From Khajuria S Kant in Jammu
On October 22, 1947, the Kabailis from Pakistan invaded Muzaffarabad (now in PoK) and attacked other parts of Jammu & Kashmir State. A large number of Hindus lost their lives while fighting the invaders to defend the integrity of the country. Those who were captured by the Kabailis were forced to adopt Islam.
The attack on Jammu & Kashmir compelled the locals to flee from their native places in thousands, leaving their kith and kin dead and wounded. Harbhajan Singh, son of politician Sant Singh Teig, told, that the death-knell had already been sounded after Pakistan’s invasion and the fall of Muzaffarabad on October 22, 1947. Our home was in Hattian Dupatta, about 20-km from Muzaffarabad towards Kashmir. On the morning of October 23, we crossed the Jehlum and assembled in Gardi village.
“Next day, horse riders brought the news that a caravan of nearly 1,000 people led by Sant Baldev Singh was murdered by the tribal attackers. They kept looting and butchering the people of Muzaffarabad city for two days,” Harbhajan said. As the honour of a woman in Hindu culture is bigger than her life and to preserve that “honour”, a horrifying slaying of nearly 45 women by their own relatives is still afresh in the minds of a survivor, who fled Pakistan after the tribal attack on Jammu and Kashmir. Harnam Kaur, 80, remembers the hair-raising details of the incident that took place this day 63 years ago, when her father, Daanmukh Singh, led a group of community men and killed their own mothers, daughters, sisters and wives so that the tribals could not violate their honour.
“We had been running since the intervening night of October 21 when the tribal attack (Kabaili attack) took place. I was 17-year-old then. I remember we were trapped in a forest with the tribals all set to capture us,” recalls Harnam, who refused to be photographed.
“Women were lined up and shot at by a group led by my father, the only person having a rifle. Many women, including my mother, died on the spot,” she said. Miraculously, both of his teenage daughters, Kulwant Kaur and Harnam Kaur, in spite of being shot at, escaped death as they got buried under the pile of corpses. However, minutes later all men in the cavalcade were butchered by the Kabailis and both girls were captured.
“We used to live in Kotli before the attack. When my father and others fired at us my sister and I were critically injured and we fell unconscious. I suffered a gunshot in the head while Kulwant was injured in the neck, besides she suffered sword cuts all over the body,” she said.