Jaswant

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In 1947, Jaswant was 11 years old and living in Canal Park, a suburb of Lahore.

In July, his family travelled by train to East Panjab, along with 11 other Sikh families hoping to find safety in the city of Patiala. At Bathinda, they met friends who advised them not to go to Patiala as there was too much bloodshed. They were advised instead to go to Bikaner, Rajasthan. They changed trains and found safety in Bikaner.

Jaswant's family first came to the UK in 1937, but travelled back to India by road in 1939 with his mother, grandfather and siblings. His father left Britain for Bombay on a Japanese ship from Liverpool a few months later as that city was being bombed. The journey took two months. After the war, in October 1947, Jaswant's family came back to the UK, arriving first in London. He settled in Cardiff in 1955 where he still lives today.

Jaswant has six children, 20 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Transcript

Well, I think that my father, his brother and a couple of other people put a lot of effort into building these houses for themselves in Canal Park. And when they lost them, it was a big shock to them particularly.

And it was less of a trauma for us than them, as well as my mother who suffered a lot of trauma. She became unwell, thinking that she had lost everything, the belongings and all the things.

In this room of ours, we had shelving, a big shelf where we had trunks on there and all the stuff used to be in those trunks and full up. She used to cry more often than anything thinking about what she had lost. Because we were young I suppose it was less traumatic for us.

My sister was 16 at the time and my father managed to find a boy for her and she was married in Bikaner on 30 January when Mahatma Gandhi got shot. There was a band playing for the wedding and people came to say 'Shhh! don't you know Mahatma Gandhi's been shot and he's dead?', so everyone went quiet and did nothing then.

We were flowing with the time; we were making our own things that we could amuse ourselves with.

It's only now you come to find who Jinnah was and Nehru was and his father Motilal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. Everybody was picked up but most of all Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh didn't get that slice of the 'bigness' of Independent India, the part they played in it. They were just on the side issue and yet they were the ones that took revenge, particularly the shooting that went on in Amritsar…and how they went to the gallows because they wanted Independence for India.

I was surprised to find how Bose made trouble for Gandhi and Nehru and one thing I know is that he was going with the Japanese. People were afraid instead of British rule we might have Japanese rule, because he was trying to get their help and they will want something for that.

We always used to discuss in the schools whether the Japanese were more horrible or the British.

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