Reminiscences of a visit to Bhaun (2 /2)


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 About 12 kms south of Chakwal lies the historical town of Bhaun, formerly known as Bhavan, famous for its splendid temples, highly-revered shrines and Havelis with exquisitely carved doors and remarkably built wooden balconies indicating the owners’ affluence and aesthetic sense.
The Hindus predominantly concentrated the town before partition. But, later they migrated to India, while Muslim immigrants from India settled in their Havelis and mansions.
Bhaun was a very important trade centre and the Hindus ruled the roost in this town. They left behind a host of temples and Havelis, having a simple architecture, which was a blend of local and Kashmiri style, with very little ornamentation. These temples are different from those at Ketas and Malot that have Kashmiri style of architecture and are lavishly ornamented. Some of the temples at Bhaun are adorned with paintings, while some are immensely towering and conspicuous from a distance.

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THE TEMPLE TOWN BHAUN

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Note for WoP readers: The following write up is based on content taken from the worldwide web (mainly the source has been great-chakwal.blogspot.com). Neither do I own this article nor do I vouch for its authenticity. Although I tried my level best to get some authentic info on Bhaun and its history, its heritage, yet I couldn’t find much on this subject.

I will, however, update all readers of this blog any further authentic info on Bhaun (whenever am able to get it) with valid references and images if possible. (Nayyar).

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Bhaun is small, yet an enthralling place, with many of the most attractive and unchanged spots in the town, and these spots can be explored while walking. As you take a step further, by turn of every street, every pathway there are so many tiny lanes and narrow alleyways, each ready to divulge its history to you, its magnificent past, its meteoric rise and its gradual fall.

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Marble Plate fixed at the former Arya Samaj Bhaun which is now a Govt Primary School.

In pre-partition days Bhaun used to be a village, inhabited mainly by the Sikhs and the Hindus. The village had 5 Mandirs 2 Gurdwaras, 5 water ponds and many many other points sacred to the Hindus.

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But the history of the erstwhile tiny village of Bhaun cannot be completed without a mention of Bhaun’s great son Mohan Singh Oberoi.  Oberoi was born here and when he was a mere six months old babe, his father, a contractor in Peshawar, died― leaving his mother with few resources. After attending school in his village and nearby Rawalpindi, he passed the Intermediate Examination in Lahore, but was unable to continue attending classes because a lack of finances.

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Instead, he learned typing and shorthand and, in 1922 started his hotel career with an income as low as Rs50 as a billing clerk at Shimla’s the Cecil.

While working there, within two years he motivated and helped Cecil’s manager, Ernest Clarke in purchasing the Carlton Hotel (renamed Clarkes) in Shimla. Ten years later in 1934, upon Clarke’s retirement, he gathered all the family resources to purchase the same hotel.  

He was a quick learner and took many additional responsibilities. The manager of Cecil, Mr. Clarke and his wife Gertrude took a great liking to the honesty of a hardworking young Mohan Singh Oberoi and decided to hand over the responsibility of managing Hotel Carlton now renamed as Clarkes to this impressive young man.

During their six months absence, M. S. Oberoi doubled up the occupancy to eighty percent which gave them enough reason to offer the hotel – on a decided amount to him as they wanted to return to England.

After continuous hard work for five years, on 14 August 1934, Oberoi became the sole and absolute owner of Hotel Carlton, Shimla. He subsequently named it after his boss Mr. Ernest Clarke. Young Oberoi could not have hoped for a better present at his thirty fourth birthday.

After India’s independence, Oberoi built additional hotels, while expanding his base holdings.

 In 1948, he established East India Hotels, now known as EIH Ltd., whose first acquisition was the Oberoi Grand Hotel in Calcutta. In April 1955 he was elected President of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, and in 1960 was named President of Honour of the Federation for life.

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 Oberoi also participated in legislative politics by winning elections to India’s Rajya Sabha for two terms, from April 1962 to March 1968 and from April 1972 to April 1978. He was elected to the fourth Lok Sabha (Lower House) in April 1968, and remained a Member of that House till December 1970.

In 1965, in partnership with international hotel chains, he opened the Oberoi Intercontinental in Delhi, India’s first modern five-star, world-class hotel.

Calling Rai Bahadur M.S. Oberoi, a ‘great entrepreneur’, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) said, “He was a living legend and an extraordinary titan in his field. An icon, an institution and an inspiration to first generation entrepreneurs. He built his empire brick by brick. Apart from a great charming personality, he commanded a lot of respect.”

 Back to Bhaun’s not that well recorded history:

In his booklet ‘An Historical Introduction of the Bhaun Town’, Safdar Faizi writes, “General Cunningham visited Bhaun during 1870-80 after which he compiled a report for the Archeological Survey of India. During his visit to the town, he recovered 285 old coins which provided the evidence that the town had existed since many centuries before. General Cunningham also wrote in his report that Bhaun was on the way when you enter Punjab from the northern side i.e. from Attock District and then after crossing River Sawan in Neela, you reach Bhaun and then to Bhera.

During British rule and prior to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the majority of the population in Bhaun were Muslims, yet the economic and social hold was in the hands of the Hindus. There are still ten Hindu temples in the town which remind us of the town’s Hindu past.

Pre-partition the town was centre of economic activities and though not declared yet as a Mandi. It was  a big trading centre for Dhan, Vanhar and Soon areas. A special judge with the powers of Magistrate used to hold his court in Bhaun and even it was functioning in 1857.

In an article titled “Bhaun losing its architectural heritage” published in the daily Dawn dated 29 Jul 2003, Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro writes, “About 12 kms south of Chakwal lies the historical town of Bhaun, formerly known as Bhavan, famous for its splendid temples, highly-revered shrines and Havelis with exquisitely carved doors and remarkably built wooden balconies indicating the owners’ affluence and aesthetic.

In 1947, the Hindus left the town leaving behind a host of temples and mansions (Havelis), having an architecture which is a blend of local and Kashmiri style, with very little ornamentation. The temples are different from those at Ketas and Malot which are lavishly ornamented. Yet some of these are adorned with paintings, while some are immensely towering and conspicuous from a distance.

Due to neglect by the authorities as well as by the general public all the temples, the gems of our heritage, are in shambles. Two temples in Chaddran Mohalla are in dilapidated condition. In one of the temples, Kashmiri immigrants are living. They have damaged the temple by defacing some of the figures depicted on the walls, while its western wall has caved in. Then a nearby temple is being used as a store where household belongings are kept.

A furlong or so from these temples is the temple of Madho Sain Kalan, which is fast coming apart. Ironically, the temple has been turned into a cattle pen. As soon as you enter the temple, you find cows, buffaloes and goats in its courtyard. One also finds heaps of haystacks stored for the livestock. Regretfully the people have taken away the ornately carved door of the temple.

Apart from the temple of Madho Sain Kalan, two temples are located in Madho Wali Ban (Talaab). These were damaged after the Babri Mosque incident. Traces of the paintings can still be found on both temples. In addition to these, there are more than four temples still in and around Bhaun.

There is a dire need that the authorities concerned make concerted efforts to save these fabulous pieces of architecture from further decay. The restoration of these temples and Havelis’ will help our younger generation to see the past glory of our Hindu heritage in Pakistan.

If the authorities concerned do take some pains, they can also make this place a stopover for tourists heading towards Kallar Kahar and Ketas.

Tourism has attained the status of an industry abroad, and countries chalk out strategies for its promotion. In some very prominent countries in western Europe such as Austria, Switzerland and Italy, their economies depend on tourism. But, unfortunately, it is the most neglected sector in our country. 

In another article Mr Kalhoro writes:

TEMPLES TELL A TALE OF NEGLECT

Two temples situated at Madh Wali Ban (pond) in Bhaun, are attributed to Shri Hanuman, a Hindu monkey god. The temple on the bank of the pond is huge and fast coming apart. It is bigger than the nearby temple, which lies behind the government primary school. Both temples were built in 1894.

According to eminent expert Prof Anwar Beg Awan, the temples were built in the same period Ram Das built a temple in Chddaran Mohalla. The temple that is more towering was greatly damaged by fanatics after the Babri Mosque incident. It was noted for its paintings, which were destroyed when the people set it on fire. Exteriorly, panels were created on each side to depict a pair of fish, which is the special characteristic of the Hanuman temples. The traces of the paintings on the each side are still visible.

According to Prof Awan, there also exited a complex, which could not withstand the vagaries of the weather. The complex included the houses of the caretaker of temple and of a Sadhu. There was also a Mahman khana (guest house) attached to the temple.

Apart from this temple, there lies another temple behind the government primary school. Though small in size, it is beautifully built, but is in a derelict condition. This temple also contains separate panels created for depicting a pair of fish on each of its sides. From inside, it is decorated with paintings, some of which depict Hanuman with his disciples.

A closer look at the paintings shows repeated depiction of peacock and parrot. On one of the panels, parrots are seen drinking water. On the other panel, one can see Hanuman playing Sitar that demonstrates his keen interest in the music. On the same panel, one finds Hanuman sailing with his adherents. Another one shows peacocks.

According to Prof Awan, the distinctive features of the Hanuman paintings are the depictions of the peacocks, parrots, lions and fish that could be found on all the temples located in Bhaun. It is also interesting to find the illustration of the palm date tree. Barring the figurative representation, the temple also features floral design. (published in the daily Dawn dtd 25-08-03)

In another article published on Sep 27, 2009 (Name of the author could not be traced, however, his email address is mentioned at the end. It is titled “Bhaun’s fading vestiges of its Hindu Past”. Bhaun formerly known as Bhavan (meaning house or mansion) was predominantly a Hindu town before Partition. Its temples, Gurdwaras, shrines and havelis with their exquisite doors and wooden balconies still bear testimony to its religious past.

However, our Muslim brothers who moved in after the Hindus left, have  tried to disown our country’s prestigious heritage by defacing and damaging the vestiges of a past which is part of our history.

Bhaun, 12 kilometers south of Chakwal, used to be a very important mandi (market) town dominated by the Hindus. They built temples and havelis of great architectural value presenting a blend of local and Kashmiri style, with very little graphic decoration. These temples are different from those at Ketas and Malot that in pure Kashmiri style are rich in adornment. Some of the temples are adorned with paintings.

There are 10 temples in and around the town of which eight are attributed to Hanuman, a Hindu god. Two temples located in Chaddran Mohalla date back to 1894 and are in a shambles. One of the temples, built by Ram Das, is now occupied by Kashmiri immigrants who have defaced some of the figure paintings on the walls. Its western wall has caved in. The facade of the temple bears the image of Hanuman. A nearby temple is being used as a store where household belongings are kept. A furlong or so from these temples is the Madh Sain Lokan temple that is in a poor condition. Apart from these, there are two temples at Madh Wali Ban, both devoted to Hanuman. One of them is a very tall one.

When the Babri Mosque was felled by Hindu fanatics, our local fanatics set it on fire damaging its painted interior completely. The temple used to be famous for its paintings. On its exterior panels depictions of a pair of fish showed its Vishnuite attributes. The traces of paintings on each side are still visible. There used to be a wall around it that was also destroyed by people venting their anger on brick and mortar. There is another temple behind the government primary school. Though small in size, it is beautifully built but, like the temples discussed above, is in a poor condition. It contains separate panels created for depicting a pair of fish on each of its sides. On the inside, it is decorated with paintings, some of which depict Hanuman with his disciples.

A closer look at the paintings reveals repeated depiction of peacocks and parrots. On one of the panels, parrots are seen drinking water. On the other panel, one can see Hanuman playing the sitar and sailing with his disciples. It is also interesting to find the illustration of the date palm tree, an essentially Muslim feature. These temples also have floral designs. Like the temples, the havelis and mansions belonging to the Sikh and Hindu communities still dominate the landscape of the town.

Almost every narrow alley in the town boasts of buildings of historical significance. One such building near the Qazian Wali Mosque, locally known as Marri, is noted for its elegant balconies. This three-storey building was built by Rai Bahadur Sardar Jai Singh who worked as a contractor in Iranian city Zahidan during the rule of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi I from 1925 to 1941. One can safely say that it could have been built in 1930. Architecturally, the building is divided into three storeys or parts, of which the ground floor was used as veranda with a row of richly carved columns running all around it. In front of the veranda there is a courtyard mainly used by women for dishwashing, laundry and drying grain? Men used it as a place for sleeping in dry weather.

The first floor was reserved for junior members of the family and some visitors. The second floor was used by the senior members of the family or by married couples, while the third floor was occasionally used whenever there was a long spell of dry weather. It had a pavilion for enjoying the evening breeze. Marri housed a total of 14 small and big rooms, some of which were discreetly decorated. The remarkable feature of Marri was its balconies, one each on the western and southern faces.

In addition to this magnificent structure, there lies another one behind the Ram Das temple in Chaddran Mohalla known as Janj Ghar (a building reserved for marriage gatherings). A person called Bikarma Jeet built it in the early 19th century. Janj Ghar had about 18 rooms. There is a need to preserve and renovate these fading vestiges of glorious past.

The writer is Staff Anthropologist at PIDE and Ph.D Scholar at Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He may be contacted at: zulfi04@hotmail.com published in the daily Dawn dated September 27, 2009 (END of article).

According to an old historical treatise named Chach Nama originally written in Arabic and then translated into English, Sindhi and Urdu languages, it is believed that this town is named after Raja Bhaun, who was the grandson of Raja Dahir, who was defeated by Muhammad Bin Qasim in Sindh. Name of the son of Raja Dahir was Jai Sina. After death and defeat of his father he fled to Kashmir with his family.

He was a relative of Raja of Kashmir whose name was Muktapida (Lalitaditya I) the younger brother of Chandrapida and Tarapida. Datt (as mentioned in the book Rajatarangini on Kashmir history by Pundit Kalhana. There he complained to the Kashmir Raja about severe cold unbearable to the Sindhis. So the King gave him a Jagir in area of lower Kashmir. At that time lower Kashmir included the present Rawalpindi Division of Punjab as well..

From Kashmir Jai Sina son of Raja Dahir came to Dhani area with his family and other relatives including  one Raja Bhaun. The book “Ratta Romal by Safdar Faizi” describes the whole detail of that event which also includes other important historical events of the town i.e. about the reigns of Mehmood Ghaznavi, Jalal-ud-Din Khawarzam Shah, Shamas-ud-Din Altamash and Saif-ud-Din Hassan Qarlugh.

Bhaun remained the capital of seven kings of Qarlagh dynasty. Qarlagh sultans (Kings) also built here a strong fort. Until the end of Sikh regime that fort remained functioning and till date traces of the fort walls can be found.

The great Sikh ruler Raja Ranjeet Singh is reported to have come to Bhaun during 1810. Here he made some arrangements for collection of revenues from Dhani area Chaudhries. He also got a good lot of horses.

During Sikh period, several names of the Muslim scholars are found who belonged to Bhaun. One of them was Qazi Mohzam, a great Muffassir of the Holy Quran. Unfortunately his book could not be preserved, for in an incident of fire caused by the Sikhs, the holy book in Persian was burnt.

··Previous: Reminiscences of a visit to Bhaun 1/2

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Published in: on 19/01/2017 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The shepherd from Vijhara


The moral of the tale is that the men of of sense must never lend ear to women’s gossip. But that is not the true essence that hides behind the tale.
This is a tale of Punjabi resistance to the all-powerful Mughals. Here in the Laehnda, the rich and powerful Bandials and Tiwanas were the masters; the Ghanjeras were a tribe of lesser influence. And here was a Ghanjera who was courageous enough to make off with his stolen property from right under the nose of the most powerful emperor the Mughals were ever to produce.
And if a poor Ghanjera shepherd could be so, consider what the more powerful tribes could wreak upon the Mughals.
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PUNJABI‘S HORSE AND THE INDIAN KING

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by Salman Rashid

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Aali of the tribe Ghanjera was a shepherd from village Vijhara under the southern shadow of the Sakesar peak in the Salt Range. One day, he came across a pair of horse dealers with a very spirited filly. Knowing a good horse when he saw it, Aali purchased the animal to feed and train and make it the best in the Laehnda — the country where the sun sets.

And so, within the year, fed on the choicest fodder, almonds and butter, the animal grew into a handsome mare fit for a king. Even more, the mare could out-pace the best horses in the area and soon its fame spread far. Buyers came to Aali’s door, but the man was not selling for the mare was as a part of his own body and soul.

Over time, word of this priceless animal reached the court at Delhi and the ear of Emperor Akbar the Great. A posse was sent out to procure the mare at whatever price the owner demanded. And if he was not willing to sell, it was to be taken away by force. And so it was. Aali refused to be parted from his beloved mare and the emperor’s men simply deprived him, a mere shepherd, of it. (more…)

Who Owns Harand Fort? – Pakistan


Ruins of Harand Fort continue to mystify all those who take their chance to go there. First of all it gives an emotional look, as a symbol of our evolution and continuity. No matter what your pursuits and interests, you will fancy finding out so many things about the important monument of the past.
And, every time you leave Harand and look back to watch the fort receding in the distance, your mind is flooded with thoughts of its architects and inmates over a long period of time as it stands there lonely and mysteriously on the Suleman mountain, its importance lost in the hazy vistas of time.
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THE STORY OF A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS AND ALEXANDER THE GREAT

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by S  A J Sherazi

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Perched in between legendary Suleman Range on one side and mighty River Indus on the other, ruins of original Harand Fort are situated in the area commonly known as Pachaddh. The Fort has seen a lot in the past and looks as if hiding thousands of secrets besides its historical and archaeological importance.

The Fort was originally built opposite historic Chachar Pass in Suleman Range to guard against the invaders. The fading signs of the edifice are still there in the forms of derbies and bricks scattered around the old site. Sikh Governor Sawan Mall used the material of the old fort rebuilt the Fort on a new location in 1831.

Present structure of the Fort – a valuable part of our heritage – is situated about 25 kilometres west of sleepy and rustic town Dajal in district Rajan Pur. The Fort is spread over an area of 50 acres. The outer wall of whatever is left of it is one kilometre long and was made of thin red bricks. There are 16 pillars. Main entrance is in the west and another one is in the east. What ever is left of the fort is a clear evidence of its past, solidity of masonry and quality of construction.

DESERT ROCK

The Satellite image shows the location of Harand Fort. The yellow lines are roads. Follow the yellow line going west from Dajal. The red rectangle shows the Suleman Range hills. The fort is located somewhere between these hills and the yellow road west of Dajal. For perspective, note the location of bigger city Ranjanpur as well as the airport at D. G. Khan.

Over 200 rodkohis (seasonal hill torrents) come out of this mineral rich Suleman Range, and if properly managed, could irrigate more than two hundred thousand acres of agricultural land, most of the Pachaddh area, but the scheme for flood distribution, canalization and construction of spill ways is yet to be approved. The water of these torrents causes colossal damage to life, crops and property in every monsoon season and flows unutilized. Lined up with Pillu trees, Dajil-Harand Road is broken-down and boulder like stones are spread around. It takes painfully long to cover the distance of just 25 kilometres. Ex-President Farooq Ahmed Khan Laghari who has his roots in the area, during his tenure managed electricity and telephone in the area but could not get the roads built that are necessary for the development of this historic belt.

History has it that Harand Fort was originally built by Hindu Raja Harnakish in the name of his son Hari Nand. The fort had seen three different periods: Hindu, Macedonian and Muslim.

VIEW OF THE FORT

As per the local lore, when young Alexander the Great, on his way home after conquering most of the known world, came in the area, Harand was under the rule of Hindu king who had beautiful daughter. Her name is quoted as Nowshaba.

She was talented, brave and daring princess. The princess was fond of hunting besides being strong and efficient administrator of her father’s state. Alexander heard about the princess and wanted to see the beauty queen personally. Alexander himself approached the fort in the guise of a ‘messenger of Alexander.’

Born in 356 B.C., full name Alexander III of Macedon, was the son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias of Epirus. One of those extremely rare historical figures whose actual achievements have regularly outshined numerous fictional portrayals.
He came to power after the assassination of his father by the captain of his bodyguard. He promptly put down a series of rebellions around the Balkans and marched his army into Persia.
Alexander made his way through the Persian Empire, clashing with Persia’s forces and mercenaries. Along the way, he seized Egypt away from Persia and was declared pharaoh. After Alexander’s forces defeated the enormously numerically superior Persian armies and forced King Darius III to flee the battle, Darius was assassinated by a general who fled with him and Alexander seized control of the empire.
Later, Alexander’s forces marched into Bactria and India, where Alexander was forced to stop his expansion under the threat of revolt from his army, who were beginning to wonder if he truly would march to the very end of the world, circumstances permitting.

He was taken to the court of Hindu Raja where Princess Nowshaba saw the ‘messenger of Alexander’. She ordered that the messenger be immediately taken to royal guesthouse. In the guesthouse when Alexander introduced himself as a messenger, the princess smiled and pointed towards the wall where images of all contemporary kings including Alexander were hanging.

Iranian poet Nizami has written this incidence in Sikandar Nama adding that both got married. The veracity of the marriage or this incident is yet to be proved by historical evidence though. (Another tale says that Alexander also married the wife of defeated General in his war near Saga.) The third period of this historical monument starts with the arrival of Muslims in the area in early eighth century. The palm trees found in the region are indicated as an evidence of the arrival of Arabs’Army. Subsequently, all the adventurers who came this way – from Changez Khan to Muhammad Ghori – visited the fort and used it for their convenience, contemplating their next moves.

During Sikh rule, the fort was rebuilt on the present location for strategic reasons. This fort garrisoned the Sikh army to control the Baloch tribes. Later, the famous battle between British troops and Marri-Bugti tribes was fought here in 1867. After annexation of South Asia, the British used the fort as a cantonment. The British carried out limited excavation and historic artefacts recovered from the site were sent to British Museum in London. Presently, there is a small Levy’s post in the fort.

RUINS

All said and done, off the beaten track, ruins of Harand Fort still continue to mystify those who take their chance to go there. First of all it gives an emotional look, as a symbol of our evolution and continuity. No matter what your pursuits and interests, you will fancy finding out so many things about the important monument of the past. And, every time you leave Harand and look back to watch the fort receding in the distance, your mind is flooded with thoughts of its architects and inmates over a long period of time as it stands there lonely and mysteriously on the Suleman mountain, its importance lost in the hazy vistas of time.

As I drove back on a pebbled road, plied mainly by animal transports and occasional automobiles, I could not help thinking: Can the plight of the priceless site be brought to the echelons of power? Can some national or international agency be moved to act and save the place for coming generations before disappears totally? The remains of the monument have to be preserved and saved from total ruination, a danger they are facing at present.

More from S. A. J. Shirazi on Wonders of Pakistan

1. Hiran Minar 2. Around Abbotabad 3. The Wonders of Deosai Plains

S A J Shirazi is a Lahore based writer, blogger and speaker. Shirazi has authored two books (Izhar, Ret Pe Tehreer) and translated Din Mein Charagh by Abbas Khan into Light Within.
Source   Title image  Satellite image  Alexander’s image
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Blinded by Guilt


Refugees during the partition of India (in 1947). Photo: Creative Common 
The immensity of the guilt in perpetrators of crimes does bring wrath of God Almighty. It could be a physical disability caused to these men of evil doings. Divine retribution is a belief and a topic for teachers of religion to expound upon, yet it is the realisation within the misdeed of such men that creates hell in this life for them. 
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GOD STANDS IN CONGREGATION OF THE MIGHTY

AND JUDGES AMONG THE GODS.

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by Salman Rashid

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As you drive through Laliani en route to Kasur from Lahore, you pass by Adday vali Maseet — Mosque of the [bus/tonga] Stand. Today, few know that it was paid for by Zaildar Sardar Anant Singh, a Bhular Jat and a rich land owner of Laliani. The land was donated by the Sardar’s kinsmen, who had converted to Islam and the Sikh paid for the building. (more…)

While Memory Serves [3 of 3]


Vultures sitting on the roofs of a building while corpses lie below, abandoned in alleyway after bloody rioting
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 CALCUTTA, 1 7TH AUGUST 1946, THE INFERNO

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by Sir Francis Tuker

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In the middle of the morning, Sir Frederick Burrows set out with Brigadier Sixsmith, Brigadier Mackinlay and a military patrol to tour the afflicted areas. In Harrison Road they found big fires burning and large mobs assembled. The patrol went at them and quickly dispersed them, driving straight on through rioters carrying loaded sticks and sharpened iron bars. They scattered to right and left and the Governor’s party drove through, but it was obvious that their mood was thoroughly dangerous. (more…)

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