06 February 2023
Recording of the week: Voices of Partition
This week’s post comes from Charlotte James, Web Content Developer for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage.
In August 1947, Gurbakhsh Singh Garcha learned about the Partition of India over his uncle’s radio. Gurbakhsh was a young boy living in a small village north of Delhi when officials announced that British India would be divided into India and Pakistan.
On 14 August Pakistan was created, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the country’s first Governor-General. On 15 August India became an independent country and Jawaharlal Nehru became its first prime minister. Sir Cyril Radcliffe, under the guidance of Lord Louis Mountbatten (the last Viceroy to British India), demarcated the boundary lines for the two new countries.
Listen to Gurbakhsh Singh Garcha
Download Gurbakhsh Singh Garcha transcript
In this clip from an interview with Kavita Puri in 2017 (British Library reference: C1790/20), Gurbakhsh discusses how many people were worried about Partition and how they learned about it. When Kavita asks how villagers got their news, Gurbakhsh replies that they mostly learned things through posters and literature that political parties published and distributed. Gurbakhsh remembers that around 50 people gathered at his uncle’s house to listen to the Partition announcement because he was the only person in the village who owned a radio. He recalls people worrying about where the partition boundary would fall and on which side big cities, like Lahore, would end up. Today, with our constant access to the news, it is difficult to imagine 50 people gathering around one radio to hear such an important announcement.
Learn more about Partition and listen to other oral testimonies surrounding this historic event on the British Library’s Voices of Partition online learning resource.
Audio and Image copyright: BBC.