Sunday, July 22, 2018
Kashmir Times Logo
Still looking for that Partition hero
Of an anonymous Sikh man who helped save a Muslim family from Amritsar during the tumult of Partition
By Mariam S. Pal
In August 2015, The Hindu's Open Page published an article I wrote, headlined "Where are those heroes of Partition?" There I told the story of how my Muslim family had fled Amritsar for Lahore in August 1947. Its pivotal character was a hero, an anonymous Sikh gentleman and friend who warned my grandfather and great-uncles that their lives and those of their loved ones were in danger. He came knocking on their door late at night, telling them they needed to leave town. The next morning the Pals left Amritsar, never to return.

The very morning the article was published, it was tweeted and shared on Facebook extensively. As I sat at my desk in Canada, my inbox quickly filled up with mails from all corners of India. They told fascinating stories.

Some readers thanked me for writing. Another hoped my family had found peace in Canada, the country my father moved to eight years after Partition. Others were curious - they asked me if anyone had come forward with information on the identity of the Sikh friend. A writer sent me his novel about Partition and a painter sent me the link to his website so I could see his portraits of Partition survivors.

What I found particularly gratifying was the fact that all of the messages sent to me were positive. In an age where our modern tools of communication often give rise to abuse, I was touched by the empathy and concern that people expressed.

How could I not be moved by the deeply personal and painful stories that the readers shared with me? I heard from Sikhs and Hindus whose families were saved by Muslims and vice versa. Two weeks after my article was published, an Indian Muslim sent these words: "I yearn for the day I would see an India and Pakistan free from apprehensions and bias, free from fear and loathing."

"We still feel the pain of Partition," wrote one Sikh. "All those heroes deserve a big applause." said a Hindu. Sitting in Coimbatore airport, a Punjabi Hindu man explained to me that his grandfather's family, including his own father, left Karachi for Amritsar with the help of a Muslim neighbour and friend. Yet another person told me the story of how their pregnant mother, who was then 22 years old, owed her life to a Muslim. Or the Muslim in Gujranwala who made sure a Hindu family safely made it on to a Delhi-bound train. There was the Sikh student at the Government College in Lahore who was saved by a Muslim tongawalla. Yet another told of his family forever fated to be divided between India and Pakistan.

It was clear that my story had resonated with many readers. Weary of the focus on the brutality of Partition, they were eager to remember forgotten heroes. Despite this, many still feel the pain of Partition. I was taken aback by the unexpected outpouring of sorrow and loss. Based on the messages I received, although 69 years have passed since the British quit India, I can only conclude that millions still bear the scars of this brutal separation. Not a single person who wrote me defended the creation of India and Pakistan. Over and over I read the same sad sentiment: if we are all the same people, why are we living in two countries?

I hoped that my hero might finally be identified as a result of my article. But that has not happened - at least not till now. I did not receive a single lead that would have helped me find the man who saved my family. Realistically, the chances that I would find him alive were slim. After all, from the little information that I have, he was already middle-aged in 1947 so he might have died some years ago. Or maybe he never spoke to his family about how he helped a group of Muslims escape Amritsar for Lahore. Who knows?

I will probably never know who the hero who helped my family was. But I like to think that his kind spirit, along with those of countless other partition heroes, is always with me.

—(Courtesy: The Hindu)

News Updated at : Sunday, August 13, 2017
Comment on this Story 

Top Stories of the Day  
Night long cordon, search operation in Zakir Musa's village called off
PULWAMA, Aug 12: The cordon and search operation launched by the security forces in Zakir Musa's native village, Noorpora, Tral on Friday ended Saturday after over 20 hours even as clashes erupted in another village of the district, Trichal after the security forces laid siege to the area early this morning. Government forces including army, special operations group (SOG) and para-military forces late in the afternoon on Friday had laid cordon around Noorpora following specific input about a
> Train services in Kashmir suspended again
> Army jawan injured in landmine blast near LoC
> KEA protests against moves to abolish Art 35-A
> Govt should declare constituent assembly void: ANC
> One injured in Dalgate blast
Other Stories from Web  
Find us on
Weather Report
Shridev Sharma
Mata Vaishnodevi | Matavaishnodevi | Mata Vaishno Devi
Electric Blanket | Electric Bed Warmers | Electric Under Blankets | Electric Heating Blanket
Web Design Jammu, Web Design Company, Ideogram Jammu
Home | Contact Us | Kashmir Times | Kashmir Times E-Paper - Jammu | Kashmir Times E-Paper - Srinagar | Dainik Kashmir Times | Jammu Prabhat
Copyright 2013 Kashmir Times Group. All rights reserved. Powered by Ideogram Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd.