Contact Us

The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Anshu Sur, 2014 December 6.
Oral history with Anshu Sur, 2014 December 6.
Sur, Anshu, 1942, Roy, Raikamal, and Korwar, Sucheta
Author (no Collectors):
Sur, Anshu, 1942, Roy, Raikamal, Roy, Raikamal, and Korwar, Sucheta
Mr. Anshu Sur was born in 1942 in Baraitala, Noakhali (now in Bangladesh). Noakhali was one of the worst affected areas during the 1946 Direct Action Day riots. One of his first memories at the age of four is of the riots that would break out on 16th August in Noakhali. Just before Durga Puja, sudden streams of relatives would enter their house during lunchtime, claiming their homes had been burnt, their families killed, and women abducted. Mr. Sur and his family would flee to his uncle's home in Noakhali town the very same day. This was, Mr. Sur recalls, the first time he had set foot out this far outside his home. From his uncle's home, the family would disperse, and Mr. Sur would take the train to go to another uncle's home in Jalpaiguri. His uncle was the manager of a tea garden there, and Mr. Sur remained there until things quitened down, and joined his father in Calcutta after some time. His father, meanwhile, had rented a home in Bhowanipur for the family to stay in. After the riots they would return once to Noakhali, but things had drastically changed. All their relatives and acquaintance had fled, and from a village that was entirely Hindu in composition, not one Hindu remained. In this climate of communcal tension, "no one was speaking," Mr. Sur remembers, "everyone was whispering."Mr. Sur remembers how the Hindu upper castes of their village mistreated the Muslim agricultural labourers and fishermen, and it was this social divide that instigated the violence during the riots, he believes. No Muslims were allowed to enter the homes of Hindus and had to stand a distance of 100 meters away. Often, if a shadow were even to fall within the domain of the Hindu home, the place was religiously washed and scrubbed. The Hindus were predominantly the land owning classes, while the Muslims were the laboring classes.After moving to Calcutta, Mr. Sur's way of life would dramatically change. His father, previously a landholding talikdar, would see a series of successive failures in business ventures and Mr. Sur would start studying with his brother in class four (much ahead of his actual school year), so that money could be saved if the brother shared their books. A couple of times, Mr. Sur had to be taken out of school due to financial crises. After completing his matriculation, Mr. Sur would start taking private tuition to earn money on the side. In this way, he would put himself through college, graduating with degrees in commerce and law. He would then sit for the state civil services examination, and start working with the department of culture in West Bengal. During 1971, where a huge refugee influx was entering from Bangladesh into India, Mr. Sur went personally to hand out supplies to the incoming refugees. He remembers standing under torrential rain, directing refugees to their shelters - ”overnight," claims Mr. Sur, over 1000 refugees were rehabilitated. After a long career in the department of culture, Mr. Sur, currently works with television and information. He lives with his wife in Salt Lake in Calcutta.
Physical Description:
9 video files
Publication Info:
Kolkata (India)
Kolkata (India), December 6, 2014
Filmed interviews