By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai
Editor’s Note: The writer was born and brought up in Rawalpindi. He studied in Denny’s High School, Mission High School and Gordon College. He worked as a Consultant in Provisioning & Stock Control and Logistics in various Organisations. Finally retired from PIA and now lives in Dubai. He is writing a series of articles about the life in Rawalpindi during 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Continued from Part 3……
All types of festivals of Muslims and Hindus/Sikhs and Christians were celebrated with great pomp and show under competitive attitude. The main Hindu festivals were Dusehra, Diwali and Basant. The main Muslim festivals
were Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha and Eid Milad-un-Nabi. While Christians used to enjoy on Christmas and Easter. On the Hindu festival Dusehra a big bazaar was installed on Bagh Sardaran Road and all type of toys and other attractive merchandise were purchased by children and ladies; who also enjoyed a lot of spicy chaats of many varieties.
But the only big attraction was burning of three big Statues of Hindu gods in Dusehra ground. People gathered in thousands to see the function. No sooner the fire was ignited, the exploding fire works were worth seeing. Interestingly when the people were rejoicing, the pick-pockets were busy earning a lot. But more interesting scene was seen when a pick-pocket was caught red-handed. I remember one such pick-pocket was caught. Unluckily he was a Muslim. What a beating was given to him by the Muslims; because the Hindu gentleman whose pocket was picked, let him free after taking back his purse in such a way that the Muslims took this gesture as a taunt. In fact the Hindu tricked to reduce the Muslims supposing it was a usual act of Muslims to do such crimes, and as such he did not mind because he got the purse back safe.
Almost all the buildings in Pindi were lighted with candles and “Diyas” on Diwali and the whole town was lit with dim twinkling lights all the night. Special kinds of sweets were prepared on Diwali. One such sweet was Channa Murghi, very small round balls prepared with caramelized milk. The Diwali being distinctively observed was seen in the densely Hindu pockets of the population like Arya Mohalla, Bhabrha Bazaar, Naya Mohallah, Chitian Hatiyan. In some of these very old localities the streets were only 3 feet wide. The Hindus, might be being rich, were very concerned about their safety and remained alert always. Accordingly they used to build tall houses in such a way that the approach thereto was inconvenient through very narrow lanes for the strange intruders who could be noticed easily. This type of construction caused very little or no sun shine at all in the lanes, with dark and deserted look. One big advantage was that the lanes used to be very cool during hot weathers. I remember while going to Gordon College from my house in Shah Nazar street, I used to feel a very pleasant touch of cool while passing through these lanes.
The Hindus during the old days especially the old ones were very polite and pleasant while talking and least became offensive. At the time of Partition one could feel and see their pain and sorrow when departing to India. They were crying and kissing the door steps of their houses while locking the doors for good. I saw them kissing the platform of Pindi railway station at their departure.
My Hindu/Sikh class fellows and colleagues kept postal contact with me for very long: while a few visited me also. One class fellow Autar Singh Duggal who used to share with me the same desk in the class room remained in contact with me till his death till late eighties. He belonged to a very rich “Duggal” family who were big importers of tyres. They used to live at CHUNGEE No 22 near CMH Pindi. Autar used to come to Mission High School in a “Fitten” a four-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle owned by just a very few high dignitaries. In India he started manufacturing Submersible pumps and was quite well off. But suddenly his wife died, his business collapsed and he lost everything. During that period I offered him some monetary help from Dubai which he strongly refused. His only wish to see me at least once more in his life was not granted by God; and he died penniless. I will never forget his greatness when he traced and arranged repairs of the grave of my father who died in Bhopal in 1943 on a short visit; and was buried in the Shahi Qabristan near Bhopal railway station. He informed me that he had succeeded to trace the grave though with difficulty; when he faced a difficult situation in the grave yard, as his presence in a Muslim grave yard was objected by the people present there.
During late thirties a very famous movement (KHAKSARS) was started by Allama Mashriqi. He was one of the few great world-class mathematicians. He was from Lahore. ”The Khaksar” movement was started to unite and strengthen the Muslims. The members had to wear khaki uniforms with a “BELCHA”(Shovel) in place of a gun.
They had to undergo a military like tough training, and they were seen military like marching/parading on the roads. They became highly disciplined and started providing all types of service/help to the needy without any charges. They reached promptly when called for any type of help/service just like what Maulana Edhi is doing now. Soon the movement spread all over India, and most of Muslim population including high gentry, doctors, teachers, advocates, students etc., were seen parading on roads in khaki uniforms with highly nickel polished shovels glittering on their shoulders. Evidently such type of advancement in Muslims started becoming sores in the eyes of non Muslims especially by the British government; but as long as the Khaksars were not any nuisance, they could not be stopped.
Unfortunately the first sign of a deterioration appeared when the Khaksars took part in a violent incident in Lucknow where in some casualties took place. Soon after in another incident Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was attacked and injured in Bombay by a Khaksar. Eventually a ban was imposed by the British government and started arresting the Khaksar leaders. The high gentry immediately disowned the movement while the low ranking public went under ground. Such a high-class movement died down so tragically due to improper leadership and as per the wishes (conspiracy?) of the non-Muslims and the British government. TO BE CONTINUED…………
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