Owe my life to Muslim neighbours, says Partition survivor

CHANDIGARH: Painful memories of Partition return to haunt Punjab residents every year when the nation celebrates Independence Day.

editorial@tribune.com

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14

Painful memories of Partition return to haunt Punjab residents every year when the nation celebrates Independence Day. However, Amar Kaur (96) fondly remembers the rare incidents of brotherhood between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs that saved her and many others.

One of the few living survivors of the 1947 mayhem, Amar Kaur says their Muslim neighbours in Icchra (Lahore) first protected them and later took pains to locate them in India and send them their household goods.

When she reached her parental house at Khanpur (Hoshiarpur) after days of travelling on bullock carts, she was amazed to find that her family had been protecting the young daughter of a Muslim neighbour.

Sitting in her house at Shergarh village near Hoshiarpur, she insists: “Bas roula vich pae gaye. Bande sab changey si (People were nice. They were just caught in the storm).”

She was 25 in 1947, married to a mason for a couple of years. “We used to have fun in Lahore. I loved shopping in that city. I have never seen such fine cloth in my life. I remember each nook and cranny of Anarkali Bazaar,” she says.

When violence erupted, her family, like thousands of others, had no idea what would happen next. “We anxiously spent days and nights on the rooftop. Our Muslim neighbours helped us all along. But for them, we would not have been alive.”

Her husband sent his brothers, sisters and her a few days before Independence Day to Hoshiarpur. “Our neighbours didn’t want us to leave, but we had to move to India. At Khanpur, my brothers had saved a Muslim neighbour’s family. A Muslim girl cried all night in my arms. Next morning, they and others left for Pakistan as many Sikh and Hindu families had reached the village,” she adds. “We were all hoping that Partition, the violence and rapes, were all part of a bad dream,” she recalls. As the family members started picking up the pieces, they were pleasantly astonished to receive a letter from their erstwhile neighbours. “They told us they had despatched the household items to the family of a common friend in Tarn Taran. That shows how nice people were in those days,” says Amar Kaur.

She later gave birth to three daughters and two sons. Her husband moved to Shergarh village and did odd jobs. Later, he migrated to Jordan. Her granddaughter, Manpreet Kaur, recalls that her ‘nana’ (Amar Kaur’s husband) died a few years ago with only one wish on his lips — to stroll on the streets of Lahore.

“My ‘nani’ often says she wants to visit Anarkali Bazaar at least once before she breathes her last. I wonder if that would be possible,” asks Manpreet.

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