Papaji's Inspiration

Valarie Kaur
Valarie Kaur

Valarie is a writer, filmmaker, and lecturer who has become a brave new voice on race and religion, hate and healing in post-Sept 11th America. A third-generation Sikh American, Valarie wrote and produced the critically acclaimed documentary film Divided We Fall (2008), which chronicles hate violence in the US after Sept 11, 2001. She earned bachelor's degrees in religion and international relations at Stanford University, master's in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School, and is now a student at Yale Law School.

Editor's note: This is a slightly edited version of an article on the author's blog.

Papa Ji was my mother's father. His wisdom and love made me who I am - and inspired Divided We Fall.

In November 2008, in California, I stood before his casket adorned with flowers, where his face shone regal in a red turban, and gazed out at a hundred people who had gathered in the small chapel. I never write down what I will say before an audience, but I knew that I needed to draw courage from words on paper.  I clutched the pages and spoke through tears:

My Beautiful Papa Ji,

Acceptance of India's Partition by Indian leaders - June 3 1947

Various sources

Editor's note: The Viceroy met with several Indian leaders on June 3, 1947. The minutes of that meeting are attached below. Source: This is followed by the broadcasts that took place later in the evening. The statement issued by the British Government on June 3, 1947 is also attached.

Minutes of the Meeting of the Viceroy with the Indian Leaders, 3 June 1947.


Speeches of Recrimination

His Excellency The Viceroy asked those present at the meeting to request their subordinate leaders to refrain, from now on, from speeches of recrimination which were likely to produce violent reactions. If the past could now be buried, the prospect of building a fine future would be opened up.
All those present at the meeting signified concurrence.

Mr. Gandhi

Mr Liaquat Ali Khan said that he fully agreed that it might be possible to control the speeches of subordinate leaders. In addition, however, there should be a request for restraint on the part of "super leaders" - for example Mr. Gandhi at his prayer meetings. It was true that Mr. Gandhi preached "nonviolence", but that many of his speeches could be taken as an incitement to violence.

Acceptance of India's Partition by Indian leaders - June 2 1947

Various sources
Indian leaders agree to Partition June 2, 1947 In the photograph, at the table, from left to right: Abdul Rab Nishtar, Sardar Baldev Singh, Acharya Kriplani, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lord Mountbatten, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and Liaqat Ali Khan.

Editor's note: I have asked R C Mody, who was 21 years old in 1947, to put this photograph in the context of the situation in India at that time. Mr. Mody remembers those days clearly, and has contributed many memories to his website. Mr. Mody writes:

This photograph shows seven Indian leaders sitting around a round table in the Viceroy's study in Viceroy's House (now Rashtrapati Bhawan) in New Delhi in the forenoon of June 2, 1947, along with Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of India. Several of the Indian leaders were members of the Interim Government that had been formed on 2nd September 1946 in anticipation of India's Independence. Lord Mountbatten was the President of the Executive Council, and the Indian leaders were Members of this Council, which functioned as a Council of Ministers. Three of the India leaders represent the Indian National Congress (Congress), another three represent the Muslim League (League), and the seventh one represents the Sikh community.

The three leaders representing the Congress are:

From Kot Khan Pakistan to India 1947

R P Bhatla
R P Bhatla

R P Bhatla is an AMIE (India) Engineer in Civil Engineering. He retired in 1994 as Deputy General Manager from Engineers India Ltd. He continued to work as General Manager, Triune Projects Ltd., General Manager Enron India, General Manager, PLL/Simon Carves India Ltd, and Advisor L&amp\;T Faridabad.

Editor's notes:

This is the second of several stories related to the life of the Bhatla family before and after the Partition of India in 1947. The first story is available here.

From Meghiana to Hoshiarpur, 1947 by Pran Bhatla is an independent story of another family in a similar situation.

India and Pakistan got their Independence in August 1947. My parents and their four children - three sons and one daughter - were living in a village called Kot Khan in District Jhang in west Punjab. We were Hindus, and this area became a part of Muslim-dominated Pakistan.

A Child’s Horrifying Memories of India’s Partition

Bimla Goulatia
Bimla Goulatia

Bimla Goulatia got her doctor’s degree (MBBS) from Government Medical College, Amritsar, and then joined the Indian government's Employees' State Insurance Corporation, India (ESIC). She rose to the rank of Director in their Headquarter at Delhi when She took voluntary retirement from this organisation.

Editor's note: A related story written by her oldest brother, Pran Bhatla is available here. Mr. M. P. V. Shenoi has faciliated the writing and publication of this story.

In the 1940s, my parents were living at House No.7, Galli (Street) No.7, Guru Nanak Pura Lyallpur (now Faisalabad), which is now in Pakistan. I was five years old. I had two older brothers, who were 13 and 7 years old, and a younger sister, who was 2.5 years old.

Leaving (?) pre-Partition Ludhiana

Khawaja Nazir Ahmad
Khawaja Nazir Ahmad

I was born in Ludhiana on 19 April, 1943, though my recorded date of birth is 11 July, 1942. After India's Partition, I was raised and educated in Lahore. I studied at Forman Christian College, Lahore and University of the Punjab. In 1964, I was selected to join the Pakistan Air Force's (PAF) College of Aeronautical Engineering. I served in the PAF for 27 years, retiring voluntarily in 1991 as a Group Captain. My services were recognized with a National Award. I was told at the time of my retirement that if I did not retire, I was sure to get promoted to Air Commodore, with the strong possibility of another promotion to the rank of Air Vice Marshal. I cannot say what made me give up my career at its prime. The only reason that comes to my mind is that I was looking for "Fresh air". In my post retirement life I got what I was looking for, and have since lived a satisfied life.

I belong to a Muslim family that migrated from Kashmir to Ludhiana perhaps in the beginning of 19th century.

I cannot say with any surety the reason for this migration but I presume that economic reasons were the cause of this exodus. A young boy named Kamal was the first of us who came to Ludhiana with a caravan from Kashmir. We do not know where or how he got separated from his family.

Memories of India’s Partition

Jai Gopal Sethi


I was born in Kohat, now in Pakistan. After partition, my family migrated to Delhi. After my B.E. (Civil) Engineering degree in 1962 from University Of Roorkee, I worked as an engineer in UP’s Irrigation department, and retired as a Superintending Engineer. Now I live in Saket, New Delhi and am the President of M-Block (NE) Saket Cultural and Niwasi Welfare Association, New Delhi. I also served as honorary secretary of the Association for 4 years. It is my endeavour to serve humanity at grass root level

Editor's note: Mr. Sethi's life before Partition is described in Memories of pre-1947 Kohat.

Along with my mother and sisters, I moved to Toba Tek Singh in 1947. My youngest sister was born on 10th August 1947.

My recollections of my city of birth-Rawalpindi

Yashpal Sethi and Gurpreet Singh Anand

Yashpal Sethi was born on September 7, 1931 in Mohalla Shah Chanchrag, Bazaar Sarafan, Rawalpindi, and moved to India after the Partition of India. He joined the Punjab National Bank in 1953 and retired from the Bank in September 1992. He returned to Pakistan in 2006 to visit Murree, Rawalpindi and Lahore, when he had a memorable time visiting various places, including his ancestral home, which today is a commercial complex. Now he lives in Yamunanagar, Haryana and is quite active on social media such as Facebook.

Editor's note: This article is based on an interview conducted by Gurpreet Singh Anand in 2013, and is presented as a report of this interview. Additional material has been taken from Yashpal Sethi's blog

Gurpreet was born in India to parents who fled from Rawalpindi and Murree, where the family had cloth shops, as ‘refugees.' His father, though from a business family, was a full time member of the communist party and a freedom fighter. His father died when Gurpreet was 10 years old, leaving behind a diary of the events in 1947\; Gurpreet has always been intrigued by this diary. Gurpreet, now an avid traveller and businessman, keeps searching for people who were traumatised by the partition of India. He interviews them to record their memories, and keeps in touch with people of similar interest in Rawalpindi.

How I Found Out About the Impact of Partition

M P V Shenoi

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is


I was born in Mysore, where I lived till I left the place after graduation in 1956, in search of a job. In 1947, the impact of the Partition of India was negligible in Mysore.

There people were more concerned about the fate of the State, their Maharajah in the new political set up.

The first exposure I had to the Partition that was accompanied by mass displacement of Hindus and Muslims, in which more than one million people were killed, was a small incident that happened in my uncle's residence. I was thirteen years old then. A refugee Hindu family had arrived in sleepy Mysore. They had made their way into the drawing room of my uncle's house, who was fairly affluent. He was also an inactive member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Dreams Don’t Die

Juginder Luthra


Dr. Juginder Luthra completed his MBBS from Medical College, Amritsar in 1966, and his MS in Ophthalmology from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), Chandigarh in 1970. He moved to Nottingham, UK along with his wife, Dolly — a dentist from the Amritsar Dental College — and a daughter, Namita. They were blessed with twin daughters, Rohini and Rashmi, in May 1975. The family moved to Weirton, West Virginia in June 1975. Now their three loving daughters are married to wonderful sons-in-law, and Dolly and Juginder are blessed with six grandchildren.

There was a flurry of activities all over the house.

"Is the suitcase ready, did you pack enough mango pickle and praanthe with cooked dry potatoes placed between them? Are your shoes polished, do you have enough money for the journey? Do you have Dr. Chitkara's (Pitaji's cousin) address, at whose house you will be staying for the first 3 or 4 days?"

The last one was planned to avoid the notorious, scary ritual of ragging which every new student received from the seniors.

"Make sure your shoes match\; one black and one brown will look really funny. Don't stick your head out of the moving train, you will get a coal particle fly into your eye. Above all, no more mischief\; you are a big boy now."


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