'Train to Pakistan' is a story depicting how life would have been for all the people caught during the India-Pakistan partition, when India was being divided. The book has been written by the late author, Khushwant Singh, and is a fictional masterpiece. While quite a large number of books can be found on the issue of partition, the book 'Train to Pakistan' marvellously captures the emotions and sufferings of people going through those times. The story is non political in nature and narrates the lives of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs during the partition of India. The story showcases how the best of friends can turn into enemies, just in a few minutes. It is a story of the common man and his struggle during partition.
The story is woven around communal and religious lines and dates back to the days when India was being divided into two countries.
A small village, Mano Majra, suddenly finds itself as a part of the border between Indian and Pakistan. The major population of the village comprises of Muslims and Sikhs, who live very happily, until a train from Pakistan arrives bringing thousands of dead bodies, all massacred as they were crossing over to India. This incident changes the lives of the people residing in Mano Majra, forever.
When the news of communal riots reaches the village, both the communities swear to protect each other. While the Muslims are ready to protect the Sikhs, they are forced to vacate the village and leave behind their belongings, after being forced by a bandit gang from some nearby villages. This bandit gang creates a problem for all people residing in Mano Majra.
Slowly and gradually, passions get ignited when refugees from nearby places start pouring into Mano Majra. These refugees have plenty of horror tales to narrate, and the emotions of the Sikhs and the Muslims flare up. Now the Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs-who once swore to stand by each other in good and bad times, turn against each other.
Caught in all this frenzy are two characters, Juggut Singh--a criminal, and Iqbal--an educated western individual who is keen to reform the society. In a desperate attempt to divert the attention of the masses, the police arrest Iqbal and Juggut. The police claim that both of them are suspects in the murder of Ram Lal, a money lender. As a result, they both land up in jail. As violence increases by leaps and bounds, a train arrives to take the Muslim population of this village en masse to Pakistan. However the rioters have no intention of allowing the Muslims to leave.
What takes place next is thought provoking and demands an intense look within ourselves.
About Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh was a very well known journalist and an author of high repute. Born in the year 1915, in Pakistan, he studied at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and at King's College in London; and later from the Bar at the Inner Temple. During his stint as a journalist, Khushwant Singh worked for several publications, including the Hindustan Times, the Illustrated weekly and the National Herald, amongst other prominent ones. He was also a member of the Rajya Sabha and was later awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan award in the year 1974.