Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh son of the Soil (Part 5); From a Boy to an Old Man…the Visit back Home

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. This is his last article is the series of ‘Pindi Memoirs’.

Continued from Part 4 ……….

Rawalpindi Blog | Picture of Malik Khazan Singh - Rawalpindi MemoirsMy great-grandfather Malik Khazan Singh was the 16th, and I am the 19th descendant of Ram Chand. He was the founder of this clan from Dera Khalsa (earlier called Kalal Pura) before Princess Managala conferred it as bakshish (gift) to our ancestors for services rendered with Malkiat and the title Malik. Since then we are Maliks.

The Maliks and Bhagats are Ahluwalia by sub caste. Initially they were professional brewers of the finest liquor. Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts along with Ludhiana had been their home for centuries where they learnt this trade and then spread all across India. No one knows how they made Dera Khalsa their home.

Malik Khazan Singh joined Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s cavalry and took part in various missions until the British defeated the Sikhs due to betrayal by the Dogras. The Sikh army was disbanded and Malik Khazan Singh returned to Dera Khalsa. When his father died, he was well equipped with the dual knowledge of trade of contractors and of brewers. He traveled with the British army in the Afghan War and earned three lakh rupees. In addition to his dual profession, Malik Khazan Singh became a contractor for conveying Dak (Post) in Rawalpindi district and also got a license to supply liquor to the British canteens.

Pindi Memoirs - Anand Brothers; Tejinder Anand & Gurpreet Anand - Rawalpindi MemoirsAt the age of 86, I came to Pindi- the place of my birth. The Anand brothers (Tejinder Anand, the elder, and Gurpreet Anand, the younger) from New Delhi guided me and accompanied me to Pindi. Their ancestors hailed from Kallar Seydan, who later settled in Murree and Pindi where they had their businesses. Their grandfather Chaudhary Ram Singh was a very eminent Sikh and bought land for gurdawara in Murree where now Awqaf office is housed. Sylvia Baig from Pindi sponsored me, both parties (Anand brothers and Sylvia) were helpful beyond description. Sylvia had written comments on my previous articles and luckily I found another daughter in my birthplace. She is from Kashmir and lives in Pindi and calls me Chacha Jee. I call her ‘Kashmiri beti Dolly’. It is great fun to be in contact on the phone and on the Internet. Without seeing each other in person, she volunteered to sponsor her Chacha Jee’s visit to Pakistan.

I obtained my visa in Hong Kong since I was there visiting my younger daughter. Mr Memon from the Consulate obliged me, he read my earlier memoirs and with the assistance of the staff, helped in issuance of the visa to Pakistan. I have yet to thank them personally, which I will do on my next visit.

Memoirs of Rawalpindi - Shahid Shabbir, a freelance researcher - Rawalpindi BlogWithout any prior planning, at the invitation of Gurpreet Anand and his brother, Tejinder Anand, we flew from Delhi to Amritsar and entered Pakistan via the Atari-Wagah border on August 21, 2016. We were welcomed by Shahid Shabbir (a freelance historian and researcher) and many of his companions who had come all the way from Islamabad.

Rawalpindi Blog - In Panja Sahib shrine, Hassan Abdal - Rawalpindi MemoirsWe reached our Islamabad Hotel and the rooms were allotted to us. After a night’s rest, we set out early for the Panja Sahib shrine located in the historical town of Hasan Abdal. This shrine is of particular importance to us Sikhs, it is believed that the hand-print of Guru Nanak is imprinted on a boulder at this Gurdwara. I was visiting Panja Sahib after 69 years. I had visited Panja Sahib many times before Partition with my mother or my uncle Amar Nath. In those days, we used to park the car at Vali Kandheri where this shrine is located. Now all we could see from there were houses and shops surrounding the Gurdwara with no open spaces anymore. The Sikh residents had long left during the Partition of the sub-continent.

At the entrance of the shrine, the police in civilian attire first checked my passport and questioned me about my hosts who had sponsored me. Times had changed; my family were once prominent citizens of Rawalpindi. On the way back, the Anands had warned me that we would be questioned in the hotel as well. Another police party was awaiting my arrival in the hotel. No sooner did we get into our rooms that they rang the bell and I was questioned. I felt I was being interrogated as a spy.  

The next day we went to Kallar Syedan accompanied by Shabbir, who had surveyed most areas where we were visiting. In Kallar Syedan, I visited the ancestral home of Anands, the school that their ancestors built and where they studied and the shops they owned. The burnt out gurdawara sahib of 1947 stands abandoned today but still shows visible signs of the black soot that must have accumulated above the prakash asthan. Later I went to sites where Sikhs and Hindus had been victim to atrocities and Gurdwaras set ablaze. We took a walking tour of the bazaar where everything appeared just as it had been. I met many citizens of Kallar Syedan, including old traders and one quail vendor exercising his bird for a prearranged fight.

Picture of Baba Khem Singh Bedi - Rawalpindi Memoirs - Rawalpindi BlogAccompanied by Shahid Shabbir and the Anand brothers, we went to the imposing Sir Baba Khem Singh Bedi haveli. The compound consisted of stables, a large ground and, of course, quarters for the large number of retainers. There must have been a Gurdwara for the Nishan Sahib, Bedi Sahib’s private functions as he was a highly revered person, being a direct descendant of Guru Nanak. There were murals and paintings of Hindu and Sikh deities.

People were mostly from Jammu & Kashmir or areas of District Amritsar. These people did most damage during riots of March and August 1947 around District Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Gujrat besides Sialkot.

Memoirs about Rawalpindi - Writer at Road sign of Dera Khalsa - Rawalpindi MemoirsAs it was getting late and I was keen to visit my ancestral village Dera Khalsa, we headed that way. After traveling a few miles, we came across a road sign that read Dera Khalsa. We stopped to take photos and I was getting excited as I was nearing my home but Shahid Shabbir was doubtful saying that I could be denied entry as it was a trouble spot swamped with police. He was right. At the first police post, we were stopped and had to turn back. We then drove to Chakwal and photographed historic Gurdwaras. On our return, we planned a trip through Raja Bazar, Kartar Pura and Nehru Road but it was already quite late.

 Rawalpindi Memoirs - Grave of Tariq Azam Chaudhary in Islamabad - Rawalpindi BlogOn the second day, along with Shahid Shabbir, I took photographs of Hindu and Sikh holy places in Pindi which are now in ruins due to neglect. We then went with Fakhar Zaman Chaudhary to Said Pur village which has now been developed into a well-planned picnic spot. It was heartening to see that a Gurdwara, a temple and a mosque still co-exist in harmony, but the five ponds have dried up. I was older to Fakhar’s father, Tariq Azam Chaudhary, who was a noble soul. I went to Islamabad Grave Yard and laid a flower wreath at the grave of this much-admired resident of Rawalpindi.

I had a sumptuous meal with Fakhar and his younger brother, Waqas Tariq Chaudhary. The entire Chaudhary family was known to us Maliks since a very long time. They once owned vast tracts of land in Rawalpindi. Fakhar’s father, TARIQ AZAM CHAUDHARY was a lawyer by profession. Fakhar’s grandfather was CHAUDHARY SHAHDAD KHAN, while his great-grandfather was CHAUDHARY GULSIRAJ KHAN (the younger brother of KHAN SAHIB CHAUDHARY WARIS KHAN). Gulsiraj Khan was Honorary Magistrate, Municipal Commissioner and Zaildar of Rawalpindi. My father, Malik Mukhbain Singh, and Chaudhrary family were allies in the local elections.

Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh - Photo of Fakhar Zaman, KJS Malik & Waqas Tariq - Rawalpindi Memoirs

Memoirs of Rawalpindi - Chaudhary Waris Khan & Chaudhary Gulsiraj Khan - Rawalpindi Blog

Memoirs of Rawalpindi - Daughter of Fakhar Zaman Chaudhary - Rawalpindi BlogAt Fakhar Zaman Chaudhary’s house in Islamabad, I gifted his little daughter with the customary money as per tradition in the Malik family. As a child, I once received money from Sir Sikander Hayat Khan to purchase kites. He was the Chief Minister of Punjab with a 99.9% vote and I believe if he had not passed away so young, the Partition of the country would not have happened.

The same evening, we bought some books from a prominent book store in the Cantonment. I saw the ruins of my uncle’s Mall Hotel, which is now converted into a car park. Our house on Mall Road has been rebuilt to accommodate the PIA Booking Office. On the way back, we saw Gordon College and the old Holy Family Hospital which is now a boys school.

Memoirs of Rawalpindi - PIA Booking Office and old site The Mall Hotel - Rawalpindi Blog

Rawalpindi Blog - Vintage Car; Registration No. ‘Rawalpindi 1’ - Rawalpindi MemoirsOn way back from Cantonment, Fakhar took me to visit his uncle Chaudhary Mohammad Arif, who is a retired DIG of Police. He lives in a spacious bungalow on lands they once owned. After an embrace, the very first question he asked was, “Why you preferred to stay in hotel and not among us?”
I was so moved, could not answer this. He looked at Fakhar and said, “Putter! Kiyoun?”
He insisted on having meal with him, but since I was already enjoying all the delicious Kebabs and other offerings, I had no more capacity. On the way out, I saw in the porch a vintage car, having registration number plate ‘Rawalpindi 1’. It was Ford Model A 1930 (see the bigger photo of this car) in immaculate condition. This car belonged to Chaudhary Zafar-ul-Haq, son of Chaudhary Waris Khan, and now owned by Mohammad Arif. Accompanied by Fakhar, I left for my hotel.

Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh - Black Mushrooms - Rawalpindi Memoirs We made this trip unannounced but still had many visitors in the hotel including Amjad Zia Mughal, Khawaja Rashid Sahib and Emad Ali, a journalist. I was presented a pictorial book, ‘Rawul Pindee: The Raj Years’, written by Ali Khan. This coffee-table book about Rawalpindi was bought by Sylvia Baig but presented to me at the hotel by the author himself. I also was given TIMBER, a fruit like peas from a wild tree which is put in chutney to make it tastier, and black mushrooms – things that were memories from my childhood that I had asked for. Syeda Shahbano, a journalist, interviewed me about Partition and her article was published in Dawn while I was still in Islamabad.

Memoirs of Rawalpindi - Ali Khan's book ‘Rawul Pindee: The Raj Years’ - Rawalpindi Blog

Pindi Memoirs - Syeda Shahbano interviews Kanwarjit Singh Malik - Rawalpindi Memoirs

The next two days we spent with beti Dolly (Sylvia Baig) as the sweltering heat of August was taking its toll on us. We drove past our bungalow located on the intersection of Asghar Mall Road and Saidpur Road. I remembered all this and would often dream of flying kites from the open grounds, while walking through fields. They are no longer in existence since the population of Rawalpindi and the capital Islamabad is over five million and the colonies have been constructed to cater for their housing needs. What a change, there are no open spaces anywhere. Along with the Anand brothers, I was invited to meals at her house where I met her entire family, brother and elder sister.

Pindi Memoirs - At Baig Family House, Murree Road - Rawalpindi Memoirs by a Sikh

Small shops and street vendors occupy every possible space. Seeing me in the company of my ‘Muslim daughter’, the local people offered me a cup of tea or invited me to a meal at their home. These sights made me reminiscent and feel sad that my country had been partitioned. My childhood home was now on the other side of the border separated by a line drawn out of hatred and animosity leaving me with just nostalgic memories.

The following day accompanied by Sylvia, I decided to go to both the Sanatan Dharam High School (now Govt. College, Asghar Mall) and the Khalsa High School (now Govt. Muslim Higher Secondary School No.1, Said Pur Road) of my elders. Each time I passed my ancestral home on Chowk Saidpur Road, Sylvia would ask me if I wanted to go inside. I refrained from answering but one day I finally yielded. She took permission from the Sheikhs, the present owners for me to see my home from the inside. Even this kothi has now been divided by the brothers and another one has come up in the compound and over the adjacent land owned by my father. Just as in India there is mainly unplanned construction everywhere. The Sheikhs are the owners of five oil mills in Rawalpindi.

A Sikh's Memoirs of Rawalpindi - Muslim High School No.1 (old Khalsa High School) - Rawalpindi Blog

Anyway, back to our kothi. At the appointed hour, accompanied by Sylvia and the Anands, I went to visit my home. We entered from the gate on Asghar Mall as the other gate from Saidpur Road side was now blocked. We were escorted by a male domestic help and introduced to the owner Mr. Sheikh and his wife who were humble and courteous. I returned to the home that I had left as a youngster 69 years ago, as an old man. I had become a stranger to my home, and to the city of my birth which my ancestors had spent a lifetime building and providing its amenities.  

Most graciously Mrs. Sheikh asked me to describe my house as it had been then. I started describing and she and her sons were amazed that I remembered minute details. But, how could I forget? My mother laid the foundation stone and I had accompanied her as a five or six-year-old lad. My uncle supervised the construction of this house and we moved there in 1936 or 1937. It was our home until Partition.

Memoirs of a Sikh about Rawalpindi - Writer’s eyes moist with emotion - Rawalpindi BlogI looked up and saw the wooden ceilings now partially ruined with the passage of time. I suggested repairs to the present occupants. Gurpreet Anand later told me, “At this juncture I took close up pictures of your eyes which were moist with emotion but you were not letting yourself go”. I had a lump in my throat and I feel that this was a defining moment of the visit. We noticed that even after all these years the railings and the walls of the house still had the Guru Khanda intact signifying a Sikh house. The Khanda (Sword) is the symbol of the Sikh faith, it is an amalgam of three symbols; a double-edged khanda (Sword) in the centre, a chakkar (circle), and two single-edged kirpans (Swords), crossed at the bottom and sit on either side of the khanda and chakkar.

Pindi Memoirs by a Sikh - 'Khnada Sahib'; the Sikh symbol - Rawalpindi Memoirs

After refreshments, we began the ‘tour’ of the kothi. Mrs. Sheikh offered to show us around. My eldest brother, while on leave used to stay in one room. Even Harinder, our relative and friend of my elder brother, stayed there before he converted to Islam and married Suraiya. I have already mentioned this love story between Suraiya and Harinder (Salah-ud-Din Iqbal) of Abottabad in my earlier ‘Pindi Memoirs (Part 3)’. There was a separate kitchen for the first floor and there were stairs leading to it. Mrs. Sheikh was surprised at my vivid recollection of the interior of the house.

Pindi Memoirs - Kothi at intersection of Asghar Mall Road & Said Pur Road - Rawalpindi Memoirs

Memoirs about Rawalpindi - A Bottle of Water from the Well - Rawalpindi MemoirsWhile bidding farewell, I requested some soil from the compound which her eldest son provided in a plastic bag. Mrs. Sheikh then reminded me of the well which was in a corner and which my mother had got dug for emergencies. We used to pull buckets on pulleys of different kinds to build muscles. Even my little friends used to do that. Now it is motor-operated. Mrs. Sheikh’s son gave me a bottle of water from the well. As Gurpreet Anand adds here that the well water was not mere water but ‘amrit’, for it was these waters that acted as elixir for the family from 1937 to 1947.  

This kothi was an important landmark house where so many meetings of dignitaries of Rawalpindi took place. My father was a member of the Municipal Committee as was his uncle Sardar Mohan Singh Malik who had been member and later President of the Municipal Committee. He resided on Edwards Road (now Bank Road) in the Cantonment, and passed away in 1936.

Gurpreet Anand writes “For us brothers who had got a 30-day visa after much persuasion the trip was solely to go down memory lane. I am content we made your dream come true for there is no greater satisfaction than taking someone to the place he is born and yearned for all his life. That one’s wish is fulfilled is indeed a blessing”.

As a person born on November 7, 1930 on a cold, rainy night in the ajanti of my great-grandfather (Malik Khazan Singh) on Nehru Road (now Bagh Sardaran Road), Rawalpindi in Pre-Partition India, I felt proud to land up in the city that was now just in my dreams. My dream did indeed come true. My recent visit to Pindi reminds me of an English movie, “How Green was My Valley”, which l saw long ago.  

The house of my birth on Nehru Road, and the buildings around it, were destroyed in cracker/bomb blasts in which five persons died. I remember in Lahore, the city of gardens, education and cinemas, people used to say “If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t even been born” but I proudly say that one who has not tasted the water of Pindi has not yet been born. Living in Pindi was a unique experience where Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Parsi communities lived in undisturbed complete harmony for centuries.

I missed the opportunity to meet Rashid Zia Cheema Sahib, the Editor of Native Pakistan, as he was in USA at the time of my visit. I also wanted to meet Lt Gen (Retd) Tahir Mahmud Qazi (see his comment of July 14, 2015 in my ‘Pindi Memoirs -Part 1’) because I did not have his contact number.

Since this is my 5th and concluding article about ‘Pindi Memoirs’, I must pay my respects to Late Brother Rafique Ahmed Khan Sahib, who was my inspiration for writing these Memoirs. I also thank Col. Rashid Zia Cheema for posting my earlier four parts of ‘Pindi Memoirs’, Sylvia Baig, Shahid Shabbir, Fakhar Zaman Chaudhary and so many others abroad.

I returned to India on August 29, 2016.

My journey feels complete now…

Editor: It is regrettably informed that Kanwarjit Singh Malik, the author of this article, passed away in Mumbai, India, on 24 July 2017 (just one month and 15 days after publication of his last episode of Pindi Memoirs).

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 4)”
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi  
Rawalpindi Blog 

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  1. It is regrettably informed that Kanwarjit Singh Malik, the author of this article passed away in Mumbai, India, on 24 July 2017.

    • Faisal Tirmizi, USA says:

      May your soul rest in peace!

      • Faisal Tirmizi, USA says:

        BABA FAREED says it so beautifully….

        Vekh Fareeda Mitti khulli (Qabar)
        Mitti Uttay Mitti Dulli (Laash)
        Miti Hassay Miti Rovey (insan)
        Antt Miti da Miti Hovey (Jism)
        Na kar Bandiya Meri Meri
        Na aey teri na aey meri
        Chaar Dina da Mela Duniya
        Firr Miti di ban gyi Dheri
        Na kar eithey hera pheri
        Miti naal na dhoka kar to
        Tu V miti, O V mitti..
        Zaat paat di gal na kar tu
        Zaat v mitti paat v mitti
        Zaat sirf Khuda di uchhi
        Baqi sab kuch mitti, mitti..!

  2. Mansoor Anjum Hashmi says:

    Sardar Jee.
    An excellent piece of writing based on your visit to Pakistan. I felt like a part of narration as most of the places and some of the names are equally ingrained in my early day memory. Specially the location of your old home, just a few yards away from my college where I studied some 50 years ago.
    A fine writing and a must read.

    • Kanwar jit Singh Malik says:

      Dear Mansoor Sahib,
      There were no borders to cross during my time in School. Enmity and hate words never came in our thoughts.
      Ladies if required could go from one MOHALLA to another without fear.
      All that has changed because you are in the clutches of Politicians and Army. We are no better.

  3. Chowdry Jawed says:

    I just read the complete article. Amazing recollections of historic value. Thanks.

  4. Khalid Hyder says:

    From the comments, it seems that the “Partition” should not have happened and that the India-Pakistan border is a line drawn by hatred and animosity. Perhaps Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal did not understand the situation and were wrong to support the two-nation theory. Respected Sir, Pakistan was created because of the hatred generated by the Hindu majority and sadly supported by the Sikhs. Please see the present situation of Indian Muslims under the Modi government and the RSS. Thank God for the line that divides India and Pakistan, without which millions of Muslims would have been massacred by the RSS. The matter of Partition is not yet over. More Muslim states (and possibly a Sikh state) may still be carved out of India if people like Modi and organizations like RSS are allowed to execute their evil designs.

    • We will refrain from discussing politics. I am for Peace, hatred is not in my Dictionary.
      Create atmosphere for love in Pakistan, watch how rest of India reciprocates.

    • Dear Khalid Hyder

      I do believe you need to read history. And, not history from the brain-washed textbooks of Pakistan, which are well known. I suggest you start to open your eyes to historical fact, and not the fixed, false history perpetuated in narrow, brain-washed Pakistan

      See article below. on the brainwashing that occurs in Pakistan.

      Pakistan is also well known to censor its media, regularly killing journalists who write views which correct the historical record.

      Once again, read the facts:

      The bald truth is Pakistan was simply formed because the Muslims wanted a separate country, and as is typical of Muslims around the world, they want to separate out and not be ruled by Hindu majority India.

      While maybe a noble goal initially, Pakistan is one of the worst offenders in the world in protecting minorities. But, I challenge you to find a single Muslim majority country in the whole world which protects minorities. There is none. The chronicle above proves the dismal state of minorities in Pakistan.

      Pakistan is even killing other Muslim communities including Ahmadis, Ismailis, Sufis, Shia.

      If there is one lesson from these stories, it is that Pre-Partition India Rawalpindi was a thriving metropolis with multiple cultures and religions working together, ruined by the xenophobia, and Islamic hatred of other religions, which was the root of the foundation of Pakistan, and for that matter, most Muslim-majority countries.

      It has also been proven by the historical record that the killing during so-called peaceful partition was started by the Muslims, just as the raiding of Kashmir at partition was initiated by the Muslims, just as all the wars since partition between India and Pakistan were initiated by Pakistan.

      Proof is here:

      My comments though are meaningless. The whole world has awoken to the extremism of Pakistan, the dwindling minorities and the implosion of the country. It is the breeding ground of global terror. After all, Bin Laden was thriving there.

      On the other hand, India is a thriving country, protecting all minorities. India is the place where Jews, Bahai, Parsi, Buddhists, and Afganis have sought refuge and received protection from other countries around the world.

      The muslim population of India over the last 10 years has grown 24% to 14% of the population, while the Hindu population of Pakistan has dwindled from 30% of the region to less than 1%. Well done.

      Have a read on religious discrimination in Pakistan

      “According to the 2012 United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report, “The government of Pakistan continues to engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.”[7][14] The USCIRF has designated Pakistan as “country of particular concern” since 2002.[7][15] The report argues that “The country’s blasphemy laws, used predominantly in Punjab but also nationwide, target members of religious minority communities and dissenting Muslims and this frequently results in imprisonment. The USCIRF is aware of at least 16 individuals on death row and 20 more serving life sentences. The blasphemy law, along with anti-Ahmadi laws that effectively criminalise various practices of their faith, has created a climate of vigilante violence. Hindus have suffered from the climate of violence and hundreds have fled Pakistan for India.”[16]”

      India is a secular country, founded on multicultural principles

      Pakistan is an Islamic society, founded on the hate of others, separation from others.

      It is common sense what is best for humanity and it ain’t Pakistan bro.

      Once again if you don’t believe me, take a visit to India.

      Guarantee, no police are going to show up at your hotel like they did for the Respected Late Shree Kanwarjit Singh Malik.

      • Nasir Ali Khan says:

        Mr. David Singh
        This post was written by you about a year after Modi came into power for the first time, at the National level. Since then, I wonder if your views about India being a country where minorities are protected have been changed or not. Another point, about press freedom. Do you think the rabid, hateful, nationalist press that we see in India today, while not censored, may instead have been bought by vested interests and the Modi government? I can assure you the image of India being a secular “democracy” has suffered greatly over the last 4 years.

  5. Asif Rathore says:

    So interesting, so nostalgic!! All through the reading I felt as if it was about myself and my dear ones. The distorted history has caused great harm to the once peaceful communities of this country. I dream of love, peaceful co existence, and harmony for our future generations. We wasted our lives in hatred, prejudices and jealousies.
    Cheema Sahib (Editor), thanks for providing this window of fresh air and fragrance. After long I was able to breathe with pleasure.

  6. Faisal Bajwa (Canada) says:

    Awesome rekindling memoir and I am happy for you to visit your home. Partition or not, the people should’ve never been displaced from their homelands, regardless of their religious affiliation. Once the last of the links (people) with living memories of their homelands will pass, I’m afraid the wall of differences would be cemented and the seeds of hate will start to sprout like never seen since Partition. From that point on it may take several centuries to return to the natural course of the Punjab region.
    Thanks and good luck to Malik sahib, on his upcoming book.

  7. Shah Alam (Canada) says:

    Dear Mr. Kanwarjit Singh Malik!

    I’ll fail in words and also in the length of space to write you a worthy heartfelt thank you note for writing this captivating article.

    It just so happens that I also come from Pindi and pursued a career in flying that makes me somewhat of an associate and connect with you better. Talking of flying, only last night I watched a BBC documentary titled “Remembrance, The Sikh Story” telecast by BBC where for the first time I got educated on how massive a contribution the Sikhs had made to the British India. Honestly, for me, it was an eye opener. If you have time you can watch it here:

    I mentioned the contribution of the Sikhs above only to highlight the fact that my generation grew up in a prejudiced environment where we focused on the shortfalls and never on anything good of the people across the border. The reality though, as I read more about the people across, is somewhat different and changing my perspective. Gradually I am trying to cast off the shell of bigotry.

    It’s in this context that I also learned more about the contribution of Sikhs to Punjab (Lahore and Rawalpindi, etc.) and indeed that takes me back to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Army where your grandfather served. A very interesting part of our history that we (definitely I) missed reading. Indeed there are some sad – very sad – occurrences and events (especially during Jehangir and Aurangzeb’s reigns) that I wish had not taken place.

    Anyway, life has to move on and we need to bury the past. Thank you again for taking the time to write and share your interesting story.

  8. Shahid Salam (Canada) says:

    The Partition of India was indeed a shameful period in the history of India, with the enormous loss of life in communal rioting and the displacement of people; the biggest mass migration in world history, and this is especially true of the Punjab which had, not that big a majority of Muslims; a ratio of 55 to 45. That 45 percent comprising Sikhs and Hindus almost completely vanished from the demographic map of Punjab. The people of northern India and Pakistan are the same racially and, religion and language are the only things that separates them. Not sure what ‘son of the soil’ means; a description widely used in India-Pakistan. Here in North America it generally means a farmer; someone who tills the soil. Companies specializing in ancient origins, through DNA testing, believe that most people in our part of the world are Eurasians; i.e. a mix of European and South Asian ancestry.

    Malik Sahib points to the Police surveillance; let me assure him that it is just as bad, if not worse in India, for visiting Pakistanis. The Indian Consulate here in Toronto openly discriminates; white Canadians get a visa right away and a Canadian like myself, with a Pakistani connection has to wait at least 6 months and go through a process of unending interrogation. The message clearly is, you are not welcome.

    History, right or wrong, cannot be undone; however, what we can do is to minimize the deleterious effects of that history and live as good neighbours who share much more than what separates us.

    After the conquest of the Punjab by the British East India Company in 1849, the colonizing army employed the services of the Sikhs to build houses for them in the military cantonments. The very distinctive bungalows with verandas.
    Rawalpindi was the Headquarters of the British Northern Command used I believe as a base for the Afghan wars of the 19th century.

    • Shah Alam Sahib,
      My thoughts were just a window for people on both sides of Divide.
      Minorities have suffered in all parts of World. As I always said Partition was a wrong decision, Muslims were tricked into it.

  9. Good article and worth sharing

  10. Ahmed Pervaiz Cheema says:

    KjS Malik Sahib,
    Very interesting narrative. Your feelings can only be felt and realized by those who had gone through such adventure. Difficult to revisit the past and physically looking at the places where you had spent your childhood.
    I have lived at Asghar Mall Road, opposite T.B. Hospital for 8 years (1974 to 1982) and passed by your house every day.

  11. Maj Mujib Aftab (Retd) says:

    Really enjoyed reading about Rawalpindi in details. I have spent my childhood/youth in Pindi till I joined Army. Now I am settled in Lahore.
    You mentioned about Chaudhary Maula Dad whose son was a judge. I remember one gentleman by the name of Ali Nawaz Chohan, he was my senior in Gordon College, who later became a judge. He was also judge at ICJ. His father’s name was also Ch. Maula Dad.
    There is a road in Pindi named ‘Maula Dad Road’. This road is very close to Mohalla Waris Khan, and it originates from Murree Road.

  12. Please read a wonderful article with photos about Bhabra Bazaar, Rawalpindi.
    “Walking through Rawalpindi’s Bhabra Bazaar was a journey into a majestic past” written by Thanks to Saif Tahir

    Jaun Elia’s verse comes to mind:
    Shehre-dil mein ajab mohallay thay
    Un mein aksar naheen rahay abad 

    ہر دل میں عجب محلے ہی
    ان میں اکثر نہیں رہے آباد

    • Janab Bedi Sahib used to hold regular Mushairas in Delhi in Winter at his house or in designated Maidans (grounds). Personally I like Urdu language, but Hindi Lovers think otherwise.
      Yes, what happened in 1947 can not be altered.

  13. What a climax of this epic. OMG! I missed an opportunity to meet KJS ji as I am fond of his blogs and I live near Asghar Mall College and was unaware of his journey. I used to tell this story (Sikh son of the Soil) to most of my fellows but how amazing that he (KGS ji) was around me once.

    Sylvia Bahen performed wonderful role. Congratulation Salvia Bahen Ji!

    I think there should be a lot of pics to be taken during this amazing journey.

    I also think this journey should have been recorded on video camera as I have watched similar situation on YouTube with the name “Chitti Hatian Rawalpindi”. Please do watch this video also. The addressed is:-

    I am nationally recognized Children Writer (got several national level awards on children literature from National Book Foundation). I am also ghazal poet & translator. My work is in Urdu, Punjabi & English.

    My profession is Training & development Expert and I served in Pakistan Telecom Company Ltd Islamabad. My age is 46. Nowadays I am working as freelancer. I love old history and old buildings of Rawalpindi.

    I live near Eidgah, Asghar Mall Road, Rawalpindi. I studied in MC Primary School Talab Pukhta Bunni (Bunni Mai Veeran) and further did Matric from Muslim High School No.2 Said Puri Gate in 1986. Then I studied in Gujrat and later in Islamabad and did my Masters in Computer Sciences & Mass Communications.

    My high school was very near to Sujan Singh Building. My friends and I used to see this historical building during Adhi Chutti (school break) from outside on almost every day.

    Did you visit Sujan Singh building/palace during this journey, Sir?

    • Yasir Farooq Sahib,
      My emotions took me to Said Puri Darwaza, old City. We parked the car near BHAGAT Narain Das ji house, my aunts were his daughters. We took photos of this House from two sides.
      Then walked through the lanes, Hindu and Sikhs had abandoned their houses long ago. Friendly Muslims on PUCCA lanes were living in houses every where. Finally we came to WADA GHAR, where my great-grandfather lived in CHATI Gali. I took photos of both DARWAZAS along with Sylvia Baig and Anand brothers. MALIKS donated this large Haveli for Girls School.
      I could not go to see SUJAN SINGH HAVELI.
      People from all walks of life embraced me offering tea and saying, Waapas aa jao”. It was so touching, can’t describe.

  14. Sylvia Baig says:

    It’s a beautiful article, I loved it. I want you to visit Pindi again, In Shaa Allah. Though your trip was short but you made it and I am glad at least I was of a little help.
    Stay Blessed Chacha Jee!
    Thank you Cheema Sahib (Editor).

    • Sylvia Baig,
      Thank you BETI, not Kashmiri any more but PINDIWAL, I still carry Nyla’s food taste prepared with great affection.
      My father had endeared himself to more high level Muslim families than his own Sikh relations. Both our relations and Hindus were jealous.

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