“Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh son of the Soil (Part 4)”

By Kanwarjit Singh Malik

Photo of Kanwarjit Singh Malik Editor’s Note: Kanwarjit Singh Malik was born in Rawalpindi in 1930. His family moved to India at the time of Partition in 1947. He joined the Indian Air Force and after the retirement, served as a senior captain in Air India and Air Lanka. He is writing a book titled ‘From Khyber to Kanyakumari and Beyond’, which will be about his work experiences and tourist experiences in various countries.

Continued from Part 3 ……….

Some events become Dreams; you remember them again and again like year 1934! Some random old memories follow. I have also added some of my opinions, looking back at how life has evolved over time. Standing in the Big Gate of our house on Nehru Road Rawalpindi from which many Victorias and Tongas must have passed earlier as it was the Ajanti (the place where the Victorias, etc. used to be kept, along with horses and saddles) of my great-grandfather, when he had the contract for conveying Dak for the Pindi District.

For the first time I saw a few strange persons with almost shrunken heads go past and climb to the roof top of our house. They were all dressed in green, never saw them speak a word; after some time they went away just as they came. I was very scared. Later, my mother told me that they were known as Shah Doula Chuis. One Pir used to give shelter to such persons who were born deformed. They were harmless, she said, and that calmed me down.

I had developed a horrible cough due to which my chest sounded like a drum beat. No visits by doctors could cure it. My mother started visiting Gurdwaras, Mandirs and Mazars of various Pirs including Sat Gaza Qabar, but to no avail. Hearing about all the commotion in the house, our Muslim Dayee (midwife) assured my mother, and told the maid, Jwandia to bring some wood ash and pure honey. I was made to sit on ground. Then she asked me to open my mouth. I resisted since I was scared. The other servants forced open my mouth, and she applied honey and ash deep into my throat for four days. I was cured and she got Rs. 20 Bakshish (tip) as payment.

I have seen contingents of Khaksars dressed in light grey outfits with just Belchas (shovels) in their hands, including our Muslim driver of the Convent School Bus. They would march past us shouting “Hak Ha” instead of “Left, Right” on Nehru Road. The uniform was Shalwar Kameez. Similarly, in Peshawar the contingents of ‘Khudai Khidmatgar’ Movement wore red Shalwar Kameez. They were called ‘Red Shirts’.

Photo of The Khaksar Movement founder, Allama Inayatullah Khan Al-Mashriqi

Photo of Bacha Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan), the founder of Khudai Khidmatgar Movement

Kanwarjit Singh Malik's Bungalow at Chowk Saidpur Road, RawalpindiIn 1936/37 when we moved to our new bungalow at Chowk Saidpur Road, we made new friends – Bhushi and his brothers who lived right across our home. I used to boss over them, and he was my age. As children, along with four or five friends and our driver Dewan Singh, we used to go to Murree in the winter to play in the snow, and eat Aloo Chole, Gobhi Shalgam Achar, and Mattar Paneer. or, to Sawan, which was not so developed, for picnics. This was a lot of fun for us, in the severe winters of Pindi and equally hot summers with hardly any outside activity except indoor games like table tennis, skating or Dungal (a form of wrestling) in the evenings.

With my school friends of my age we twice went to Saidpur in our car with driver Dewan Singh. Apart from looking around the village from where hay-laden carts used to come in winter, there were five ponds where villagers believed they were from the time of Pandu Brothers; we all had a dip there. Similar stone Ponds existed near Murree but we never had a dip there as the water was too cold.

In Murree, our Munshi (accountant) used to hire a bungalow for the Season at Pindi Point. We used to occupy it during Summer School Holidays. An incident with a Britisher left a great scar on my mind. While on a walk with an older relative, our servant was taunted, “Can you show V for Victory”, which I did. A Britisher in uniform was walking ahead. He stopped and turned around walked towards us. I was so scared. Without saying a word, he gave a slap to our servant Arjun Singh and his turban went flying. I was reported by my older cousin and scolded by my mother. That day, I thought to myself that there will come a time, when I will have a Britisher polish my shoes. I fulfilled that desire in 1967 when I got my shoes polished by a Britisher in a hotel in London, on my first flight as a first Officer in Air India.

In the winter months, some Sadhus, Faqirs, Snake Charmers, Majma walas or Madaris (entertainers with trained monkeys) used to land up in front of our house on Nehru Road. The Sadhus used to have one Guru or leader, and rest were chelas (followers), some big or some small. They used to get busy with their assigned duties. They used to get fire wood from somewhere, Flour, Daal and at least one vegetable. People on Nehru Road used to donate milk and these articles. Their stay used to be at least three weeks. My mother used to give them lassi (Butter milk). My father’s valet-cum-coachman who used to ply his Tonga used to join them at night. They sang songs such as Babaji Mast Qalandar, and praise of Hanuman and Lord Krishna. We kids used to fall asleep and then see them missing the next day, until they came back in evenings. They would light the fire in the grounds, drink Bhang and would sing the same bhajans again. In those days, Faqirs, Sadhus, or Snake Charmers did not ask for money; but asked for atta (flour), daal or ghee.

Sometimes fake dentists also used to come by showing us tricks of their own trade and would sell bottles of medicine apparently to build strong teeth. Some Ophthalmologists would also turn up with eye treatment even for the blind. They used to sell medicines and surma (some powder ) for the eyes. To us small kids all this Tamasha looked real and very interesting. They drank Bhang to keep themselves warm as they had very little clothing on them except ash and bundles of hair. They never troubled anyone except with their singing and dholki, and loud ringing of bells.

At the very end of Nehru Road, there was the Cremation Ground of Hindu and Sikhs. When I was very young, and not yet even in school, hearing the sound of Ram Ram Sat Hai or Sat Nam Wahe Guru used to surprise me. I used to run to watch what it was all about. It used to turn out that a gathering of people were carrying something on their shoulders others crying and chanting slogans. I did not understand till much later when my mother explained about death.

Next to the Cremation Ground, on Lei Stream (name of the stream that divided Pindi City from the Cantonment; now called Nullah Lei), there were some enclosures for ladies and men where people bathed after cremation and went home. These were known as choya with plenty of water to bathe in. At times people carried someone with fanfare and a band. This, I was told must be an old man/old lady having lived his/her full life though I don’t know whether happily or not.

A Shamshan Ghat (Cremation Ground) at Tipu Road near Nullah Lei in Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi was a cosmopolitan city. All believers lived in peace and harmony; no one interfered in each other’s lives. Everyone took part in each other’s joy and happiness, and shared their grief; the thinking in the world community has now changed with time. There were some Parsis and Christians. Mainly shopkeepers and some of them were very prominent. Everyone was living with dignity and honour. Life was normal and safe. Not at all like what it is today when people have descended into towns to find work even as labour. The villages are very deserted and are totally neglected. I feel sorry for them. The slightly educated class has gone abroad or moved to towns. This trend has dramatically increased the population of cities. Most of these people are illiterate, and they take to crime, live in shanties spreading dirt and they choke the roads and sewage. They become easy target as vote bank for politicians of all types for corruption. Rest is for you to guess. Villages stand neglected, at the mercy of rain.

In villages around the Pindi District, the population was 90 to 94 per cent Muslim yet for one or two centuries they lived in harmony with people following other religions. Large chunk of land around Rawalpindi belonged to Chaudhary Waris Khan’s ancestors. He was the eldest son of Chaudhry Madad Khan. Waris Khan’s younger brother was Chaudhary Gulsiraj Khan who was the Municipal Commissioner of Rawalpindi and also honorary Magistrate of Rawalpindi. A residential area was also called Mohalla Chaudhary Waris Khan. My father knew all his brothers. They were regular visitors to us at Nehru Road and later at Chowk Saidpur Road. In fact, Chaudhary Tariq Azam paid many visits to many families in Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and some other places, and always visited us. He used to get Birth Certificates from the Municipality and gifts too. Upon his return, we would load him with gifts and requests.

Tariq Azam was a practicing advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan, based in Islamabad. His cousin, son of Chaudhary Mauladad, is a Judge of High Court. They shifted from Pindi to Islamabad. Chaudhary Mauladad was a very popular and rangila (colourful) person. I still remember him negotiating with my ather during Municipal Elections. I am in touch with Tariq’s son Fakhar Zaman, who lives in Oxford, UK for the last 21 years. We often speak on the internet. Tariq Azam had started writing the history of Rawalpindi and of prominent families and landmarks of Pindi. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014, and his task remains unfinished. May be one day one of his cousins will complete it for generations to read of Pindi of Gold.

On one of his visits to Delhi after Independence, Tariq had also brought along his daughter to meet my father. My father had then just crossed 100 years, asked her to sit next to him, which she did. He asked her name. Then, he asked her the meaning of her name. She did not know. Then he said “Tariq, Puttar, (son) do you know the meaning of her name?” Even he did not know. It was then that my father recited a couplet in Persian, and told Tariq the meaning of his daughter’s name. Everyone was stunned; such was the affection of the Pindiwallas.

Long after Partition, will these stories ever be repeated? No. Pindi was once golden. Had the Partition been organized properly, we would not have had so many problems as today. There seems to be no end in sight. We have wasted nearly three-fourths of a century in trying to blame various communities without admitting our own fault, as an Indian Nation of varying religions under one Hindustan. Let us even at this late hour of great need give up the one-upmanship and concentrate on building strong bridges forever for our children and their children. As the saying goes, only fools destroy their motherland, which we have done so far.

Photo of Malik Khazan Singh of Dera Khalsa (Tehsil Kahota, District Rawalpindi)Though I was born in Pindi in a very proud Malik family, my roots are from Dera Khalsa where my great-grandfather, Malik Khazan Singh, was born in 1813. He spent his youth traveling up to Kabul. He settled his branch of family in Pindi, and died there in 1899 like so many Pindiwallas of his time.

I wanted to give something to Dera Khalsa, the home of my ancestors. I could not do this due to reasons beyond my control. Instead, I have built a langar ghar next to my wife’s ancestral village Gurudwara, where all communities can have a free meal. I have also donated the income of Rs 4 lakhs a year from nine acres of land, which was lying in my wife’s name, to education and marriage of the girl child. I want to make villages hara bhara (prosperous). I see no sense in looking at people as vote banks; I think it is much better to think of cooperation – to flourish together.

I was in a college in Jalandhar in 1948 after wasting one year in Delhi trying for admission. No college admitted me with Social Service Matric Pass Certificate due to riots. So I lost one year. Father had no money, and no help as he lost his property income. People retired at 58 but father took up a job to feed the family; at 63 he became Chairman Army Pension Appeal Tribunal at Jalandhar. Thus we survived, and his old friends started visiting like old days of Malik Sahib. One of his friends got me admission in Lyallpur Khalsa College at Jalandhar. I used to see Flying Club’s T Moth aircraft flying, and got enthusiasm for aviation. One day I could not resist, and asked my father if I could join the Flying Club. He thought for a while, called me close, showed his fist pointing down. Then, he said, “Puttar (son), in life when you open your fist, always Point it Down (signifying “giving”), Never Point it Up (signifying “begging”). He stuck to that till he passed away at the age of 105. I completed 99% of my Commercial Pilot’s License but joined Indian Air Force in 1950.

Earlier, my uncle H S Malik had served the Royal Flying Corps in World War 1 with distinction, and later in the elite Indian Civil Service. Finally, after Partition, he retired as Indian Ambassador to France. My three other cousins also served in Royal Indian Air Force, including Flying Officer Tarlochan Singh 1939/40, and Flying Officer GJS Malik 1940/41, who was later selected for Indian Foreign Service, and retired as Indian Ambassador to Spain.

Pindiwals must be a proud lot as the District has produced many Generals and officers in Armed Forces.

This ends Part 4 of my Memoirs of Pindi. Continued to Part 5 ………

Related Pages:
“Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh Son of the Soil (Part 1)”
“Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh Son of the Soil (Part 2)”
“Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh Son of the Soil (Part 3)”
“Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh Son of the Soil (Part 5)”
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi  
Rawalpindi Blog 

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  1. Sylvia Baig says:

    Need the next episodes!

  2. Ehtesham Haq says:

    I originally hail from Rawalpindi and still live there, currently residing in USA. My late father was a poet from Murree Hills. My primary and high school education was all done in Rawalpindi. My uncle has a prominent Dawakhana with huge lab still on Nehru Road and while I was going through this article, I visited that Shamshan Ghat mentioned in the article to play because it provided an open place in congested surroundings.

    • Khawaja Ahmed Saeed Butt says:

      I myself am from Pindi and reside in USA too. Where in Pindi are you from and where in USA do you live?

  3. DR ABDUS SALAM says:

    Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —-A son of Rawalpindi*************
    • PREFACE I am recording simple facts which will show that despite all resourcefulness of man, there is such a thing as luck which governs his minutest concerns. (‘Retreat’ Asghar Mall, Rawalpindi, 1938 ) Dr Abdus Salam says .What is the origin of name Asghar Mall. The name existed even in 1938 *******
    • Bhagat Dayal Chand resided in Serai Saleh Haripur. He was a Vaishnava Hindu and avoided the onions, radishes and several pulses. He washed and dried wheat and other corn before they were ground. He even washed the fuel before use. He engaged his daughter to a Sikh of Divalian tehsil Chakwal.*******
    • Bhagat Dayal Chand became a widower and at same time he lost his eldest son. At the time of Bhagatji’s death his sons were very young so his nephews from Shah- Allah-Ditta took his ashes to Hardwar. His widowed daughter-in-law, moved to Rawalpindi, with the six minor orphan brothers of her deceased husband. Three of them died childless. The eldest of the remaining three was Jawahir Mall. The second was Hushnak Singh and the third Sohna Mall. *********
    • Sain Sahib Bhagat Jawahir Mall was Sikh and lived at Hazro. His most eminent disciple was Bhai Balak Singh, the Guru of Baba Ram Singh, who set up Kookas or Namiharis sect. A Deorah stands in Rawalpindi in the midst of an orchard called Tapo Ban, near I’dgah, where Sain Sahib’s remains were cremated.*********
    • Bhai Balak Singh, 1799-1862 the founder of the Kooka sect was born at Chhoi Tehsil Attock. He spent most of his life at Hazro. Baba Ram Singh was son of Jassa Singh of Ludhiana. He entered the Sikh service as a trooper in 1836. His association with Bhai Balak Singh turned him into a religious zealot and he left the army. ***********
    • The followers of Baba Ram Singh in the Attock and Swabi loved Sain Sahib. In 1889 I (Lakshman Singh) was the Headmaster of the Municipal Board School, Hazro. One day I went to Zeda (Tehsil Swabi) on a pleasure trip. The congregation of the Zeda Gurdwara made me an offering of a heap of Patasa (sugar cakes) and gave me a handsome purse. They escorted me to the ferry on the right bank of the Indus.***********

    • My father Kahan Chand, was the eldest son of Bhagat Sohna Mall.He joined school of Mian Nizam-ud-Din. Before finishing Gulistan/Bostan he got employment in the District Vernacular Office at Rs. 10/- per month. Later he became statistical writer in the Deputy Commissioner’s Office on Rs. 30/- per month. He was getting Rs. 60/- per month when he retired.******
    • My mother went to Kallar to learn Gurmukhi from Matai Bhan Dai, wife of Baba Khem Singh Bedi. My mother with Bibi Nihal Devi went out daily to bath in the river Leh. My maternal grand-father had exchanged turbans with Sardarni Bishen Dai husband’s brother. She gave Nanaka Chaj (dowry from one’s maternal-grandfather) on the marriages of my siblings.*******
    • Khem singh Bedi stayed in Dharamsala Bara Dari, on his visit to Rawalpindi. Baba Sahib believed in charms. At first he scribbled something on small bits of yellow paper. But later, when his influence spread over the whole Frontier, Dhanni and Pothohar, he devised a rubber stamp to make amulets*****.
    • My private library had Webster’s Dictionary and Forbes’ Hindustani-English Dictionary (1848) costing Rs. 20/- and Rs. 30/- respectively. They contributed much to my competency in English.******
    • I was in the 9th class in Presbyterian Mission High School Raja Bazar Rawalpindi. Sir Denzil Ibbetson Director Public Instruction visited the School and dictated a passage. When my slate was returned to me I found that two words honor and favor were crossed as incorrect. I took the Webster’s and went to show it to the Director. “I say, sir,” I submitted to the Director, Public Instruction, “these words have not been wrongly spelt. Please see this dictionary.” Mr. Ibbetson dismissed me simply saying, “This is not English dictionary.” ******
    • The same year the Headmaster gave us a small piece from Urdu book Chahar Darwesh/Bagh-o-Bahar, to render it into English. When I presented my exercise book, the Headmaster remarked that the working did not appear to be mine. I asked him to set me another piece. This was done. And to every one’s astonishment, my working tallied with that of Forbes, the English translator of the volume. Before I was seventeen I had finished the Mysteries of the Court of London and the Mysteries of London********
    • I was the cleverest boy in the Bible class. I saw a list of books in the Theosophist; the monthly organ of the Theosophical Society Adyar, Madras, under the editorship of a Russian lady, Madam Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, an American. I thought that the book Self-Contradictions of the Bible by Ingersoll, will be helpful in discussion on the Bible. I wrote to the manager of the Theosophist for a copy. It took six months for the book to reach Rawalpindi from New York. The Manager, Reverend C.B. Newton, received all school dak and examined it before delivery to the concerned person. The Manager was surprised when he saw that a student of his school had indented books from New York. On opening the packet he found that the book was from the pen of Ingersoll, who was thought to be anti-Christ. He admonished me for having thought of reading such a book. By the next mail I wrote back to the Theosophist people asking them to get me two more copies of Ingersoll’s book, saying that the previous one had been confiscated by the Christian Missionary in charge of the school. ****
    • The relations of the American Christian Missions with those of the Theosophist people were strained. At that time the Government had appointed an Education Commission, under the chairmanship of Sir William Hunter, to reform the education system. Connection with this enquiry an application from some Christian body for the control of high education was before the Government for consideration. To the Theosophists strongly opposed this proposal. They wrote an article in their journal in which they observed that the transfer of high education to the Christian missionaries would be would be resented by enlightened local people. In support of their argument they published my letter saying, “As a sample to the above we place before our readers a letter from a Hindu student of a Mission School in India.” A copy of the journal containing my letter with these remarks was sent to me and another to the Reverend Mr. C.B. Newton. ******
    • The Reverend Principal of the Mission High School opened his copy and was grieved to learn that what he had said to me so innocently should have formed a subject of newspaper controversy. He collected all the boys and the school staff .He regretted that the boy, whom successive Headmasters had so much favored, has magnified a simple affair into a grave public scandal. I was given the choice to either offer an unqualified apology or consider myself rusticated from the school. I refused to offer any apology. I left the school and went to Lahore to join Municipal Board High School. *******

    • DR ABDUS SALAM says:

      • Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —-A son of Rawalpindi —–Part 2
      • I failed in the Intermediate Examination but leaving certificate testified me “regular in attendance and possessing good knowledge of English”, bearing the signature of the Principal of the College. This Giddar Parwana (a jackal’s chit) helped me to get job.
      • Having failed in the Intermediate Examination, I fell back upon my permanent apprenticeship in the District Kutchery Rawalpindi.Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Gardiner, was revising the book, the Punjab Chiefs. In this connection he received letters in Vernacular from men providing additional information about the loyal services of their forbears to be inserted in the revised edition of the book. He sent these communications to the office for English translation. Once the man who was entrusted with this work asked me to do this duty. My translation fascinated Mr. Gardiner. I was sent for and was given some work to do. Soon he sent me to Attock to officiate as a Nazir in the Court of the Assistant Commissioner. . The pay was Rs. 20/- per month. Rs. 5/- was allowance for acting as English interpreter to the Pathan Magistrate.
      • It was difficult for me to decipher shikasta Urdu handwriting. My officer instructed a Vernacular Middle passed Hindu Muharar, to help me.the Muharar tips amounted to seven rupees per day. The process was most cruel .A Muslim peasant had to get something done for him. He was asked to give rupees two for the service. The man had only one rupee with him. He was rebuked. To my utter dismay, the poor fellow was made to part with the only new chader of khaddar he had on his person.
      • I took up the editorial charge of the Punjab Times, English weekly in Rawalpindi. The proprietor, Mr. Thapar, was an illiterate Hindu. All that he cared for was money which his advertisements of balls and dances in Soldiers’ clubs brought him. The editing was done by retired European sergeants. a Eurasion assistant master of the local Mission School wanted me to insert something damaging about his head, a Dane.* I showed him the way out. This created a scene. The worthy proprietor appeared and stood aghast on noticing my behavior towards a ‘Sahib’. I smiled and slid out. A cheque for three months’ salary soon followed me.

  4. Saief Aousaf says:

    Dear Subodh Mathur,
    Your forfather’s house is situated in Pindi near church. Now some shops are there and it is next to a very old house. The owner’s name is mentioned on the wall of that house. The name is Rai Sahib Mohan Lal Kapoor. I also saw your forfather’s name mantioned on the old house situated in Koela Center, Saddar, Rawalpindi.

    • DR ABDUS SALAM says:

      Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —-A son of Rawalpindi —–Part 3

       Government Mission Higher Secondary School is the oldest school of the region. It was founded in 1856 as a primary school by American Presbyterians in Raja Bazar with enrollment of twelve students. Area of school is 37 kanals. First Presbyterian Church in Rawalpindi raja bazaar is across th3e road opposite Mission school .The school was affiliated with Calcutta University
       1894 to 1898 Mr. James W. Woutersz, Headmaster of the Mission Collegiate School, Rawalpindi, appointed me as an assistant master. My stay in this institution was from 1894 to 1898 . The Manager, Reverend Mr. R. Morrison placed me in charge of the English and History classes of College department, in addition to teaching translation to the High classes. College department had only two classes. In the Second Year class there were 12 scholars, but in the First Year there were only 4. This was a very discouraging feature.
       The Manager was considering to close the College department . He shared this idea with me. I asked for two weeks’ time to consider. I studied the whole situation and found that there were many things radically wrong with the institution. College department had not been properly advertised. No opening ceremony had been performed and public co-operation had not been invited. The tuition fees charged were those charged by the Lahore Government College. No other college in the province had such high fee. I collected statistics from the Edward Mission College, Peshawar, the Mission College, Sialkot Municipal Board College, Amritsar, and the Forman Christian College, Lahore.
       Armed with the necessary facts and figures and having procured signatures of about forty boys from among my pupils in the the X High class to join the College after passing the Matriculation standard, I saw the Manager and placed my views before him. He agreed. The fees were reduced by fifty per cent. The opening ceremony was successfully performed under the presidentship of the Commissioner, Rawalpindi Division, Colonel Montgomery. Raja Narindra Nath the District Judge, Rawalpindi, addressed the gathering and appealed for funds. Sardar Sujan Singh and several other citizens offered handsome contributions. Thirty boys joined the next First Year class.
       In June 1893 a College Department was opened.
       B.A. classes started in 1901 in.
       In 1903 the new Gordon College building was inaugurated. Mr. Martin was the Head Master at that time.
       Science classes was started in 1904,
       Justice Din Muhammad was the first Muslim graduate of this institute, completed his graduation in the year 1904.
       In the year 1915 the first college magazine the “Gordonian” was published,
       In the year 1916 the name of this college was changed from Gordon Mission College to the Gordon College Rawalpindi. Morton Hall hostel was established in the year 1893.

      • DR ABDUS SALAM says:

        Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —A son of Rawalpindi —–Part 4

        • I did my best for the promotion of Sanskrit. When I was teacher at the Mission College, I endeavored to see that Hindu and Sikh students took up Sanskrit in place of Persian. There was only one Pandit, a Shastri. He had only two pupils, one his own younger brother and the other a Bania boy from the cantonment. In a few days I persuaded a good number of Hindu and Sikh lads to give up Persian in the IV High Class and take up Sanskrit. One of them, Professor Jodh Singh, Professor of Divinity in Khalsa College, gratefully remembers how his knowledge of Sanskrit has been helpful to him in his intensive study of Sikh scriptures. In fact it was some such belief that had led me to advise my Sikh pupils to prefer Sanskrit to Persian. With the same end I saw that Sikh boys gave up Urdu and took up Punjabi. I also saw that Sanskrit was taught from the IV Primary Class. I went straight to the boys. The teacher, a Maulavi, wisely stood aside; for he knew what influence I wielded in the institution

        • Addressing a Hindu child I said, “Kaka” will you give up Persian and take up Sanskrit instead?” “Why should I? I am not going to turn into a Brahman priest”, was the reply. I then turned to a Musalman child. “Kaka,” repeated I, “Will you take up Sanskrit in place of Persian?” “Am I a Hindu?” was this child’s reply.

        • I again turned to the previous Hindu child and said, “Are you a Musalman, my boy? Yes, you are. You see you are learning a language of the Musalmans.” And, added I, “Is your mother’s name Bibi Jamalo or Begam Bano?” “No, my mother’s name is Bishen Devi” was the angry reply. I repeated the same questions to other Hindu and Musalman children of the same class and got nearly similar replies.

        • Many Hindu and Sikh boys came forward with applications for permission to take up Sanskrit and I engaged two highly qualified Pundits. Services of Bawa Wahiguru Singh were retained for Punjabi teaching. Within a couple of years, out of seven hundred, nearly half the number took up Sanskrit . The other half mostly consisted of Musalman boys. About seventy scholars took up Punjabi in place of Urdu. Mr. Thompson appointed me Superintendent of Sanskrit and Punjabi in the school.

        • Naturally the Muslim boys felt a prompting for learning Arabic. A deputation of their community waited upon the Manager to make provision for the teaching of the subject. He asked them to provide for an endowment, the interest of which should be sufficient to meet the expenses on this account. This was equal to a refusal, particularly when no such condition was laid in the matter of the appointment of Sanskrit and Punjabi teachers. The result was an agitation against the Mission School, resulting in the establishment of the local Islamia High School
        • My name was dragged into the controversy by Qazi Siraj-ud-Din. He openly indicated in the columns of his paper, the Chaudhwin Sadi that Lakshman Singh was responsible for refusal of the Mission authorities to listen to the request made in behalf of the local Musalmans. The real cause of the failure of the deputation was violent abuse of the Christians by the Muslim press, including the Chaudhwin Sadi, provoked by the Greeco-Turkish war that was then going on.

        • Because of some misunderstanding I received three months’ salary in lieu of a formal notice to quit Mission School. This ended my term of service in the Mission College Rawalpindi. The Principal, Dr. Barr by an order forbade my pupils to attend my farewell meeting at Arya Samaj Mandir. Students and citizens demonstrated against the order. The meeting condemned Dr. Barr’s action and lauded my services in the cause of the study of Sanskrit and Punjabi. I was taken home in a big procession. A Bengali student was rustication and the heavy fine was imposed on others, for attending the meeting held in my honor,
        • One good came out of my removal from the Mission College. It was feared that Sanskrit classes might be dismissed in consequence of my removal from the Mission College.So Rawalpindi Arya Samaj immediately started DAV High School in the premises of their Mandir in 1899. Professor Hukam Chand Kumar of Fateh Jang was placed in charge of the venture. It was managed by the Dayananda Educational Mission Society, Rawalpindi. In 1941, it had 1020 students.
        • Teaching of Panjabi was introduced in 1877 in the Oriental College, Lahore (established in 1876), Bhai Gurmukh Singh was appointed a Professor. During his service at Lahore, he made a beginning in Panjabi journalism and started, one after the other, the Gurmukhi Akhbar (1880), the Vidyirah , the Khalsa , the Sudharak (1886) and the Khalsa Gazette (1886).

        • DR ABDUS SALAM says:

          • Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —A son of Rawalpindi —–Part 5

          • 1889 — Headmaster of the Municipal Board School, Hazro.

          • 1890—- Headmaster of the Municipal Board School, Haripurl

          • My younger brother Gokal Chand was appointed Headmaster of the Government High School, Rawalpindi.

          • I joined Shresht-Niti-Shala High School, Rawalpindi as Headmaster and got the School placed on the list of Aided Institutions. The Shresht- Niti School cost seven hundred rupees per month. It then charged no tuition fees. Under my control the expenditure was reduced to Rs. 400/- per mensem. Many old teachers were removed and new trained and certificated men were hirede on higher salaries. The owner of the School, Sardar Buta Singh did not agree to the removal of an old teacher. I resigned and was at large again.

          • Khalsa Higli School Rawalpindi was founded in 1913 .It had 55 teachers and 2487 students in 1941.

          • In 1903 I joined service as Assistant District Inspector of Schools, Ferozepur, on Rs 151- per mensem as salary.. My practice was to attend office regularly at 10 in the morning and leave at 4 p.m. In 1906 I met Mr. Bell to enquire about my confirmation. He took a chit, scribbled something on it with a pencil and dismissed me with the remark, “I am passing orders that you shall be confirmed, and I shall make you a District Inspector very soon.” Thus with one stroke of pen he confirmed me in my grade.Before the end of year he also confirmed me in the grade of Rs. 100/- and transferred me to Jhelum as District Inspector of Schools in 1906

          • 1906 to,1908 In Jhelum district I worked with my usual zeal and earnedthe goodwill of the Divisional Inspector, Khan Bahadur Maulavi Umr-ud-Din, M.A. All Tehsildars of the district, particularly Misar Heera Nand, Tehsildar of Chakwal, strongly supported me in the matter of locating new school houses at sufficiently long distances from villages and in healthy surroundings, for instance the buildings of the Sohawa Primary School and Padshahan Primary School in Chakwal.

          • 1910 to 1914-During the time of my service as District Inspector of Schools, Jhelum from 1906 to,1908 and again as Second master in the Government High School, Rawalpindi, from 1910 to 1914, the late Khan Bahadur Maulavi Umr-ud- Din, M.A., of Phillaur in Jullundur district, was Inspector of Schools. I cherished his memory so much that when, after a decade

          • I objected to the recommendation of a grant of ninety thousand rupees for the Islamia High School building in Gujarkhan because its High department had not yet been recognized. I also proposed the transfer of the Muslim Headmaster of Vernacular Middle School because he was in the habit of absenting himself without leave. But this was in the interests of the institutions themselves. Bogus telegrams and deputations, however, were believed as gospel truth and in almost every case orders already passed were rescinded.

          • 1919 A large portion of his salary went towards the payment of his debts, and for the greater part of his service of nineteen years he lived barely on the horse- allowance that was allowed to him at first as Assistant District Inspector of Schools and then as District Inspector of Schools, the post that he held in the Punjab Educational Service on his retirement in 1919on a meager pension of Rs. 68/- p.m. with savings made in the last years of his service, he built on the Asghar Mall Road at Rawalpindi a small cottage for himself.

          • DR ABDUS SALAM says:

            • Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —A son of Rawalpindi —–Part 6

            • The G.N. Khalsa High School, Gujarkhan, was founded in 1919.The School possessed a beautiful building on the Grand Trunk Road. After the partition in 1947, the Gujarkhan School was re-established in Ludhiana,

            • The Angalo-Vernacular Primary School of Sukho was founded by Sardar Mahan Singh in 1894. It was raised Middle School in 1896.

            • Qazi Gauhar Reader to the Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi was a Zinda Shaheed. He saw Raghu Nath Mandir in Sujan Singh’s garden.Qazi Sahib thought of an equally grand Masjid .He chose a low-lying place situated in the vicinity of Raghunath Mandir. Of course, it did not matter if the filling of the low-lying land should cost fabulous amount of money. The aim was to out-rival the Sikh millionaire, to afford opportunities in rending the sky with shouts of Allahu- Akbar on one side and of those of Sat Sri Akal and Sita Ram Ki Jai on the other. I have remembered him with the honored name of Zinda Shahid for he lived and died for Islam. He relinquished his honored position under government; perhaps, long before he was due to retire. He gave up his house in his neat and clean beautiful village Qazian and resided in his Kothi on the Circular Road in Rawalpindi city as a Faqir, to see through the completion of the mosque

            • Bhagat Lakshman Singh was meticulous in matters of personal cleanliness and food. He kept three kinds of soap. The scented cake for washing his face and hands was kept separate from the one that he used for the rest of his body in the bathroom, while the one used in the toilet was not used for any other purpose. He avoided receiving in his hands small change of coins from shopkeepers and would generally have it wrapped in a handkerchief. On his return home, he would untie its knots not with his fingers but with the help of pencils and penholders and put the coins for disinfection in a glass full of potassium permanganate solution.

            • DR ABDUS SALAM says:

              • Few pages of BHAGAT LAKSHMAN SINGH AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1863 -1942) —A son of Rawalpindi —–Part 7

              • In 1935 Gurdwara Committee, of Shahidganj dismantled an old mosque-shaped building on the premises, believed to be the old court of the Muslim Qazis. Huge crowds of Muslims marched towards the Shahidganj to turn out Sikh custodians of the building under dispute. Special police and military controlled the situation resulting in a small number of casualties. This added fuel to the fire. The feelings against the Sikhs ran high. Pir Jamait Ali Shah made inflammatory speeches in the Badshahi mosque.

              • The Government ordered the transfer of a magnificent domed building in Sessions Court to the Musalmans, as a reward for their patience. The Government also removed the ban on the carrying of swords throughout the province. a huge procession carrying swords, headed by Maulana Shaukat Ali passed through the bazars of Lahore brandishing their weapons to impress Hindus and Sikhs . The Sikhs organized a counter-demonstration. During the last week of November, 1935, they marched out in procession from the Shahidganj Gurdwara, and passed through the bazars of Lahore. Some Hindus also joined the procession.

              • Such provoking slogans were heard as:
              • “Chhuri mar ki pagal bande maan de babbar-sher ih
              (They stab innocent passers-by and when arrested pretend lunacy.Truly they are cubs of brave lionesses).
              One couldn’t help laughing when one heard:
              • Hindu qaum ka bachcha bachcha sher ki santan hai
              • (Each and every Hindu is a cub of lioness). I was with the procession from the Lahori Gate to Dehra Sahib Gurdwara near the Fort.
              • Next morning big crowd of armed Muslims of Bhati Gate waylaid stray Sikh and Hindus. Muslims attacked the Guru Datta Bhawan, an Arya Samajist meetining place.A curfew order was issued . The carrying of lathis, swords and Kirpans was disallowed.
              • Sikhs regarded ban on Kirpan as interference with their religion. The Shromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee decided to offer Satyagraha. The agitation continued throughout the period the ban lasted.
              • Sikh Satyagrahis who, when produced before court, gave out their names as Dilli Tor Singh, Hakumat Bhaga Singh, Kan-Maror Singh . Musalman Satyagrahis gave their names as Kafar-mar Khan, But-shikan Khan and the like and their father’s name as Baba Adam and place of birth as Shahidganj.
              • When Muslims failed to take possession of Shahidganj from the Sikhs by force, they filed a suit in October, 1935, in the Court of the District Judge, Lahore, against the Shromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, not for possession of the site or ejectment of the Sikhs, but for right of Muslim worship and for a mandatory order for the reconstruction of the building. The learned District Judge dismissed the case. An appeal to the High Court was dismissed in January, 1938. An appeal was then made by the Muslims to the Privy Council, which upheld the Sikh right and dismissed the appeal of the Muslims
              • With the partition of the country in 1947 and the transfer of Lahore to Pakistan, the Shahidganj has gone to the Muslim side. It is to their credit that they have allowed it to stand in the same condition, in which it was left by the Sikhs in August, 1947. —

  5. I have this question on indiaofthepast.org from Pammy Kohli:

    Please tell me if you know anything about our family from Rawalpindi. Papajee, Dr. Gurcharan Singh Sachar (botanist) often talked about his close friends Sohan Singh and Manmohan Singh. My dada-jee was Sundar Singh Sacher, Advocate. Our house was near Rose Cinema next to a church. My nanajee was Sujan Singh Bedi. I’ve heard his house was beautiful but I don’t know exactly where and which one it is.
    Can any one here give her any information?

    • Raja Zaryab Azad says:

      Dear Subodh Mathur Jee,
      Sojan Singh building is in Raja Bazar, Sarafa Market. That building was declared as a campus of Fatima Jinnah Women University but as that was a very old building so it is still locked. But indeed that is one of the beautiful palaces of before Partition time. If owner of that house Sir Sojan Singh is your nana jee then your nana is very well-known personalty of old Pindi.
      If you want some pics of that house, I will try to provide you soon.
      Raja Zaryab

      • Paramjyot pammy says:

        It’s most thrilling to hear from you. Thank you so much for taking interest in my search for the exact house of Baba Sujan Singh Bedi in Rawalpindi, the beautiful home with frescoes on the drawing and dining halls, teakwood carvings and Belgian chrystal chandeliers. Maybe four storied or more. The entire bazaar in the gali belonged to him and a nearby gurdwara as well. I’ve heard about it since childhood from older family members of whom few remain. The Bedis were from Kallar Syedian and belonged to Pindi for generations. You might be thinking of Baba Khem Singh, and his Bedi Mahal. Our branch of Bedis, now in Pune were the last of the Bedis to have lived there. There might be another well-known Soojan Singh among Pindiwaals, I’m not sure. Baba Sujan Singh would be Baba Khem Singh’s, Baba Attar Singh’s grand nephew, perhaps. His father was Baba Jhalmal Singh. He had 4 daughters. His only son, died very young. My father’s house was in Raja Bazaar near the bus adda and tonga stand, right next to a Church. Rose cinema or Imperial cinema could be seen from my parents bedroom window.

        • Raja Zaryab Azad says:

          Yes, the feature of building which is described by you is same as it was in golden time of Sojan Singh havali. That house stil exists and looks like a palace but due to no maintenance or care now that building lives as a 90 year old man.
          Yes, Baba Khem Singh Bedi was very respectable personality of Pothowar region. I also belong to a village near Kallar Syedan but now settled in Rawalpindi. I will visit soon In Sha Allah to search out your home. I am sending you my email, you can contact me whenever you want, it will be pleasure for me.
          WhatsApp no, 0923245212206

        • Yasir Farooq says:

          Dear Raja Zaryab Sb,

          I read your comments in reply of Mr. Subodh Mathur on nativepakistan.com. For your convenience I am sending you some quick pics of Sujan Singh building I taken from outside to you mail address. There are a lot of informative video documentaries on this building on youtube. More that this building is situated in Bhabra Bazar residential area.

          I live near Eidgagh, Asghar Mall Road, Rawalpindi. I studied in MC primary school Talab Pukhta Bunni(Bunni May Veeran) and further did matric from Muslim High School No.2 Said Puri Gate in 1986. My school was very near to Sujan Sigh Building. Me, with my friends used to see this historical building during Adhi Chutti (school break) from outside on almost every day.

          I will also send pics of Kanwarjit Singh’s Haveli which still exists. It is very near to my house.


          Yasir Farooq


  6. Raja Zaryab Azad says:

    So interesting i m 28 yaer old resident of pindi and love old buildings and the people who left pindi in 1947.every time when i used to visit raja bazar all old building attract me and i think the people who made them. thir dreams which mothers had seen at the time of construction aaa made me sad.love you all my old pindiwaloo.Malik sb i m also belong to kahuta tehsil and a village nearby Dera Khalsa.every sundy i go to my village passing dera khalsa.last yer some local people want to change name of DERA khalsa but Choudry nisar ali khan(minister) resist to do that in the honour of olden history of that village.beyour article provide so much information and answer the question which is always need a answer in my mind “who was the owner of this and that old house in asghar mall road,liaqat road and interior pindi .love you ,if you need recent pic of any one of your old building.please tell me i just visit ,take picture and will send to you
    warmth Regards
    Raja Zaryab Azad

    • Raja Zaryab,
      I’m full of gratitude to you for telling me about this once beautiful home. Baba Sujan Singh Sahib died in the 1930s. Our Nani contiued living in the haveli like a ‘Malka,’ till 1947 when riots broke out. The Bedi roots are from Kallar Syedan and Rawalpindi. Please tell me when you go to Pindi if there is a gurdwara in Chitiyan Hatiyan that I think Baujee (Baba Sujan Singh Bedi) got built.

      • Raja Zaryab Azad says:

        Dear Paramjyot Jee,
        Its pleasure for me to share and discussed with you golden era of Pothowar specially Pindi. Yes, Bedi family have great influence upon Kallar Syedan. ‘Bedi Mehal’ is now Govt High School for Boys and serve the children of Kallar Syedan. I will search your mentioned places and will update you.
        Kindly send me your email.

  7. Rajpal Singh Malik says:

    My Dear Chachaji,
    It is indeed lovely and extremely fascinating to read your articles about Rawalpindi.
    You know very well how much my father used to reminiscence his days there. He used to talk about Gordon College and his Muslim friends to Nanni and I.
    Is it possible to get some anecdotes from Vadde Tayaji as well?
    I sincerely hope this site grows into a wealth of information on Pre Partition India, with other people chipping in.
    Do let me know if I can be of any help.
    Warmest regards,
    Rajpal (Chiku)

  8. Khawaja Ahmed Saeed Butt says:

    I am so happy to see the comments of so many Pindiites (Pindiwaals) in this articles that made me go back to my childhood and last night I was crying with tears, while missing my old Pindi. Believe me after Islamabad, the original and organic beauty of Pindi had gone away by corruption and I would blame the politicians and actually the foundation of Islamabad in Pindi. Now even everything has been taken away from Pindi including Chaklala Airport which has been given a new name “Benazir International Airport”. I hate it, I just hate it, why have they taken away our old Pindi.
    Taya Kanwarjit Singh Malik Sahab, can you form an alliance of old Pindiwaals that post the old memories at one site?
    I am very grateful to you Taya Ji, once again thank you so much.

  9. Khawaja Ahmed Saeed Butt says:

    I am Khawaja Ahmed Saeed Butt son of Abdul Sattar Butt (aka Salar Sahab of Khaksar Tehrik), I was so much touched by the above article, I want to get connected with Chacha Kanwarjit Singh Malik Sahab, I am 61 years old and have been living in New York, USA though I was born and raised in Rawalpindi, Mohallah Jhangi Jadeed (neighboring Mohallah Waris Khan).

  10. A M Malik says:

    Interesting to read. I wonder if you know of any Lahori to write his memoirs of Lahore and thereafter. My parental grandfather hailed from renowned Katra Maan Singh the Kashmiris Mohalla Amritsar – so to speak and later settled in Lahore.
    We always wonder why the Sikhs – who have many a things common – did not join hands with us.

    • Joining this or that did not arise after riots in Bengal/W. Punjab.
      Two Nation Theory was not a workable Solution for then INDIA?
      Negotiations and more time was REQUIRED but not the Division…
      COMMUNITIES were living in Peace and Harmony, SHARING each other’s grief and happiness and taking part in Festivels, after all we share Common Blood in most cases. WHAT WAS REQUIRED? NEGOTIATIONS FOR FUTURE WAY OF Administration.

  11. Some thoughts of childhood remain stuck in your memory mode, even though people around you say YAR GET GOING WHAT IT IS TODAY….?Should I?
    Seen Mother Earth from Sky and lived on it on ground. Memories will remain in War and in Peace.

  12. Andrew Mcauley says:

    Dear Sir Kanwarjit Singh Malik Ji,
    Thank you so much for your memoirs. I enjoyed and indeed appreciated it very much. I was born in Rawalpindi and consider myself a Pindiite even if I have been away from Pindi since 1977. You have mentioned Mission School and I just wanted to say that my maternal grandfather Mr. Fazal Elahi was the principal of that school. He also took part in local politics and was the Municipal Commissioner of Rawalpindi, and Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly. His wife (my grandmother) was a doctor, recipient of the Star of India award. My paternal grandfather was the Medical Superintendent of the Leper Hospital and later Municipal Commissioner as well. I wonder if you Knew them.
    thanks once again, With respect, best wishes.

    • Mcauley Sahib,
      My father and his uncles and my grandfather all did their schooling in Mission School at Bhavra Chowk. I have no knowledge of
      that school. It must be the oldest school in PINDI or it isn’t?

    • Riffet Khan says:

      Mr. Mcauley,
      Did you ever live on Zafr-ul-Haq Road in Pindi?

  13. Elizabeth Owen says:

    I loved Pindi, I was a daughter of an English soldier, based in Cambridge Barracks near the Arsenal, it was a wonderful childhood. The politics meant nothing to me, as I was too young, and my best friend was our bearer, who would sit down with me and read me stories from the Koran. In the summer we went to Upper Topa, near Murree, again a wonderful happy place for a child.

  14. Thank you, Sardar Kanwarjit Singh Jee, for generously sharing your precious memories to bring alive an era for a generation that needs to know about it. May Wahe Guru bless the continuance of your noble venture.

  15. Muhammad Shahin says:

    Very interesting article to read and be kept in record for our future generations to see what was their ancestoral place and how it developed and taken the shape of a monster. Pindi is so different when we were young. No such thing as Islamabad and it was restricted to Saidpur Chowk on the north side, West ridge and railway colony on the west side, Jhanda Chichi on the east side Kutcheri on the southern side. One could walk the whole Pindi. Maximum a Tonga was required to travel leisurely. There were no taxis, only omni buses used to ply between Raja Bazaar and Saddar. Bicycle was the most commonly used mode of transport.
    May Allah bless long life to old Pindiites to continue writing their memoirs off and on so to keep the old Pindi alive in our hearts and minds.
    Thanks a lot Kanwarjit Singh ji.

  16. Chaudhary Fakhar Zaman says:

    Taya Kanwarjit Jee,
    Sat Sri Akal.
    There are a few corrections to be made regarding your article; firstly Chaudhary Waris Khan was the eldest son of Chaudhary Madad Khan, and till this day they’re not reduced to a MOHALLAH, Chaudhary Gulsiraj Khan younger brother of Chaudhary Waris Khan was the Municipal Commissioner of Rawalpindi and also honorary magistrate of Rawalpindi.
    Tariq Azam Chaudhary who visited your house was an advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan and lastly myself Chaudhary Fakhar Zaman live in Oxford not in Cambridge.
    Thanks I wonder if you can do the corrections or shall we leave the editor to do it as the facts should always be right.

  17. Ch. Muhammad Yaqub says:

    Dear Malik saheb,
    Your flow of pen expressed the memories of past in Pindi. This continued till shifting of capital from Karachi. I studied at Government College Saidpuri Road, know your bungalow was then a land mark, surrounded by open fields. Please continue writing for us and generations to come.

  18. Farhat Khawaja says:

    Interesting article, I lived in Pindi from 1948 to 1969 & still visit yearly. Pindi still has its charm. Where was Nehru Road? Malik sahib, what school you attended in Pindi?

    • Nehru Road is near Raja Bazaar. This road goes from Raja Bazaar towards Akaal Garh, Bagh Sardaran and finally the last limit Dosera Grounds.
      I studied in Normal School for Girls for a fortnight. Then I studied in Presentation Convent School in Cantonment, Singh Sabha School in Raja Bazaar, Khalsa School near Banni Mai Veeran on Saidpur Road, finally up to 10th class in Khalsa High School (now Muslim High School No. 1) near our bungalow at Saidpur Road Chowk.

      • Khawaja Ahmed Saeed Butt says:

        My Father-in-Law (Late) Sheikh Abdul Ghani went to school on Janglat Road near Banni, he later joined Military Accounts office if you remember.

  19. Very good article about Pindi.

  20. Sylvia Baig (Rawalpindi) says:

    Love the golden words you give out Beautiful Pindi is proud of his this son more than any one Kanwarjit Singh Malik!

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