As India and Pakistan are celebrating their 68th year of Independence, a group of research scholars from Center on Studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) are set to get a book published on pains that the Partition brought to thousands of families on both sides of the Radcliffe Line.
The scholars — Sukhpal Singh (35), Charanjit Singh (27) and Harjit Singh (33) — have worked for a couple of years on the project and traversed the border region to bring out real stories.
Speaking to Hindustan Times about their experience of documenting more than 150 families, Sukhpal said the journey of interviewing and documenting eyewitness’ accounts wasn’t easy. “After gathering information about their whereabouts, when we reached them, we found most of them too aged. After interviewing them, we are able to bring out their miseries, which are usually unheard.”
The scholars shared at this age they only remember their children and other family members, who were killed or lost in Pakistan.
Pritpal Kaur Behl (80), who lives on GNDU campus, had come here from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, doesn’t forget to date the day when women separated from their families together cooking food with their children’s urine as there was no water at all.
The scholars shared her recording, where she is talking about her uncle carrying a loaded gun in the train they were travelling from Pakistan to India as he preferred honour killing of his daughters and family women rather letting hooligans to outrage their modesty.
The scholars also shared the recording of Capt Hardeep Singh (retd) (82), who came here from a village near Lahore and is currently living near Attari told the scholars, “It is very disheartening to hear today’s generation being critical to some of the communities as I have seen strong bonding, brotherhood and amity among Hindu, Muslim and Sikh in Pakistan.”
A majority of migrants told us that most of the people know only one side of the Partition, which is bitter, and is narrated to them by political stakeholders; however there is another side to it as well, where people acted as saviour to many lives.
The Captain also talked about Muslims who protected them, looked after and saved their properties from riot-mongers after they left Pakistan. A majority of migrants told us that they knew that they would never return to their homes in Pakistan and would become a refugee in India, said Sukhpal.
There is also an interesting interview of a ‘dhadi’, Walayat Khan (85), who went to Pakistan after Partition, but returned to India after living 10 years there.
Khan, who lives in a village near Ludhiana, said, “I love my motherland and the border cannot keep me away from my brothers in India.” While Swarn Singh Shah (92), who lives at Attari, told the scholars that he had lost 18 of his family members to the post-Partition riots and only two, including him, were saved by a Muslim family, who lived near the Ravi.
A book comprising all these stories will be published a 300-page book by these scholars soon.