Having reached the safe environments of Delhi's Birla Temple and having a roof over my head, I started thinking of a job. With only a few hundred rupees in my pocket, I could not possibly sit idle. All my family members were living on their savings from Lahore and didn't have anything worthwhile to do in Haridwar. The city of Delhi was also in turmoil – there were riots here and there. Reports of large-scale stabbing and killing on religious basis encouraged by the massive inflow of migrants from Pakistan had further inflamed passions.

Nobody, however, told us what was happening to the Muslims who were gradually moving to refugee camps opened by the Government of India. When I moved out to Paharganj on August 20, the worst riot-affected area of Delhi, which was predominantly Muslim area, I noticed the calm of the graveyard. Army and Police had moved the Muslim residents with whatever belongings they could carry to safe havens – avoiding large-scale killings. A stray stabbing or attack would unnerve the Muslim residents and they immediately opted for the safety of the refugee camps.

It was unsafe to walk in the Paharganj area, as one's face did not disclose one's religion or identity. The killers were the 'heroes' of the migrant Hindus who were bent on wrecking vengeance upon innocent Muslims in return for the sins of their brethren beyond the Indian border. The stabbers had no time to check the victim's identity – and there were indiscriminate killings in some cases.

In another week, I, along with a friend decided to revisit the vast Paharganj area. Majority of shops owned by Muslims were closed and as we walked through the narrow streets – houses were empty and vacant. Only dogs seemed to cry. Muslim owners and occupants had left out of fear and Hindu migrants had not yet occupied them as yet. Garbage had piled up everywhere, which smelt of human flesh too.

I could see some notice boards or hand-written placards on the walls of some vacant houses announcing that the building now belonged to Ramnath of Lahore or Prem Prakash of Rawalpindi. The intention was clear. In a few days, the new occupants/claimants will come and occupy them in the grabbing game if someone else did not pre-empt them.

Since my family, too, was homeless, I called them and wrote to them that this was a good opportunity to select a place for a new residence where they could settle down. The return of the Muslims, who had left India for good leaving their homes behind, in my opinion, was not likely, I argued with them to come to Delhi immediately.

But, my family was too old-fashioned and law-abiding and timid for that matter to take such an aggressive action tp occupy someone's empty house forcefully.So they continued to stay in Haridwar. Later, my brother-in-law who had worked for a British company in Lahore came down to Delhi. He was advised by his company to take over the charge of the company's Delhi office, which was located in Morigate, then a Muslim majority area. Adjoining his office in the same building was a Muslim-owned flat, which the owners agreed to rent it to him at a reasonable rent. My brother-in-law was jubilant. The Muslim owners soon left India and my brother-in-law retained that flat permanently, which was subsequently allotted to him legally against his property in Lahore and it became his permanent residence.

He, in turn, had his contacts with a number of Muslim clients – mostly importers of manufacturers of goods from U.K. in the Muslim dominated area of Sadar Bazaar. He took me to one rich Muslim shopkeeper and we signed a rent deal with the owner for what he described a 'house' in an area called Bara Hindu Road. We imagined that the house would mean a home as in Lahore - large enough with four-five rooms – perhaps a multi storey house as in Lahore.

But, it turned out to be a tiny flat with one room, balcony, kitchen and toilet and a tap to take a bath or use it as a sink. My first reaction was to return the keys to the owner, as it was totally inadequate for our family of ten or more people. But soon sanity returned. We were told that Delhi had only such small flats – they called them 'houses'. At least, we had a roof over our heads to sleep. And, we moved in, hoping to get additional accommodation nearby. It took us several months to acquire a similar flat next door from a departing Muslim tenant after paying him hefty compensation we could hardly afford.

With my family having a small flat to hide their heads at night and cook their own meals, I was now free to look for a job.

I had come to Delhi with great ideas in setting new standards in journalism and especially Hindi journalism, where I was a kind of a 'leader' in Lahore. India's Home Minister, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel had announced that Hindi will be the national language of India and administrative work in Government of India Offices too will be conducted in the national language. Indian Administrative Services will replace the old steel-frame – Indian Civil Service – ICS. I could compete and get into Indian Administrative Service, I imagined. Or, in the alternate, Hindi being the new national language of the country, I could be the editor of a Hindi newspaper or I could head a new Hindi News Agency which was then non-existent.

I used to have dreams, many dreams as a free but ambitious young Indian!

I should strive to enter journalism as it had better future for me, I mused. Indian Administrative Service required getting into an academic frame of mind for a year or two, sitting at home and working on subjects I had almost forgotten since I passed my Masters in 1946. And, I had no other source of income.

I gave up my IAS idea, as I could not afford to live without earning my daily bread, as my family members were still jobless. And, at least, three of my younger brothers were still in schools and college, waiting for admission.

I decided to explore the journalism option.

A few months before partition, I had applied for a job of a Programme Assistant dealing with Hindi programmes in the All India Radio. They sent me an appointment letter in Lahore itself , but riots, disturbances and the news of Lahore going to Pakistan leaked. As I reported at the Lahore Station of the All India Radio a few days before partition took place, they declined to let me join in Lahore. They directed me to report to Delhi station with the same appointment letter, they argued, will hold .

Having arrived in Delhi, I decided to use my appointment letter in Delhi, assuming there will be greater sympathy for a displaced Hindi journalist from Punjab.

Having lived primarily in Punjab, I had never experienced the antipathy of Hindi heartland against the aspiring Hindi writers from Punjab. As I appeared before a very senior officer of All India Radio, belonging to U.P. who was in-charge of the Hindi Programs, a well-known littérateur too, he asked me sarcastically, “Do Punjabis know Hindi?” I will not name him, as he is now dead. I could not stomach his sarcasm and exchanged some hard words with him, telling him in my aggressive Punjabi style, “Do you know Vedas were written on the banks of Punjab rivers and Sanskrit is the mother of Prakrit and Prakrit is nearer to Punjabi than to Hindi?”

In my anger I was not sure what else I said. I was certainly not a polite applicant. In a moment of rage, I tore down the appointment letter issued by the All India Radio, and told him to give the job to someone of his own kind who knew better Hindi than the Punjabis! I guess it was the expression of the frustration of a young and tired refugee against the smugness of the Hindi heartland establishment which suffered little to achieve independence!!

The officer was stunned by my reaction and I could see him tone down a little seeming apologetic – at my over- reaction.

As I came out of his room, I cooled down a bit but my anger against those who claimed to have monopoly of Hindi heritage did not subside.

And, I vowed not to work in Hindi media any more – broadcast or print.

But, fate had willed otherwise.

From next day, I started going around the offices of English news agencies and newspapers.

Luckily for me, I met an Englishman who was the Bureau-Chief in Delhi of an international news agency. He interviewed me in depth, heard my first hand account of what had happened in the Pakistan part of India and asked me to draft some reports. Next day, he saw the reports, seemed to like them, and promised to give me a job after approval from his head office in London. He indicated that my salary would be Rs. 350 plus – it was the current salary of senior IAS officers. On my return, I gave this news to my friends and family in Birla Temple.

However, I was not yet aware of the fact that my patron in Lahore, Goswami Ganesh Dutt was planning to launch a new Hindi daily from the capital and he wished me to take charge of the newspaper, specially in respect of the technical aspects of the equipment required, production and news. In those days of post-war scarcity of basic requirements of newspapers like telephones, teleprinter, availability of paper etc., I could, he assumed, be able to manage these things through my public relations and contacts. I had better knowledge of spoken English. Earlier, I had worked successfully as the Associate Editor of his daily Hindi newspaper, 'Vishwabandhu' in Lahore. And, he knew that I was hard working and dependable.

My friends and well wishers informed Goswami Ganesh Dutt that I would be joining an international news agency soon on a good salary – and not his paper as he had planned.

Goswamiji called me and reprimanded me for being 'disloyal' and not checking with him first what plans he had for me.

I was in awe of Goswami Ganesh Dutt's wisdom and the services he had rendered to the Hindu community. He had already opened a hundred schools – both for boys and girls – more for girls - all over Punjab – and a great college like the Sanatan Dharam College in Lahore with 2000 students. And, five more Sanatan Dharam Colleges in different towns of Punjab.

I touched his feet and told him to let me know what he wanted me to do for him.

He unfolded his plan to launch a major Hindi daily newspaper in the capital, for which he had already earmarked rupees one lakh – a very large amount in the forties, at least in my eyes. And that I was supposed to play a leading role in that.

He explained my role too – number one on the news-side and to make sure that the newspaper starts coming out within the next few weeks.

“However”, he added, “I cannot offer you Rs. 350 – you will work for only Rs.300 – which is enough for a single person like you. I have other plans for your growth – but that I will tell you later,” he added.

I had neither the will nor the inclination to argue with Goswamiji – he was a father- figure and a venerable saint for me and I could not say no to him. He asked his senior advisers to make available to me every facility like transport including money to enable me to get telephones and teleprinters installed in the office to launch the daily Hindi newspaper as soon as possible. Goswamiji tentatively titled the newspaperit “AMAR BHARAT”- Immortal India - which was accepted by all.

The challenge was exciting for a young man of twenty three and I got down to the basic task of accelerating the action for which ground had already been prepared by the sponsor, Goswamiji with financial support from Shri Jugal Kishore Birla. Shri Jugal Kishor Birla, the eldest among the Birla brothers was often seen in the company of Goswamiji every evening discussing religion, politics and social matters. Apparently, he was Goswamiji's devotee.

At the time of partition, the only major Hindi newspaper published from Delhi was Hindustan – a Hindi subsidiary of the more popular English daily at that time, Hindustan Times. It was also owned by the Birlas. There were two more, Nava Bharat – started by Seth Ramkrishan Dalmia and another Vishwa Mitra, which was older, but not doing well.

The idea of bringing out AMAR BHARAT from Delhi was to strongly voice the problems of the refugees from Pakistan – give vent to their feelings of frustrations and need for rehabilitation.

The number of displaced persons was soaring from Punjab – now called Refugees or Sharnarthis in Hindi. Their side of the story had to be told to the Government and the people of India who had not been affected by the holocaust of the partition tragedy. Goswamiji wanted this newspaper to be the vehicle of their grievance to the Government – a newspaper of the refugees, for the refugee and written by the refugee editors. I was one of them.

Punjabi refugees in Delhi were an amazing lot in our times. Even the poorest among the uprooted Punjabis from Pakistan, did not take to begging. They became small traders, vendors or hawkers, sat on the roadsides – selling whatever they could buy in bulk and sell it on a marginal profit by the evening. Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh or Paharganj became the hub of their activities. They occupied any vacant space to sell vegetables, food or utility items. Those who did not have any capital to start a new business turned Rickshaw pullers, auto-drivers, and cycle-repairers on the road or even labourers.

I saw one of my younger cousins selling combs in Chandni Chowk. He did the disappearing act on seeing me but I faced him and told him that there was no shame in trying to stand on one’s own two feet with hard work. He smiled and felt relieved. Two years later, I saw the same young man running a big shop of general merchandise in an important market.

A major development in the wake of partition was that displacement had removed the social inhibitions and taboos of the Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs. Hypocrisy of social order – being high caste or low caste, rich or poor was being discarded. Some refugees who managed to migrate before partition bringing with them money as well as gold and silver had an easy start. For others who had no capital, it was hard and difficult – but no one sat idle in the refugee camps. All able-bodied people started under-selling goods cheaper than what was sold in the existing shops, introducing new products and new foods. Suddenly Delhi was flooded with goods brought from every part of India by the adventurous Punjabis. The local Hindu merchants, who were usually vegetarians, hated the sight of fresh chicken cooked by vendors on the roadside and sold to the people. Even the Muslims did not dare do it – local Hindus lamented but they could not do anything against the refugees!

The local Hindu shopkeepers resented this 'invasion' of the new refugee’s (Sharnarthi in Urdu language)hordes that were willing to eke out a living in the capital by starting afresh. Essential supplies in Delhi had become cheaper than prices prevailing two months earlier. The common people of Delhi were happy on seeing cheaper vegetables, cheaper fruits and cheaper food. New food stalls were opened everywhere catering to new demand of the new people.

Another interesting aspect was that despite the large-scale arrivals, there was no protest demonstrations, strife or agitation on the part of the refugees. They had taken the tragedy of partition in their stride.

It did not take long for business in Delhi to register all round improvement – benefiting both local Hindu Banias and the Punjabi refugees from Pakistan – there was a new synergy, new construction boom for houses, shops and hutment’s – new demands were created and new supply channels evolved.

I recall – the business rivalry between the old and the new did not cause any friction – social adjustments were common . An attitude of live and let live emerged.

Among refugees – social taboos were broken – they did not know each other's past – and the one factor which brought them closer to each other was need to move forward through their own efforts without putting strain on Police and Administration. That enabled administration to concentrate on rehabilitation of the refugees – they looked for suitable land to develop new housing colonies - new refugee colonies came up offering houses to the uprooted people on easy instalments or against their claims of property left on the other side of the divide.

In my own home and family – I noticed not so perceptible but underlying social changes. For instance, in Lahore, my sisters-in-law would never appear before my father without their face totally veiled. Now, veil 'purdah' was still there, but with face visible under the transparent cover. Formal 'purdah' had been replaced by informal 'purdah' – a major change. There was not enough space to hold on to the old forms and old taboos and traditions. In Lahore, husbands and wives were never seen sitting on the same charpoy in the presence of elders. Now, there was no option because space was limited. Wives back home in West Punjab, seldom accompanied their husbands to do shopping in the market. Now, even my mother would ask her daughter-in-law to go with her husband and the husband even dared to seat his wife on the handle bar of the bicycle and drove her to market. Such open 'shamelessness' could not be tolerated back home in Lahore. Freedom was finding its new face in the environs of the capital of India.

The displacement enabled Punjabis to move out of the shell of their local customs and taboos and adopt liberal norms to make existence easy and in tune with the current situation. They moved to remote corners of the country and merged with the mainstream population everywhere. The more affluent amongst the refugees bought existing businesses and added their zeal and creativity to expand them. Goods offered in these shops were cheaper and better and the refugees became welcome addition.

Coming back to the Daily, AMAR BHARAT, the newspaper was in the hands of the readers in the first week of September 1947. I recall reporting the attack on the state of Jammu and Kashmir by the Pakistani raiders in October, l947. I have written the Kashmir story in a subsequent chapter as I reached Srinagar on behalf of my newspaper.

AMAR BHARAT, in those exciting days sold more copies than our Press could print.

The Chief editor of my newspaper was an elderly scholar in his late sixties named Satydev Vidyalankar. He had lived in the Ashram of Mahatama Gandhi and worked closely with him. He was a reformist and had married a widow in those days when widow remarriage was taboo and not known in Hindu society. A seasoned editor who had earlier edited several Hindi newspapers, Satyadeva Vidyalankar was specially brought in by Goswami Ganesh Dutt to give it a well-known editor to the paper . A kind and generous man, he was a great source of inspiration to me. A year later, he totally lost his eyesight – but he came to the office daily by bus to write the editorials for the paper. His daughter used to read several daily papers for him in the morning and on reaching office, he dictated the editorials on the basis of his memory.

My head still bows in his memory for his scholarship, knowledge, self-sacrifice, grit and determination. Two days before his death, he had dictated an editorial for our paper. Such great mortals never die!