Kids Corner

Above: Ishar Singh shows his prize possessions - photos of his lost family members. Below, 1st from bottom - a Partition refugee. 2nd and 3rd from bottom - TIME magazine covers from Oct 27, 1947 and Apr 22, 1946, respectively.


Unhealed Wounds:
Partition & Separation


105-year-old Ishar Singh, whose family was separated during the Partition of Punjab and India in 1947, has had a life-long wish: to see his daughters before he closes his eyes forever.

Prior to the Partition, Ishar Singh, who now lives in Jammu - in 1947, part of a united Punjab - had a happy family living in what is now in West Punjab (Pakistan), but the line of separation that bisected the sub-continent, also divided his family.

On the fateful day, Ishar Singh, a transporter, was on the Indian side and his wife - along with their seven children, including four sons and three daughters - was still on the Pakistani side of the border.

"I tried to locate them and get them back but all my efforts turned futile, as now they had become citizens of Pakistan," said Ishar Singh.

It was not an uncommon story - those left behind became hostages and were forced to convert to Islam.

His family in Pakistan ,too, had no choice but to convert to Islam. Later, his sons immigrated to the United States where Ishar Singh was able to meet them many years later.

His three daughters still live in Faisalabad, in Pakistan.

In 1975, after 28 years of struggle, he got a chance to visit Lahore, Pakistan, where he met his daughters.

Thirty-four years have passed since then, but because of visa restrictions, he could not visit them again.

"We lost so many people and so many families were separated by the partition. For the past six decades, I have not been able to sleep comfortably, as I miss my family," said Ishar Singh.

Not only Ishar Singh himself, but also his daughters in Pakistan have been struggling hard to meet their father. Every time they apply for a visa, their request has been turned down.

"They, too, want to meet their father. They tried hard to get visas but whenever they applied, they were refused," said Satwant Kaur, daughter-in-law of Ishar Singh.

Though the relations between the two nations were strained, this father still has a hope that before he closes his eyes, he will get a chance to meet his daughters.

People like Ishar Singh who live by such hope have been praying every day of their lives for the improvement of relations between the two nations.


[Courtesy: TNS]

March 2, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Jessie (Canada), March 02, 2009, 4:44 PM.

As a young Sikh person born and raised in Canada, I've always felt that the sadness and violence of partition has gone unacknowledged by the western world. Partition itself, as well as its long-lasting effects, has devestated at least three generations of Sikhs and other South Asians. It's up to us to bring attention to this sad chapter in our history, so that people will understand it as well as they do the division between North and South Korea, the history of the European iron curtain, or the Nazi Holocaust. Can't more be done to reunite families like Ishar Singh's? I would like to send letters of support to immigration offices in Pakistan and India, on behalf of these individuals wishing to be reunited with their loved ones. Please post information, so we can help!

2: Raj (Canada), March 02, 2009, 10:58 PM.

There're many stories of families having to separate and live under intimidation of the majority on both sides of the border. There's an excellent Pakistani movie "Khamosh Pani" about such women left in Pakistan. It is highly recommended. If you can't get it, it is on Youtube as well.

3: Harinder (Bangalore, India), March 04, 2009, 11:51 AM.

Sikhs were outmanouvered by their dear Muslim neigbours in pre partition India due to a simple but highly potent Muslim philosopohy of "Al-Taqiya ..." - a typically Muslim method of conquest. Our ancestors were simply caught with their pants down in the numbers game of democracy.

4: Gulzar Junaid (Bombay, India), July 04, 2009, 6:31 PM.

Very sad story ... am sure there are many like this one. The worst part is that if you take away the religion and what they have to believe in ... Humans have fallen at such levels! A brother wants to kill another brother. We are surely living in dangerous times.

5: Ron (India), January 23, 2010, 9:24 AM.

I'm sorry to say but forced conversions are a part of Islamic legacy. Just like Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan, there were thousands of Muslims who either opted to say on in India or were unable to migrate but they were never made to abdicate their faith for Hinduism or Sikhism. Fanatical behaviour and one-upmanship is responsible for this unquenching thirst for conversions. Why can't Muslims live in a pluralistic society and understand that if indeed God wanted everyone to follow Islam, he wouldn't have made others Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, etc? [Editor: Sadly, the Christan - aggressive - policy of luring needy and poor people to Christianity through economic baits is no less obnoxious and sinful. Charity for the wrong reasons is no charity!]

6: Jamil Mirza (Lahore, Punjab), February 18, 2012, 2:47 PM.

Stories like this abound on both sides of the border.

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Partition & Separation"

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