Those were the heady days when Partition of the country was announced. Dignified and self-respecting, Ghulam Sarwar Khan was known for taking swift decisions. And when he was asked by his relatives in faraway Peshawar to leave Bombay and return to their home, he took an important decision. “No way, we would not leave Bombay. Now India is our home,” Khan, the father of Dilip Kumar, declared. The actor has narrated this incident in his autobiography The Substance and the Shadow. By 1947, Dilip Kumar was already a star in films. His film Jwar Bhata had released earlier and he was working for Bombay Talkies of the legendary Devika Rani.
And in the Pathan heartland Peshawar, a young Congress activist Taj Mohammad Khan along with several friends and relatives shunned Jinnah’s Pakistan for Gandhi’s India. Taj, the father of the monarch of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan, was greatly influenced by Gandhiji and frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. And when communal riots broke out after Partition, Taj decided to leave his homeland for secular India.
It goes without saying that it would have not been an easy task for the likes of Ghulam Sarwar and Taj Mohammad to settle in India. If not thousands, many Muslims shifted to India from the newly-created Pakistan in 1947 when communal passions were running high. And the number of those who returned from Pakistan after staying there for a couple of weeks or maybe months must be in the thousands. Dozens of Delhi and UP-based Muslims shifted to Karachi only to return home soon.
These Punjabi Muslims have been settled in Delhi since long. They have a dedicated burial ground in Delhi too. M A Abdullah, a young Punjabi and a classmate of Gen. Zia ul Haq at St. Stephen’s, too shifted to Karachi. An uncle of writer Sadia Dehlvi, Abdullah came back with his several cousins as they “dearly missed the life of Delhi-6’’.
After Partition, massive population exchanges occurred between the two countries. Based on 1951 census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan. However, the census failed to identify those Muslims who migrated from Pakistan to India. Once, H C Shourie, who was the Rehabilitation Commissioner of Refugees in New Delhi, told me that several Muslims families from the NWFP region of Pakistan came to India in 1947. It is surprising that the reverse migration, albeit small but very significant, hardly gets any attention from historians.