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Oral history interview with Dr. Yogesh Virmani
Interview by: Harriet Morgan-Shami
Oral history interview with Dr. Yogesh Virmani Interview by: Harriet Morgan-Shami
5 Sep 2017
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Interview description by: Harriet Morgan-ShamiBegins interview by describing her family and her father’s posting in Delhi whilst being attached to the army at the time of the Partition. He was given quarters at Tibbia College. Her father’s family were originally from Dera Ghazi Khan and her mother’s family from Lahore where her maternal grandfather worked for the railways and owned property. Remembers visiting her relatives as a child. [04:40] Recounts how when her father realised that the situation was going to become violent, he travelled to Lahore to bring his wife’s family back to Delhi. Her maternal grandfather agreed to his wife and relatives leaving but decided to stay himself to protect the family property. Remembers her parents welcoming family and friends from conflict areas to stay with them at their house in Delhi. People slept “everywhere” including the outhouses where animals were kept and food was cooked throughout the day in order to feed so many people. Other officers stationed at the College opened up their homes to refugees. Refers to her father using his position to arrange for a number of camps to be set up in the vicinity. [09:17] Explains how her father also arranged for people from Delhi to move over safely to the new Pakistan with the help of administrative staff e.g. organising transport via tangas (horse and carriage), army trucks, etc. [11:13] Remembers the distress of seeing the refugees arrive from Pakistan and recalls her grandfather’s eventual arrival after 2 months in a devastating state. Recounts the story of her grandfather’s escape from Lahore with the help of Muslim co-workers who disguised him and smuggled him across the border. [16:00] Interviewer asks about her comprehension of the situation at a young age. Doesn’t remember her parents explaining the situation to her. Her dominant memories are of witnessing the devastation. Explains what happened to her maternal grandparents after the Partition. They moved to Gurgaon where Yogesh visited them but was never involved in any adult discussions about what had occurred. She remembers playing with her auntie who was only 6 months older than her, and being popular and spoilt by the rest of the family. [19:42] Interviewer enquires after the impact of the Partition on Yogesh’s family. She explains that the most obvious impact was the loss of property and assets and reliance on others to survive. Her family were well educated and experienced which meant that they were able to secure work in the new India. [23:06] Refers to the impact of Partition on her personally which she feels was minimal, especially in terms of her educational and career experiences. She goes on to detail her education and employment history before discussing her marriage and subsequent migration to the UK in 1968 where “our problems started”, e.g. racial and gender discrimination. Details these problems and how she overcame them in order to secure work as a teacher in the UK. [27:18] Discusses her move to Manchester after her husband completed his qualifications and she had to give up her work in London. Talks about racial discrimination experienced when she and her husband tried to buy a house in Manchester. [28:15] Explains how she was awarded an MBE for her voluntary work with not just the Indian community but with other groups too. Talks about the Indian Association in the city and her involvement during the period it was being established and beyond e.g. cultural classes for children, English classes for women, etc. [31:13] Interviewer asks for Yogesh’s reflections on the Partition 70 years on. She ruminates on some people’s determination to see difference rather than viewing everyone as human beings with the same needs regardless of religion. Talks about setting up a number of electronic village halls in the city as well as a new organisation ACICM which brought all the local Indian organisations together. Discusses her other organisation, Trafford Shank, an Indian word for conch (her husband is audible in the backg
Oral history interview with Dr. Yogesh Virmani Interview by: Harriet Morgan-Shami
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5 Sep 2017
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