Thursday, 14 March 2019

Train To Pakistan By Khushwant Singh: A love story in midst of chaos and Massacre.

This year,I a book lover attended Word Book Fair  held in Delhi(5-13 January 2019).There were many book stalls of different publishing houses, having books of English,Hindi and  Urdu languages.In one book stall I found famous novel “Train to Pakistan” written by Khuswant Singh. (1915 –2014). 

An Indian novelist, lawyer, journalist and politician. Born and raised in Hadali, Punjab (now in Pakistan). I purchased, It was in Hindi language, which I followed easily.
The way Khuswant Singh has written the book being unbiased and truthful makes it special.There are many books written on the same topic but I am sure no one else would have written it as beautifully as he has.
Back ground of Story of “Train to Pakistan”.
In this blog I have tried to summarize “Train to Pakistan”, written in about two hundred (200) pages. A novel set in AD 1947 when the partition of India was taking place and swarms of people – both Hindus and Muslims were migrating in large numbers.

The time was a tumultuous one where, as an outcome of communal riots, many people were killed, their properties looted, women raped and children tortured.
The end is the best part of the book because, when I finished reading, I was in tears. I am not sure whether other readers will get the same feelings or not, but I am sure it will leave them unsettled and in melancholy.

Mano-Majra: The epic village of story of “Train to Pakistan”
Mano Majra is a small village on the Indo-Pak border along river Satluj. Populated by few inhabitants – both Sikhs and Muslims, in equal majority, living in peace and harmony for generations.

The story is based on few important places the Railway Station, Officer’s bungalow (inspection house), a Masjid a Gurudwara and house of a local baniya Lala Ram lal. The village is very remote and hence ignorant of the happenings in the country'.
Khushwant Singh-Writer of -Train To Pakistan
The life of this village is governed by  daily rhythms of  passing  trains through its railway station.The life of Mano-Majra starts early morning with two long whistles of goods train to Lahore.

It is signal to maulvi Imam baksh for Fajir azaan,and for Bhai Meet Singh,time of jaap of Gurugranth Saheb in gurudwara.
The night whistle of Goods train from Lahore is signal to Mano-Majra, that for Imam Baksh it is time of Azaan of Isha prayer for Bhai Meet Singh to close path in Gurudawara and a sleeping time for whole village.This was daily routine since summer of 1947.
Main Characters of book “Train To Pakistan”
Jagat Singh “Jagga”

Jagga is adacoit, infamous for his bad character.He is involved in dozens of loot, murder and blood shedding He is in love with a Muslim weaver’s daughter with whom he often rendezvouses in the dark of the night.

On one such night, when he is out of the village to meet his love, the local money lender Ram Lal gets killed by some dacoits; he is blamed for the murder and arrested. Even, thieves are supposed to have a code of honour. For eg. They cannot commit a robbery in their own village.

Iqbal Singh
Iqbal is a “Mona Sardar” and social worker well-educated communist who is soft-spoken and well-intentioned. Neither counts in the charged village environment where the power matrix and the alignment of people’s action is in abidance with brute power that drives it.

Iqbal, a social reformer, is a visiting commie in disguise who wants to mobilize support for the socialist party of India. Then we come across the character of Hukum Chand who is the village magistrate.

Hukum Chand.
Hukum Chand is the Deputy magistrate, and one of the main characters in the story. He comes in his American Car. It becomes apparent that he is a man in moral conflict who has probably used his power over the years with much corruption. He is often described with a dirty physical appearance as if he is overwhelmed with unclean actions and sins.
He is a mass of contradictions – an alcoholic, slovenly and morally corrupt man who doesn’t mind entertaining a young innocent prostitute who even reminds him of his dead daughter.

He survives by managing the incompetence of the local Police and still uncannily predicts the future by ensuring a forced exit of the refugees before people get harmed.
Imam Baksh 
Imam Baksh is Imam (Mulla) of masjid of village.He belongs to weaver community of Muslims He is half blind due to catract and a widower.who is described as tall, lean, and bald. He is also blind.Imam is often a subject of pity, for his wife and son died “within a few days of each other,” but he is also respected by many.
He and Nooran plan to leave Mano Majra for Pakistan, and they are on the train that is the site of an intended massacre plotted by a group of Sikh conspirators. Nooran avoids telling her father that she is pregnant with Juggut’s baby, out of fear that he will either marry her off or murder her.
She is his only daughter of Imam Baksh. She is in love of Jagga (in physical sense), She carries in her womb two months old child of Jagga. However, her being a Muslim puts her at odds with the Sikhs and Hindus in Mano Majra.
The Story of “Train To Pakistan”
It is a love story of a Sikh boy Jagga a gangster and a Muslim girl Nooran, whose endures and transcends the ravages of war,in background is partition. Story starts from August 1947.
 “In the summer of 1947, when the creation of the new state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million people – Muslims,Hindus and Sikhs – were in flight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and all of northern India was in arms, in terror, or in hiding. 

The only remaining places of peace were a scatter of little villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. One of these villages is Mano- Majra.”

Jagat singh "Jugga" is probably the main character of Train to Pakistan..He is confined in town by police not to leave without permission.However,Jagat Singh a Sikh, has an illicit relationship with Nooran Baksh, the daughter of the local Muslim weaver and Imam of village masjid.
While they were making love, some of Jugga's old gangster buddies murder the town money lender, Lala Ram Lal, and try to pin the crime on him. This leads to Jugga's arrest, which he accepts as his fate.

The next morning, Iqbal a “Mona Sardar” a social worker , western educated communist agent Iqbal Singh comes from party head quarter,tries to stop communal activity here. He stays at guru dwara after meeting Bhai Meet Singh, priest. But as soon as he finds rest, he is arrested for the murder of the moneylender too.
On the other hand, the police officers and government officials are tensed when a train arrives at the small station of Mano- Majra – it is a ghost train full of dead corpse of Hindus from Pakistan, a train full Sikhs from Pakistan is repeated. Imam Baksh and all Muslims are asked by Hukum chand, Magistrate, to leave the village, and asked them to go to Pakistan.
Noora carries his (Jugga’s) child in her womb, he cannot bear the separation from his beloved.She goes to his mother and tells her that she is pregnant with his child and does not want to leave him, but all in vain.
Towards the end of the novel, people make a plan to ambush the train taking the Muslims including those of Mano-Majra to Pakistan.The Sikhs of Mano- Majra who, just one day before, were ready to lay down their lives for their Muslim brothers, now at once become ready to kill them.
When the disturbance started in Mano Majra, Jagat Singh “Jagga” was in police custody. Along with him, there was Iqbal, educated in England and an expert in preaching Hindu-Muslim unity.

Police frees them from the  jail ,hoping that both of them will help in stopping the villagers from killing the Muslims who were going to Pakistan through this train.

But when Jaggat Singh comes to know about Nooran and the people’s plan about the train, he performs the act of supreme self-sacrifice to save the lives of people. Though there were others also who knew about the plot and wanted to fail their plan but they were unable to prevent the plot against the fleeing Muslims.

When the fanatics prepare to attack the train while passing through Mano Majra railway bridge, Jagat Singh (jagga) appears on the bridge and cuts the rope stretched to sweep off the people sitting on the roof when the train passes through the bridge.
Jagga, in spite of knowing the possible consequences of his decision, does not change his mind. His love for Nooran appears for him to be more valuable than anything. His self sacrifice is motivated by his love for Nooran.
The leader of the gang fires shots at Jugga ,and he falls down: There was a volley of shots. The man shivered and collapsed. The rope snapped in the center as he fell.
The train went over Jugga Singh, and went to Pakistan with his love Nooran and his two months child in her womb.

Moral of Story “Train to Pakistan”
Love has the power to transform a criminal like Jaggat Singh into a courageous human being who sacrifices his own life for the well-being of the other people irrespective of their caste, class and religion.

While Jaggat Singh loses his life in the effort, Iqbal, a non-communal political worker, an idealist and nationalist takes a worldly wise approach and keeps himself away from the trouble.
Jaggat Singh understands the philosophy of “Granth Sahib” in real sense:“If you are going to do something good, the Guru will help you; if you are going to do something bad, the Guru will stand in your way”.

Posted by Engr Maqbool Akram , with help of materials and photos available on Net

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