My father, Manilal, and uncle Vajubhai, their humanity was at its best. They saved over 5,000 Indians by protecting them for five days from death by Burmese hands. Read about their life-threatening moments in my father’s handwritten 12 pages letter to his father, Nautamlal Bhagawanji Mehta, of Jetpur,
Why does this Hate ONLY toward Indians? The British were governing Burma. However, most Burmese and Chinese did not match the ability of Indians; therefore, in the late British 1800 century, the British started collaborating with Indians in Burma. However, the British failed to understand that there were no locals, Thakor, Raja, and Maharaja. Who could act as a British agent to control the locals? In Burma, it was difficult for the British. Therefore, they started Divide and rule between Burmesethe and the Indians.
Spreading the air of hate that “Indians were looting Burmese ” and taking away their jobs” was the seed of hatred that became bigger and bigger until the 2nd world war. The British lost to Japan and had to flee. The country was lawless.
Thitan mill near Pyapon was on 3300 acres of land South West of Burma. Due to war and Lawlessness, No media and nonjournalists. It was a time of life and death—no post or telegram.
Saving six Rohingya Muslims from Burmese attacks cost my father millions when his mill was looted in Burma ( Myanmar) in 1942. Their humanity was at its best for my father, Manilal, and uncle Vajubhai. They also saved over 5,000 Indians by protecting them for five days from death by Burmese hands. Read about their life-threatening moments in my father’s handwritten letter to his father, Nautamlal Bhagawanji Mehta, from Jetpur, Gujarat, where he shares how they preferred to give up their wealth in exchange for saving innocent Indians’ live by providing shelter and safety from pro-Japanese, and Burmese. The Burmese people were looting and killing any Indian or Muslim. My father shares how he, my mother, and my uncle navigated and survived this horrific situation in a 12-page letter he wrote to my grandfather, Nautamlal. Thanks to modern technology, the same note is now typed and may be easier to read and translate into any language.
Before you read my father’s letter, please spend 10-15 minutes on this link below. So that you will understand the Life-threatening danger My Father Manilal and His Brother Vaju bhai faced for almost a week with Mind-boggling courage, Skill, and Diplomatic tactic to keep Killers, Looters at a distance and calm.
With their courage and Heroism, they exhibited to save thousands of Hindu- Muslims from the Burmese ( Myanmar) mob.
Below you will find links to published research papers and news articles to better understand the historical context of what was happening in Burma (Myanmar) at the time. The mill referenced below was in a small town named Titan, and the nearest big town was Pyapon. My parents’ rice mill had 700 employees on 3,300 acres of land. Per my father, 30,000-40,000 Indians were killed by the Burmese, and about 500,000 Indians had to escape back to India.
The mill mentioned in the letter was owned by my father, Manilal, and Pranjivan J. Mehta. This is the same mill visited by Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and Indira Gandhi (check out the photo here).
For our English readers, my daughters, Anjali, and Riddhi, son-in-law, Adam, and wife, Veena, spent days reading the letter and translating the context and feelings of the situation into English. We did have to interpret some of the town names or people in my father’s letter, which was written almost 80 years ago. Wherever we had a challenging situation in interpreting, legibility, or understanding a word in Burmese, we googled or left that space vacant for the future.
Without a gun or army, my parent’s and uncle’s primary weapon was their way of living. Their approach impacted the local Burmese so much that they used to call them “Phaya Babu” (translated to “God-like man”), and the locals did their best to protect them. The locals told my father they would not allow hooliganism or looters to enter the mill compound. Meanwhile, my father and uncle were negotiating with the looters’ demand through some unknown middlemen.
Finally, the looters said my father must give them 6 Rohingya Muslims they intended to kill. The Rohingya Muslims were putting their lives at my father’s mercy and hands. My father told the Rohingya people that the only option they had was for them to escape. Otherwise, everyone’s lives would be at risk. Then my father sent a letter to Mr. Mountbatton in Pyapon, who sent 4-6 security people with guns. In the middle of the night, the 6 Rohingyas, my parents, and my uncle escaped by walking through the jungle at midnight. By walking through the jungle at midnight instead, he was also alerted that the Burmese were ready to kill everyone in the mill, so he sent a message to a Buddhist monk who helped the remaining people escape. Once my family was exhibited in Pyapon, they had safety and better law and order.
The following day, the local looters found out the mill compound was empty, and they looted the mill for the next three months, selling our product supply, machinery, and whatever else they found locally and in Rangoon (Yangon).
My father wrote this letter on March 21, 1942, to his father, Nautamlal. My grandfather didn’t receive this letter until late 1944. Only God knows my grandfather’s joy and peace when he received this letter. This same letter was circulated amongst close family members and finally ended up in Mumbai at Nautamlal’s younger brother’s home, Chimanlal Mehta. Then in 1981, when I got married, Chimanla bhai’s son, Dr. Vasubhai Mehta, gave me these 12 pages and a cricket bat as a marriage gift – the most incredible gift was the letter.
Per my father, whatever photos and documents you see may only be 1% of what we had. They lost almost everything when they were looted on March 6, 1942.
Many historical stories from that time are not told due to limited world press and the ban on mailing letters.
My Father’s Handwritten Gujarati 12 Pages Letter translated into English is the link below. You may translate into any world language at Google Translate.