Train to Pakistan

by

Khushwant Singh

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A political worker with no clear religious background, though Meet Singh and Hukum Chand assume that he is Sikh, Iqbal comes to Mano Majra from Jhelum, Pakistan to raise awareness about land reform and to encourage peasants to demand more political and economic rights. He privately identifies himself as “comrade,” suggesting that he works for a Communist organization. He is described a small, somewhat effeminate man and was educated in England. He quickly becomes known in Mano Majra as a political agitator, a fact that the subinspector uses against him to pin him for the murder and robbery of Lala Ram Lal. Upon his arrest, Iqbal is falsely identified as a Muslim (called “Iqbal Mohammed”) who is working for the Muslim League. The authorities’ invention of this affiliation makes Iqbal a prime suspect in the murder of Ram Lal—Mano Majra’s wealthiest Hindu. Iqbal shares a jail cell with Juggut Singh, who has also been falsely charged. Hukum Chand thinks that Iqbal is an intellectual of “the armchair variety,” a description supported by the fact that Iqbal has contempt for the people whom he was sent to help and is seemingly only interested in using them to pursue his own fame and ambitions.

Iqbal Singh Quotes in Train to Pakistan

The Train to Pakistan quotes below are all either spoken by Iqbal Singh or refer to Iqbal Singh. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of Train to Pakistan published in 1956.
1. Dacoity Quotes

Iqbal stood up and looked all around. From the railway station to the roof of the rest house … the whole place was littered with men, women, children, cattle, and dogs …. Where in India could one find a place that did not teem with life? Iqbal thought of his first reaction on reaching Bombay. Milling crowds—millions of them—on the quayside, in the streets, on railway platforms; even at night the pavements were full of people. The whole country was like an overcrowded room. What could you expect when the population went up by six every minute—five millions every year! It made all planning in industry or agriculture a mockery. Why not spend the same amount of effort in checking the increase in population? But how could you, in the land of the Kama sutra, the home of phallic worship and the son cult?

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh, Meet Singh
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Independence meant little or nothing to these people. They did not even realize that it was a step forward and that all they needed to do was to take the next step and turn the make-believe political freedom into a real economic one.

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh, Imam Baksh, Banta Singh
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

“They are a race of four-twenties,” he said vehemently. [Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code defines the offense of cheating.] “Do not believe what they say.” Once again he felt his venom had missed its mark. But the Big Lord’s daughter sitting cross-legged with her eyes shut for the benefit of press photographers, and the Big Lord himself—the handsome, Hindustani-speaking cousin of the King, who loved India like the missionaries—was always too much for Iqbal …. “They would not have spread their domain all over the world if they had been honest. That, however, is irrelevant,” added Iqbal. It was time to change the subject. “What is important is: what is going to happen now?”

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh (speaker), Meet Singh, Imam Baksh, Banta Singh
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

What could he—one little man—do in this enormous impersonal land of four hundred million? Could he stop the killing? Obviously not. Everyone—Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Congressite, Leaguer, Akali, or Communist—was deep in it. It was fatuous to suggest that the bourgeois revolution could be turned into a proletarian one. The stage had not arrived. The proletariat was indifferent to political freedom for Hindustan or Pakistan, except when it could be given political significance like grabbing land by killing an owner who was of a different religious denomination. All that could be done was to divert the kill-and-grab instinct from communal channels and turn it against the propertied class. That was the proletarian revolution the easy way. His party bosses would not see it.

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh, Imam Baksh, Banta Singh
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

“Yes, the Englishmen have gone but the rich Indians have taken their place. What have you or your fellow villagers got out of independence? More bread or more clothes? You are in the same handcuffs and fetters which the English put on you. We have to get together and rise. We have nothing to lose but these chains.” Iqbal emphasized the last sentence by raising his hands up to his face and jerking them as if the movement would break the handcuffs.

Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
2. Kalyug Quotes

“Toba, toba! Kill my own village banian? Babuji, who kills a hen which lays eggs? Besides, Ram Lal gave me money to pay lawyers when my father was in jail. I would not act like a bastard.”

“I suppose they will let you off now.”

“The police are the kings of the country. They will let me off when they feel like it. If they want to keep me in, they will trump up a case of keeping a spear without a license or going out of the village without permission—or just anything.”

Related Characters: Juggut Singh / Jugga (speaker), Iqbal Singh (speaker), Alam Singh, Lala Ram Lal, Malli
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

It was not possible to keep Indians off the subject of sex for long. It obsessed their minds. It came out in their art, literature, and religion … One read it in the advertisements of quacks who proclaimed to possess remedies for barrenness and medicines to induce wombs to yield male children. One heard about it all the time … Conversation on any topic—politics, philosophy, sport—soon came down to sex, which everyone enjoyed with a lot of giggling and hand-slapping.

Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

“The mem-sahibs are like houris from paradise—white and soft, like silk. All we have here are black buffaloes.”

Related Characters: Juggut Singh / Jugga (speaker), Iqbal Singh, Lala Ram Lal, Malli
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

“Sir, the Babu’s name is Iqbal Singh. He is a Sikh. He has been living in England and had his long hair cut.” The subinspector fixed the head constable with a stare and smiled. “There are many Iqbals. I am talking of a Mohammed Iqbal, you are thinking of Iqbal Singh. Mohammed Iqbal can be a member of the Muslim League.” “I understand, sir,” repeated the head constable, but he had not really understood. He hoped he would catch up with the scheme in due course. “Your orders will be carried out.”

Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
3. Mano Majra Quotes

Muslims sat and moped in their houses. Rumors of atrocities committed by Sikhs on Muslims in Patiala, Ambala and Kapurthala, which they had heard and dismissed, came back to their minds. They had heard of gentlewomen having their veils taken off, being stripped and marched down crowded streets to be raped in the marketplace … They had heard of mosques being desecrated by the slaughter of pigs on the premises, and of copies of the holy Koran being torn up by infidels. Quite suddenly every Sikh in Mano Majra became a stranger with an evil intent … For the first time, the name Pakistan came to mean something to them—a haven of refuge where there were no Sikhs.

Related Symbols: Railway Bridge
Page Number: 120-121
Explanation and Analysis:

The Sikhs were sullen and angry. “Never trust a Mussulman,” they said. The last Guru had warned them that Muslims had no loyalties. He was right. All through the Muslim period of Indian history, sons had imprisoned or killed their own fathers and brothers had blinded brothers to get the throne. And what had they done to the Sikhs? Executed two of their Gurus, assassinated another and butchered his infant children; hundreds of thousands had been put to the sword for no other offense than refusing to accept Islam; their temples had been desecrated by the slaughter of kine; the holy Granth had been torn to bits. And Muslims were never ones to respect women. Sikh refugees had told of women jumping into wells and burning themselves rather than fall into the hands of Muslims. Those who did not commit suicide were paraded naked in the streets, raped in public, and then murdered. Now a trainload of Sikhs massacred by Muslims had been cremated in Mano Majra.

Related Symbols: Railway Bridge
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
4. Karma Quotes

Iqbal realized that it was the company of Jugga and the constable, who were known Sikhs, that really saved him from being stopped and questioned. He wished he could get out of this place where he had to prove his Sikhism to save his life … He cursed his luck for having a name like Iqbal, and then for being a… Where on earth except in India would a man’s life depend on whether or not his foreskin had been removed? It would be laughable if it were not tragic … If only he could get out to Delhi and to civilization! He would report on his arrest; the party paper would frontpage the news with his photograph: ANGLO-AMERICAN CAPitalIST CONSPIRACY TO CREATE CHAOS (lovely alliteration). COMRADE IQBAL IMPRISONED ON BORDER. It would all go to make him a hero.

Related Symbols: Bangles
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

He felt a little feverish, the sort of feverishness one feels when one is about to make a declaration of love. It was time for a declaration of something. Only he was not sure what it should be. Should he go out, face the mob and tell them in clear ringing tones that this was wrong—immoral? Walk right up to them with his eyes fixing the armed crowd in a frame—without flinching, without turning, like the heroes on the screen who became bigger and bigger as they walk right into the camera. Then with dignity fall under a volley of blows, or preferably a volley of rifleshots. A cold thrill went down Iqbal’s spine. There would be no one to see this supreme act of sacrifice. They would kill him just as they would kill the others … They would strip him and see. Circumcised, therefore Muslim.

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh, Meet Singh
Related Symbols: Bangles
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

India is constipated with a lot of humbug. Take religion. For the Hindu, it means little besides caste and cow-protection. For the Muslim, circumcision and kosher meat. For the Sikh, long hair and hatred of the Muslim. For the Christian, Hinduism with a sola topee. For the Parsi, fire-worship and feeding vultures. Ethics, which should be the kernel of a religious code, has been carefully removed. Take philosophy, about which there is so much hoo-ha. It is just muddleheadedness masquerading as mysticism. And Yoga, particularly Yoga, that excellent earner of dollars! … And all the mumbo-jumbo of reincarnation … Proof? We do not go in for such pedestrian pastimes as proof! That is Western. We are of the mysterious East. No proof, just faith. No reason; just faith.

Related Characters: Iqbal Singh
Related Symbols: Bangles
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

The leader raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired. He hit his mark and one of the man’s legs came off the rope and dangled in the air. The other was still twined round the rope. He slashed away in frantic haste. The engine was only a few yards off … Somebody fired another shot. The man’s body slid off the rope, but he clung to it with his hands and chin. He pulled himself up, caught the rope under his left armpit, and again started hacking with his right hand. The rope had been cut in shreds. Only a thin tough strand remained. He went at it with the knife, and then with his teeth. The engine was almost on him. There was a volley of shots. The man shivered and collapsed. The rope snapped in the center as he fell. The train went over him, and went on to Pakistan.

Related Symbols: Railway Bridge
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
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Iqbal Singh Character Timeline in Train to Pakistan

The timeline below shows where the character Iqbal Singh appears in Train to Pakistan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Dacoity
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...the railway station is more crowded than usual. The passenger train is an hour late. Iqbal steps off of it. The stationmaster bows obsequiously to the subinspector, who has also returned... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
The police eye Iqbal as he walks away. They find it curious that he says “thank you,” which is... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Iqbal walks out of the station and toward the village, feeling that the police are watching... (full context)
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Meet Singh shows Iqbal to the spare room, then goes back to the well where he was bathing. The... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Meet Singh reenters and asks Iqbal what his name is. Iqbal tells him, then asks the priest for his. The priest... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Iqbal Singh says that he belongs to district Jhelum, which is now in Pakistan, and has... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Meet Singh tells Iqbal Singh that missionaries are usually the only other visitors. The priest does not have a... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Iqbal eats his sardines and Meet Singh watches as Iqbal pulls a white pill from his... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Iqbal is surprised to hear about a village murder. He asks Meet Singh many questions. Meet... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
This afternoon, Iqbal cannot sleep. His room is hot and smelly. There are flies buzzing around. He puts... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal finds this code of morals puzzling. He finds it strange that Meet Singh, a priest,... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Iqbal stands up to take a walk. When he goes out, he sees that the door... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Iqbal walks back to the gurdwara. He goes to his room and lies down on his... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Later at the gurdwara, Iqbal meets Banta Singh and a Muslim man. The men talk about the Partition. Banta Singh... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...The priest uses this example to say that even the English respect men of faith. Iqbal is annoyed at the comment and tells the others that the English may be nice... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
...visitors that it is time to leave. They all shake hands and the visitors depart. Iqbal lies down and gazes at the stars. He feels lonely and depressed. He wonders how... (full context)
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal wishes that another worker were sent to this village instead of him. He does not... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
The next morning, Iqbal is arrested. Two constables go into his room and rudely shake him awake. He sits... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
At the same time that Iqbal is arrested, ten men are sent to arrest Juggut. Armed policemen surround his house and... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...He has a jauntiness in his step and a devil-may-care attitude. The policemen feel uneasy. Iqbal was too belligerent during his arrest, suggesting that he is innocent. It is also unlikely... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal’s pride is hurt. He initially believed that he was being arrested for his politics. He... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
When the police bring Juggut and Iqbal to the subinspector, the subinspector recognizes Iqbal from the train station the day before. The... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
The subinspector goes to Hukum Chand to tell the magistrate about the two arrests. Iqbal is explained to Chand as a man “whose presence had been reported by the headman”... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
When the subinspector goes back to Hukum Chand he says that he is sure that Iqbal is a member of the Muslim League and he uses Iqbal’s being circumcised as proof... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...in the station so often that it seems like his father-in-law’s house. The policemen regard Iqbal differently. They remove his cuffs apologetically. They fill his cell with a table, chair, and... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal is not surprised by the difference in treatment and views it as typical of caste... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
In the evening, the subinspector goes to Iqbal’s cell and says that Iqbal’s circumcised penis and his inability to declare his purpose in... (full context)
2. Kalyug
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...Chand listens with little interest. The subinspector admits that they were wrong about Jugga and Iqbal. Jugga was kept busy by Nooran on the night of the robbery and Malli threw... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
The subinspector suggests that they release Juggut and Iqbal after capturing Malli and the other robbers. Hukum Chand asks if Malli and his companions... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Iqbal is left alone in his cell for a week. Iqbal does not see much of... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...men enter the station in handcuffs. As soon as Juggut sees them, he becomes furious. Iqbal overhears part of the conversation about the men, which is mentions a spree of looting... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender and Masculinity Theme Icon
Juggut takes Iqbal’s feet and starts to massage them with his large hands. He asks Iqbal to teach... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Gender and Masculinity Theme Icon
Iqbal understands the meaning of Juggut’s mischievous metaphor. He does not want to know more, but... (full context)
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Juggut changes the conversation back to Iqbal teaching him English. Iqbal says that, since the sahibs have left, it is more important... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...a report about Malli’s arrest. The head constable has experience, but the foolish arrests of Iqbal and Juggut make the subinspector less confident in the constable’s abilities to handle situations that... (full context)
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...erupted into a fury as soon as he saw Malli. So, they moved Jugga into Iqbal’s cell—the Babu—and put Malli’s men in Jugga’s. (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...subinspector also tells the head constable to ask if anyone knows what “the Muslim Leaguer Iqbal” was doing in Mano Majra before his arrest. The head constable is confused, for Iqbal... (full context)
3. Mano Majra
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...twice a week. The villagers watch the police uncuff them, knowing that Juggut Singh and Iqbal Singh (“the stranger”) did not commit the dacoity. They also think that, by arresting Malli... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...asks if any of them saw or talked to “a young Mussulman babu called Mohammed Iqbal who was a member of the Muslim League?” The lambardar is surprised by the question,... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...head constable leaves with his subordinate constables, Meet Singh goes to him and says that Iqbal Singh is a Sikh. The head constable ignores the priest and busies himself with something... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...of loyalty. Then, there is the unsolved the murder of Lala Ram Lal. The stranger (Iqbal)—who has no turban or beard—has been hanging around the village. They have reasons to be... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...they have regarded as brothers, would send a spy. Meet Singh tells the crowd that Iqbal Singh is a Sikh, but the young man does not believe him. To Meet Singh,... (full context)
4. Karma
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
...The subinspector mentions that she is pregnant with Juggut Singh’s child. Chand then remembers that Iqbal was said to be a political agitator of some sort, whom the subinspector still identifies... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
The subinspector admits that Hukum Chand must be right and that he has seen Iqbal wearing the steel bangle that all Sikhs wear. He asks what all of this has... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Back at the station, the subinspector looks at Juggut and Iqbal and tells them that they will find that Mano Majra has changed. Neither Jugga nor... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Gender and Masculinity Theme Icon
...his village. The subinspector is amused and tells the men to go home. He assures Iqbal that he need not worry, for he is in the company of the toughest man... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal wants to get out of this place, where he has to prove his Sikh identity... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
The tonga arrives at the gurdwara. When Meet Singh greets Iqbal and opens the door to his room, the priest talks about the trainloads of dead... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Iqbal asks if there has been any killing in the village. Meet Singh says there has... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal ignores Meet Singh’s questions about the mattress and figures that this is why the police... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Meet Singh changes the subject by asking how Iqbal was treated at the police station. Iqbal quickly answers the question, then goes back to... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
Iqbal puts his things into his sack. He wonders if he should face the mob and... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Postcolonial Anxiety and National Identity Theme Icon
Iqbal pours himself a whisky and thinks that if one’s mission is “to wipe the slate... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
...to leave, he recognizes one of the sleeping heads on the pillow as that of Iqbal. He quietly says, “Sat Sri Akal, Babuji” and tries to see if Iqbal is awake.... (full context)
The Partition of India and Religious Warfare Theme Icon
Power and Corruption Theme Icon
Honor and Heroism  Theme Icon
...that morning. He feels anxious and foolish. He thinks about his release of Juggut and Iqbal and what it will mean for the train plot. He figures that Iqbal is an... (full context)