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Independence Day: O God, put out this fire for us

Updated Aug 14, 2012 06:52am


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“Yesterday I went to Gujranwala and found the house where you were born. The house where you left behind your parents, drenched in their own blood,” wrote Mohammad Riaz in an e-mail he sent to his friend Mahinder Singh in Burke, Virginia.

“Now a family of Muslims from Jullunder lives in your house and their story is not much different from your story. So together we lit a candle for your martyrs in the house where you left behind your parents soaked in their blood,” he wrote.

Listen, when you go to India now, do visit the village where my sisters jumped into a well to save themselves from a marauding crowd.

“There, in the darkness of that well, you light a candle too for my martyrs.”

Mahinder wrote back, promising to do what his friend had done and said: “Once I illuminate the dark depths of that well, we will get together in Virginia and pray, for your martyrs and mine.”

So when Riaz returned to Burke, he went to a temple with Mahinder and later took him to a mosque in Springfield, Virginia. In both places, they said the same prayers.

"O God of all humans, forgive us. Forgive us because we have shed so much blood in your name that it has darkened the face of the earth. Our sins have defamed you.

“The seeds we sowed have turned our land into a volcano. The venom and hate it spits out is burning down everything,” they prayed.

“Forgive us and put out this fire for us. Our hearts are still full of hate, so we cannot put out this fire,” they said to God.

“Come and grow so many flowers in our garden that their aroma overcomes the stench of blood which still permeates our land.”

I heard about these two men, their e-mails and their prayers some months ago but I was saving this story for the Independence Day week, hoping to share this message of hope with those hundreds of millions of people who will celebrate their independence on Aug. 14 and 15.

But I almost gave up the idea when I read about 60 Hindu families from Balochistan and Sindh migrating to India because they no longer felt safe in Pakistan.

While looking for something else to write about, I discovered a little note of a conversation I had with a 10-year old Pakistani visitor last year.

“You know uncle, today I discovered that many people in this city are not Muslims,” he said. “But why did you expect them to be Muslims?” I asked. “Because most people in my city are Muslims,” he said.

I asked him how he felt meeting so many people non-Muslims. “Some of them were very nice,” he said, paused, and added: “Not all the Muslims in my city were nice.”

And I thought if a visit to Washington could convince a child that people of other faiths could be nice too, Mahinder and Riaz’s story could also have a positive impact on someone somewhere.

So here is a story that can only happen outside the Subcontinent because back home Indians and Pakistanis do not meet each other. They spend their entire lives believing in whatever they are told about each other.

Mahinder also believed that there were hardly any good people in Pakistan. Although he was a child, he never forgot how his brother and he had left their dead parents in the haveli in Gujranwala.

But most of his memories about the partition and the riots that followed were based on what he learned from his relatives and family friends, who also had suffered similar losses in the riots.

Although he had heard that Muslims too were killed in the riots, he had never met one who had lost parents, like he did. Not until he met Riaz.

It was a graduation ceremony for the daughter of an American friend where he met Riaz. Mahinder did not smoke. So when some people started smoking, he came out on the deck, holding a cup of tea. He noticed another man, sharing the deck with him.

The man was standing at an angle that the light from a nearby lamp exposed his hands. Mahinder noticed that his right hand had no fingers. It seemed as if they had been carved out by a surgeon. He wanted to but did not ask how the man lost his fingers.

But later in the evening, he saw the man talking to Brajesh, one of Mahinder’s close friends. So when the man left, he asked Brajesh why the man had no fingers in his right hand.

“Oh, they were chopped off,” said Brajesh. “Chopped off? How, when?” asked Mahinder. “He is a Pakistan Punjabi and he lost his fingers during the riots, in 1947,” said Brajesh.

“Sad,” he said to himself. “But still not comparable to losing your parents.”

The next morning he told his wife he had met a man who lost his fingers in the riots. The wife showed no interest and he too forgot about Riaz until he met him again, this time on the metro.

Like many commuters, Mahinder did not like driving to Washington during rush hours. So he parks his car at a metro station close to his home and rides the metro.

The man saw him and smiled. Mahinder smiled back, so the man came to him and said: “Riaz, Mohammed Riaz.” “Mahinder Singh,” said Mahinder.

They were speaking Punjabi, so Riaz said to him, “I can guess from your accent that you are from West Punjab.” Now Mahinder also noticed that the man had an East Punjabi accent and told him so.

They both laughed but the conversation did not go further.

A week after this brief encounter, Brajesh invited Mahinder to his restaurant for a business lunch. Mahinder was a car dealer and Brajesh wanted to buy a delivery van for his restaurant.

His restaurant was in an area with a large Muslim population. So Brajesh, being a good businessman, served only halal meat. Mahinder often made fun of Brajesh, a Hindu from Delhi, for being more particular than Muslims about halal and haram.

Brajesh always laughed and said: “Business, yaar, business.”

While eating, Brajesh said: “I am still very South Asian, never do business with strangers. You are my car dealer and Riaz is my property dealer.”

“Now that you have mentioned him, what else you know about this man, about his lost his fingers?” asked Mahinder.

“Not much,” said Brajesh. “Like you, he also lost his father, a brother and two sisters in the riots but I do not know the details.”

This was quite a shock for Mahinder. He had always believed that the Muslims did not suffer as much as the Hindus and Sikhs during the riots.

Whenever he came across a book or a newspaper article that contradicted his beliefs, he simply ignored them. There was no room for doubts in his world. “Muslims were aggressors, period,” he often said to his family.

But it was difficult to ignore Riaz. Here was a man who had not only lost his family in the riots but also a carried reminder of that tragedy with him, a hand without fingers.

So he asked Brajesh to invite Riaz and him to tea at his restaurant.

Brajesh did. But Riaz and Brajesh did most of the talking. Mahinder was mostly quiet. When they were leaving, he said to Riaz, pointing at his hand: “I am sorry about your fingers.”

“Oh, I do not always notice their absence,” he said. “This happened when I was a child.” Mahinder did not ask how and Riaz did not explain.

But when he met Riaz again in the metro, Mahinder asked him to have dinner at his home.

On the agreed day, Riaz came early, as Mahinder had suggested. He took him straight to his deck and asked his family not to disturb them.

While making tea for Riaz, he said: “Look, we are both Punjabis and Punjabis are straightforward people. So let me tell you why I invited you. I want you to share with me all that happened to you in 1947.”

“I guessed that much,” said Riaz, smiling. “Had you asked me before I came to America, it would have upset me. Not anymore,” he said.

Then he asked, “When did you come to America?” “Five years ago. My in-laws sponsored us,” said Mahinder.

“OK, so you have not yet met enough Pakistanis to overcome the pains of the past,” said Riaz. “I have been here 20 years and have met enough nice Indians to forget the past.”

He then explained how an Indian physician saved his daughter’s life when he was new in America and could not afford health insurance. “He charged no fees, gave us free medicine and even paid  a specialist to see her.”

Riaz then told Mahinder everything about his village in Gurdaspur, about how a mob attacked his home and killed his father and brother, how his mother hid him under the quilts before the mob came, how his sisters jumped into a well to protect themselves from the mob.

He told Mahinder how his entire household was helping him hide and how everybody was dead when he came out. Everybody except his mother who was left injured because the mob presumed she was dead.

Although he was a child, he knew he should not cry as it would draw attention but at night he heard someone crying, ran out and saw his mother crying with pain.

His father, who was a school teacher, also served as a part time physician. So he had some medicines and bandages at home that her mother used to cover her wounds.

He told him how the two of them walked out of the village after midnight and later joined a group of Muslim refugees going to Pakistan.

How a mob attacked the group, killed many, and how one of them chopped off his fingers with a machete. The story ended when Riaz and his mother made it safely to Pakistan.

Mahinder got up and hugged Riaz for what seemed like eternity.

Wiping their tears, they went to the dining room where they hardly said anything to each other.

When Riaz was leaving, Mahinder hugged him again.


The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC


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Anwar Iqbal is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

Comments (139) Closed

Imtiaz Taj Aug 14, 2012 12:03pm
It was all due to the poor vision of the people who were at the helm of affairs British Government, Congress and Muslim League. This human tragedy woul not have taken place if they had given a thought.
Mohammadazeez Aug 11, 2012 11:38am
I am not a Pakistani and I am not an Indian yet I could not hold my tears , I just cried and cried reading through this true love story. This story should be made into a short documentary movie in Hindi , Urdu, Punjabi Bengali and English every word to word. Let the whole world see ( this sibling rivalry) before Riaz and Mahinder are no more. I had the chance to visit Pakistan in 2008 and 2009. In Australia I have met many young Indians who desire to visit Pakistan. I think Pakistani government should allow them that chance.
Abdur Rauf Yousafzai Aug 12, 2012 09:13pm
therefore my elders never support human made border, they supported united indian idealogy...anyhow fantastic article which is base in realism
Ravi Aug 12, 2012 10:59am
I know one Mahinder in SF bay area.
@omermallhi Aug 12, 2012 10:11am
strangely enough the credit goes to the Western society for welcoming others (Indians and Pakistanis in this instance) and the technology and media who can help us share these basic human feelings of kindness and love. We all may be born in different backgrounds but bleed the same blood. Long live Humanity
sri1 Aug 13, 2012 11:27am
Brother, our sudden wounds were far too deep to be buried in just 50 years. If our elites do not keep stirring up those sentiments, it will be easier. In India, Sindhis, Bengalis and Punjabis bore the brunt and they constitute about 20-25% of the population, and their family memories will not fade easily. In Pakistan, this directly affected population will be more than 60% (my estimate) so it is likely that those memories will linger longer. One thing, India cannot afford to keep reopening (reminding in education) those wounds due to its 15% minority population. My personal education experience, the main wounds that Indians in general remember are Jalian Wala Bagh and 1857 revolution against the British! Our narrative is not against similar people who once felt the need to split away from us.
Kamaljit Singh Aug 12, 2012 09:29pm
I agree Khan Sahib.
Nabiha Ansari Aug 12, 2012 02:55pm
What a touching story indeed .... I too cried at the end of the article ... May Allah / God show all of us the right path and help us in being just good human beings. I also was so pleased to see all the positive comments from both Indians and Pakistanis :) kudos to the writer for letting the world see the wonderful relationship of Riaz and Mahinder !
Kau Aug 12, 2012 02:58pm
Hum apne apne kheton mein gehu ki jagah, chawal ki jagah, Yeh bandookein kyoon bootein hai? Jab doonon hi ki galiyoon mein, kuchh bhooke bachche rootein hain..... ---Javed Aktar
ujmalik Aug 11, 2012 12:23pm
thank you.
Hitesh Aug 11, 2012 11:58am
OK ! You can justify 1947. But How can justify whatever appended throughout the World since 622 AD to 2012 AD ?
hameed Aug 11, 2012 11:57am
insanity that prevailed during the partition is history but still people on both sides can learn that how our ancestors lived in a plural society, from a village in northern pakhtunkhwa , there are still many places and houses named after the Hindues who lived with our people in total harmony
NDChawla Aug 11, 2012 11:52am
Very moving and touching story. Almost 65 years have paased since the partition but trauma suffered by those who were affected refuses to go away from memory. The governments of the two countries continue to show indifference and hostility to each other. We can only pray to God to show them the right way to restore peace and brotherhood.
Ahsan Aug 11, 2012 11:52am
Bash Ali Aug 11, 2012 11:33am
This story by Anwar Iqbal is so touching. I feel sorry for Pakistan where the tolerance for others, particularly minorities - Hazaras, Shia, Ahmedis and what to speak of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - has disappeared. I only wish there were more people of different faiths - other than Muslims - living in every neighbourhood. We need to figure out ways to understand others with different faiths, not only tolerate but accept them. I cried three times while reading this story! Oh, Lord, Mercy!!!
Karachi Wala Aug 11, 2012 11:32am
Being the youngest and born after many years of partition I have never been told the whole story by our elders. I imagine it was too painful for them to share. Nevertheless, I came to know while running for their lives from East Punjab to newly created Pakistan our family suffered the same fate... Many members of our family and close relatives lost their lives. While men were being slaughtered young girls jumped into wells. Whenever I think, it pains me a great deal. Having lived in the USA for past many years, I have met few who migrated from current day Pakistan. I have yet to meet a Mahinder.
Narinder Aug 11, 2012 11:25am
I am from Sunam,Punjab India. I was not born at the time of partition but my parents tell how the muslims were killed in Sunam. I would like to communicate with any body who or his parents or near or dea ones migrated from Sunam. Narinder
annas Aug 11, 2012 11:25am
A very heart touching event that needs to be added to the text books.
Falcon Aug 11, 2012 11:17am
Very touching article and so very true. I have received only the best of treatment from Indian brethren abroad and I too have tried my best to serve them to the extent I could. May be one day, we will all have for each other more love than the grievances.
napak Aug 12, 2012 04:56pm
It was best for India though.
babul Aug 12, 2012 09:53am
Very Heart touching story and violence no way solve the problem its aggravate the problem. Every body have to this problem logically not emotionally
dillidildariyan Aug 12, 2012 09:55am
Hindu X Muslim X I am from the Hind and love and common sense is what I believe in. Religions don't bring a person here, they have had a long time to do that.
Ali Aug 11, 2012 10:30am
we are the human beings and what we need the most is humanity.
K J Singh Aug 11, 2012 10:10am
@Author A great article, Sir! Kudos on that. What we have lacked over the years is opening up of a dialogue channel where people could narrate their tales of woes and find a similar tales on the other side of the border. People to people discourse will help ease the pain people suffered during partition. One sided narratives and lack of exposure to the other side of the tale have painted us as the heartless monsters and villains on the opposite sides of the borders. The last ones of the generation who had suffered and witnessed these horrors of partition shall be gone in another decade or two. As a member of the present generation I don’t want to carry on the burden of hate and pain of that era and sincerely believe that we must strive to heal wounded psyche of the older generation and work for the closure of that darkest episode of the history of the subcontinent for the benefit of present and future generations. If Europeans can move on after fighting two world wars, why can’t we. Greetings from India!
MKB Aug 11, 2012 10:04am
It feels, I should cry to deload my burden. Why people kill eatch other, why some group feels they are supperior than others, why their is areligion, whic devided entire humanity, why we are hindu, muslims or any thing else but not human being? Shed the tag of religion, be a human only.
Deepak Aug 12, 2012 08:29pm
very good question
muhammed arif Aug 12, 2012 06:59pm
If hate can be a driving force, so is love. Choice is ours. " I NEVER MEAN ANY HARM TO YOU" :)
Essjay Aug 12, 2012 06:56pm
"Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people living life in peace" - John Lennon Dreamers, spread the feelings - loud and clear.
Javed Anwar Aug 12, 2012 12:47pm
And that was a nice thing ----- bridging the gap ------ to do
Bash Ali Aug 12, 2012 12:06pm
Well said, I sure agree. In the form of replying to you, I am seeking folks to communicate with particularly from those who are from District Gurdaspur - Dina Nagar, Dhariwal and Bhopar Saiddan. At the time of partition, I was only four years old. I heard stories about atrocities from my parents. They also narrated how their neighbours helped them escape from India to Pakistan. With my fondest regards, Basharat
Bash Ali Aug 12, 2012 12:00pm
Kamaljit Ji; I truly appreciate your response. I would love to communicate with you and I include my email address here for you to write to me and I shall do likewise. With my fondest regards, Basharat
Indian Aug 12, 2012 11:18am
Do you really need to meet one to understand the pain suffered on both sides ? If you do then don't hesitate reach out & get rid of this hatred as this needs to end here.
Indian Aug 12, 2012 11:16am
Thanks you from me too ! kudos to the writer. Salute to those who hugged to understand & rid each other of the same pain.
Ali LW Aug 13, 2012 11:40am
There must be fresh start with out any "Hegemonic " designs mind set and approach. Both the sides yes BOTH side must cut down the Defense Forces and spendings. Slogans like Baharat Matta or Muslim Glory / Rise must be replaced with Co-existence . Raj Neti ,Civil and Military establishments for sure will NOT like to let it happen both the side . The external factor is very much participating in this game strings attached with the Puppets . Live and Let Live with compassion must prevail for the sake of HUMANITY Rather than Domination. Kar sako tu Payar karo Nafrat sey Bacho Zindgi Bohat Mukhtasir hay , Reach out to Give even A Smile please. Stay Blessed every one in the Longer the best Human Values ameen .
sri1 Aug 13, 2012 11:37am
That's simply not true in my experience. My Paki colleague (US Green card, still Pak citizen) had to visit Mumbai on work in 2009. He did face issues like reporting to a police station everyday given the Mumbai attack the previous year, but I have never heard of professionals disallowed to visit India. Hope it is easy for normal law-abiding citizens too to visit either nation.
Mohammad ali gaad Aug 13, 2012 10:39am
From 1947 till now! We are enveloped with this Fire.
Practical Aug 13, 2012 10:32am
One more language Arabic
Dharmendra Goel Aug 13, 2012 10:30am
Gam guzishta Shab yewoh sahar to nahin JiskaintazaZAr Tha...Faiz the upheaval of partition and larcennie of the community networks in hundred of thousands communities on either side of the Wagah Border or Justice Cyri Radcliffe's pencil line creating the international Borders. Gandhi wanted to go to Pakistan ,Alas a hindu Fanatic shot him dead on jan 30 1948. Hatred has its promoters, true, yet human beings look for reconciliation and compassion for all who were obliterated on those fateful weeks on either side. Let us hope in coming generations this madness, would be forgotten and perhaps , then younger people would be able to love each other'sCulture. D. Goel
bkt Aug 15, 2012 01:32pm
Beautiful gift for independence day. Thank you
S AGASTIAN Aug 12, 2012 07:42am
After a long time to day opened the dawn site . It was a sad story to know that both Pakistan and India had suffered a lot due to the unwanted partition.Let us burry the hatchut once for all and start a new relationship of brotherhood. When USA& UK can have a close relationship inspite of being 2000 Km away Why not we brothers being knitted very closely for centuries together.Let us shun the self motive politicians on either side and unite as brothers and sisters once again forgetting caste creed and most of all the religon.Let Rahim and Ram unite and We can win the world. Thank you DAWN.
B R Singh Aug 12, 2012 07:28am
Heartening story. Accents though are not divided in categories West Punjabi and East Punjabi. Broadly speaking there are the Potohari, Majhail, Jhangi, Doabia and Malwai accents. The last two are found in Indian Punjab and were carried over to Pakistan. Similarly the Potohari and Jhangi accents found only in Pakistani Punjab were carried over to India by Hindus and Sikhs. The Majha accent is found on both sides of the border in the Lahore Amritsar belt. There is also the Dogri accent which may be less common in Pakistani Punjab.
HappinessIsLife Aug 12, 2012 03:53pm
Do you know any Mahinder like sikh, in the San Diego/ southern California region. I want desperately want to reach out to someone there and a person like Mahinder would be key....maybe the writer of this blog can introduce me to the real Mahinder as well?
a hindu Aug 12, 2012 08:01am
People make assumptions based on popular narratives. A person's nationality/religion doesnt make a person good or bad. jitna khoon kharaba pakistan mein hua, utna hi khoon kharaba bangladesh or india mein hua. it is a simple fact.
Shabir Aug 12, 2012 10:45pm
Great words. Now - what are you actually going to do to help the people who are leaving? It happen ing at this very momemnt
MilesToGo Aug 12, 2012 10:34pm
Is it allowed for Muslims to visit temples and gurudwaras?
Surendran Aug 12, 2012 09:24am
Moral of the article - let us be good human beings and set aside our religion, which is anyway very personal.
Sumod Aug 11, 2012 09:03am
Very good one with deep feelings that only the ones who suffered can understand.
Ranveer Aug 11, 2012 09:12am
good article with deep feelings and sentimental notes. The narration is too long though...
Umair Aug 11, 2012 09:14am
Thank you for such a wonderful article Anwar sahib. If only we as nations could forgive and forget and hug each other. For years hate and war mongers on both sides of the border have inculcated biases that have only exacerbated the bitterness. May we realise that we are sons and daughters of the same soil.
afiasalam Aug 11, 2012 09:18am
when writing such articles, you should also tell the readers how to get rid of the lump in the throat and the mist in the eyes!
kantesh kumar Aug 11, 2012 09:20am
in the name of humanity.........i hope many people read this and get some time to think about the life we are living now a days............please try to accept others in the name of humanity..........
jago Aug 11, 2012 09:26am
nice and heart touching fact based-story. Dont know how long religion will divide people of pak and indai
Vimal Aug 11, 2012 09:38am
Its soo heart touching ....we are first humanbeings then only religion....both India, Pak have almost same culture and emotions ...hope India and Pak develop as Europe countries Pak bros& sis pls dont encourage violence on religion name...We all unite 1 day.. _Vimal Kumar from Hyderabad,India
mazhar Aug 11, 2012 09:46am
What a story. It seemd it happened only yesterday.
Solitar Aug 11, 2012 12:35pm
In the world where religion remains a ‘personal matter’ there justice, peace, prosperity and above all standard living becomes fate of the masses. The British colonialists entitled the Sub-Continent as “The Golden Sparrow” for abounding in natural resources. On the occasion of partition unfortunately many of our brothers and sisters lost their lives, relatives, possessions. To many it was no less than an atomic bomb that left remarkable lifetime effects in nostalgia to those managed to enter India or Pakistan to escape the fear of death. Many of the then displaced with a great affinity… break into tears while recalling to the sweet memories. Let’s compete the modern world, turn over a new leaf, bury the hatchet and be brothers and sisters from a new regardless of any religion, cast, creed or color, collectively use our rich soil and abounding natural resources for the well-being of humanity and be aggrandized as “The Golden Sparrow”.
Pakistan Aug 11, 2012 12:47pm
Please accept my tribute in form of tears, flowing on my cheeks. What a beautiful piece.... Thank you. My own grand parents were the victim of partition and my entire life I hated Sikhs until I met few of them in USA. It was then I was able to forgive and move on. I wonder how many millions people on the both side of the border still carrying the pain of partition.
Anh Aug 11, 2012 12:54pm
Kab Nazar mein Aayegi Bedaag Sbze Ki Bahaar, Khoon Ke Dhabbe Dhulenge Kitni Barsaaton Ke Baad.
ideologyspeaks Aug 11, 2012 12:57pm
The post was very touching... I agree with the fact that we believe whatever we are told and that is always one side of the story. The author has presented story of both sides. But I wonder how the author got to know about the e-mails?
Nayeem Aug 11, 2012 01:07pm
Sir, i write this with tears welling from my eyes...Hindus and muslims have suffered a lot due to the dichotomy of their is time we forget the past and look at each other as humans...reminds me of a beautiful song by john lenon- imagine...the world could be so much better if we try..
Pakistan Aug 12, 2012 12:19pm
I am wondering if partition was the best thing for our people?
Shankar Aug 12, 2012 12:20pm
Both India and Pakistan made a huge mistake by not detecting and punishing those who perpetrated such crimes during partition! Such crimes should never be tolerated in a civilized world!
HUMAN Aug 11, 2012 02:12pm
I lived in Rawalpindi and the locality was known as Haripura. There was a very big mansion called the " HARI SINGH KI KOTHI" but there was not a single hindu or sikh family in the whole locality. All the residents were MOHAJIRS from various parts of India , mostly from UP and EAST PUNJAB. So you know all the hindus and sikhs of Rawalpindi had left their homes just like the Mohajirs from India. The pain and suffering was distributed acoss the borders. The only way to clear the bitterness is to let people meet each other .EASE THE VISA REQUIREMENTS.
Cyrus Howell Aug 11, 2012 02:17pm
This kind of martyrdom is about housing, jobs, money, food, water, schools, clinics or other resources. It is about the crowd venting the murderous anger of feeling deprived - not about religion.
Krishna Chaitanya Aug 12, 2012 12:55pm
Not a single sentence is exaggerated in this story!! I had friendship with at least 10 Pakistanis in Europe and then in America. Each one of them was a gem! So kind, so helpful and so generous! In the schools we were taught about the wars between India and Pakistan, but honestly, we were never told that Pakistani people were bad! Nevertheless, there was always some sort of dislike towards Pakistan! In the 90s muslim majority areas in my town in India celebrated Pakistan's every victory in cricket (also at India's every defeat!). I used to get infuriated! But now all that has changed, I don't see such things anymore. The world is changing and so is India. I believe that most Pakistanis are modern, forward-thinking and are absolutely not religious fanatics!
Mian Mohammed Shahid Aug 11, 2012 03:44pm
You are absolutely spot on, 100% agreed.
G.a Aug 11, 2012 03:52pm
I dont want to dignify your question with a lengthy response but I will say at least this much. Knowledge passed from East to West and enlightened all of Europe and The magnificent Taj Mahal was built from 622 A.D onwards. Ofcourse you are welcome to wallow in ignorance of history as you please.
Mian Mohammed Shahid Aug 11, 2012 03:56pm
I respect your reason but lets visualise the organic positive feeling of mutual respect among human beings. Lets promote and believe the well proven medium among human beings "respect". Respect others believes, faith, colour, race, gender, age, ethinicty, and their practices. We have had enough blood shed on the name of previously mentioned reasons, lets be a resposible human being. Lets change yourself and this world will get changed automatically. God bless all the human being.
Farook uz ZAMAN Aug 11, 2012 04:35pm
Ya Allah, ya Rabb, have Mercy on us...
Hari Aug 11, 2012 04:52pm
I am an Indian and I lived in Turkey for 3 years when I was a teenager. One of most profound memories of Turkey was my family's interaction with a Pakistani family. My mom randomly bumped into a Pakistani woman, the Pakistani woman was really happy to see a fellow South Asian. She invited my mom to her house for tea, and my mom, coming from a non-urban background, had to take a leap of faith herself to do it. She came back home saying how Pakistanis are nice and cultured, and how her perception of Pakistanis was wrong. Everywhere we went, the locals would ask whether we were, 'Pakistani or Hindistani?'. It made a third country for me to realize how close and alike we are on some matters at least. I have only heard the stories of the partition but none of the stories I have watched or read could compare to the one above.
Abbas Aug 12, 2012 02:23pm
Now please explain how society has learned now that even the 1% hindus have left Pakistan and large swaths of areas are controlled by taliban and Bin laden was found here??? What has pakistan learned as a nation?? l
Ibrahim Shamsi Aug 11, 2012 05:53pm
Cannot stop crying reading this article. I had hated Indians all my life as my Grandparents and family suffered alot during partition. It is still hard to get over the pain but i am aware that there are good and bad peole on both sides.....So many people say tha why can we get over it like the europeons but see the difference is that Europeons dont have to relive the world wars every year. The existence and independence of our countries is linked to this tragic even and we are reminded of it every year.
Lioness Aug 11, 2012 06:07pm
Hi My parents left Jullundar - I don't know how far that is from Sunam but I have been dying to start a dialogue with another Punjabi across the divide. I want to know where my roots are, I want to smell the matti from where my ancestors came from before I die. Will you be that friend and help me? I have been taught no hatred by my parents even though they lost everything. I will email you, hoping that you will reply.
Kamaljit Singh Aug 11, 2012 06:43pm
I cried too,sir. Salute to who invented internet to bring souls closer. It is but for the internet that I knew that there are good people in Pakistan also.
baakhlaq Aug 11, 2012 07:04pm
Man is brute and no religion,faith or belief could ever bring any change in his instincts.Prophets and reformers have failed to put human beings on the right path of humanity.Today we see all over the globe human beings are being butchered in the name of different faiths .We need a new discipline where human beings should be respected simply because they are human beings and not because of their cast creed or nationality
desi77 Aug 11, 2012 08:29pm
What a wonderful and timely article. It is about time that blood letting ends and healing begins...We have some much common...Greetings to everyone in India from Pakistan, may peace be onto you. We love all peace loving among you, and pray for not so sensible on both sides of the border.
Abdus Salam Khan Aug 11, 2012 09:47pm
Remember, Hitesh Sahib, it is built into our nature to fight over power and pelf. Until we learn to transcend our animal naturre, such carnage will continue. This post does just that; it has brought tears to readers around the world. I hope this process of washing our wounds with our tears would continue
Bob Stokes Aug 11, 2012 10:10pm
A truly human story and worth reading. Thanks to the author. Since he didn't say it, I will say what I think should have been said. Both sides suffered. The question that should have been asked is 'why?'. Should we have suffered at all? You should firmly blame the people who came up with a crackpot theory that these people who lived together for centuries are not one people but two and that they are not supposed to live together at all. Don't blame "west Punjabis" for killing Hindus and Sikhs and "east Punjabis" for killing Muslims, blame the insidious people who came up with the concept of two nations.
sultan Aug 12, 2012 03:31pm
forget and forgive learn lesson from the history and be united we all human beings are created from one universal soul
Shafi Aug 11, 2012 10:46pm
Hitesh, Sorry to state but persons like you never give up 'hate'. The author was trying to bridge the gap.
Shoaib Aug 12, 2012 12:25am
I agree, this will be a good lesson for the children of subcontinent to know each other as human beings with same feelings of hurt, pleasure and sadness instead of knowing each other as Hindus, Muslim and Sikhs or any other religious group. This will bring better understanding among them to avoid horrific repeat of incidence of 1947. Shoaib USA
Haroon Aug 12, 2012 12:34am
Thank you Sir for a very insightful and moving article. I wish more Pakistani writers and Journalists can write such common sense
Karim Aug 12, 2012 02:05am
what nonsense.
Orna Wiseman Aug 12, 2012 02:28am
Such a deep article... Perhaps a group of ordinary Pakistanis, Indians, Israelis, Palestinians, Kurds, Turks and Iraqis should form a task force and devise some fresh solutions for their common problems, starting from the point of view that we are all somehow neighbors, cousins, and fellow human beings... Leave the politicians out of it --- well written, thank you!!!
Excited Muslim Aug 12, 2012 03:42am
Anwar, Very moving and unfortunately a true story. There are many Riaz and Mahinder with similar stories we do not know about. This afternoon, I was at a vigil organized by the Indian community members to mourn the victims of Wisconsin Gurudwara canage. Muslims outnumbered non-Muslims (percentage wise) in the audience. Indian Ambassador and other embassy officials were there. I was one of the speakers on behalf of the Aligarh Alumni Association and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin. Can I share this story with Indian Community organizations/ Zafar Iqbal
M. Rajah Aug 12, 2012 03:47am
Hitesh, read the history without prejudice from 622 to 2012 then you will understand . Thanks
suresh Aug 12, 2012 03:52am
God, very touchy, we always live on one sided story, even though I am not affected by any of this, I cried like a baby. My views of muslim as a religion has changed forever, I always blame them for all the bad things happening in my motherland, India, but wont in future. Thank you Anwar for bring such a beautiful piece of journalism.
Ramesh Aug 12, 2012 04:14am
A documentary film needs to be made about this story. It should be in most of the languages spoken in India and Pakistan.
dispassionate Aug 12, 2012 04:44am
Just try to factor what happened in Mumbai yesterday Raza Academy sponsored a sit-in to protest atrocity against Muslims in Assam & Myanmar Spare a thought for the Bodos and others for whom that part of Assam was (and is) the only place they can call home Economic illegal immigrants (unfortunately all Muslims and non Assamese speaking) came and settled making the indigenous people and heir language/ way of life a minority and through a fraud elected "outsiders" as their MLAs / MPs Yet for inexplicable reasons (besides the Congress party's Secularism nonsense) why on earth should people in Mumbai or for that matter India be forced to put up with the disruption in their lives for "atrocities" against Muslims
ahmed41 Aug 12, 2012 05:08am
Man's inhumanity to man , knows no religious limits.
aviratam Aug 12, 2012 05:43am
Very nice. Assuaged some of the pain reading about Hindu migration, teenage girls "embracing" Islam etc.
surinder Aug 12, 2012 06:40am
A touching tale from the past. It is nearly 65 years that partition took place and much has changed since then.Perhaps it is better that we should learn to live as separate independent nations without carrying burden of the past. The young new generations from both countries are not much concerned to hear all this.
Nihaal Singh Aug 12, 2012 06:42am
This is a very well written article which brought tears to my eyes. Though I was born in 80's, I have heard and read a lot about atrocities committed in 1947. As I lived on one part of the border, obviously my view was biased and I always assumed that it was Hindus and Sikhs who suffered the most. This remained the same until I met some old 'gentlemen', who narrated how the area they lived was a Muslim dominated area once and how they committed unimaginable crimes to women and girls. That simply showed what suffered that time was humanity and there were equal number of bad persons on both sides. Now I live in Canada and I see many kind Pakistanis here. I wish the new generation live with peace and prevent recurrence of anything like this in all parts of the world.
Chaudhry Boota Aug 12, 2012 08:50am
Very touching...! there is a silence on both sides of our dark past......May be the next generation will bring out the truth and accept the atrocities inflicted on each other.
Eli Aug 13, 2012 11:15am
I do ,but does that make all pakistanis evil.I myself do not believe all indians are evil.Far from it.All my indian friends are great.So because of few idiots we should hate each other.India has their own extremists but I call them fanatics not indians.If two brothers are apart it does not create love but rather lack of it.Shankar I am sure we can be great friends or is David headley preventing you from being one?
A.nabi baloch Aug 13, 2012 12:13am
Krishna Not really Pakistanis are becoming more anti Indian. They blame everything from insurgency in Balochistan, Taliban being agent of India, Sindhi Hindus migrating to India, ahmedis leaving Pakistan. It is tragedy on epic proportions.
A. Nabi Baloch Aug 13, 2012 12:16am
Partition was a tragedy. Please ask both Muslim and Hindu Sindhis. They will tell you the real thing
sri1 Aug 13, 2012 01:24am
I cannot imagine anyone reading this without tears in their eyes, so heart wrenching. If I, a south-Indian, with no connection, physical or mental to our 1947 partition, can feel so strongly about it, I can only empathize with the pain of those whose previous generation/s actually went through the horror. May our love for humanism always supersede, if not entirely subsume our capacity to hate in the name of faith.
pakistan dramas Aug 13, 2012 01:31am
I wish every writer of pakistan have same vision and thoughts as u
Sam K. Aug 13, 2012 01:42am
Kamal Jeet, US Navy Invented the Internet and Algore accelerated to bring it to public use.
Sam K. Aug 13, 2012 01:49am
Yes and Indian governament also relax restrictions on visiting relatives in India from Pakistan. I Hold US passport but have place of birth Pakistan. Indian governament is not stamping visa on my American passport but will give me Visa on Pakistani Passport and will have to provide so much paper work that it will be impossible to get a visa......That is a knee jerk reaction by indian givt. to Bombay incident.
BRR Aug 13, 2012 02:05am
A feel good cathartic cry is often needed to get over trauma - and this article does just that. Now readers can move on. Kudos to the writer. Now is the task of rebuilding nations, getting rid of hate - not such a simple task is it? How does one get beyond feel-good sentiments and transcend into nation building? Feel-good sentiments are not sustainable.
AMit Singh Aug 13, 2012 02:09am
Hitesh give up this hate and stop stereotyping our own leaders and we ourselves are responsible for our sufferrings so stop mudslinging.....
Sam K Aug 13, 2012 02:10am
Curus, Your sentences does not sense in the context of the article.
Sam K. Aug 13, 2012 02:15am
Shankar, My god you the First one ever to bring it up. YES, there should have been an international commision to investigate most of the atrocities, document, identify the perpetrators, publish their names (not necessarily) punish them (punishing should be left to individual governament).......... We should now work towards a NO WAR pact in the region and cut our ARMED Forces and use available funds for the betterment of our populace.
Raj Paul Aug 13, 2012 12:02pm
We as a human race can move forward and live side by side and that is possible only if both parties are true and believe in `Live and Let Live' but alas it has never been and would never be so. Please, try to find the following facts and you would find the answer: - What was the percentage of Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan prior to partition and what is their percentage now?. - In the mean time it would be worth comparing the percentage of Muslims living in in India before the partition and at present?
Khalid Rana Aug 13, 2012 04:17am
Only the wearer knows where the shoe punches
Harpreet Aug 13, 2012 06:36am
Dear Author, What Can I Say...!! After reading this article as human i am speechless. You actually showed a mirror to all of us,so-called Hindu, Muslim, Indian, Pakistani etc. Not only that also pointed out the "mud" of hate, communal ism, which we were ignoring daily life by justifying it with one sided facts`n thoughts. May Almighty GOD give us courage so, we could lift our soul from religious or nationality and see the worlds in light. In the end i would like to quote "Guru Nanak" Assi Gali Changia, Aachari Buriyaa, (We are good in talk, but our character is Bad,) Androo Kasudaa Kaliya, Baharo Chitwariya ! (From Inside ourself is Black, from outside we show ourself clean as white)
Aziz Narejo Aug 13, 2012 07:05am
Superb. Should be a curriculum story in Indian Pakistani schools.
Faridoon Aug 13, 2012 08:16am
My family hails from a little place in Jammu and Kashmir called Riasi. My grandparents had to leave behind their homes as is because they were told that they need to evacuate now and may return once the fighting is over. They journeyed on foot through mountainous terrain with nothing but things they could carry on their backs. The journey itselft claimed the lives of several elders and sick people who could not cope. Once the war was over, they had to face the harsh reality that return was impossible. New borders had been formed and were closed. There was no going back home, only struggle to make a new one. Imagine being uprooted like that and being asked to settle elswhere and start all over again. I was born post-partition but how I long to visit the town of my ancestors at least once.
Eli Aug 13, 2012 08:26am
In america we are all friends.Unfortunately india does not even allow americans of pakistani origin to visit their friends until they renounce their pakistani citizenship.A very bigoted stand.
Ali LW Aug 13, 2012 09:03am
Its just Like as some one regrets too often as, why "One's" own Birth after all ? There must be fresh start with out any "Hegemonic " designs mind set and approach. Both the sides yes BOTH side must cut down the Defense Forces and spendings. Slogans like Baharat Matta or Muslim Glory / Rise must be replaced with Co-existence . Raj Neti ,Civil and Military establishments for sure will NOT like to let it happen both the side . The external factor is very much participating in this game strings attached with the Puppets . Live and Let Live with compassion must prevail for the sake of HUMANITY Rather than Domination. Kar sako tu Payar karo Nafrat sey Bacho Zindgi Bohat Mukhtasir hay , Reach out to Give even A Smile please. Stay Blessed every one in the Longer the best Human Values ameen .
Rashed Chughtai Aug 13, 2012 09:03am
I held on but have to share this.....My roots are from Gujranwala (but never lived in Pakistan); once my Grand Pa informed me about incidences around 1947 as he was friends with many Sikh families. He insisted them to stay on but when things got really bad, he protected a couple of families (at his residence) and then escorted them to the border (risking his own life) when situation was a bit better. My grand pa died 15 years ago. Interestingly, while I was at a (Sikh) Indian friend's place in Melbourne 2 years back, his parents were also visiting him. While we sat together and his father asked me where I belonged, I informed him my about grand pa and my dad; the man got up and hugged me firmly (with tears rollilng down). He then informed me that how my grand dad protected his father + family during the partition. As things stayed were very turbulent in their family, they were not able to contact back & this was the first time a 3rd generation member was meeting them. They later stayed at my place and it seems like I found a lost relative.
shankar Aug 13, 2012 09:06am
Mr Eli, ever heard of David Coleman Headley?
k.swamy Aug 13, 2012 09:08am
I could not control my tears. I wated to cry after reading yr article but i don't know why..ol m
eli Aug 13, 2012 02:35pm
It is true of us citizens of pakistani origin not green card holders.Please check the policy on the embassy website.This rule applies only to folks of pakistani origin.Even the us state department considers it discrimanatory.
kaly Aug 13, 2012 03:51pm
You are so right Mr. Paul, but no one wants to talk about this, which is the real problem.
kaly Aug 13, 2012 03:58pm
Heart touching.... Rashed, but sorry to say there are very few people like you around us....
Kamaljit Singh Aug 13, 2012 04:16pm
Thanks Ali My email is I did not find yours in here.
Iqbal Hussain Aug 13, 2012 06:17pm
God Bless Anwar for highlighting such touchy tragic events happened during dividing India and Pakistan in 1947. In revolution certainly we lost ours kith and kin. After this heavy blood shed or independence of both countries in 1947. However Pakistan underwent again with massacre and this time the riot were not in between Hindu & Muslims but between Urdu-speaking & Non-Urdu speaking, a claim for freedom for an independent state from Non-Urdu speaking known as Bengali who were anti-Pakistan, a rampage civil disobedience started in 1970 & eventually ended in the formation of a new state Bangladesh on 16th Dec 1971. Pakistan lost its East wing, during this internal scuffle in between Urdu speaking and Non-Urdu speaking we lost our lives and properties, most of us then repatriated to West wing of Pakistan. I will not discuss that who were behind this split it will open another chapter. The revolution no doubt carries a lot of memories and when we recall them or mention before our children they listen the tale very minutely and ask will this happen again Baba? Tears rolls out in our eyes and pray Al Mighty Allah Long live Pakistan – Love Pakistan – Be proud to be a Pakistani – Say openly Yes I am Pakistani
Zafar Iqbal, PhD Aug 13, 2012 06:41pm
Very touching story. I am sure there a many Riaz and Mahinder in the Subcontinent and overseas going through similar emotions. How can we convince our politicians and military industrial complexes to follow humane policies. Keeping people across the border divided for votes and big bucks serve the purpose of wealth accumulation by politicians, arm suppliers and people in uniform who have no other talents but to device ways to kill. India and Pakistan have great potential if they just decide to respect each other.
Kamaljit Singh Aug 13, 2012 07:26pm
you may contact me at kamcalcal
partvii Aug 13, 2012 07:35pm
I wish some friendly Pakistani can go to my House in Leyyah Distt, and send back some news about the place where I left my Bachpan. I will pay all the expenses and beyond.
Shahzad Kazi Aug 13, 2012 08:01pm
As a Muslim Sindhi I tend to agree with Baloch sahib.
Syed Aug 13, 2012 08:53pm
independance day? yes we can all celebrate once we get rid of the talibans and all these fundamental factions from our country, till than, stay hopefull.
Hasan Ali Aug 13, 2012 09:32pm
Amazing article for an Independence Day..Thank you very much
Ennar Aug 14, 2012 12:55pm
A heartbreaking story. There is manifest lack of interest amongst the political class in the subcontinent to repair the broken friendship. Is it too late to repair the damage we have done to our subcontinent? Post-partition, sixty five precious years have gone to waste. We must act before the whole subcontinent is corrupted irreversibly by bigotry and hatred. Cooperation among the siblings, Bangladesh,India and Pakistan (BIPs) patterned on the European Union is one solution, in my humble view. To start with the three countries can experiment with a de facto arrangement for sharing action in social and economic matters. Good luck, BIPs!
Isra Aug 13, 2012 11:57pm
After living for many years in the UAE and in the USA, I came to the conclusion that there were and are good as well as not so good people in every society and that is a reallity to continue for people all aover the world that include people in both India and in Pakistan. Least we can do is to stop generlising and labeling or have any prejudice.
A. Singh Aug 14, 2012 01:51am
People of all religions, caste, gender, race etc are allowed in gurudwaras. I believe some traditional mandirs (temples) do not allow certain ethnic people.
Sikander Aug 14, 2012 01:53am
Unfortunately, despite the odd sane indian commenting, hitesh represents the indian psyche more.
MilesToGo Aug 14, 2012 02:41am
I see it as Punjabi versus Punjabi.
Ravi, San francisco Aug 14, 2012 04:48am
@Kirshna - Similar experience here. Grewup in India with animosity toward Pakistanis but moved to sillicon valley several years ago where I came across many nice Pakistanis.
Irfan Aug 14, 2012 05:17am
All is very touchy and bring someone's heart get drowned in tears and one think why all this,yes people ask this question and they look for answer and where they go,pray to god but how come you ask god for help and at the same time you are killing on his name,so where is the answer and how come in the west people of all background can live and work and still ask their god for help.People in the west if they have a problem ,they're solution to every problem and every problem have a solution,and people ask the right question and they try to solve the problem with logic and with discipline,it's not that I am saying that tomorrow make east into west and problem will be solved,it's just we have to ask the really cause and look for solution else where rather just say oh lord help us solve this problem and just go sleep!!!!!!!!!!!!'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Harpreet Aug 14, 2012 05:34am
Dear Brother, Khuda ko yaad karnae ke liyae kisi khas jagah per jana jarori nahi hota, gar jana chaho tau koi harz nahi , Woh jagah kon si hai Jaha "Woh" khud nahi hota.
P N Eswaran Aug 14, 2012 06:52am
A great story indeed! But when I remember of 26/11, Raza Academy protests in Mumbai and the forced migration of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan I feel the story is unfair in equating the Hindus loss with that of Muslims.
ABB Aug 14, 2012 07:02am
I am pakistani Christian and very thanksful God Blessed me to Move to United States and God Bless America. It's very sad how Minorities get treated in pakistan I personally do not blame them Pakistan is only Islamic Countyr and Only Muslim should live and enjoy their live everyone else shuld leave and more somewhere else Because is not place for none muslims... Muslims do not that teach Social Justice whatever they teach world knows about it and MUSLIMS knows abut it as well I hope and I wish every Muslim get same treatment what Minorities get in Pakistan GOD BLESS AMERICA
Saad Aug 14, 2012 09:28am
Beautiful and sad. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh and 'Aj aakhaan Waris Shah noon' by Amrita Preetum should be mandatory reading for all on both sides.
Kavita Batra Aug 14, 2012 09:46am
I was overwhelmed reading the end. It actually brought tears in my eyes. Don't know why, but I really felt Riaz was just what my father would've been since 1947. Dad had opted for Pakistan Civil Services at the time of partition, perhaps hoping this line drawn would fade out soon and once again Hindustan will be one big Country, but as he bid farewell to his father, my Grandfather (Lalalji) and rest of the family on the station, Lalaji couldn't resist, so he pulled him in. His friends, closer ones, mostly Muslim also urged Dad to go along, "Omi, abhi yahan k halat thik nahi hain, hum chaha kar bhi tujhe nahi bacha sakenge, isliye abhi tu Lalaji ki baat maan le aur unke saath hi abhi nikalja. Jab sab thikh ho jayega, toh wapis aa jana, tera hi ghar hai" - That's how Dad came across this side to Jullandar, with only a Cross-pen in his pocket....I'm still looking for his best Friend, Ghulam Maiuddin Khan from Dayal Singh College, while Dad studied MA Stats from Govt College Lahore, Punjab University, 1931 Batch. Ghulam Maiuddin Khan saab should be in his 87th year anyone, has a clue, please let me know....
Ziyad Aug 14, 2012 02:30pm
Your comment is as bigotted as his! The vast majority of Indian comments have been positive!
waqar shsh Aug 14, 2012 05:08pm
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