Non-Muslims in Pakistan should be demanded.
(d] Mr. Jinnah should be frankly told that in India, services for the Muslims will not be reserved, it will depend on merit.
(f) That Sindh, Baluchistan and NW.F.P. will not be economically helped by India, that a citizen of Pakistan will not be enlisted in Indian Army and that Pakistan will have to pay its share of pension to the Indian Officers.

I hope that you will make a careful consideration of this all.

Yours faithfully.

Chhotu Ram

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Partition of India And Communal Riots

All top Congress leaders remained in jail till the end of World War II and the British Government continued to suppress the people in the country. Ultimately the Congress leaders were released. A new labour Government in England decided to grant self-government to India. In September 1946, an interim cabinet composed of both Congress and Muslim league leaders was formed. Muslims League boycotted the Cabinet and did not join it. Serious riots occurred in Calcutta, where a large number of Hindus were killed, according to a pre-planned scheme of the Muslim League. This resulted in lawlessness in a large number of towns in India. The government did not do anything to put an end to this disorder. Everywhere the Hindus in towns were awe stricken. The Muslims of Gurgaon, Alwar and Bharatpur made demands for a separate State. They freely attacked the Hindus and burnt their villages. The Jats put up a stubborn resistance to their activities and began to take revenge. It practically took the shape of pitched battle between the two camps. The British and Indian civilian officers appeared helpless and it appeared as if they were only spectators. Some troops were sent from Delhi Cantonment, but they had been no authority to interfere in the Hindu-Muslim riots. They could only fire in the air. All the bloodshed continued for almost 9 months right in the heart of the Capital. The Muslim League was determined to bring about partition of the country at a very early date. The British also aimed at forcing the Hindu to accept partition. They also tried to inflame the Hindu-Muslim enmity to such an extent, that on their leaving India the aftermath of their divide and rule policy might grow to such an extent that both the parties be forced to call the British back, that is, they might go by one door and creep again in by another. In the areas of Delhi, Muslims, who were in a majority, went on attacking Hindus who happened to pass through their areas. In March 1947 I also

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happened to go to the Hamdard Dawakhana, Delhi to purchase some medicines and I happened to go through a Muslim area Having served in army, I did not know what fear was - and carried only a leather covered iron rod in my hand. The Muslim employees of the Dawakhana looked at me with surprise and one of them asked me “Why have you come”. I replied “Just to purchase some medicine.” Then he asked me'; ”You appear to be a servicemen', to which I replied “Yes, I am a pensioner”. Soon came another queries, “Are you alone?" The man then reminded me that those were bad days and that one should not have come after all”. He enquired if I had a revolver with me. I showed them my stuff and said that was the only weapon with me. Then some people collected round me and gave me a chair and asked me what the latest position was in the rural areas-“ and why I should not try to bring about better relations between the Hindus and the Muslims ? " I told them frankly that the Muslims from the urban areas had been led astray by the Muslim League and it would have bitter consequences. The Hindus from the urban areas had been exploiting the rural people and that too was a terrible mistake. The rural population was not afraid of riots. If riots occurred they would plunder ‘both the Hindu and the Muslim capitalists of the towns'. I made it clear to them that they were not afraid of the Muslim daggers.I went on telling them that they had no idea of the vast strength of the rural people who would just butcher the muslims in the towns, that they were only afraid of the bullet of the British Army and the truth was that British were helping the Muslims. Those Muslim employees of Lal Kuan Dawakhana nodded their heads and accepted whatever I had told them. Of course they said that all Muslims were not so bad and they advised me to return home carefully.

Hindu leaders fully appreciated the British diplomacy and they were keen to check the spread of riotous conditions. One day in Rohtak alone 15 Hindus

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were killed by the Muslims. The Deputy Commissioner of Rohtak was a Mohammadan, Lal Hussain. The rural people in the adjacent part of Rohtak got aroused. My village was at a distance of 25 miles from Rohtak but my children were studying in the Jat School Rohtak. On learning of these disturbed conditions in Rohtak, I reached, there with my gun and revolver by the night train. A number of armed Jats had gathered in Rohtak that night and they appeared determined to attack and butcher the Muslims. But then some Jat Leaders, who had been requested by the Deputy Commissioner, some retired Army persons and Muslim Rajputs requested them to be peaceful and by making some promises succeeded in sending them away.

On 15 August 1947 India was given full independence. Most of the British hard left India about one month before. Riots continued unabated. Hindus and Sikhs did not lag behind in taking revenge from the Muslims. Corpses of Muslims were lying rotting on the streets and in the jungles. Train compartments often brought a large number of dead bodies of Muslims and so was the case with Hindus coming from Pakistan. Such unfortunate events happened and despite of Government’s best efforts, lawlessness continued to prevail for a long time.

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