Khushwant Singh, a lawyer, diplomat, and columnist, wrote this book in the early 1950s and published it in 1956 striking into post-colonial literature. He sets timeline in the abyss of 1947 in an isolated village of Mano Majra where Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs lived in peace.
Khushwant Singh sketches the image of this village as so isolated that it is oblivious to the partition of India. The story is from the point of view of three central characters: Jagga, an infamous robber; Hukum Chand, a magistrate who’s responsible for the peace in the village; and Iqbal, a political activist who visits the village with the purpose of revolution.
The story unfolds when the serenity of this small village is disturbed by the murder of Ram Laal. Jagga and Iqbal were arrested as potential suspects for instability. The story builds up when a trainload of dead bodies enters Mano Majra, and the village dynamics alter entirely. In retaliation, the Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs are eager to kill, loot and rape the other sects.
However, in a few pages, Khushwant Singh addressed that not everyone is barbaric.
Magistrate Hukum Chand hires a prostitute – (a Muslim 16-year-old girl named Hasina) whom he doesn’t exploit but later saves her from an ongoing massacre and sends her on the ghost train to Pakistan.
With a tease of romance between Jagga and his love interest, Nooran (a Muslim girl who gets pregnant), Jagga sacrifices himself and saves the train from mass killings in Pakistan.
Even though the characters are fictitious, the great partition is a reality. It was written soon after 1947, so the horrific episodes are alive in this book.
Also, a movie based on the book, "Train to Pakistan" is linked below.