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Jammu Massacre: The saint who became a shrine — Part III

Once done with the slaughter in the plains of Jammu in early November 1947, the marauding rioters started moving to the mountains to repeat the carnage. But the kill campaign was shielded by a saint, who eventually fell when plotters and executors came together in the Jammu Massacre’s most dramatic encounter.

After killing the saint, his four family members and five of his disciples, the rioter gang celebrated at Arnas, a village in Gool Gulabgarh. Shortly, they went out on a joyride towards Budal village. On their way, they picked up some labourers to carry their booty. Among them was a ‘clever’ labourer from Budhan — the village where the saint was killed and subsequently enshrined.

Years later, that labourer, Karim Hajam would talk about the aftermath of the massacre and its gruesome detail. He would bump into Haji Abdul Majid Bhat, the fact-finder of Peer Fateh Shah’s fate in the Jammu Massacre, as an octogenarian man with a ‘sharp memory’. Among other things, he would tell Bhat how the rioters who had blood on their hands met their end in the most ‘mystifying’ manner.

“That night [after killing the saint at Budhan village], the gang made a Jashn at Arnas. They shortly passed through Kanti, Bagli, Chana, Shikari, Thiloo and other villagers in a joyful caravan, before taking refuge inside a fort at Patni Mahaz,” Hajam told Bhat.

ALSO READ: Jammu Massacre: The saint who became a shrine — Part I

By the time they retired to the fort, Hajam would count their strength at around 100. “While they began making arrangements for dinner inside, we labourers were left outside the gates—unattended and hungry.”

Under the murky sky, a ‘mystifying’ event shortly took place, which would fascinate Hajam throughout his life.

Towards the rear side of the fort, a stranger wearing a green dress with Chadar slung over his shoulder would appear from the woods and menacingly stop in front of the huddled labourers.

“Even before we could react or run, he calmed us down: ‘I know you’re labourers. Stay calm. But listen, don’t fret, if you hear some sound. Just stay quiet.’ With that, the man disappeared from our sight,” Bhat quotes Hajam as having said.

While the simpletons picked up by the murderous rioters as their bonded workforce were still mulling over the man—‘Who was he? Why did he tell us about that sound? What was his secret?’—that a rattling sound came from the fort where the band was merry-making. 

ALSO READ: Jammu Massacre: The saint who became a shrine — Part II

“It was an explosion,” Hajam recalled. “And soon, the fort was gripped with silence and smoke. We ran for our lives. It was only later that we learned that all rioters present inside the fort were dispatched to hell!”

As a native of Budhan village—the spiritual seat of Peer Fateh Shah—Hajam was privy to some of the mysticism that the saint had demonstrated during his lifetime. But he never understood the appearance and disappearance of the man who descended from the woods and soon triggered the fort explosion, to kill around 100 rioters. 

Who was the man, he could never know. But what he did know was how Peer Fateh Shah had made a prophecy, shortly after Jammu became a mortuary for Muslims: “While I love to attain martyrdom in the way of my pious forefathers, but those involved in it would meet a terrible end!” 

Even Bhat would later reconfirm this prophecy—while meeting other survivors of that carnage.

ALSO READ: JammuMassacre@70: The tale of two migrations

Not every rioter, however, that had turned up to kill the saint at Budhan village had died in that mysterious fort blast. Many survived, only to suffer the terrible fate later.

During his research, Bhat met another eyewitness of the massacre aftermath. Her name was Zubaida Begum, who had seen the pitiable plight of the saint’s killers. 

She narrated an incident of one Bijay Ram alias Bijoo Kodha of Chandhi village.

“I’m an eyewitness of his fate,” Zubaida told Bhat when he met her during his research trip. “Soon after the massacre, he got afflicted with kodh [leprosy]. His hands, feet and limbs started rotting, while his muscles wasted. His festered wounds oozed with blood and pus. He was abandoned by his family and loathed by the locality. Everybody in Chandhi village knew that Bijoo Kodha was ‘suffering due to his own sin’ that he committed with his rioter pack. He was one of those murderers who killed the saint and his family.” 

ALSO READ: JammuMassacre@70: How a Hindu journalist recorded the Muslim Massacre

Another rioter, named Hukm Chand of Suli village, met somewhat the same horrible end.  

“He too faced Allah’s wrath for his actions,” Zubaida told the researcher. “The piece of land on which his house was situated started sliding soon after the slaughter. And shortly the whole mountain crumbled and he was buried in it along with his family.” The incident shook the whole village for years to come.

Similarly, Bhat says, the other killers of the saint met the same horrifying end—some developed life-threatening diseases, others suffered premature deaths of their loved ones and many suffered misfortune in their lives. 

ALSO READ: JammuMassacre@70: The slaughter secret and the military revolt in Poonch

“Those weren’t common sufferings,” Zubaida told Bhat. “There was a clear pattern. All of those culprits couldn’t live fulfilled lives. They were doomed for their misdeeds in this world only.”

But the aftermath story of the Jammu Massacre does not end there. 

There’re many undocumented cases where the rioters met such a ghastly end that they became pariah for their own community. Even some big leaders who presided over the Jammu Massacre suffered a silent doomed fate. But that’s another story.

 

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