Rehmatullah Rad was born in 1925 in Mohallah Mastgarh in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. He is of Kashmiri descent and has familial roots with Husain Dar, chief warrior for Yusuf Shah Chak, the last indigenous king of Kashmir who was defeated by the Mughals. Rad’s father was an administrative officer at the High Court, and had offices in both Jammu and Sriginar. Rad developed an affinity for both cities. He was in Sriginar during the Partition.
Borders and buses
In early August, a few days before the Partition, 22-year-old Rehmatullah Rad had become an apprentice of Indar Das, a respected criminal lawyer, who was was killed in communal violence later that month.
Meanwhile, in Srinagar, the principal of Sri Pratap College approached Rad’s father and asked him if his son would be interested in teaching at the college. So Rad started teaching at the college while he waited for his turn to leave Jammu. That same year he got married.
Rad and his family joined a convoy of caravans in October 1948, carrying nothing but their clothes and a few personal belongings. There were 30 buses in the convoy. They started on the Banihal Cart Road in Jammu which would take them to Sialkot in Punjab in West Pakistan.
The journey, a total of 326 kilometres, took two days. Rad’s family spent one night at a rest house near Pir Panjal and another night in Udaipur. They finally crossed the border on October 23, 1948.
A home unfamiliar
Rad and his family missed home the moment they entered Sialkot, a city that was unfamiliar to them.
They were received by one of Rad’s relatives who had left before him. They stayed with him for a week. Rad’s wife’s step-uncle was also living in Sialkot at the time. He had already been allotted a house and had two vacant rooms, which Rad's family occupied for a month.
Eventually, Rad’s father got a job at the Ministry of Food in Jhelum as a storage officer, and his father-in-law got a job in Nowshera since he knew the local language, Hindko. Rad too, found a job as a director for refugees at Sialkot, where he served for seven years.
69 years later
Rad went on to join the Claims Department, but he left government service after experiencing the corruption of its members first-hand.
For the rest of his working years, he worked in construction along with a few of his friends in Sialkot. Today, he lives with his family in the city, while some of his children live in the United States.
This interview was conducted by Story Scholar Fakhra Hassan.