Author : Rtn. Gangaram Shamdas Purswani(P.H.F)
India’s independence from British rule on August 15, 1947, resulted in unfortunate partition of the country with Complete Sindh (unlike division of Punjab and Bengal) falling into Pakistan, the Islamic State, when the joy of independence failed miserly to overcome the trauma of partition. Sindhi Hindus watched as armed bands of people roamed the streets crying “Hindu Ko Maro”. For Sindhi Hindus, with all their weapons surrendered to the government by law, the self defense, was out of question. They had gone through the untold miseries of widespread disturbances, killings, lootings, harassments, terrorism and arsons. On top of it, the Govt. of Pakistan introduced two criminal laws:
- Sindhi Hindus were declared as “Intended Evacuees”. Therefore, they cannot sell their moveable as well as immovable properties. Resulting, the Muslim refused to buy the properties of Sindhi Hindus, believing, the same would be left behind anyhow and they would grab the same at free of cost.
- Sindhi Hindus, before leaving Pakistan, have to collect a “Permit NOC” from Income Tax Authorities, Tehsildars, Municipalities and all other such Civil Authorities that no ornaments of Muslims were pawned with them.
This means, they have to leave their own land under hardship and cruelty without money. It was the time when people had to make unwilling choices. A choice to alienate from one’s owns hand and a choice to betray one’s own roots. Sindhi Hindus left Sindh not out of cowardice built, in fact, they chose wisdom over foolhardiness. They face unpleasant realities and did what was necessary for survival. It was the time, when Sindhi Hindus set out on a painful journey, in search of land where lives were more valuable and religion did not breathe hatred. But on reaching India, they found themselves uninvited and unwanted. In Bombay, Chief Minister Morarji Desai wanted the refugees to stay on the outskirts of the city and not to enter into Bombay city, treating Sindhis as pariahs and pollutants. Sindhis went from being prosperous community, to the new untouchables and became inconvenient on both sides of the country. The partition inflicted maximum mayhem on Sindhi community, which had to countenance the snags of the partition by shifting their base in search of new habitat. Penniless and forlorn, for these Sindhis, the future did not exactly promise prosperity. The little they knew that taking active part in the Quit India Movement during the freedom fight against foreign rule, they will turn out to be refugees in their own country. They even were refused to be recognized as the citizens of India. Dr. Choithram Gidwani fought and obtained the recognition of Indian Citizenship for Sindhi Community and their Right to lodge the claims of the properties left behind in Pakistan. With his constant tireless push and efforts, the Govt. of India appointed Director General of Evacuation to take care of refugee camps and Director General of Rehabilitation to take care of property claims and temporary loans.
The leaders of Khudabadi Sonara Community also came out and extended their hands, earlier at the time of migration through the funds of Khudabadi Sonara Association, Hyderabad for widows and for weaker section of the community for making their shifting from Pakistan to India easier and safer and later, in relief and rehabilitation of their community in particular and overall Sindhi community in general. They combined their resources to take care of their nearer and dearer. The Sindwarki (NRI) members of Khudabadi Sonara Community started remitting funds to the leaders of the community as well as to their relations for relief work. About 10% of community families stayed in refugee camps and that also for a very short period of time. In Jaipur, there were about ten families which were in refugee camps. Shri Jhamandas Fatumal Purswani and Shri Tikamdas Bhojraj Purswani came to know that there was a Navab ki Haveli in Vidhyadhar ka Rasta which was being used by a local person who had started operating a small flour mill there, when its Muslim owner fled to Pakistan and now, he was being harassed by a few Muslim persons to vacate the place. Shri Jhamandas Fatumal Purswani and Shri Tikamdas Bhojraj Purswani contacted the flourmill operator, gave him five hundred rupees (a very huge amount at that time) from their own pockets and got the vacant possession of the premises. The families of widows and of weaker section along with families from refugee camps were shifted to Navab Ki Haveli, in Jaipur. Later, they acquired legally the whole haveli through Dept. Of Custodian – Evacuees Properties to avoid any harassment of Muslims. Almost every Khudabadi Sonara family in Jaipur, arranged the rented houses to live in. But this created a lot of technical problems in obtaining Refugee Cards and Rashan Cards, which were usually distributed in refugee camps. Many educated Khudabadi Sonara Community members who got their jobs in Rehabilitation Office, assisted them in obtaining Refugee Cards, Rashan Cards, in settling property claims and temporary loans etc. By enterprise and hard work, Khudabadi Sonara Community members managed to build, brick by brick, their new life and captured local market in Cloth, Provision, Sundry goods and of course, their traditional occupation as Gold Smith. They, once again, learnt to live with honour and human dignity. It is imbibed in their mannerisms that they never accepted defeat and despite adverse conditions, always emerge in flying colours. Despite having to face many unforeseen circumstances in the new country, they never lost hopes. Such intent and determination speaks volumes of them being labeled as a Khudabadi Sonara Community, driven hunger for success.