Train to Pakistan

Train to Pakistan Summary and Analysis of Karma Part 2


When he receives news of the planned massacre, Hukum Chand is at wit’s end. He tells the subinspector to let the mob kill, but to keep a record of the police messages so they can prove they tried to stop the killings. The subinspector remains calm, knowing that Chand doesn’t actually believe in what he’s saying. He slyly gets Chand back on track by hinting to him that Haseena will be amongst the Muslims on the doomed train tonight. This news snaps Chand out of his despondency. He argues that they should tell the commander of the Muslim refugee camp about the plot, so that he decides to keep the refugees at the camp instead of sending them to Pakistan. The subinspector argues this is a bad idea, as an attack on the camp itself would then be imminent, and they don’t have the manpower to stop it.

Chand sees the veracity of the subinspector’s words, and sits down to think. After a while, he asks about the current status of Jugga and Iqbal. The subinspector replies they are in custody, and then Chand asks about Nooran. When the subinspector answers that Nooran left with her father to the refugee camp, it seems Chand has come up with a plan. He writes up orders for the release of Jugga and Iqbal, and orders the subinspector to make sure both men are in Mano Majra by the evening. At first, Chand’s plan isn’t clear to the subinspector, but as he heads to the station, it begins to make sense.

As the subinspector releases Jugga and Iqbal, he warns them that they will find Mano Majra somewhat changed. The comment flies over both men, who are more concerned with their release. This changes when the subinspector tells them the Muslims have all been evacuated, and Malli is running amok, threatening Muslims and stealing their property. Jugga is immediately incensed, and swears revenge. The subinspector warns him that Malli is armed and has a mob with him as well. None of this deters Jugga, who promises he will make Malli suffer. Jugga then leaves for Mano Majra, with Iqbal in tow.

The tonga ride to Mano Majra is long and uneventful. No one talks, and the countryside is likewise still and silent. There are no men, women, or children about, except for the odd armed man peering around a corner. Iqbal quickly realizes that if not for Jugga, who is a known Sikh, he would be stopped, questioned, and possibly killed because of his circumcised penis. Iqbal rues his situation and longs to escape to civilization in Delhi. Meanwhile, Jugga worries about Nooran and hopes she has stayed behind in Mano Majra to wait for him. Once the tonga reaches the village, Jugga jumps from the moving vehicle and disappears into the night. Iqbal goes into the gurdwara, where he finds Meet Singh leading the evening prayer. Around him are a group of mostly refugees, who look at Iqbal suspiciously until the priest reveals he is Sikh.

Meet Singh takes Iqbal to his room, and informs him of what has transpired in Mano Majra since his arrest. The priest seems reconciled to the horrors that have happened and those to come, and so blithely slips in that a killing is yet to come. This makes Iqbal pause, and that’s when he finds out about the planned train massacre. He is agitated, and tries to get Meet Singh to intervene, but the priest says that no one will listen to an old man. The priest counters by saying that Iqbal with his educated upbringing should be the one to talk to the mob. Iqbal at first refuses, but when Meet Singh leaves the room, he begins to think.

Meet Singh’s suggestion that Iqbal talk to the mob sparks an inner debate in the social worker. Iqbal could tell the mob that they are immoral, but he would surely be killed, and no one would be able to witness his supreme act of sacrifice. In his eyes, this would render his sacrifice pointless. The point of sacrifice is the purpose, and the purpose must be known by others as a good purpose. Because news of his sacrifice wouldn’t be spread across the country, and he would die as just another nameless victim, Iqbal decides not to come to the aid of the Muslims on the train. Instead, he sits in his room at the gurdwara drinking whisky, and muses about the state of India.

Later in the night, as Meet Singh sweeps the gurdwara’s courtyard, someone bangs on the door. It’s Jugga, and he’s come for the Guru’s word. Meet Singh is annoyed, but reads Jugga a verse from the Morning Prayer. Jugga asks Meet Singh what the verse means, but the older man brushes him off, saying that Jugga has no use for the meaning. Jugga agrees, and turns to leave. On his way out, he catches sight of Iqbal sleeping, and tries to wake him up. Meet Singh says not to disturb him, as he’s been taking medicine to feel better. Jugga asks the priest to say “Sat Sri Akal” to Iqbal for him, and leaves into the night.

Back at the rest house, Hukum Chand is anxious. His faith in his plan of releasing Jugga and Iqbal so they could stop the train massacre has dimmed. He thought Iqbal was the daring type of social worker with lots of nerve, but perhaps he was actually the intellectual type who only criticize others for not doing their duty. Meanwhile, Jugga was a notorious badmash who lived for money. If it turns out that Malli isn’t with the mob, perhaps Jugga would join forces with them, and take part in the killing and looting. These doubts force Chand to question his own lack of action and culpability in the massacre. As magistrate, he knows he has a responsibility to maintain law and order, but without the support of the government he finds fulfilling this duty difficult.

As his thoughts spiral, Chand remembers various acquaintances who all had their tryst with destiny over the course of the partition. First is his colleague Prem Singh, who went back to Lahore to fetch his wife’s jewelry. While there, he drank beer and entertained Europeans at a hotel next door to the Pakistani parliament. As Prem drank, a dozen men from the parliament waited to capture him. The next person Chand remembers is Sundari, the daughter of his orderly. Recently married, she and her new husband met their tryst on the road to Gujranwala. A Muslim mob attacked their bus, killing most of the men and raping the women. The last person is Sunder Singh, a military hero who was given land in Pakistan for his service. When he and his family tried to escape Pakistan, they got stuck on a train for days on end with no food or water. Sunder killed his family to end their suffering, but cannot find the will to commit suicide. When the train began to finally move, he throws his family’s bodies off the train, making it to India alone.

As Hukum Chand remembers these stories of horror and violence, he grows increasingly fearful for Haseena. He wishes he made her stay with him instead of going back to Chundunnugger. Suddenly, he hears the rumble of the train as it approaches Mano Majra. At first he begins to cry, but then he lifts his face to the sky, and begins to pray.

At the bridge everything is going according to the mob’s plan. They’ve arranged themselves alongside the train tracks, and have already tied the rope above the railway line. They lie in wait for the train, which eventually comes puffing down the track towards the bridge. The mob has their eyes glued to the incoming train, so they don’t see a big man climbing the bridge until he reaches the top where the rope is tied. As the mob looks on, the man begins tugging on the knot, seemingly testing its strength. The train gets closer, and the leader of the mob yells at the man on the bridge to get off, or they’ll shoot him. The man ignores the leader, pulls out a kirpan, and begins to hack at the rope. The mob begins to wonder who the man is, but there’s no time to find out, as the train is almost upon them. The mob leader shoots the man, but he doesn’t stop cutting the rope. He manages to hold on and continues cutting, even using his teeth. The train is almost upon him, and the mob fires a volley of shots at him. The man finally collapses and falls, but the rope finally snaps and falls with him. The train goes over his body, and continues on to Pakistan.


At long last, Hukum Chand must grapple with the moral consequences of his decisions. After keeping Jugga and Iqbal falsely imprisoned, he now has to rely on them to do what he cannot and save the Muslims of the area from certain death. The irony of this isn’t lost on Chand, who begins to second-guess his plan as the time for the train departure grows near. He realizes that Haseena’s presence on the train means this may be his tryst with destiny. Like his friends and acquaintances, he may lose someone he cares for to the violence of the partition.

When speaking to the subinspector about the developments in Mano Majra and Chundunnugger, Chand says, “within a week they will be back in Chundunnugger and the Sikhs and Muslims will be drinking water out of the same pitcher” (Singh 216). This statement sounds desperate, nostaligiac, and slightly hyperbolic. Both the subinspector and Hukum Chand know that things are irreparably altered and won’t ever be the same again. The complacency of most the Mano Majran Sikhs with the train massacre plot means the trust and loyalty between neighbors has completely eroded. Even if it were possible for the Muslims to return, things would never be the same.

If Hukum Chand’s hopes for the future of the area are hyperbolic, then the subinspector’s words about the current state of Mano Majra constitute an understatement. To say Iqbal and Jugga will find big changes in Mano Majra is putting it mildly. Neither man is prepared for the changes and developments that have occurred in their absence, and they react differently to them. Iqbal proceeds to get drunk, and muse about the pointlessness of acting without an audience and thus no recognition for his sacrifice. Jugga, on the other hand, seeks out a prayer and goes on a suicide mission to save his neighbors and lover. It’s now clear why Khushwant Singh has set these two men up as foils to each other. In the final moment, it’s the illiterate peasant bad boy, not the educated babu from the city, who rejects religious bigotry when it counts.

Jugga’s actions, and his ability to single-handedly save the Mano Majra Muslims is proof that Iqbal’s beliefs about sacrifice are wrong. Though Jugga dies without anyone knowing of his sacrifice, it does have a purpose, and it has reverberating effects beyond Jugga himself. Jugga’s death is a perfect example of the irony of fate, in which the irony reaches a cosmic level. For most of the novel and his life, Jugga is a villain in the eyes of his family, friends, and neighbors. His father’s legacy, and his own actions have earned him the moniker of “badmash number 10.” But when it counts, it is Jugga, not Iqbal, his complete opposite, or Meet Singh, the Sikh moral compass, who remembers the Mano Majra sense of community, and takes a stand against religious persecution. Tragically, no one will know of Jugga’s sacrifice, and he will be remembered as a badmash, and not the hero he is.

Train to Pakistan can be read as a fictional recounting of a brutal time in Indian and Pakistani history. The partition of India was crucial to the forming of modern-day India and Pakistan, but the wounds from the violence exchanged continue to fester in the present. Singh’s novel can also be read as a cautionary tale about religious persecution, government inaction, corruption, and mob rule, which are pressing problems for nations around the world. Finally, in some ways, Train to Pakistan is a love story. Jugga’s love for Nooran and his loyalty to his neighbors overpowers his own sense of self-preservation. Even though he will remain an unsung hero to the people that knew him, his legacy will live on in the child he shares with Nooran.