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NationalismOpinion

Know The Untold Story of Panja Sahib Massacre

It was October 29 1922, a special train had left from Amritsar to Peshawar. The train did not have ordinary passengers traveling from Amritsar to Peshawar, but the people who were traveling were Sikh prisoners who were sentenced by the British. They were to serve two and half years jail term in Attock Fort. They were mostly convicted for non-violent agitation started by the Gurdwara Reform Movement. The movement was aimed at getting rid of Mahants from controlling the Gurudwaras and Shrines who were misusing their power and position for personal gains.

But the British government had taken sides with the wealthy mahants and punished the non-violent Sikh protestors. They were beaten inhumanly for small violations and shouting slogans. They deliberately provoked the Sikhs calling them with names so they could arrest more protestors. Because of the widespread protests the Skih got huge support from people and became heroes overnight.

The train from Amritsar had reached Rawalpindi on the morning of 30th October. The Sikh community at Punja Sahib came to know that the train was to pass Hassan Abdal on the way to Attock fort. The entire town was excited and they thought the least they could do is to offer some meal to the prisoners. So all the houses of the town prepared meal to the prisoners and assembled at the station waiting for the train. There were hundreds of men, women and even children who were waiting to serve food for their brothers. But the order of the British government was not to stop the train anywhere until they reached Attock.

The station master who saw hundreds of people arriving at station told them that the train was not scheduled to stop in the station and hence there was no use of bringing food here. The Sikhs requested and implored the station master to stop the train just for some time and they will quickly serve the food. But they were given a blunt answer The Train Will Not Stop! Karam Singh who was just 30yrs old immediately said “Alright Then…We Will Stop the Train” and added “If Baba Nanak could have stopped the huge rock rolling down the hill with just one hand, then can’t we, so many, stop a train?!” another young man Pratap Singh barely 24 years joined Karam Singh and said “Yes we can and we will!”

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At around 10 o’ clock, the people noticed the train approaching from far end….Both men, women immediately jumped on the track and squatted right in front of the train. The train driver from a distance noticed many people sitting on the track and started to blow the whistle repeatedly. He was dumbstruck to see people not moving. He was under the instruction not to stop the train in any circumstances. The train kept approaching the station and the driver was terrified and closed his eyes unable to see the scene. The driver dropped the braking system from his hand and fell down.

The wheels of the train hit the people making a screeching noise sending out huge sparks of fire on the track. With a loud thug, the train suddenly came to halt before it dragged many people under its wheels. There was cry, groans and shouts mixed with the loud hissing noise of the engine. All the people in the station ran to help Karam Singh who was lying under the wheels mangled, but he said “first serve food to the prisoners later you can help me”.  It took one and half hour to serve food and clear the tracks before the train could resume the journey.

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The train driver was Araayeen, a Muslim guy from Gujrat city of Pakistan. The British government booked a case against him and was investigated as to why he stopped the train despite the orders not to stop. The driver had given a statement before the bench which is considered to be most historic.

He said “Yes, I was given the orders not to stop the train at any cost and accordingly I did not stop the train and it was moving in full speed. When the train hit Shaheed Pratap Singh, there was a huge jerk as if the train hit a mountain due to which I fell down and my hand got lifted from the accelerator and the train stopped”. The police who investigated the incident came to know that no brakes were applied and made them wonder what was that power which stopped the train?!

The police was fired from his post for submitting a report that the driver had not applied brakes, and the train had stopped for some unknown reason when it hit the people on track. People even today believe that it was none other than the God who stopped the train and saved hundreds of people sitting on track.


Aishwarya S

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