MEMORIES OF PARTITION, COURTESY BBC
Date: 07 Sep 2007
DILJEET CHOWDHURY’S MEMORIES OF PARTITION OF INDIA 1947
diljeet39's memory of 368 days between 01/06/1947 and 03/06/1948
My father Pritam Singh Chowdhury was commissioned into the 5th Battalion of the 11th Sikh Regiment (The Duke of Connaught’s Own Sikh Regiment) of the King's Indian Army in 1932. As a result of major injuries sustained against the Japanese in 1941 in Jahore (Malaya) he transferred to the Royal Indian Army Service Corps.
Early 1947 was spent in the refugee relief work from Burma and discharged soldiers
The Partition of India saw him promoted to Lt. Colonel with the responsibility of refugee evacuations and as such was involved Pritam Singh in the horror of the two way migration of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. His village of Kahuta, near Rawalpindi was the scene of severe violence. Owing to his position he brought to safety almost the entire non-muslim population of Kahuta to the safety of India. In addition. Many relatives and friends were rescued from the mobs from his aunt’s house from Rawalpindi, Gali Dr. Prem Singh in the Raja Bazaar vicinity.
All refugees were grateful. I can remember one man who offered my father a sackful of rupees and gold saying “take what you want, you saved me and my family” Similar expressions of gratefulness about Pritam Singh can be heard even today
Such was the burden of responsibility that the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had a photograph done with Pritam Singh and Col Mohite to say the burden of the job was on their shoulders.
He was posted in Jallandhar. He was given a large army bungalow. Pritam and his wife d Tripat, sheltered the refugees from Kahuta and Rawalpindi and at some stage there were 100 plus people sheltered and fed from the bungalow.
At this stage Pritam Singh ordered his batman Lal Khan to return to Pakistan as his life may be endangered in India. Eventually Lal Khan went to Pakistan at gun point. Such was the loyalty of the Pathan.
In Rawalpindi, my mother brother Surinder Singh Baxi was caught by a mob and rescued by his Muslim neighbours. To save his life he shaved his Kais and Beard. With the Muslim neighbours’ help he came to India around December 1948. Such was the wafadari of the neighbours.
Upon retirement Pritam Singh migrated to the UK to enjoy his King’s Commissioned Indian Officer’s Pension and enjoyed the company of many brother officers from Pakistan and British Officers of the old Indian Army.
My Pakistani Khala passed away two years ago and my last direct link with the old Pakistan died with her. However, new Pakistan friends in the U K partially make up the loss.