Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

Refugees of Multan division ignored in 1947

Harjap Singh Aujla
Multan division during the British rule was located to the South West of Lahore division or more appropriately the Central Punjab division. The people of this division consider that they have a markedly different language and culture. In 1947 this division consisted of six districts including Montgomery, Lyallpur, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Mianwali and Jhang. Montgomery was located adjacent to Fazilka Tehsil of Ferozepur district. It was easy for them to cross the bridge on Suleimanki Barrage and enter India. Lyallpur was located adjacent to it. The people of Lyallpur were very influential, they also reached India using their influence and on the strength of their licensed weapons. Loss of life was much less in these districts. The other four districts, where Hindu and Sikh population was very small, were not all that lucky. Their loss of life was more and they arrived last of all in Indian Punjab. Most of them could not be settled in the Punjabi region of East Punjab. A majority of them were settled in the Hisar district. Sirsa Tehsil and Fatehabad area were predominantly Muslim prior to 1947, so those areas became Punjabi speaking after 1947. Sirsa constituency is predominantly Sikh. Some of the Multani Hindus and Sikhs were settled in Rohtak and Gurgaon districts too. They are too few to hold on to their culture for a very long time. Most of the Multanis were settled in Delhi, Rajputana and the United Provinces (UP). Some were settled as far away as Bombay Presidency. It became hard for all of them to save their dialect (Saraiki) and Multani culture. They are slowly adopting the local cultures, where ever they got settled. Some Jangis and Bahawalpuris were settled in Rajpura Tehsil of Patiala, they preserved their culture for a very long time, but in another three decades, they will also be compelled to adopt a new culture. I can say that the Multani language and culture will have to lose their identity in India just as the Sindhis have lost it. Financially they may flourish in Maharashtra and Gujarat, but culturally they will not be able to survive for too long. That is why some scholars are predicting that in another half a century, even Punjabi language, which is the  thirteenth most spoken language of the world, will become extinct. But the Punjabi diaspora from both India and Pakistan in the Western World is not going to let that happen so easily.          

More from this section