Railways played bridgeable role in partition of India-Pakistan


Railways played bridgeable role in partition of India-Pakistan

Indian Railways played a vital role for transporting the Hindus and Muslims, from one place to another place at the safer places by running 673 trains between August 27, 1947 and November 6, 1947.
As per the history of railways, Northern Railway earlier used to known as  NWR – North Western Railway.  Railways too have extended cooperation to the freedom fighters.  Mahatama Gandhi used to travel in third class compartments so that he could attach the common man with him. Even Shaheed Bhagat Singh had gone to Calcutta now Kolkata by changing his figure after killing of 21-year-old British Police Officer, John Saunders.

At the time of partition, Railways played a crucial role in partition, as Hindus and Muslims took crammed, dangerous and often deadly journeys to their new homes in India or Pakistan.  At least 673 trains had planned from both sides and this service was free of cost and almost 23 lac people have shifted from across the border and in each train around 5,000 passengers could travel.  On not getting the seat in the compartment, the people used to travel on the roofs of the train as train was considered the safest mode of transport as security force equipped with arms was available in each coach.  However, other means of transport – on foot or other modes, were not safe as  there was a danger to life.
There were floods during September 1947 and the bridge between Phillaur-Amritsar has damaged and train services were cancelled for some time.  However, the temporary bridge was constructed by the Army officials and engineers.
Since the railway officials in Punjab were not available to run the trains as they too were trapped in the partition – a forced migration, the staff was called from Banglore who took over the command of trains.  
Pritam Kaur, 73-year-old recalls the stories told by her father Bakshi Singh who worked in the railways and shifted to Ferozepur in 1942 at Ferozepur as Station Master.  She used to go to the station to see the Ferozepur-Mumbai train known as Punjab Mail run by the
Englishmen. There used to separate tea stalls for Hindus and Muslims.  She was just 12 years old at that time and recalls that there was uncertainty surrounding the exact boundaries that were to be drawn.  However, the  decision of retaining Ferozepur in India was taken late niht hours in 1947.
Another old-timer freedom fighter, Gurcharan Sethi 87 years, sharing his experience said, he was happy to know the freedom of India but upset over bifurcation of India and Pakistan. 
Commenting on present India, he said, there was law and order when the country was not free but now there is no progress of basic infrastructure of road net work, sewerage, water and electricity supply.  We were better in those old days even as second grade citizens under British rule.  Instead of changing the situation, it is becoming worst with the entry of drugs making youths addict of it.
Varinder Kumar – son of a freedom fighter Ram Nath, retired as an officer from the nationalized Bank said our family did not get any benefit as our father used to say, we dedicated ourselves for the freedom of India and not to get any benefit. But despite various resources in India, we are lacking in patriotism, honesty, dedication which are obstacles in the development of our country at the root levels.


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