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South Asian Heritage Month: Lenka Kaur

My name is Lenka Kaur and this is my husbands family heritage story told by my sister in law Jaswinder Kaur

Lenka Kaur new

Lenka Kaur - Access and Participation Co-ordinator (Centre for Inclusion & Diversity)

I recall my late grandfather, whose name was Mengha Singh, telling us about his memories as a child during partition of India and Pakistan.

He said in his village in Toli punjab, everyone lived peacefully prior to any division.   There were a diverse number of families from different beliefs who lived in harmony with each other. As a young boy he played with the children from families in his village and enjoyed the innocence of childhood.

He told me his father (my great grandfather) had spoken to his family about mounting tension following announcement of the partition. That neighbouring villagers had spoken of lynch mobs who were looking for  people of different faiths who they believed should be extracted from India and go to Pakistan.

One day my grandfather said he witnessed a young neighbours family running to my grandparents house in the night asking for shelter from vigilantes who were blood thirsty and in fear for their lives.

He recalls his father being questioned by sword carrying men searching for Muslim families to murder.  They asked if he knew where they were hiding. My great grandfather had hidden the girls along with their mother in his house until it was clear for them to be discreetly shaparoned across the border to join there family members.

The mother told my great grandfather that she feared her husband and menfolk had been murdered and therefore was desperately seeking help to save her children.

My great grandfather and some men from the village hid them on the back of trolleys used to carry cattle fodder and in the night took then. They took a huge risk as folk found guilty of such actions were also killed for assisting.

My own grandfather recalls seeing a huge man mounted on a big horse swinging a silver sword  chasing people and indiscriminately swiping killer blows. One very very young boy was separated from his fleeing family and the mounted man shouted to my great grandfather  - kill the child! But he could not, he saw tears of fear in the innocent child's face but the man realised that he wasn't going to do anything and u-turned his horse and do the unthinkable.

Such traumatic events were extremely common  until the situation settled down. It wasn't uncommon for separated families to be adopted by Indian families to ensure no harm would come to the person.  This was a risk but many people saw humanity over evil.

Below is a picture of my grandfather Mengha Singh.

an old style photograph of a person looking at the camera.

Mengha Singh