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Babara Massacre, 12th August, 1948

BABARA MASSACRE0214th of August 1948 was celebrated in NWFP with drums and flags by Muslim League sponsored crowds. Just 2 days before, a painful and shamefule event of Babarha massacre occurred on 12 August 1948. Jinnah Sahib dismissed the legitimate government of Dr. Khan Sahib in June1948. A government of Muslim league leader, kashmiri born, Abdul Qayyum Khan was installed in NWFP now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Abdul Qayyum not only dismissed the elected government but arrested Khudai Khidmatgaar leader Bacha Khan who was a social reformer and preacher of non- violence, a symbol of peace and devoted fully to the service of humanity. Jinnah Sahib was the first head of Government of Pakistan who dismissed the first elected government of a province. On his foot steps many subsequent democratic governments were dismissed by governor generals and then by military dictators. He initiated the proxy rule of same British rulers in Pakistan.


In July 1948, the provincial governor of NWFP promulgated an ordinance which authorized the government of detaining any one indefinitely and confiscating their properties without disclosing any reason to the detainee. The worse thing was that these detainees were even not allowed to challenge their arrests in the courts. The shameful part of this ordinance was that the governor was feeling so guilty of this act that he stated clearly that he is promulgating this ordinance on the special orders of Governor General Muhammad Jinnah. Hundreds of nationalists were arrested, tortured and their properties were confiscated under this ordinance.Therefore against this and to protest against the arrests of Bacha Khan, Dr Khan Saib, Qazi Attah-ullah, Arbab Abdul Ghafoor Khan and other notables, it was decided that the Khudai Khidmatgars would in a peaceful procession march from Charsadda to Babarha on 12th August 1948. The march was announced ahead of time in the major newspapers, all participants were told to congregate at Charsadda empty handed and to peacefully march to the Babarha grounds. There seemed to be no objection from the government. It was decided that not even a stick would be allowed in the procession. As soon as crowd of many thousands of peaceful and well disciplined Khudai Khidmatgaars , young, old and middle- aged reached the Babarha grounds ,the ruthless Muslim league leader Abdul Qayyum Khan arrived with armed police, militia and the red shirts were surrounded by armed vehicles and tanks. They kept marching so Indiscriminate fire was opened on the peaceful protesters. Women of the village seeing their men razed to the ground put Quran on their heads and rushed into the foray screaming for the firing to stop, but their pleas fell on deaf ears and were as mercilessly shot and killed. Unarmed women and men were killed regardless of their age or sex.

After 45 minutes when the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared, there were about 750 dead and a 1350 injured. Two hundred and fifty bodies that were thrown into the river, No mercy was shown to the injured either and many drowned, many were never recovered. The real number of dead may never be known for what followed was even more inhumane, and many chose not to disclose who in their families had perished.


In September 1948, then Chief Minister, Abdul Qayyum Khan gave a statement in the provincial assembly, “I had imposed section 144 at Babra. When the people did not disperse, then firing was opened on them. They were lucky that the police had finished ammunition; otherwise not a single soul would have been left alive”. Khan Qayyum said hinting at the four members of the opposition in the provincial assembly. He said; “If they were killed, the government would not care about them.

The great Bacha Khan said on the issue during the budget session of Assembly on March 20, 1954:

“Six years ago, I announced on the floor of this House that Pakistan is our country and its solidarity and protection is our duty and that any program that will be submitted by any party for its progress and its reconstruction shall have my fullest cooperation. I repeat those words of mine even today. But still there are some persons who suspect my loyalty. I therefore think that it would be advisable to set up a tribunal to inquire not only into the question of loyalty or treason but also into the general massacre, arson and loot and the dishonoring of women and children and old men at Charsadda and the oppressive treatment meted out to us in jail.”

Mr. Suharawardy, President of the Awami League, told a large gathering in Dacca on July 1950 that the barbarous massacre of the Red Shirts committed at Charsadda in 1948 surpassed the massacre committed by the British in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919.

By Asghar Ali Khan


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