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Hindu sacrificed his child to keep word to Muslim

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Here is a real story from Pakistan’s Faisalabad, the kind of stuff we no longer come across. During the 1947 Hindu-Muslim riots on the eve of Partition innumerable people were killed, many became homeless and refugees. Many known and unknown stories of brutalities and human valour, faithfulness and faithlessness of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims have come to light over the years and are preserved in print or on celluloid. One of the rare stories of chivalry that came to light recently was of a father-son duo. The father was master Maan Singh and the son Charan Singh.

In 1947, Charan Singh of Ghuman village of Amritsar district, was a young boy of 17 years. He had fallen in love with a girl of his village. When the riots erupted and Hindus-Sikhs and Muslims became thirsty for each others’ blood, senior people of the village decided that all Hindus and Sikhs will protect their Muslim brethren. They also decided that if a Muslim family is harmed in any way, people of the village will compensate it. Charan Singh, who is now 80, narrates that after his two sons were killed in communal riots, one Noor Muhammad of his village came weeping along with his wife to his father Master Maan Singh and told him about the incident. Maan Singh had agreed with others to help their Muslim brethren and compensate their losses. In this situation, he could not decide how to compensate Noor Muhammad. After a pause, it dawned on him that since Noor Muhammad’s sons cannot be brought back to life, he offered his only son Charan Singh to Noor Muhammad who kept refusing the offer but finally succumbed to Maan Singh’s insistence. Noor Muhammad, after the death of his sons, decided to migrate to Pakistan. Maan Singh said while consoling his son Charan Singh that though he made a mistake by making such an offer but a promise is a promise and it has to be honoured by his son as the father expects sons to honour his word. Charan Singh was hesitant at first but in the end he agreed to do what his father told him and left behind his parents’ love and affection, his native village, relatives and friends and of course his sweet-heart and accompanied Noor Muhammad to Pakistan where they settled in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad).

Noor Muhammad could not settle himself financially in Pakistan and because of this, his adopted son who was now called “Manzoor”, could not complete his education. In order to help Noor Muhammad, Manzoor started to work early to supplement the family’s income. Now he is a Pakistani but memories of his parents, his native village, friends, relatives and of course his sweetheart still torment him. These afflictions and agonies made him a poet who is now famous and popular in Pakistan and is known as "Manzoor Jugnoo". Now after such a long time, neither Maan Singh nor Noor Muhammad are alive but Charan Singh/Manzoor Jugnoo is still living up to the word of honour given by his father. People like Master Maan Singh no longer walk our earth.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 August 2010 on page no. 1

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