Remembering (?) the Day India Became Free

T.S. Nagarajan


T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

Chikkanayakanahalli is a small town about 130 km from Bangalore. I still remember vividly that a group of people – volunteers for the Independence movement – stopped my friends and me as we were walking to our school. They snatched the felt hat I was wearing and threw it on a bonfire of clothes. As the rising flames swallowed my hat, I felt a sense of shock at losing my precious possession and walked back home, crying all the way. It was the Quit India year, 1942.

On the day India became independent, I was a schoolboy in a small town called Doddaballapur in Karnataka. My father was the doctor in charge of the government hospital there. We lived in a small ‘out house’, a two-room block, behind a local jeweller’s mansion. My mother and the rest of the family were in Mysore, about 180 km away.

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 Lahore: Summer 1947

Joginder Anand

Dr. Anand - an unholy person born in 1932 in the holy town of Nankana Sahib, central Punjab. A lawyer father, a doctor mother. Peripatetic childhood - almost gypsy style. Many schools. Many friends, ranging from a cobbler's son (poorly shod as the proverb goes) to a judge's son. MB From Glancy (now Government) Medical College Amritsar, 1958. Comet 4 to Heathrow, 1960.

Long retired. Widower. A son and a daughter, their spouses, five grandchildren, two hens (impartially, one black, one white) keeping an eye on me as I stand still and the world goes by.


In 1947, I was a student at DAV College, Lahore. It stood fairly close to the Zamzama Gun, an artillery piece cast before Maharaja Ranjit Singh created the Khalsa Empire. An empire, which, despite the word Khalsa, was as non-communal as any. In fact, Ranjit Singh's youngest or junior most Maharani was a Muslim.

Before Ranjit Singh consolidated his hold on the Trans-Sutlej Punjab, the gun was in the ownership of the Bhangi Missal (sect). They were Jat Sikhs, reputedly fond of Cannabis indica. The Punjabi name of the gun was Bhangian di tope (The cannon of the Bhangis.)

It was commonly believed that whosoever held possession of the Zamzama would hold the Punjab. It had the longest range of any then in service in the sub-continent. When the East India Company defeated the Khalsa, they displayed the gun in Lahore.

Lahore in August 1947, as etched on my mind

Satish Chopra

Satish Chopra was born 1942 in Lahore, and his family moved to Delhi in 1947. After his M.A. from Delhi University, he became a banker, and retired from the Central Bank of India in 2001. He has a passion for learning, history, literature, and nostalgic film and light classical music. His book Forgotten Masters of Hindi Cinema was well-received in India and Pakistan.  In 2016, he got a National Film Award from the President of India. He is now working on his autobiography. His email is satishchopra@rediffmail.com.

The rooftop of our house situated at the right side entrance of Rasala Bazaar, Purani Anarkali, Lahore, was from where I saw fire all around the city in August 1947. The fire, which started from Shah Almi Gate, is one of my earliest memories. The Anarkali police station was situated at about two hundred metres from our house, and from our rooftop we could see its entire courtyard. At times, wailings of the detainees could be heard clearly in our home.

My family home in Lahore. at the right side entrance of Rasala Bazar, Purani Anarkali, Lahore. Picture was obtained in 1989 through a common acquaintance. Its authenticity was confirmed by my father, who expired in 1996.

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