The US Ambassador to India, His Excellency Atul Keshap, recounted his family’s traumatic experiences of the Partition of India in 1947 while recording his oral history with the Founder-Trustee of the Partition Museum, Mallika Ahluwalia. He stated that his “family’s debt to India is absolutely immense”.
Keshap’s father, Dr Keshap Chandra Sen, originally belonged to Muzaffargarh, near Multan, and ultimately settled in Panipat after Partition. Keshap mentioned that his father’s family was lucky in comparison to millions of others, as they managed to reach India safely. However, the experience of travelling to by train was extremely traumatic.
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He recalled: “My grandfather basically decided that he would stay where he was; that’s where his job was, that’s where his land was, that’s where his ancestral properties were. It was when push came to shove that they left immediately with almost no notice and then they fled. And they made it through safely.
“So the family’s debt to India is absolutely immense. And my father was a very proud Indian throughout his entire life.”
Dr Sen served as an international civil servant and was posted around the world with the United Nations. His son recalled that every summer, for about 15 years, his father would bring him and his brothers to India to visit their grandmother in Panipat.
The diplomat said his family, like many Punjabi refugees, were resilient, they looked forward and they worked hard and invested in their lives in India.
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Mallika Ahluwalia, Founder-Trustee of the , also presented her book, ‘Divided by Partition United by Resilience: 21 Inspirational Stories from 1947’ to the Ambassador in New Delhi, where he is currently posted.
The interview will be displayed in the Partition Museum coming up at the Dara Shikoh Library in Delhi. This will be the third Partition Museum set up by the Arts And Cultural Heritage Trust.
The , Amritsar, has just completed four successful years.