A four-page representation purportedly made to the Union Home Minister by Chairman All Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, Kashmir is in circulation, and a subject of debate, on the social media for its content and timing.
Among other things, the gentleman claims that during the Tribal Raid on Kashmir in 1947, as many as 35,000 Sikhs were killed on the [present] National Highway at Choora near Baramulla. The figure is mentioned at two different places in the representation which means that it is a conscious mention and not a typo. My purpose here is not to go into the motive of this text but to deal with a grossly incorrect and imaginary figure quoted to build an argument.
At the time of the Tribal Raid in 1947, Baramulla district stretched, in the north, to the Burzail and Kamri passes leading to the then Astore District, now across the LOC. To the south and south-east, it was bounded by the Pir Panjal range, beyond which lies Poonch. To the east the Great Himalayan range separated the district from the Kargil tehsil (now district) of the then Ladakh district. With a total area of 8539 sq miles, Baramulla district, the largest of the three districts of Kashmir Province including the district of Muzaffarbad, comprised three tehsils viz Baramulla, Uttarmachipura and Sri Pratapsinghpura. The Baramulla tehsil was made of the present Baramulla district minus Uri tehsil then part of Muzaffarabad district. Uttarmachipura tehsil comprised the present districts of Kupwara minus Karnah then part of Muzaffarabad district, and Bandipora. Sri Pratapsingpura represented the present district of Budgam. The three tehsils were sub-divided into 1385 villages including 355 in Baramulla tehsil, 562 in Uttarmachipura tehsil and 468 in Sri Pratapsinghpura.
In the Census of India, 1941, we have the most authentic, and the most recent to the happenings of 1947, population figures available. Its Volume XXII titled ‘Jammu & Kashmir, Part III, Village Tables and Housing Statistics’ compiled by Capt. R. G. Wreford, the then Census Commissioner, Jammu & Kashmir State, gives the religion-wise population break-up of the State. According to the Report, the then Baramulla district had a total population of 6, 12,428. Of these, the Sikhs comprised 8, 458 souls (1.38%).These include 2630 (M 1395: F 1235) in Baramulla tehsil, 3473 (M 1841: F 1632) in Uttarmachipura tehsil and 2355 (M 1197:1158) in Sri Pratapsinghpura tehsil.
Let alone Baramulla district, the total Sikh population in entire Kashmir including the Muzaffarabad district was 27, 034, far below than the representation claims were killed at a single spot on a road near Baramulla. These include, besides 8458 in Baramulla district, 5654 in Ananatnag district and 12, 922 in Muzaffarabad district. The Ananatnag district then comprised the present districts of Anantnag, Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. The Muzaffarabad district was made of tehsils of Muzaffarbad, Karnah and Uri.
The tehsil-wise break-up of Sikh population in the districts of Anantnag and Muzaffarabad was: Srinagar City tehsil 1412 (M943: F 469), Tehsil Khas 407 (M 329: F 78), Pulwama tehsil 2487 (M1232: F 1255), Kulgam tehsil 283 (M 155: F 128), Anantnag tehsil 1065 (M 601: F 464), Muzaffarabad tehsil 8810 (M 4574: F 4236), Uri tehsil 3617 (M 1982: F 1635) and Karnah tehsil 495 (M 308:187).
Only a genius like the author of the representation could pull out an arithmetical miracle of subtracting 35,000 out of a figure of 8458. As is evident from the above quoted statistics, even the total population of Sikhs in Kashmir Province (Muzaffarabad included) falls short by 7, 966 of the quoted casualty figure at Choora village.
- Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer