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Sordid story of Razia

By Javaid Makhdoomi —

This is true story of Razia who was tormented, tortured and abused during communal riots in Jammu in 1947. The massacres, looting and arson, at a large scale, started in various parts of the state well before the Maharaja left Srinagar for Jammu. In most of the affected areas there were pent up feelings prevalent in the wake of partition of India.

In most of the Jammu areas, Poonch and Mirpur outbreak of communal violence and its aftermath continues to remain a huge human tragedy in the sub-continental history. These heinous crimes cannot be quantified. Targeted crime against modesty of women was a common feature in 1947. There was no distinction. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas’s daughter, a prominent Muslim leader of Jammu, was abducted by Hindu activists in November 1947 and could be traced five years later in Punjab. Another Muslim Conference leader Hamidullah Khan’s daughter was abducted and is missing till date. Marauders from both sides represented no religion. Hindus and Sikhs too were killed or abducted. All actors of the state whether before 27 October 1947 or after when Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah took over as head of Emergency Administration were clearly complacent in their approach to the gory incidents as were unfolding in the state particularly Jammu. The government of India, claiming J&K as its territory, preferred to remain as mute spectator while humanity continued to get slaughtered. Late Ved Bhasin, a veteran journalist, (a student leader in 1947) had remarked that the riots of 1947 in Jammu were organised and planned by the rulers with tacit support of RSS and other like-minded organisations.

Razia was daughter of Choudhry Abdullah Khan, a landlord of Chak Jaffer, R.S.Pora Jammu. He had remained a member of Maharaja’s Assembly and was wielding considerable influence in the area. Razia was married in 1946 with one Choudhry Ghulam Ahmad of Darsopur, Miran Sahib Jammu. While disastrous communal riots were spreading in Jammu and elsewhere, Razia’s husband like other villagers, shifted women folk for safety to a nearby glass factory run by his Hindu friend.

During fateful first week of November 1947, a strong mob of marauders armed with swords, lathies, iron rods and other implements raided the village and went into spree of killing, looting and rape. In the melee, most of males were killed. The women who had taken refuge in the glass factory got distributed amongst the marauders and killers like a cheap commodity. Razia was told that her entire family had been wiped out. She was too innocent and naive to take a decision and haplessly waited.

Ultimately, she was taken as bounty by one Balwan Singh of village Thub, Gao-Manasa, Jammu. Razia had seen Muslim folk getting killed from a distance while she was hiding in glass factory but factually some of her family members including her husband had miraculously survived the onslaught. Balwan Singh took Razia to Punjab and lived with her at different locations such as Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jallandhar, Ambala etc. Balwan Singh used to visit his village in Jammu, not too often, and collect meagre money to supplement his income by doing small jobs in Punjab. In 1965 Balwan Singh had come to his village as a routine visit and died as he had turned alcoholic.

In between 1947 and 1965, Razia had given birth to one son (Karan Singh), two daughters namely Reva Rani (now Azra) and Anju (now Zareena Asad). Razia and her three children moved to village Thub, Gao Manasa after death of Balwan Singh.

She was not accepted by Balwan Singh’s family. However, Razia and her children were given shelter by a friend of Balwan Singh, a Patwari, (Bhishamber Das Sharma) who had an unoccupied room in his ancestral property near New Plot area, Jammu. Razia was keen in educating her children but poverty was the impediment. She took up job of small time stitching and tailoring. Her son attained adulthood and got employment in GREF in North East.

In 1969-70 plots were being allotted on Nazool land in Nanak Nagar and New Plot areas. In December 1974, Razia visited Tehsil office Jammu in connection with some revenue matter. She dramatically met her ex-husband’s sister (also her cousin) of Dalpatian, Jammu. Chance meeting after such a long time brought tears rolling down. Razia came to know for the first time that some of her close relations including her mother-in-law had survived the traumatic situation in 1947 and are living in Dalpatian, Jammu.  

In 1974 Azra, elder daughter of Razia, was studying in part 2 under her Hindu name Riva Rani. Razia’s relations, once contact was established, regularly visited her at New Plot residential room. Same year on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, Razia and her two daughters shifted to Dalpatian and never went back. Razia was told that her mother’s relations had migrated to Pakistan and are happily living there while as from her in-laws side some have returned to their village in Jammu.

Razia’s ex-husband Choudhry Ghulam Ahmed, a graduate of 1947, had miraculously survived and crossed over to Sialkot. After few years, when the dust had settled down, he returned to his village. After finding no trace of Razia he married another woman. He never took a government job and was looking after his ancestral land holdings. Ultimately he died in 2010 at his ancestral village, Darsopur, Miran Sahib Jammu.

While in Dalpatian, in 1974, the transition from Hinduism to Islam was a challenge, says Azra. Her brother Karan Singh continued to be a Hindu and Anju (Zarina) was too young to understand and feel sensitivities. Azra started reading Holy Quran and learnt Nimaz from a Molvi at Dalpatian. Razia’s close relations (8 sisters) had taken refuge in Sialkot and are settled in Pakistan. Razia along with her younger daughter Zarina went to Pakistan on a visit on 29 April 1979 and never looked back. Azra could not get a passport as in her school records she continued to be Reva Rani. Her passport was made only after her marriage with one Salamat-u-llah in 1979 who has retired from Sports Council, Jammu. Razia ultimately died in Sialkot during September 1999. But a few years before her death Razia married her younger daughter (Zarina) with Assad (her brother’s son) in Pakistan. Both Zarina and Assad are settled in USA.

Azra did her graduation in 1976, M.A (Hindi) in 1978, B.Ed in 1985 and M.A Dogri in 1987. She joined as teacher in Education Department in 1985. Meanwhile she got selected on merit as Research Assistant in Dogri Dictionary Section of Cultural Academy in 1992 and retired in February 2017 as Chief Editor, Dictionary Section, J&K Cultural Academy.

A few years back Azra came into contact with Abdul Qayum Nadvi, Principal of a School in Rajouri, through Mrs Shamima Nadvi (daughter of legendary singer & poet Janbaaz Kishtwari). Shamima, wife of Nadvi, was Azra’s colleague in Cultural Academy. Nadvi asked Azra to translate Holy Quran into Dogri given to her knowledge of the language. She was reluctant. Traversing through turbulence and tribulations had impaired her confidence. Life for her had been a nightmare. Nadvi after consistent efforts persuaded Azra to translate Holy Quran into Dogri language. She has completed the task in 5/6 years and is at the stage of last proof reading.

Do we call it a classic case of human endurance or a play of fate which was outside the control of the family. Pray never again.

Profound thanks to Azra who narrated the story to me with tremendous courage and confidence.

Inputs from Zafar Choudhry’s report “Locating Jammu Muslims in Kashmir Conflict” is acknowledged.

(The author, a distinguished police officer, was member of State Public Service Commission. Views expressed are his own)