Sacrifice at the time of bloodshed

Gaining independence from the British Raj in Indian history was an extremely important event. It was a period of joyous celebrations. For some, it is still accompanied by the painful memories of the partition of the country and the widespread communal riots on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, which left innumerable loss of life in its wake, along with massive destruction of property which left millions homeless.

During this period, there is one story which comes to mind, a story of a great sacrifice and a close and selfless friendship. Two of my late teachers, Dr M S Grewal and Dr R P Chopra were posted in Rawalpindi. Dr Chopra had managed to obtain, with great difficulty, two air tickets from Rawalpindi to New Delhi, one for himself and the other for his wife. He took the tickets to Dr Grewal and offered them to him. Dr Grewal refused, as it was not certain if any delay would allow the people left behind to escape with their lives. Dr Chopra was adamant and said that since Dr Grewal was a Sikh, he could be spotted from a distance, thus there was a higher risk to his and his wife’s life. Dr Chopra said he could mingle with the crowds and subsequently manage to escape. Dr Grewal gave in and flew safely to Delhi with his wife.

It was unimaginable that anybody who lived through that time could make such a gesture. People had fled in the face of death, leaving their families behind, some looked for their next of kin for years afterwards. Dr Chopra contacted his friends in the Police department and the Army and was taken in their vehicles to cross the border to India by road, a process that took several days filled with danger and tension. The two remained close friends for life. Both of them were wonderful human beings and great teachers-not of medicine alone, but how to live life. This story has been an inspiration to me and I have taken the liberty to use their actual names, may God bless their souls.

This story was narrated to me by Dr M S Grewal himself, who said…’This Ram Prakash Chopra is an amazing human being’.

Dr A S Rathee


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