‘Have you heard about ‘Nizamabad Lohars’? They are famous for their ironworks expertise. They manufactured cutlery and arms... They were the people who mainly killed the Hindus and Sikhs and looted their properties... The tales of the killings of Hindus and Sikhs in the area are well-known from Gujranwala to Wazirabad...
As a native of Gujranwala, I had heard similar stories of non-Muslim massacres since my childhood. It was only during the course of fieldwork for this study that I followed up on these popular stories. I utilised local knowledge to track down respondents, and in doing so, discovered hidden stories of Partition that have not found their way into any written accounts.
Khosla, in his work Stern Reckoning, has briefly mentioned the brutality of Nizamabad Lohars on the Hindu and Sikh population, and has pointed out their involvement in the derailment of a refugee train near Wazirabad. This apart, the material on the hamlahawars in Gujranwala represent an important advance in historical knowledge by uncovering the actual perpetrators of the violence.
The firsthand accounts deliver a graphic account of the violence unleashed upon the Hindus and the Sikhs. They provide evidence of the existence of organisation and well-planned raids on trains, and the systematic slaughter of non-Muslim passengers and the general loot of their processions afterwards. One of the most striking elements uncovered in the eye-witness account was that there was, in fact, connivance between the individual railway-drivers and the local Lohar perpetrators to stop the trains for ambush at a ‘marked point’.