‘Mother was cooking food when all of sudden we’re asked to leave Lahore’
Amritsar, August 12
The month of August still haunts 94-year-old Ram Parkash Vinayak even after 75 years of the bloody Partition that witnessed one of the largest migrations in human history.
“I still remember when a magistrate, Afzal Ghani Cheema, in Lahore used to provoke his community members to set afire the houses of other communities in order to push them out of Lahore,” said nostalgic Vinayak. Cheema later became the first district magistrate of Lahore, he said.
Till around 15 days before the Partition, we were hopeful that Lahore would be part of India, but it became clear that it would not. People asked them to leave immediately. Around 60 families, including our relatives from Peshawar, had taken shelter in our haveli in the hope that my father would somehow arrange their entry into India. — Ram Parkash Vinayak
Vinayak said his father Lala Durga Das Vinayak was a reader to magistrate and they had a well-to-do family in Pakki Thatti village. He was also in the real estate business. Their haveli was located just close to the residence of the then Lahore’s district magistrate. There was a well in their house, he remembered.
“Till around 15 days before the Partition, we were hopeful that Lahore would be part of India, but it became clear that it would not. People asked them to leave immediately,” he said. He said around 60 families, including their relatives from Peshawar, had taken shelter in their haveli in the hope that his father would somehow arrange their entry into India.
The situation soon went out of control there and riots spread like a wildfire and people were being killed mercilessly. My father requested Cheema to let them pass through to India safely. Cheema then asked his driver to drop them at the DAV College hostel in Lahore.
“My mother was cooking food when all of sudden we were asked to leave. She took along whatever she could. Before leaving, we freed our animals so that they did not die of hunger,” he said.
Vinayak said people bribed the driver to make several rounds to leave them at the DAV College hostel. From there, they somehow managed to cross over to this side of border.
Nevertheless, life was not easy here also. Vinayak said they were shifted to a refugee camp at Hindu College. He said they occupied a house vacated by a Muslim family in Katra Baggian area. He said they used to work in shops for making ends meet.
Vinyak later joined a government job in the office of Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, in 1963 and retired as superintendent of the treasury office.