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The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Muhammad Yousuf, 2016 May 12.
Oral history with Muhammad Yousuf, 2016 May 12.
Yousuf, Muhammad, 1941- and Shaheen, Taha
Author (no Collectors):
Yousuf, Muhammad, 1941-, Shaheen, Taha, Shaheen, Taha, and Shaheen, Taha
Muhammad Yousuf was born to Mian Imamdeen and Noor Bibi in 1941 in Kotkapura, Faridkot. Mian Imamdeen was a farmer. He owned land. At the time, Muhammad Yousuf had only one younger brother.He used to go to a madrassa for religious studies. They learned the basic prayers and how to offer the Salah. After that he and his friends would run after wheels that had been taken out of cycles. To make the wheels go faster they would be hit with sticks.The city was a Muslim majority city. Friday prayers were held in the mosque and Eid prayers would be held in the Eid-gah.His memories of the Partition start with hearing of violence. When this started people from the surrounding villages came to the city seeking safety. The population of Kotkapura suddenly grew. He recalls that at this time police were doing regular raids in the neighbourhood and confiscating anything that could be considered a weapon.He shares that the Raja of Faridkot wanted his people to make it to Pakistan safely. Some from the Sikh community forced him to choose one city between Faridkot or Kotkapura to save. He chose Faridkot. Faridkot was emptied and its people reached Pakistan without any problem. The kafla that left Kotkapura was 20 miles or so in length. They encountered no attackers on the first day. On the second day, Muhammad Yousuf remembers seeing people hiding in the fields. He asked his father why they were there and his father told him that they were harmless onlookers. An hour or two later there was an explosion and a lot of people died. The people hiding in the fields also attacked the kafla. The kafla was divided in two with Muhammad Yousuf and his family in the front half. They escaped.A girl that his mother knew came running to them. She told them that the attackers had killed everyone (her family). Muhammad Yousuf remembers looking back and seeing the attacking mob cutting down people.The kafla rested that night next to a large body of water. There was blood in it, shares Muhammad Yousuf. They were attacked that night as well. The kafla was there for three days and it rained all the time. Those that drank that water got sick with cholera.The third day military from Pakistan came. They announced that the original plan of crossing over from Head Sulaiman was no longer possible and they would be crossing from Head Ganda Singh. This meant going back from the way they had come. The sick and elderly were loaded into trucks and brought to Kasur. The rest walked to Kotkapura. They stayed one night there.He shares that they had left behind a buffalo with their neighbors in Kotkapura. Muhammad Yousuf’s father went to pay them a visit. The buffalo had not given milk since they had left. Imamdeen milked her and gave it to the neighbors.The next day the left the village. At the Indian side of Ganda Sigh, they stayed the night. They were fed cooked wheat by the locals. It was poisoned and a lot of people died. He also speaks of corpses piled as high as houses on the side of the road. Muhammad Yousuf shares every time he goes to a funeral, he sees the mountains of the dead and thinks of how lucky the deceased is. He has a hundred or so people praying for him and is buried respectably. No one had held any funeral services for the dead he had seen, no one had buried them. They had been tossed into piles.They crossed over to Pakistan at Head Ganda Singh. Rain and cholera killed more people there. The four of them lived in a tent. A few days later a train came. It took everyone directly to Lala Musa. They came then to Gujrat. The government announced that there was no space in the city. New arrivals would be accommodated in the villages and given houses and land.Muhammad Yousuf and his family walked to Jalalpur Jatta. From there they rode donkeys to Tandamota near Kashmir. Whichever house you liked you would point to it and the officials would break the locks for you.The family lived for a month or so in Tandamota. Then a war broke out in Kashmir. Dying and mutilated people escaping the carnage started pouring into Tandamota. Muhammad Yousuf shares that he and others were afraid of what might come next. They had barely escaped from India and now they would be caught up in a new conflict. The police wouldn’t let them leave because if everyone left, the city would be become abandoned. The family left it secretly at night. They had no baggage. They first came to Jalalpur and then to Gujrat. From there they took a train to Lahore. From there they came to Dunga Bunga. He joined school and did his matriculation from here.They were allotted part of their land in 1958. The rest of the land Muhammad Yousuf had to go to great lengths to get. He had to deal with red tape and bribery for years. He received the land in late 1960s. He shares that his father, till his dying breath, believed that they would return one day to Kotkapura. He never tried to claim the land they had left behind.He married in 1958 or 1959 to his cousin. He has eight sons and two daughters. He has never been to India. He believes that there is no point in going back. He believes that it is good that they came to Pakistan where they are free to follow Islam.
History and History
Urdu and Panjabi
Physical Description:
15 video files
Publication Info:
Bahawalnagar District (Pakistan)
Bahawalnagar District (Pakistan), May 12, 2016
Filmed interviews