Excerpt from article:
We were all taken to a bank for safety...
The stay at the bank was horrible. There were three families - ours, the bank manager's and my dad's uncle, who would shout all the time in pain because of urine retention. The elders were concerned about the fate of the women and children in case of an attack, mob managed to get into the bank, overpower tem and take women. So, the elders had made a pact that in case of an attack on the bank, they would kill the children and women themselves before fighting the attackers. Two or three times, there was fear of a successful attack. We children had decided that instead of using boiling hot water to make tea, we would throw the hot water on the attackers. Each time, the women and children were herded into a small room, but the attackers were not successful. At nights, there were disturbances and shouting, and we could see fires that had been lit by mobs.
The bank manager was a clever man. He told the police that we would be willing to give them lots of money if they would take us safely to a camp from where we could go to India. My father gave them gold coins. At last, the police asked us to get ready for the camp, take only three clothes each.
The police searched every one before we got onto the police van. They even broke my dolls to check whether we had hidden any money or gold inside them. So much so, they even broke the rotis we were carrying - just in case we had hidden anything in them.
My mother did not want to give up her earrings. She begged the police to let her keep them. So my father gave them more money, and they allowed us to keep the earrings and wedding rings. My mother gave her valuable clothes to the bank manager, in the hope of getting them later in India, but she never got them.
On our way to the camp, after a short while, the police halted us. There were people with weapons running in the street in front. Some were playing cards on the roadside. My father was very disturbed because his young unmarried sister was with us. He pleaded with the police for protection, and promised to give them more money. Better sense prevailed, and the police took us back to the bank.
- By Bimla Goulatia
Bhatla's family home in Rawalpindi.