The price paid for freedom

Osama Siddiqui

During our academic years most of us have studied about the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, however, one such incident has also taken place in our own hometown Peshawar but that is not even mentioned in most of our history books exclusively and it is the Qissa Khwani massacre.

On 23rd April, 1930 the people of Peshawar and other areas held a protest at the Qissa Khwani Bazaar against the British government for arresting their beloved leader Bacha Khan. The protest was non-violent in nature but it infuriated the government and it called the army to scatter the protestors, however, they refused to disperse until the release of their leader. The British Army opened fire at them and killed many people, whereas some protestors were crushed under the armored vehicles.

The people of Peshawar witnessed how the state’s army killed the people of its own land, but a surprising factor was that several soldiers refused to fire at the protestors and after the incident, those soldiers were court martialed and imprisoned for 10-20 years in order to set an example about the result of disobedience in the army.

Similarly, martial law was imposed in the city due to the fear of public uprising, while the government prevented the hospitals from admitting the protestors who were badly wounded in the massacre and indiscriminate firing, and Dr Khan Sahib was also not allowed to see the injured and suffering people.

According to the British government sources, 20 people were killed in the tragic incident but the version of Khudai Khidmatgars was different and they claimed that 200 to 300 people were martyred by the army. Akram Khan, Fazal e Rehman, Abdul Majid, Ghulam Jillani and Qamar Gul etc. were among the prominent protestors who embraced the martyrdom in the incident.

Later on, the whole United India became aware of the sacrifices of Pakhtuns in the freedom movement and everyone recognised their role and importance in the struggle against the British imperialism, whereas the incident provided a strong and firm ground to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to fight for the freedom like other natives of the Subcontinent.

Therefore, the Qissa Khwani massacre should be commemorated every year with devotion and national spirit in order to make aware and educate our present and upcoming young generations about the struggle and sacrifices of our forefathers for the emancipation of our homeland, while this would also make realize our youngsters that independence is not an ordinary thing and it demands great struggle and sacrifices as our elders did accordingly.

The writer is a graduate of the Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences), Peshawar in business administration and has keen interest in modern South Asian history, cricket, films and history of the Subcontinent. He can be contacted at:

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