Contact Us

The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Ravinder Kumar Chopra, 2011 April 2.
Oral history with Ravinder Kumar Chopra, 2011 April 2.
Chopra, Ravinder Kumar, 1939-, Brito, Katherine, Kals, Devin, and Bhalla, Guneeta Singh
Author (no Collectors):
Chopra, Ravinder Kumar, 1939-, Brito, Katherine, Brito, Katherine, Kals, Devin, Kals, Devin, and Bhalla, Guneeta Singh
Born as Ravinder Kumar Chopra in 1939, Ravi Chopra is the eldest of seven siblings. He was born in Lahore to a Diwan family, and lives today in San Jose, near his children. Mr. Chopra was only eight and a half years old at the time of Partition. He recalls that even up to two months before Partition, his Hindu family had a very friendly, and even affectionate relationship with Muslims in the community. Until Partition, Chopra was even babysat by Muslim family friends, and studied under a Muslim teacher in school.He remembers that about a month before Partition, there was a sudden change in the community, and friends who played together one day were suspicious of each other the next. At this time, Mr. Chopra’s father (a policeman) was promoted to another city. It was quickly decided that the family needed to leave immediately after the exams, but things grew worse much quicker than expected. One night, a Muslim friend who wanted them to be safe came to their house and warned them that they were to leave that very night. The family had only about 12 hours to pack up what they could, and carried it tied around their bodies to the railway station. Just as they boarded a passenger train to a bigger station, they saw their house in flames through the window.When the train came to the next station, Mr. Chopra was caught in the middle of gunfire (it was unclear who exactly was firing), and a bullet grazed his leg. His grandmother was extremely distraught at his profuse bleeding. Not knowing what else to do, with no medical care around, she took the only dhuti she had brought with her, sterilized it with her own urine, and wrapped it around the wound. When the train came, the family offered all of their possessions to be hidden in the compartment of a Muslim man, under the guise of being his family. Spending the train ride in the crowded compartment, the Muslim gentleman would pass them off as his family every time they were questioned. Chopra recalls seeing young girls throwing themselves into wells to protect their honor, and seeing dead bodies strewn along the train tracks. Once they arrived at Ferozepur, Ravi and his family spent ten nights in a refugee camps, where there was no hygiene, and life was miserable.Once reunited with his parents, Ravi and his family were given a house comparable to the one they had to leave behind, and started anew. His father was reinstated as a policeman, and he joined the army at age 15. Ravi’s paternal grandmother chose to stay behind with their family home, living with a Muslim servant who was very loyal to their family. The family survived financially because once his grandmother was forcibly removed from their home a few months later, she brought several kilograms of solid gold hidden in the walls with her. Today, Ravi has still not been able to go back to his home in Pakistan, as his position in the army made it difficult for him to get a visa to go to Pakistan. He lives in San Jose, CA, along with his children and their families,.
History and History
Physical Description:
1 video file
Publication Info:
San Jose (Calif.)
San Jose (Calif.), April 2, 2011
Filmed interviews