Amritsar

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Golden Temple India.

Amritsar, historically also known as Rāmdāspur and colloquially as Ambarsar, is a city in north-western part in India and the administrative headquarters of the Amritsar district in the state of Punjab. It is home to the Harmandir Sahib (commonly known as the Golden Temple), the spiritual and cultural center for the Sikh religion. This important Sikh shrine attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal with more than 100,000 visitors on week days alone and is the most popular destination for non-resident Indians (NRI) in the whole of India.

Quotes about Amritsar during the Partition of India[edit]

  • In the history of the Muslim League War on the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab in 1947, Amritsar occupies an outstanding position. It was in this city, along with Lahore, though with an intensity even greater than in the latter town, that the most sustained war, lasting for over five months was waged on the Hindus and Sikhs, especially the latter, by the Amritsar Muslims. In the scheme of the Muslim League, Amritsar appears to have been Theatre of War No. 1. ... Amritsar, to use a not inappropriate parallel, became a kind of Stalingrad of this Muslim League-Sikh War.
  • No one in the whole city ate anything on this night; no one slept a wink. The whole town was ringing with the yells of the attacking Muslims and the defiant shouts of Hindus and Sikhs. Flames were rising and tall buildings were gutted with huge fires. (149)... During the night, the Hindu and Sikh quarters got hell. Parties of Muslims would go about shouting Pakistan and Islamic slogans, setting fire to Hindu and Sikh houses... Hindus and Sikhs trying to escape from flames were lynched by the mob. A large part of Amritsar was reduced to cinders and rubble in the fires of this night and the one following it. If one stood on the top of a high building in the night, red flames could be seen rising high, spread over large areas, lending a terrible and awful glow to the darkness of the night... Attacks on Sikhs found anywhere became a feature of the Muslim campaign in Amritsar. Any Sikh found anywhere on the road was attacked and killed. A large number of Sikhs coming from the villages around Amritsar, and many pilgrims coming from outside to visit Darbar Sahib were stabbed by Muslim parties lying in ambush.... Besides the Muslim mobs and assassins, Muslim police shot out of hand any Sikh or Hindu they could lay hands on. Muslim police are known to have gone about prowling of a night, to have sometimes called out of their homes Hindus and Sikhs and to have shot them dead on the spot. This practice they called ‘shikar’ and it was a terror for Hindus and Sikhs.
  • In towns like Amritsar, where the earliest attacks occurred, even before any Hindu or Sikh was thinking that fighting would take place, the Muslims were fully prepared for the offensive. For example, they had distributed among their own folk all the available sword-blades in Amritsar. On Muslim shops had been written in prominent lettering ‘Muslim Shop’ in Urdu to protect these shops from planned arson.
  • Amritsar was the spiritual capital of the Sikhs, and Sikh history is full of wars waged by Sikhs in the pre-Ranjit Singh Era for the recovery of Amritsar from the hands of Muslims who desecrated the holy Hari Mandir (the Golden Temple of, later days) and filled the sacred Tank with sand. ... To surrender Amritsar to the Muslims would mean practically the writing off of Sikh history and admitting a status inferior to that of the Muslims in the Punjab-a status, in view of the past record and declared ambitions and methods of the Muslim League, of serfdom. To break the Sikh resistance and morale in Amritsar was, therefore, of the first importance... As a result of the Muslim campaign of arson, from the 5th March onwards, more than one-fourth of the city of Amritsar has been laid in ruins-the worst sufferer in this respect among the cities of the Punjab.
  • The comments of the Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government of those days, Mr. Akhtar Hussain; are significant:... “The two cities have shown some distinctive features in their disorders and in Lahore stabbings had the place in favour taken by crude bombs in Amritsar. However, both have points in common, the most important of which have been arson and the signs of better organization and greater determination which have emerged. In respect of arson Muslims have been the main culprits and there have been numerous acts of incendiarism in both places resulting in conflagrations which have taxed the available army and civil resources to their utmost limit.”
    • About riots in 1947. Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government Mr. Akhtar Hussain;Gurbachan Singh Talib, Muslim League Attack on the Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab, 1947 (1950) p 161-2

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