A Prosperous and Peaceful Village Life – Pre-Partition

R P Bhatla


R P Bhatla

R P Bhatla is an AMIE (India) Engineer in Civil Engineering. He retired in 1994 as Deputy General Manager from Engineers India Ltd. He continued to work as General Manager, Triune Projects Ltd., General Manager Enron India, General Manager, PLL/Simon Carves India Ltd, and Advisor L&amp\;T Faridabad.

Editor's note: This is the first of several stories related to the life of the Bhatla family before and after the Partition of India in 1947.

In 1930, my father, Sakhir Chand, became the Kar Dar (estate manager) for Ahmadyar Khan. Mr Khan owned more than 500 acres of land in Kot KhanVillage, in District Jhang in West Punjab, which became a part of Pakistan in 1947.

uch of the land was by the side of the river Jhelum. It was fertile land, irrigated by the Persian water wheel, an ancient system of lifting water from open wells. My father's job involved a lot of running around to supervise everything that had happened on the estate. In addition, he had to co-ordinate all court cases related to the land and its owner. My father and his forefathers had earned and lived on this arrangement for more than a hundred years.

It was a good, comfortable living. My father's compensation was a percentage of the estate's production: grain produced, cattle feedstock, and fresh vegetables. There was a small cash payment also. Our place had about a hundred date trees, which gave us a variety of date fruit. The family had plenty of food and always some spare money. The three brothers together in one family with common income were doing well, and the joint family had accumulated plenty of gold &amp\; jewellery.

My grandparents had expired before my father got married. In 1931, when he was 35 years old, my father married Maya, daughter of Karam Chand Bhandula, who himself had been a Kar Dar of a rich Hindu zamindar family at Chella village in District Jhang for many years. Karam Chand's family was well to do.

Maya, my mother, was only 17 when she got married. But, soon after her marriage, my mother became the boss of the house with my father playing the second fiddle. She had no formal education but could easily read Hindi and Punjabi religious books. However, she could not write.

It was joint family with my father and Wazir Chand, his older brother and Bishan Dass, his younger brother. Wazir Chand was a primary school teacher, while Bishan Dass had a shop that sold cloth. My father's brothers were also hen pecked by their wives. Overall, the family life was peaceful. It was an ideal living situation with all cousin brothers and sisters (eight boys and three girls) playing, often joking, and running around.

Kot Khan village had a primary school up to Standard 6. The school had a large compound with a number of classrooms. Its main problem was that school did not have English. The emphasis was on mathematics and Urdu language. The firm foundation set for arithmetic at this school proved good for me over the years in high school and later. After Standard 6, you had to look for a new school with English language.

It appears unbelievable today that the Standard 4 final examination used to be held at another village, about 6 km away. Similarly, the Standard 6 final examination was also held at another school some distance away. The young students had to walk a long distance to appear for the test and tread back same day.

In Standard 6, when the final examination's date was approaching, the school used to arrange special classes in the school premises at night. The students were required to sleep at school. The school headmaster, Mr Elahi Bakhash, was a highly motivated teacher who used to keep track of his good students. One of his sons was also a teacher at the school.

When World War II ended in 1945, the school celebrated it and Ladoos distributed to all students, with a holiday the following day. People hoped that the end of the war would mean a return to normal life. For example, before the war, wheat was available at 5-7 kg per rupee. During the war, the price more than tripled to 1.5 kg per rupee.

I remember going with my family on foot or bicycles to village Chella, about 5 km away, to see Ramlila, which was regularly celebrated every year. There used to be a Mela at village Massan at Dusserah time, when all Hindus would get together every year, stay there for 3-4 days to perform any religious ceremononies. Massan, on the right bank of river Chenab, was famous for its temples. Even political parties would hold meetings at this location and state their viewpoints. On Baisakhi day (13th April) every year, most Hindus would go to river Jhelum, about 1.5 km away, to bathe in it.

Kabadi was a very popular game at Kot Khan. There would be matches between college going students and the local rustics. Another local game was Guli danda, which we played in the clean and hard ground east of village Kot Khan. Most of the boys participated in this game, which involved a lot of running around.

My tauji (father's older brother), Wazir Chand, died at a relatively young age s of about 46 years. He was remembered for his kind and generous approach as the oldest male member and head of the family. Soon after her husband's death, our taiji (tauji's wife) wanted the joint family to be divided, with each of the three brothers getting his due share. Her main concern was that she wanted to be sure that she would get and receive her ornaments and her share of the family's cash, which she wanted to invest in her sons' education. She had three sons. The oldest son was studying in DAV College, Lahore, and other two sons were studying in a high school at Adhiwal, which was half way between Jhang and Meghiana towns.

My taiji got the old house in which the joint family had lived. Two new identical houses were constructed side by side for my father and his younger brother, and we shifted to the new houses after the family split. We had a common compound in this newly constructed house. There were some tensions when the young boys would intrude into each other's space. The family ladies would often crib and argue, but I never observed any shouting by the men or the cousins. We had a very cordial relationship with our cousins throughout.

In those times, in our community, the girls were given education in temples, without any formal school education. This was the case for my sister in Kot Khan, though she did attend a formal school soon after Partition, and earned her Matric (Standard 10) degree.

Our relations with Muslims were generally peaceful. There were no untoward incidents except some theft of a cow or a buffalo. During World War II days there was some politics creeping in the village life. Some sort of compromise would be made as to who would become the village's Numberdar (senior officer).

Hindu and Muslim marriages were celebrated separately. However, a few selected persons were invited to Muslim marriages. Since we were close to the Khan family, we were always invited to their weddings. But, we never ate at their house because beef was served at their parties. Instead, we would be given dry food supplies, which we would cook separately at our home.

Muslims were generally not invited to Hindu weddings. However, the Hindu families would always deliver some gifts to the homes of their Muslim friends and acquaintances, as a token of mutual respect.

There was never any quarrel between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus would participate in the Muslims' religious discourses, which were in chaste Urdu but always secular in nature. These were held at least twice a year in open compounds, and attracted a large number of people who came to listen and participate.

At Kot Khan, the Bhatla community had constructed a Gurudwara and appointed a Granthi (a preacher), even though there were no Sikh families living there. The gurudwara was quite boisterous with weekly gatherings. There was also a Hindu temple with a Pujari for religious ceremonies. The Hindus would generally ask the Hindu pujari to select the date for a wedding or any other auspicious occasion. But for day-to-day religion, the Hindus of Kot Khan were more comfortable with Sikh scriptures.

My maternal grandparents belonged to Chella village, at a distance of 5 km. We often spent some days of our summer vacation there. Chella was a bigger village with a middle school. The next stop for education beyond Kot Khan was Chella. This village had a large Hindu population and was more prosperous with rich Hindus living there.

My maternal grandparents shifted from Chella to a village known as Chak Number 383, near a town called Toba Tek Singh, and opened a shop there. This was a predominantly Muslim area, with just a few Hindus who used to work as traders. I had shifted to their home for my Class 5 because the school there used to teach English, unlike the school in Kot Khan. I got admission in an Islamia high school at Kaloya near Toba Tek Singh. This school had predominantly Muslim students with only four or five Hindu students. I spent one year in this school 1946-47 but found no differences because of religion. The teachers were more interested in students based on their merit.

In 1947, when problems between Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities started rising up, and peace hung in the balance, I was shifted back to my parents in Kot Khan. I had then sought admission in a school at Kot Shakir across the river Jhelum and stayed in the hostel there.

Things were going well for all the three families in 1947. There was enough money, and the families' sons were studying in English medium schools or DAV College, Lahore.

Then came the Partition of India. On a national level, it did make India independent. On a personal level, it destroyed our families' peaceful and prosperous lives.


© R P Bhatla 2012


Dear Bhatia Sir, I am grandson of Master Ram Ditta Mal Kakar (Kakkar) from Jhang district. My grandfather was from Kakinau and my grandmother was from Shorkot (Malhotra). MY great grand father's name was Sh. Ladha Ram Kakar. Did yu know any Kakar's from Kakinau? Or do you know anyone who can share details of Kakinau village? My family moved to Amritsar and later moved to Rohtak in India

I am hasham i am living in kaki nau shorkot city You can contact me on my email id hashamzahoor@yahoo.com

No comments as I have no knowledge of any Kakars or Kakinaur. Thanks for your interest in my story.

this is just to add a little bit of history of a JHANG FAMILY of SETHIS.My father Chaudhry Jai Ram Dass Sethi moved away from Jhang to L:yallpur to practice law. Thats were i was born in 1931-(Just for comparison my eldest brother was born in Lyallpur in 1913--the reverse of 1931!-)the youngest of six brothers and two sisters, My fathereselder brother and youngere brother stayed on in Jhang as there were big zamindar and were qualified Lawyers.The famous grave of HEER was in our land. My fathers elder brother was Ram Ditta Mal.And goes back further 5 generations to Shri Jhangi Ram and Bhawani Dass.Jhang was,ion those days,known as NEW LAHORE.Well, now its Good Bye Jhang for all us jhangis.

Dear Sir, Good day. I hope you will be fine and enjoying good health. I have been there in Kot Khan, Jhang last month. I visited the place where your home exist and " Shahn di Haveli" as well. The place is still occupied by some local native villagers. Sir I shall be more than happy to reply you if you want to share and discuss anything related to your memories of Kot Khan. Regards, Hassan Ahmad

Mr Hassan Ahmad, No further comments please

I am great grandson of chanan das Sikka, he had seven sons, I am grand son of the youngest bhagwant Lal sikka

No comments


Dear Mr Bhatla, Your story reminded me of my Grand Father who was born in jhang in 1900, Shiv Lal Sikka . After completing his studies got government job in jhang municipality in the accounts department. During partition migrated to New Delhi and got a job in Delhi Muncipality and a quarter in Lodhi Garden to stay. He was married to Maya Devi Sikka who belonged to Meghana . His eldest son was born in jhang only, Harbans Lal Sikka , my father, who was in 9th standard when partition took place. If anyone knows more about the forefathers; do share; it will be highly appreciated.

Is there any knowledge of kathiyan de basti in jhang district?

Yes i have My email Hashamzahoor@yahoo.com

Hi Jitender My G Father and his family moved from Basti Kathian near Sadiq Nhang (Dist Shorkot). Let us try connecting. My email address is Deepak.arora@dish.com Regards Deepak Arora

Namaskar Bhatia ji In Adhiwal there used to be Baba Bramh Das ji ki kutiya. Baba baramh Das Ji's disciple was Baba Shiv Ram Das ji and Baba Shiv Ram Das jis disciple was Swami Gurcharan Das ji who had served Jhang community during all those partition crises and also thereafter..Can you pls through some light on them as I am writing a book . Spiritual Biography of a true Saint. Regards Raj Chawla 9212548183

Wasu Astana, jhang is my hometown which is now in Atharahazari tehsil. There is a Sharma shale in wasu along with a big mansion and the temple is now in our possession

Hello My grandfather, Jagdish Chandra Katyal fled Jhang during 1947 when he was around 10, His maternal house was in village Chella. He has told me stories that when the tension was boiling up the local hindu and punjabi communities hid themselves in a kind of 2-3 story building with all the supplies and would through boiling oil, bricks and rock to the attackers. I've mapped out the KATYAL FAMILY TREE of my family till 7 generations behind me. hit me up on email if you want to know more.

Hello, I was fascinated to read all the posts from so many people with Jhang ancestry. My grandfather Rai Sahib Dr. Dev Raj Sehgal was from Jhang and my late father Dr. Vidya Sagar Sehgal grew up there. After partition, my family left and mainly settled down in Delhi. I would love to hear from anyone who was familiar with my family.

[quote=wajid khan]hello mr bhatla my name is wajid and i read all your story of kot khan and migration it will sound great to you that i am also from kot khan i am bloch by cast and now a days i am in london my wife is the great grand daughter of khan ( alyana )family. for whom your father is working for i hope you will reply me i am writing you my email address please write to me[/quote]


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