Friday 27 September 2019

103 - Home of PM Inder Kumar Gujral in Jhelum City

The areas which later on became part of Pakistan gave three prime ministers to India. Mr Gulzari Lal Nanda (Sialkot), Mr Inder Kumar Gujral (Jhelum) and Mr Manmohan Singh (Chakwal). The subject of this post is Mr Inder Kumar Gujral.

Inder Kumar Gujral was born on 4th of December, 1919, in Jhelum. The family of Inder Kumar originally belonged to a small village Pari Darweza near Sohawa, in the same district, at  33° 1'53.19"N, 73°12'56.44"E. His father Avtar Narain was an advocate and practiced in Jhelum city. He was also very active in politics and was the district president of Congress party in Jhelum. Due to his political activities against the British Raj, he went to jail several times. His wife Pushpa Gujral, was a brave lady and faced all hardships with fortitude and courage that they had to face because of their political activities. She also actively mobilized women of the city for the struggle for freedom.

Their home is located at 32°55'54.70"N, 73°44'12.04"E. At the time when I visited this place on 14 August 2019, I thought I have located the house where Inder Kumar spent his childhood. However, while searching for some material for this article, I found online an autobiography of Inder Kumar Gujral, in the very first chapter he tells us about visiting his birthplace in 1982. This informs us about two houses associated with the immediate family of Gujral. The house which I visited is located at a distance of nearly 100 meters from the original old house of Gujrals. Due to having no idea of that house I could not visit the childhood house of IK Gujral at that time.

The childhood house of IK Gujral was a hub of political activities.  Inder Kumar also started taking interest in political activities at a very young age and was even jailed during the Quit India movement in 1942. Gujral got his early education at Govt. High School Jhelum and later studied at DAV College (now Islamia College Civil Lines), Hailey College of Commerce and Forman Christian College, Lahore. He married Shila Gujral, a resident of Lahore, in 1945.

I was informed that the extended family of Gujrals owned several houses adjacent to each other. Currently, Mr Waqqas Ullah Jarral, with his family is living in one of the houses of Gujrals. His grand father retired headmaster Mr Wali Ullah Khan met Inder Kumar Gujral when he visited Jhelum in 1982. The house in which they are currently living belonged to the sister of Avtar Narain, father of Inder Kumar. They purchased this house in 1970 and had originally migrated from Rajouri in 1948. Inder Kumar Gujral even helped Wali Ullah Khan in getting the visa for India and he then visited Rajouri. I kept in touch with Waqas sahib and he also confirmed me that the original old house of Gujral family was indeed at a little distance from the new house. The old building has been demolished and Malik Zia ud Din has constructed a new house at that place. Gujrals shifted to the new house in the early 1940s.

A the time of Independence Gujral family was living in Karachi. Where IK Gujral had set up his business in foreign trade. In his autobiography, Matters of Discretion, he tells the circumstances in which they had to leave their home in the following words:
In early 1947, when the end of the British rule became imminent, my father was elected to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi, as a result of which my parents and rest of the family, except my younger brother Satish, moved to that city. Sadly, our hopes of India - Pakistan friendship did not last for more than a few days after 15 August 1947. In the four days after the celebrations of azadi (independence) in both countries, Punjab (on both sides of the border) was reduced to open anarchy. Seventy thousand Muslims from India arrived in Lahore. The media reported that the Pakistan Government had opened camps to shelter nearly 40,000 people, and the rest were forced to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, droves of Hindus and Sikhs fled the city. In April 1947, the Hindu and Sikh population had been estimated at 300,000. By August 1947, it was barely 10,000. It was futile to expect that the fire of revenge would not spread to the other side. 
As soon as horrifying news of massacres in India reached Karachi, the prime minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan called a midnight meeting of the non-Muslim MPs to give them his assessment of the situation on both sides of the border. His presentation was partisan but his anxieties were realistic. He was worried that the strong desire for revenge on both sides might end in a series of holocausts. He asked the four Hindus and Sikh members to urgently leave for Delhi to ensure the safety of the Muslims there and to end the cycle of revenge. In a way, it was a relief when my father told us that he had accepted Liaqat Ali Khan's advice to go to Delhi.
As a part of the scheme of partition, the East Bengal Assembly had elected twenty-one non-Muslim members, with Kiran Shankar Ray as its leader, while four Hindus and Sikhs were elected from the West Punjab. Their first meeting was held at our Karachi residence on 13 August 1947 to constitute the 'Congress Party in Pakistan Parliament' with Ray as its leader and Bhim Sen Sachar as its deputy leader. My father was elected as the chief whip-cum-secretary of the party. 
We were deeply worried about Satish, who had stayed back in Lahore to take care of his newly established studio on McLeod Road. He was living in a "Hindu/Sikh" area Nishat Cinema. His physical disability compounded his difficulties and our anxieties. In those days of obsolete means of communication, we were not able to get him on the phone. But, fortunately, he somehow managed to survive despite the horrific killings in his locality.  
We heard Mohammad Ali Jinnah's historic speech in Parliament promising that the new Pakistan would be 'a secular, democratic and modern state'. Unfortunately, that was a short-lived illusion. The atrocious riots on both sides of the border ended all hopes and visions of 'two friendly nations'. My father along with his colleagues first went to Delhi to meet Mahatma Gandhi and then rushed to Lahore to take Satish back to Jhelum. His telephone call to us (in Karachi) from Jhelum was full of pain and agony. In no uncertain terms, he asked me to pack up and send the women in the family out of Pakistan immediately even if I could not leave in a hurry. My mother and the rest of the extended family left for Bombay on a Scindia Steam Navigation ship. I stayed back in the hope that the 'tornado of violence' might be short-lived. It was not to be. My cousin and I quickly wound up our business after the Karachi riots and left for Delhi in 1948 without any idea what the future held for us. 

Below are given the pictures of those houses which the extended Gujral family owned and IK Gujral's family shifted to in the early 1940s. 
One of the houses of the extended Gujral family. (14.08.2019.)

Another view of the house, which must be a century old. (14.08.2019.)

The writer. (14.08.2019.)

Wooden balconies still exist on two sides of the double storey building. Gujrals purchased this house somewhere between 1942 - 1945. (14.08.2019.)

Despite not having proper care, the building still retains some of its past beauty. (14.08.2019.)

A section of a newer building, which I was informed, was built by the father of Inder Kumar Gujral. (14.08.2019.)

The house on the right side, was also part of the house constructed by the Inder Kumar's father. (14.08.2019.)

An inner view of the house of Gujrals. (14.08.2019.)

A side view of the house. (14.08.2019.)

Another view. (14.08.2019.)

Now all the pictures below are of the house of Avtar Narain's sister, aunt of Inder Kumar Gujral. In this house presently Mr Waqas Ullah Jarral lives with his family.  

A beautifully carved door of the house. (14.08.2019.)

A jharoka. (14.08.2019.)

It is also a two storey house. (14.08.2019.)

A view from the back narrow street. (14.08.2019.)

The entrance of the older house. (14.08.2019.)

Mr Mnazoor (left) and Mr Waqas (right), the current residents of these houses. (14.08.2019.)

A room on the first floor(14.08.2019.)

A view from the first floor. (14.08.2019.)

Rooms on the first floor. (14.08.2019.)

Stairs. (14.08.2019.)

The inner section of the first floor. (14.08.2019.)

Windows open into a room on the ground floor. (14.08.2019.)

A kind of partition between a room on the first floor and the ground floor. (14.08.2019.)

Wooden beams in a room. (14.08.2019.)

Back street. (14.08.2019.)

All these houses and also on the other side belonged to Gujrals. (14.08.2019.)

A section of wooden balconies still survive. (14.08.2019.)

The following passage is from the autobiography of Inder Kumar Gujral: The Matters of Discretion. In this passage he describes his visit to Jhelum:
In late 1982, both Sheil (my wife) and I went to Pakistan. Driving on the familiar highway filled us with nostalgia. I observed that neither had the width of the Grand Trunk (GT) Road increased nor had its surface improved even though the traffic had substantially gone up over the decades. The terrain was still arid without any visible land-reclamation activity for agricultural purposes or for developmental activities. The rural houses did not show any improvement. 
As we approached my old school on the GT road, I recalled that, during my childhood, the land was barren and arid. It was the only government high school in the district. In the early 1920s, electricity and the modern sanitation system had not yet touched Jhelum, nor was any public transport available from my house to the school. Consequently, my cousin and I used to ride double on my old bicycle. In the harsh summers, I once fell victim to a heat stroke. We were then provided the services of a tonga (a light horse-drawn vehicle). Electricity reached Jhelum in 1927 when discarded diesel-powered generators of the Lahore Electricity Supply were shifted there. Till then, very few towns of the Punjab had seen an electric bulb or a fan. 
It was almost dusk by the time we reached our own house at 1, River Road. Two new houses had been added, which obstructed the view of the majestic river. The river brought back to me the tragic memory of the drowning of my younger brother Raj. Ours was a large, double storey house whose hallmark was simplicity. 
Sheil and I went upstairs to look at our bedroom and the adjoining open-air terrace where we spent quite a bit of time after our marriage. The first floor of the house had been allotted to two migrant families from Kashmir, whereas the ground floor occupants were from Ludhiana (now in Punjab, India). An old lady told Sheil with a great deal of affection: 'We had an equally good home in Ludhiana but the rioters ravaged it forcing us to leave. We then drove to our previous house in Jhelum, which was ready for demolition. The new owners were planning to build a shopping arcade there. 
It was in this house that my parents had initiated themselves into the Gandhian struggle for the liberation of the country. As a young boy my mind was politically shaped here. I pointed out to Sheil a nearby small police post where an angry policeman had once severely thrashed me for leading a small procession of young boys shouting anti-British slogans. My mother had seen everything from the window of her upstairs bedroom but she neither showed her anguish nor lamented. She took me in her arms without a word of remorse. Later, she narrated the incident to my father when we went for our weekly meeting with him in Gujrat Jail. 
The above paragraphs from his autobiography suggest that the family lived in two houses. At the time of my visit I did not know this fact, so did not enquire about any second home. To clarify this matter I contacted Mr Waqqas again and he confirmed that indeed Gujrals lived about 100 meters away in another house in his childhood.

Now the question is not just about two houses, but we have two visits also to find details about. First, he visited Jhelum in 1982 and second time probably in 1992. An article in rediff provides us details of his visit to Jhelum in 1992.
Jhelum proud of PM
Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral is the pride and talk of the town in Jhelum, his birthplace in Pakistan. His elevation to the premier's post has stimulated hopes in Pakistan for better relations between the two countries. Press reports on Wednesday said that Jhelum expects their native boy to resolve the Kashmir problem which Islamabad says lies at the core of 50 years of hostile relations. Some Jhelum natives hope that Gujral would allow them to travel to India without visa, reported the mass-circulated Urdu newspaper Jang. 
Gujral was born in Jhelum in December 1919. His family migrated to India in the mass exchange of Hindu and Muslim populations that accompanied the Partititon of British India into the independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947.
In 1992 he visited the city while taking part in the so-called 'Track Two' unofficial efforts by the intellectuals of India and Pakistan to normalise relations between their two countries which have so much in common. ''Inder Kumar hugged me for long when people introduced me to him as the same Younus Shah he used to play hockey with, and we relived the memories of childhood,'' the old friend told Jang.  
Shah, 87, said Gujral's father Avtar Narain Gujral was a kind man. He was the president of the city Congress party at Partition and turned his mansion into a transit camp for the Hindus migrating from Pakistan to India. ''Inder Kumar was a dear friend. He became Gujral only later and grew that weird beard,'' another childhood friend Ziauddin Malik told Jang. 
*Mirza Abdul Ghafoor Baig, a family friend and a former president of the district bar association of Jhelum, said, ''Gujral addressed the bar during his visit to the city. I found him a balanced person, a man without airs.'' Baig said Gujral was presented a rare photograph of his father on the occasion by the former governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Altaf Hussain. 
Subh Sadiq Bhutta, another Jhelum lawyer, told the newspaper that he vividly remembered how Gujral pater was arrested during the Quit India movement and how he refused to enter the jail through a small gate because he was holding the party flag and would not lower it to enter. Eventually, the jail authorities had to open the main gate to let him carry the flag aloft.

Mr Waqqas informed me that Mirza Abdul Ghafoor Baig, is still alive but all other persons have died. My confusion about two houses and their location was also cleared by Mr Waqqas. He sent me the picture of the house, where once the old house of Gurjrals was located. 

House of Malik Zid ud Din. Here once located the old house of Gujrals, where he was born and raised. This is located in the same street, about 75 metres from the new house of Gujrals, the new still exists and pictures of which you have seen above.

Jhelum has many more such old houses, waiting to explored and told their history. I found these two houses nearby.
An old house in Jhelum City. (14.08.2019.)

Another old house near the homes of Gujrals. (14.08.2019.)

A beautiful piece of architecture. (14.08.2019.)

What a scene of river flowing nearby would have been from these balconies. (14.08.2019.)

LAHORE, PAKISTAN: Former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral (R) addresses a gathering of lawyers during his visit to the Lahore High Court in Lahore, 15 October 2004. Gujral, the 12th Prime Minister of India from April 1997-March 1998, who was born in the town of Jhelum which is now in Pakistan, visited the Punjab University old campus and saw the hostel room where he had lived during his student life. AFP PHOTO/Arif ALI (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
PM Inder Kumar Gujral sharing a happy moment with PM Nawaz Sharif, sometime in 1997/98.
During his long political career, Inder Kumar Gujral served at different high posts in the government.  He served as a member of parliament, ambassador, minister and ultimately as the prime minister of India. It is no small matter that he was born in Jhelum and for me and all the people of this district, it is a matter of pride that he belonged to our district. I wish we can preserve his house which is an important piece of our historical heritage. I read somewhere that even leaders like Gandhi ji and Nehru visited their home and stayed there. Keeping in view the fact that Jhelum is an important stop on Lahore - Rawalpinid road, it is quite probable. And Mr Avtar Narain was a leader of considerable importance and was an elected member of Punjab Assembly. This is an important historical landmark and should be preserved before it is too late. 

At the the end I would like to thank Mr Waqqas Ullah Jarral, who lives in the house of the sister of  Avtar Narain, the aunt of Inder Kumar Gujral. He was present when his grandfather Wali Ullah Khan met Inder Kumar Gujral. He is working as a regional manager in a private company. He not only showed us his house from inside but later on helped me in clearing many points in my mind.

Tariq Amir
September 27, 2019.
Doha - Qatar.


  1. Mr Tariq Amir, You're amazing. Stay blessed. The old house pictures seek story telling. Our ancestral house was adjacent to Gujral Sahib's house. As we understood, our was a large teachers 'masterji' family with surname Saxena. Our family migrated to Delhi Gurgaon later. We look for ancestral house pictures outside-inside for future generations to know the roots. IS it one of the 'unidentified old houses of Jhelum' shown in your blog. We don't know? How can we know? Regards

  2. Dear Atuilit,

    Thank you for your appreciation. Actually I am not sure which one could be the house of Saxenas. I do not live in Jhelum city. However, I shall try to find some information about the house of Saxenas and update you accordingly. Regards.

    1. Dear Mr Tariq Amir, Sorry for seeing your reply so late. Thanks so much for raising the hope of locating someone who may be living adjacent to Gujral sahib's house in Jhelum. Keep sharing the goodness. Regards

    2. Thanks Mr. Amir ...Appreciate your kind reply which i saw recently. Look forward to any lead to our ancestral house, opposite Town Hall. In the autobiography book "Matters of Discretion", Late Indian PM Shri IK Gujral has referred to our family as next-door neighbors , on page 21 ( The Early Years)

    3. Dear Sir, I shall try to find the house of Saxenas as soon as an opportunity arise. May be during my vacations next summer.

    4. Respected sir,
      At the back side of gujral ji's house,
      It was a house of mehta's .
      My grand father's father's house. Pls update some information about his house too. We will be grateful to you for this. Pls update me on thankyou 🙏❤

  3. asslamulikm in photo se old time yeed attah he in se fdah leey allahefiz