ON Jan 6, 1948, about 200 Labana Sikhs arrived from northern Sindh by train to the Akal Bunga Gurdwara on Temple Road in Ratan Talao on their way to India. Within two hours of their arrival, an organised mob, breaking through the inadequate unarmed police cordon, attacked the temple and Sikhs within.

The mob looted them and massacred 64 Sikh refugees before setting the temple ablaze. The rampage went on and the mob looted houses owned by the Hindus as well around the gurdwara. Eyewitness accounts of the carnage are dismal and heartbreaking. The law-enforcing agencies appeared nowhere around.

Karachi had not witnessed such a scene ever before, not even at the time of partition in 1947. Sindh governor at the time of independence, Francis Mundie, described normalcy in Sindh in the days leading up to partition as a place which “characteristically carries on almost as if nothing had happened or was about to happen”.

It indeed was a sad day.

Dr Sohail Ansari
Southend University Hospital
Essex, United Kingdom

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2021

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