Santana Sikh of Potohar Pakistan

Baba Khem Singh Bedi Mahal Kallar Syedan Pakistan

 

Baba Khem Singh Bedi (1832-1905) of Bedi Mahal, Kallar Syedan was the influential Sikh leader of the traditional “Santana” order in Potohar region, Pakistan.( Sangini fort at Kallar Sayedan is also worth seeing).bedi mahalBeing 13th in line after great Guru Nanak Bedi (1469-1539) in the family tree, Baba Khem Singh always had one eye on political power. His influence was concentrated in the West Punjab — Sahiwal (Montgomery) and Kallar Syedan areas.bedi mahalBeing a traditional Sikh, that is an offshoot from a merchant class of Hindus (Kshatriya or Bedi), Khem Singh believed that there is very little difference between the two religions.bedi mahalKhalsa (pure) Sikh followers of the 10th Guru Gobind, insisted on separating Hindu and Sikh religions, but Baba Khem Singh would have none of that. This limited Baba Khem’s influence to the western half of Punjab.bedi mahalWhile the influence of Mughals’ had reduced considerable in the Punjab region in the last part of 1700s, the Sikh had risen to prominence. Baba Khem Singh during this time, being a spiritual leader, was very useful to the Colonials in preaching secularism, keeping dissent under check and sending recruits for the British.

Baba Khem Singh fitted perfectly with the colonials’ plans like a Tee. He participated in suppressing native rebellion in Gujera (Sahiwal) in 1857, personally leading cavalry charge and clearing routes.bedi mahal

For his loyalty to the crown as a ‘friendly native’, he was awarded the whole gamut of titles, powers and lands in Western Punjab, now part of Pakistan. The privileges included magisterial powers, knighthood, and an invitation to King Edward VII’s coronation etc. He was gifted vast agricultural lands appropriated by the British from the Muslim notables and distributed to their ‘loyalists’.

Baba Khem Singh’s descendants also sent soldiers to fight British battles including the 1st world war.

Baba Khem Singh was a huge philanthropist as well. Naturally, Sikhs’ being a minority (3%) anointed to rule by the British, had to be generous, in order to stay influential in a majority Muslim population. He was known to have organized the construction of 50 schools and paid seed money for a college in Rawalpindi.bedi mahalDespite his generosity, he still had money to splurge on a castle in the center of impoverished Kallar Syedan. The four storey castle had its own stables, dog kennels, a zoo and servant quarters. The bottom floor was the basement, probably to hide in, in case barbarians ran them over. Only the Muslim servants were allowed inside the premises.bedi mahalOne octogenarian described in his memoir the first time at his teen age that he saw the inside of the Bedi Mahal after the Sikhs’ left in 1947. All the 5000 Sikhs’ of the surrounding area had gathered at the Bedi Mahal compound during the religious riots and were driven in army convoys to safety. No one was killed here.bedi mahalThe Bedi Mahal we saw was dilapidated, but was still grand. I loved the mehmankhana (guest room), the carved wooden doors with brass knobs, the jharokas’, galleries, walkways, open central courtyard and dome shaped corner posts.bedi mahalThe best thing in Bedi Mahal was the frescoes and murals on the walls. The figures were of Muslim conquerors, Hindu deities, Sikh religious people, saints, all lined up around the courtyard into one streaming image of perfect religious harmony.bedi mahalThe top deck of the Bedi Mahal still overlooks Kallar Syedan like a king. I could see the town’s Hindu temple and agricultural well in the distance.bedi mahalWe then went up to the zanankhana at the forehead of the Mahal and it had images of Golden temple, Amritsar and several religious gatherings, mostly depicting Guru Nanak and some Hindu lady deity.  There was a wood carved separation as well. I wish someone could decipher the frescoes for me.

Oh in case I forget, Amitabh Bachan’s mother was a Bedi too, and her grandfather belonged to Kallar Syedan.bedi mahalIn the courtyard of the castle is the gaddi (grave) of a Muslim Sufi saint, kept there by the Bedi as a testament to their secular outlook. Besides the grave is the Sikh symbol erected on top of a metal pole.bedi mahalFifteen years in the making (ending 1855), Bedi Mahal (Castle) was abandoned in 1947. It was converted to a primary school and General Tikka Khan is one of its alumni. Now know why I keep searching through haunted houses while others make it to generals — it was the school building!

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Sikh Samadhi and Hindu temple of Gulyana Pakistan

By : Wali Imran.

Gulyana town Gujar Khan Pakistan that was destroyed twice

Courtesy : Wali Imran,
 
900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.GulyanaBefore 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.GulyanaLand owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.GulyanaBakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.GulyanaMuslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.GulyanaWhen the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

 

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.Gulyana

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.Gulyana

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.GulyanaIn short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

GulyanaI am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa.

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Katas Raj Hanuman Temple, Kalar Kahar, Pakistan

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Kalyan Das The Hindu Temple of Compassion in Rawalpindi-2

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Hindu Temples ( Mandirs) of Rawalpindi, Pakistan – 1

Four temples are located in a narrow lane that runs between Sarafa bazaar and Lunda bazaar. All four are at a walking distance, and quite similar in appearance. The entrance to this lane from the Sarafa bazar road is barely a meter wide. Knowing that pre-partition Hindus dominated trade in Rawalpindi, finding Hindu remnants in Bohar, Lunda, and Sarafa bazars is no surprise.

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Hindu Temples Of Lal Kurti Bazaar, Rawalpindi Pakistan

The most well preserved of the three Hindu temples in the old Lal-Kurti Bazar is now a private property of a well-connected Muslim migrant family and is closed to the public. It is just a few yards from the Lal Kurti main square. Both Hindus and Sikh used to worship in the place during British times. This temple is in the courtyard of an old Hindu mansion. The place had a watering-well and the sacred Banyan tree.

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In Balochistan, Hindus Under Threat in the Face of State Indifference

The Wire – Karachi (Pakistan): Minorities face threats and have been under attack in Balochistan, the southwestern province of Pakistan. The province is struggling with an insurgency and Christians, Shias, Hazaras and Hindus are unsafe.

Recently, reports claimed that Christian and Hazara communities have been targeted by terrorist groups. Jalila Haider, an activist from the Hazara community, went on a hunger strike demanding protection for the Hazara community. “More Hazaras have been murdered than rump sheep in Quetta,” she said, speaking to BBC Urdu.

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Pakistan seals Hindu deities, may renovate the temple

There are many Hindu temples in Pakistan most of them in disarray, their land under threat of encroachment from selfish commercial interests or from terrorists.

A small Krishna temple was built by Kanji Mal and Ujagar Mal Ram Rachpal in 1897 to serve people in nearby areas. However, after partition and creation of a Muslim Pakistan in 1947, the street temple in Saddar became the only place of worship for Rawalpindi’s Hindus. The temple was reopened after partition in 1949; it was operated by local Hindus before being handed over to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) in 1970.

Until the 1980s, Hindu diplomats living in Islamabad visited the temple to pray. Local Hindus have said the temple’s area should be expanded. Jag Mohan Arora said the temple courtyard, which can only accommodate 100 or so people, should be expanded, and shops next to the temple that the ETPB has leased to local traders should be retrieved to expand the front of the building.

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(acknowledgements: By Bilalakhtar148 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49331813)

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Hindu brothers killed in a Hindu majority town in Pakistan

courtesy New York Times.

In Mithi, Hindus make up about 85 percent of the population. Hindus being in such a large majority, both Hindus and Muslims have long lived peacefully. However, a steady influx of “outsiders” — Muslim extremist parties and sectarian groups have been moving into the area and other parts of the Sindh Province, as they seek new havens and erode the tolerance the town is famous for.This is so familiar to the ways of 1947 when peace loving villagers were torn apart by outside extremists and resulting religious violence.

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Pakistani Hindu parents allege their daughter forced to convert to Islam

In the predawn darkness on Feb. 24, Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old student from a Hindu family, disappeared from her home in Mirpur Mathelo, a small village off a busy highway in Sindh Province. Hours later, she resurfaced 12 miles away, at the home of a prominent Muslim cleric who phoned her parents with news that distressed them: Their daughter wished to convert to Islam, he said. Their protests were futile. By sunset, Ms. Kumari had become a Muslim, married a young Muslim man, and changed her name to Faryal Bibi. Sulachany Devi and Nand Lal are pleading for the return of their daughter, Rinkel Kumari. Ms. Kumari’s family says her marriage and conversion were done at gunpoint.

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