The Babarra Massacre of August 12, 1948: Translation and Background of Pashto Song “Margiya Ma Raza Darzama”

The short version of what follows


What happened on August 12, 1948 in Charsadda [EDIT: it’s been brought to my attention that this photo is NOT of the Babarra massacre but of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (against Sikhs) of 1919.]

On August 12, 1948, two days before Pakistan was to celebrate the first anniversary of its creation (August 14, 1947), the Pakistani government  attacked and killed over 600 Pashtuns during a peaceful demonstration against the unjust imprisonment of several Pashtun leaders demanding justice for Pashtuns. This took place in a town called Babarra in Charasadda, Pakhtunkhwa. Hardly anyone knows about this massacre and Pakistan doesn’t want to acknowledge it; such denial on Pakistan’s part and the ignorance on Pakistanis’, including Pashtuns’, part is unacceptable. We can’t bring the dead back, and we can’t heal the wounded, but there’s a reason history is important. It’s especially unhelpful that Pashtuns don’t know about it because that’s a part of the deliberate attempts on Pakistan’s part to keep Pashtuns as ignorant of their history as possible. I have my theories about why this is so (e.g., aware Pashtuns as a threat to Pakistan), but we’ll talk about that another time.

Needless to say, Pakistan celebrated its first year as an independent state two days after the massacre. The Babarra massacre, though a forgotten chapter in Pashtun and Pakistan histories, thus came to be the first massacre that Pakistan commits as an independent state. Within its own territory.

Charsadda map

Map with the location of the massacre marked in blue (Charsadda)

And so, commemorating the August 12 massacre is a powerful, haunting Pashto poem by Abdul Malik Fida, converted into a song by Sardar Ali Takkar, that everyone needs to hear. Below, after a somewhat detailed introduction to the massacre, I’m providing the Pashto lyrics of the poem (in both Pashto and romanized scripts – many, many thanks to my friend Spogmay for taking the time to write out the lyrics in pashto script), and a rough English translation that embarrassingly fails to capture the power of the original words, but, hey, hopefully it gets the message across.  P.S. If you’re lazy like me, you can just skip to the English translation; that’s in blue. Thanks to friends and readers who willingly offered to write out the Pashto script and those who looked at the translation to make sure it was publicly presentable. God reward you all for your time, patience – and work for Pashtuns. These would include Malali Bashir, Spogmai Kakar, Behroz Khan, and Ajmal Stanikzai! Pinz neem darzana manana,  warrho ❤

Now for the long version 🙂

About the Massacre

Abdul Qayum Khan

Abdul Qayyum Khan. The man responsible for the massacre. Known as Yazid to Pashtuns. (Doesn’t he even LOOK evil?!)

On August 12, 1948, in Babarra, Charsadda (in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan), a large crowd of Pashtuns were peacefully marching to protest the imprisonment of  Bacha Khan [Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan] and other Pashtun leaders, including Dr Khan Saib (I’m not sure if he was arrested during this massacre, but he was certainly arrested for treating the wounded during the Qisa Khwani Bazar massacre of April 23, 1930, wherein up to 400 protesters were killed), Qazi Attah-ullah, Arbab Abdul Ghafoor Khan. (The poem below alludes to this – the poet saying that he’s sacrificing himself to win back Bacha Khan, for instance.) They had been promised security, and though they did see police forces as they marched, it was against the Khudai Khidmatgar (“Soldiers of God”) movement’s policies to respond to violence with violence. Pakistan, via Abdul Qayyum Khan, issued orders to attack the crowd, killing over 600 people and injuring over a thousand others. Some sources say 200 were killed, others say over 600 – because some lives just don’t matter; I’m going with the over 600 estimates because it’s not like anyone’s paying attention – and this isn’t even the point, anyway. But here’s a good bet: it’s always, always safe to say that the actual number is more than twice what the official count is. In this case, the official count is under 200!


an artist’s reflection of the massacre scene. From:

The massacre was at the orders of Abdul Qayyum Khan, thus known as Yazid among Pashtuns. He, by the way, was initially a follower of Bacha Khan’s non-violence movement (the Khudai Khidmatgars) but later turned against him and told Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, that Bacha Khan was plotting his assassination. The leader of the massacre, a police officer named Alam Khan, was later awarded by the Qayyum government. The firing on the crowd is said to have continued for 45 minutes. Women holding the Qur’ans on their heads unsuccessfully begged for the mass killing to stop – and they, too, were killed along with the men protesters.  Some 250 bodies were thrown into Kabul River, many others buried in grounds nearby. Doctors were forbidden from treating the injured; those who did so or tried to do so were arrested and had their property confiscated.

Note that, in the poem below, there’s a reference also to the Qur’ans on women’s heads (lines 33 and 34). The poem generally describes the scene (e.g., lines 40, 41).

Also important is that the Abdul Qayum government fined the families of the wounded/deceased, roughly Rs. 50,000 (Pakistani Rupees) along with confiscating their properties. These fines were to pay for the used bullets! (Someone named Zareen Zadah Esapzy writes that “under the cruel and unusual punishment, the government received the cost of bullets from the families of the martyrs.”) And so families were forced to hide their wounded and dead to avoid having to pay because they could not afford it. This is another reason why the exact number of those killed and wounded is unknown.

There exists something on the internet celebrating this man …. it does this while acknowledging that he committed the massacre. (And the specific post is by a Pashtun person, so.)

Now, one might wonder how Abdul Qayyum came to be in charge. Someone named Zareen Zadah Esapzy has this to say (I’m pasting verbatim from his Facebook post):

11029477_1034080169958743_4628472031695494244_nOn 15th August 1947 Mr. Jinnah took oath as Governor General of Pakistan.
Mr. Jinnah had urged Qayoum Khan to create a breakaway faction of Congress, by any means, an Muslim League government could be formed in the province.That laid the foundations of horse trading for all times to come.

August 22, 1947: A week after gaining independence, Dr Khan Sahib’s ministry was dismissed by the Governor on orders from Jinnah and a minority govt. of muslim league leader Abdul Qayum Khan was imposed in Pakhtunkhwa.

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.

This ordinance was against the people of the provine.Hundreds of Khudaai Khidmatgar were arrested, tortured and their properties were confiscated under this ordinance.

On 12 August1948 when a crowd of nonviolent protesters, had gathered to protest against the arrest and torcher of their leaders like Bacha Khan,Khan Sahib ,Qazi Attaullah and Arbab Abdul Ghaafoor Khan, in Babrra,Charsada. The forces fired directly into a crowd of peacefull Khudaai Khidmatgar, until they had spent all their ammunition, more than 600 people were killed and nearly 1200 were wounded, including women and children.
Jinah saheb fully support Qayoum Khan who then gave the order to fire upon the crowd.
The govt recieved the cost of bullets from the families of the martyrs and injured were not allowed in government hospital for treatment.

Pre-partition / Pre-independence period
can be classified in two ways, Plan A( Struggle for independence of india ) and Plan B ( Struggle for division of india )

A- Khudaai Khidmatgar was in the forefront of the struggle against British rule.The real heroes who gave us the freedom.
B- Muslim league struggle was for partition on the basis of religion.
” Ayaz Amir wrote ‘The Congress fought the British. The Muslim League fought the Congress. This history is not irrelevant because it had an impact on the future.”

Khudaai Khidmatgar and Bacha Khan opposed the Partition on the basis of religion, but it happened. 
The Indian National Congress declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders.
When the Congress party accepted the partition plan, he told them “You have thrown us to the wolves.”

“in Raza Wazir words ‘ He felt betrayed. The last words he uttered to Mahatma Gandhi were, “You have thrown us to the wolves”, a rather prophetic statement in light of what he was to face in the newly created country.”

Sources and References :
1- Raza Wazir “King without a throne”
2-Pakistan: History and Politics.
3-Wasim Altaf ” JINNAH “THE QUAID”
4-The Two Muslim Theory by Tahir Mehdi
5-Professor Jahanzeb Niaz
6- Raqib, Mohammad. “The Muslim Pashtun Movement of the North-West Frontier of India – 1930-1934,” in Waging Nonviolent Struggle


from a Facebook event commemorating the anniversary of the massacre on Aug 12, 2015

A friend tells me: “When the bodies of the dead Khudai Khidmatgar workers were handed over to relatives on the 3rd of the massacre, police and Frontier Constabulary (a paramilitary force) bands were sent to graveyards to play loud music while the deceased were being buried. The martyrs were buried on August 14th, 2 days after the attack, when Pakistan was celebrating its independence, hence the music – and the bands were sent to the graveyards. Then religious elders went to the officials and asked to stop the music to let the dead be buried in accordance with the rituals of the faith.” This is to comment on Pakistan’s complete lack of respect for those killed this day. It wasn’t enough to just kill them: they had to be disrespected and denied proper burial as well.

Another friend says that “my grandmother’s brother and my mom’s uncle, Master Karim, was in the prison along with other Khudayae Khidmatgars. Babara was traumatic for Charsadda people; every house suffered either in terms of losing a family member or were fined heavily by the present govt of Qayum Khan (he is still known as Yazid in Charsaada).” He’s also called the Double-Barrelled man.

Someone also just noted on my Facebook that his father told him that the very first officer who refused to open fire on the protesters was from Bannu, a Pashtun region; he resigned at the time.

It is a shame that Pakistani Pashtuns largely remain ignorant of Bacha Khan and his struggles for our rights. I think of the poem as  addressed to him mainly.

Even worse is the ignorance of this specific massacre. Unfortunately, as with many other things regarding Pashtun history, this is something that Pakistan not only refuses to acknowledge (like its crimes against Bangladeshis) but it also refuses to address it in its history textbooks so that few Pakistanis have any idea this happened. I mean, here’s a Pakistani forum trying to discuss the incident. I only read the first page (the first page wasn’t so bad), and I’m not willing to read the rest of the pages – this website is a very, very pro-Pakistan forum, so you understand.

To quote a Facebook post about the massacre (because there aren’t “more authentic” references to the event):

There are no monuments to mark where the hundreds of fallen, there is no mention of them in school history books. There is no park or not even a plant where one can sit and contemplate what these brave men and women died for. Most children grow up not knowing what or where Babra is. We should arrange school trips to Babra and add a chapter our history books, for this is after all our history and our blood that colored the ground that fateful day. We will wear our scars with honor and pride.

Dr. James Caron, a faculty member at SOAS’s South Asia Department, writes, also on Facebook:

Today’s the anniversary of the Babara Massacre in Babara, Charsadda, Northwest Frontier, 1948. It was a firing on a nonviolent protest against a Public Security Ordinance passed earlier that year, which gave the government powers to arrest and hold people without charge, and to arbitrarily outlaw mass gatherings. Unlike the well-known poetic sources on colonial massacres in the NWFP, I’ve seen few poetic recollections of this. It’s been erased from the world of print. It’s been erased from public memory in most of Pakistan too, though not NWFP. How would it be? In terms of numbers it was larger than any single colonial incident in NWFP: 200-600 people killed; well over a thousand additional injuries. And in terms of trauma, well, it lives up to the name Qatl-e ‘Aam, a ‘mass killing’, in more ways than one. Because a ‘killing of [a concept of] the mass’ was itself a major goal. This was part of the Muslim League’s earliest use of executive orders and then the military to extend its reach in a new nation where it had only shallow roots; and especially to crush the only political-cultural assemblage that had true achieved a significant level of mass participation in the western half of the new country, the nonviolent Khudai Khidmatgar movement. Physical force was accompanied by the wholesale destruction of Pashto publishing, including a concerted campaign to destroy materials that were already published, and to disperse all the concentrated mass energy that had sustained the wider mass movement over two decades. It was a campaign to destroy an entire mode of political subjecthood.

Instead of a poem about the event, then, it’s appropriate to include what I see as an NWFP version of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s more famous poem, Subh-e Azadi. Writing from the metaphorical center, Faiz may be despondent about the false dawn of freedom, but remains cautiously optimistic about the national project. Here is the end of Subh-e Azadi:
… Night’s heaviness is unlessened still, the hour
Of mind and spirit’s ransom has not struck;
Let us go on, our goal is not reached yet
In a Pashto poem by the NWFP poet Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar, in contrast, there is no buoyant ‘Chale chalo!,’ ‘Let us go on’. We see only scattering, dispersal, and a loss of all that had been painstakingly achieved over two decades of grassroots political work:
If liberty means starvation and stark nakedness I hate it.
What type of a windstorm was it
Which blew off and scattered my gathered harvest?
Who planted wild grass in my garden of roses?
Probably we are not destined to
Enjoy the blessings of freedom
Not a flash of it, not a grain of it.
What sort of freedom is this?

You can read more about this incident at the following sites:

  • Sorposh (the link directs to a blog post on the massacre)
  • According to this source, “On August 12, 1948, while Jinnah was at deathbed, the security forces opened fire on a protest rally of Khudai Khidmatgars in Babhara village, resulting in the killing of more than 150 people and injuries to over 400 men and women. Some reports, however, put the death toll at 602 while the number of wounded was stated to be in thousands.”
  • Here’s a public Facebook post about it attributed to a Deeva Khorey, posted by the Pukhtoon Students Federation.
  • And this Tribune article shares a witness account of the massacre. The witness was Dost Muhammad Khan, one of the last surviving members of the Khudai Khidatmarg, was gunned down ruthlessly by unidentified men on Thursday, July 2, 2015 – God have mercy on his soul, aameen. He was 90 years old.
  • And here’s a Voice of America (Pashto) Deewa radio’s report on August 12, 2015 on the

    massacre. The first mention is at minute 01:00 for a moment in the headlines, then again at 02:50 also for a moment, and then after the 6th minute, the whole show is dedicated to the massacre. The report is in Pashto and is given mainly by a guest caller who’s an expert on Pashtun history, Dr. Waqar Ali Shah.  Offers a detailed history of the event, other events that led up to the massacre, and so on.

  • There’s a Facebook event for this past August 12 (2015) commemorating the anniversary of the massacre. Lots of pictures of the incident as well as of people mourning it, lots of lectures and articles about it. Some people have written and shared their poems there about the massacre as well. A fairly good resource, I’d think.
  • This Facebook post offers even more details.

About the Poem and its Poet

Abdul Malik poem

The poem Under the title is a note saying that the poet read this in a public assembly and moved everyone, including Bacha Khan, to tears.

The poet’s name is Abdul Malik Fida. Fida was his nickname, given to him by friends and supporters who respected him because of his devotion to his people and to God; the term means “devotee.” It holds spiritual/religious significance and also means to  redeem oneself through sacrifice/annihilation, to sacrifice everything and be devoted to God alone, and, in some other cases, it can mean to sacrifice one’s needs and attention for all other things/people for one’s beloved. Needless to say, this isn’t a reference to suicide. More so to martyrdom, in the case of Babarra, perhaps, owing to the idea of giving one’s life for the nation. The point is, note that in the lyrics, the last stanza (line 52) includes the “Abdul Malik” part of his name, per poetry rules (attributing the poem to the poet), and then there’s a pun on the “Fida” part of his name.

Abdul Malik Fida was born in 1897 in the village Prang in Charsadda. He was never educated formally but taught himself how to read and write, stood strongly with Bacha Khan during his struggles for Pashtun independence, and actively wrote freedom poetry alongside several other freedom-fighter poets, among whom were, to copy the list from here, Habibullah Kaka, Mohamad Akbar Khadim, Fazali Mahmood Makhfi, Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar, Master Karim, Amir Nawaz Khan Jalya, Fazal Rahim Saqi, Shad Mohammad Megay, Abdul Hakim Sati, Mian Akbar Shah, Mian Ahmad Shah, Jalbal, Taj Mohammad Khamosh, Abdul Khaliq Khalique, Wali Mohammad Toofan, Hussain Bakhsh Kausar, Sanobar Hussain Kakajee, Ajmal Khattak, Mir Mehdi Shah Mehdi, and Ghani Khan. (Kind readers, please read this list of names. They’re important.)

A loyal follower of Bacha Khan, Abdul Malik Fida had wished that his body be lowered in the grave by Bacha Khan. Bacha Khan honored his request on April 21, 1957 when Fida passed away. God reward both of these men, and all other humans who have done so, for sacrificing their own blood for the love of their people in order to defy and resist subjugation.

Last thing before I get to the poem and the song. When the people of Swat were forced to flee their homes in 2009 during the Taliban reign, I came across a poem recited/sung by, judging from the last line of the poem, a Muhammad Rahim. Here’s a Youtube link to it. I’ll have to translate this some other time, but the reason I mention it here is that it’s sung in the tune of the song below. The gist of the Muhammad Rahim poem is that Swat has become yet another Karbala and is in ruins, the people of Swat are being killed left and right, we used to be something and now are refugees in our own land, ending with a prayer to God to ease our troubles. I love *every single thing* about the poem, the singing, the video, the people in it … it’s … it’s precious.

The Poem/Song

While largely forgotten or denied, the massacre insists on being remembered. Because, thankfully, poetry and music are always there to redeem us.

According to this Facebook post, Wali Khan Baba, Bacha Khan’s son, requested that Sardar Ali Takkar sing the poem. And I think he did a wonderful job. I’ll first share the romanized lyrics (with the English translation), then the original Pashto, and then links to the song. I hope it serves as a reflection opportunity for everyone else the way it has been for me. ❤

      “Margiya Ma Raaza Darzama” – مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

(1) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(2) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                        مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(3) Sar pa tali ki da Allaaahhhh darbar la zama          سر په تلي کې د الله دربار له ځمه
(4) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                               مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield!
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
Ready for sacrifice, I’m headed to meet my Creator!
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(5) Pa Charsada ke Karbala da                                        په چارسده کې کربلا ده
(6) Da ghaddarano pe salah da                                         د غدارانو پې صلاح ده
(7) Pa sarfarosho wawela da                                            په سرفروشو واوېلا ده
(8) Za da khpal qaam sara pa marg syali kawama      زه د خپل قام سره په مرګ سیالٍي کومه
(9) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                        مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(10) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(11) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

Karbala’s fate is now the fate of Charsada
Agreed upon by the treacherous, the evil-wishers
Sacrifice seekers are crying in pain
I’m competing with my people in sacrificing myself (for my land)
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(12) Yao da watan pa khaora jang dey                            یو د وطن په خاوره جنګ دی
(13) Khkoley maidan da nam o nang dey                       ښکلی میدان د نام و ننګ دی
(14) Morey warzama zrra me tang dey                            مورې ورځمه زړه مې تنګ دی
(15) Pakhpala khaora khpali weeni toyawama               په خپله خاوره خپله وینه تویومه
(16) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                       مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(17) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(18) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                  مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

It’s a fight in the defense of my Land
And what a glorious battlefield it is!
Mother, I must leave; my heart is restless
I must shed my blood for my land
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(19) Sre jaamey rakrra zama morey                                سرې جامې راکړه زما مورې
(20) Sar raala ghwar ka stargey torey                               سر راله غوړ کړه سترګې تورې
(21) Num da Pukhtun dey pa maa porey                         نوم د پښتون دی په ما پورې
(22) Pa Pukhtana khaora khpal sar qurbanawa             په پښتنه خاوره خپل سر قربانومه
(23) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                        مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(24) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(25) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

Pass me my red[1] uniform, Mother,
Brush my hair and put kohl in my eyes
Pukhtuns are counting on me
I’m off to sacrifice myself for Pukhtun soil
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(26) Yao khwa ta topey mashinuna                                یو خوا ته توپې ماشینونه
(27) Da hukomat waarra fauzuna                                   د حکومت واړه پوځونه
(28) Bal khwa ta qaam khali laasuna                             بل خوا ته قام خالي لاسونه
(29) Maqabiley ta mi katal hairanedama                      مقابلې ته مې کتل حیرانېدمه
(30) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                      مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(31) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(32) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                               مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

At one side lie the canon and machine guns
And all the might of the government forces
At the other side lie my barehanded people
I stood there stunned at the disproportionate force of terror
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield!
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(33) Da khwyando gheg ke mashuman                          د خویندو غېږ کې ماشومان
(34) Pa sar niwaley wo Qur’an                                         په سر نیولي وو قرآن
(35) Awaz ye daa wo pa maidan                                      آواز یې دا وو په میدان
(36) Fakhr-e-Afghana ta gatam pakhpala mrama      فخر افغانه تا ګټم په خپله مرمه
(37) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                       مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(38) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(39) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

Women carrying children in their arms
And the Qur’an on their heads
As they sing the cry of the battle:
“O’ the Pride of Afghans [O’ Bacha Khan][2], I will win you with my sacrifice!”
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(40) Taala ye krral zamung koruna                                 تالا یې کړل زمونږ کورونه
(41) Bya ye warporey krral oruna                                    بیا یې ور پورې کړل اورونه
(42) Zamung pe na rasi zoruna                                        زمونږ پرې نه رسي زورونه
(43) La dasi jwanda raala marg kha dey beghama       له داسې ژونده را له مرګ ښه دی بیغمه
(44) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                       مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(45) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama          کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(46) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

They first looted our homes
Then they set them on fire
And we stood there helpless, unable to stop them
Death is preferable to such life
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to the battlefield!
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(47) Pa aakhirat che rab qazi shi                                               په آخرت چې رب قاضي شي
(48) Pa shafa’at rasul raazi shi                                                 په شفاعت رسول راضي شي
(49) Waar da shahid ao da ghazi shi                                       وار د شهید او د غازي شي
(50) Za ba ghalbel sina da khwdey pa makh ke gdama        زه به غلبیل سینه د خدای به مخ کې ږدمه
(51) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                       مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

God will be Judge on the Day of Judgment.

And the Prophet (s.) will testify on our behalf
Then it will be the turn of the martyrs and the warriors
I will show my bullet-riddled chest to my Creator
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

(52) Abdul Malika zaan fida krra                                            عبدالمالکه ځان فدا کړه
(53) Porta da haq yawa sada karra                                         پورته د حق یوه صدا کړه
(54) Nawi jwandun qaam la paida krra                                 نوی ژوندون قام له پیدا کړه
(55) Ka Khwdey raazi shi sifarash ba di kawama                 که خدای راضي شي سفارش به دې کومه
(56) Margiya ma raaza darzama                                              مرګیه مه راځه درځمه
(57) Kafan pa trakh ke da syalai maidan la zama                 کفن په ترخ کې د سیالۍ میدان له ځمه
(58) Margiya ma raaza darzama (x2)                                      مرګیه مه راځه درځمه

O’ Abdul Malik, sacrifice yourself for your people!
Raise your voice for justice!
Give new life to your nation!
If God wills, I will intercede on your behalf
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!
With my coffin in hand, I’m off to fight a battle
I’m coming, O’ Death! Don’t trouble yourself!

[1] Red was the color of the Khudai Khidmatgar members’ uniform.
[2] “Fakhr-e-Afghan” (Pride of Afghans) is a title bestowed on Bacha Khan by the students of Azad School in Utmanzai, Charsadda, on his return from jail in 1924.

The song is available on Soundcloud. And on facebook (it’s public).

And on Youtube

15 thoughts on “The Babarra Massacre of August 12, 1948: Translation and Background of Pashto Song “Margiya Ma Raza Darzama”

  1. Oh, yes, I just found out that that was the Qissa Khwani bazar – over 400 people were killed in that, too.
    The 2014 massacre of the Peshawar kids is indeed another devastating moment in our history. God rest their souls in peace, aameen.


  2. Ghaffar khan was indeed planning to assasinate Quaid-e-Azam aka jinnah, he was put under house arrest for that reason. on 12th august the govt had warned all citizens not to congregate in front of government offices,which the armed redshirts still did and they were armed and threatened violence, unlike what ur trying to portray through a biased lens


    • Toba astaghfaar. God forgive you for that accusation.
      Yeah, I know that’s what Pakistan teaches Pakistanis. I earnestly urge you to read multiple sources on not just Bacha Khan but also on the partition in general. I’m sure you already know everything there is to know about it, but, hey, there’s somehow always still more to know.
      Peace be with you.

      P.S. Let’s talk about the topic at hand, though, no? I mean … even still, you know about that claim because of Abdul Qayum… the same man who is responsible for the murder of the over 600 people in the massacre that the post above centers on.


    • My father was one of the khudai khidmat gars. I never saw any red shirt worker with any weapon, let alone a gun. I wonder where did you get thus lie about Bacha Khan trying to kill Jinnah and the armed redshirts in front of offices. Don’t worry. Bhotto dismantled Pakistan and Nawaz is writing the obituary of what remains. I would not be surprised if there appears on the map another country, a federation of Afghanistan, KPK and Balochistan. Mark my world.


    • @Reason,

      Your ignorance is apparent. The Babra Massacre did not occur because Khudai Khitmadgar were armed and threatened violence or Bacha Khan attempted to assassinate Jinnah. IN the contrary, they were unarmed and were peacefully protesting the abolishment of democratically elected provincial assembly. Let me give you a little lesson on history and democracy that might ease your ignorance for a few seconds.

      Then National Awami Party (NAP) was democratically elected by the people of then NWFP and their elected government was sacked by the central government. The Babra protest was a peaceful civil disobedient march of unarmed Pakistanis who did not agree with dissolving their elected government. The unconstitutional government, lead by Qayum “Khan”, opened fire on unarmed protesters with containing adult, women, children and Quran Sharif. On some estimates, over 610 were brutally murdered and 1000s injured. Adding insult to the injury, the government took money from victims’ families for the bullets used that killed them.

      You must not have a sliver of humanity in you to celebrate the death of so many innocent human beings. Shame on you and on those parents who give birth to someone like you.

      I have a question for you. Would you feel the same if the government of Pakistan attacked PTI dharna protesters in Islamabad, killed 610 PTI supporters or PML-N and injured 1000s and put the rest in jail like it happened in Babra?

      We are all waiting for your response.


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  4. There are so many views and comments about incident….Yes it is occurred but Pukhtoon did not care to maintain an authentic record of this massacre….even Number of casualties are not properly known…..A writ was also lodged in the West Pakistan High court and it was decided in favor of the Govt….as it was not properly prepared by the Red Shirt…Dr Humayun Huma

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You completely ignore those incidents which led to this sad incident happened with khudai khidmat. Bacha khan was confuse leader who just wanted political power for himself and his family members who are still running ANP. He was confuse person who first opposed the creation of Pakistan and division of Muslims of sub continent and then took U-Turn and went for demanding the division of Muslims of Pakistan based on ethnic grounds for his own lust for power. When he failed at that then he started movement for pashtunistan and had anti-Pakistan sentiment and was buried even on afghan soil . Every country take this treason and attempt of dividing country seriously and try every possible way to suppress such movement . His anti Pakistan approach was the main reason behind this incident and he did not care about blood of pashtun for his own political agenda


    • … Bacha Khan was a confused guy and that’s why his supporters deserved to be massacred? Oh, okay, I understand it now. Indeed, the Babarra Massacre was well-deserved, and Pakistan knew exactly what it was doing when it killed thousands of people within an hour. Why didn’t I think about this earlier, that Bacha Khan, the confused guy that he was, caused it all? Silly me. #sarcasm

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. Had Bacha khan the lust of power he would have accepted to be the president of congress which was offered to hime three times……There was no government office around the meeting place in Babrra at that time……O.K,if i agree dat Bacha Khan wanted to assassinate Jinnah then tell me what punishment you and your government has awarded to the people who were involved in his unnatural n before time death????.As i ve read in so many books that Liaqat Ali and his friends were involved in his assassination……. When jinnah met Baba he gave the statement that now Pakistan is complete.Both agreed to work for the social welfare of the people of pakistan…..It was the point whare the story started,,,there were people who thought that their political game would be over if jinnah n baba come on the same page…they started intrigues and mis told jinnah that bacha khan wud assassinate him…hahahahaha…bacha khan and assassination…..two opposite words…….and i remind u that the parson was QAYYUM KHAN…..He was the ultimate gainer……….LANAT BAR QAYYUMAY…….U CAN T DISTORT THE FACTS N HISTORY………………


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