Sheila Sengupta (1925-2016) worked to help women who had been traumatised by the violence which accompanied Partition, initially in Calcutta and then from 1950 she worked alongside Mridula Sarabhai and was based in Delhi. I interviewed her first of all in Calcutta on 24 April 1997, when she spoke powerfully about the fate of women, her work identifying and rescuing abducted woman and her unease with the official approach that required all abducted women who had been found to be 'returned'. "I think it is terrible and horrible", she told me. "It's not only Partition that's horrible. The women of both sides suffered so much. It is beyond anybody's conception. We talk a lot about Partition, Partition, Partition - all the property lost. Nobody talks about the plight of the women." This interview was for the radio programme in my series 'India: a people partitioned' which focussed on the experience of women - that episode is posted below.
I interviewed Sheila Sengupta for a second time in Delhi on 1 April 1998 when she talked at much greater length about her memories of Partition, working with women from Noakhali, her association with Mridula Sarabhai, and her recovery and rehabilitation work with abducted women in Delhi. She gave extraordinary and unsettling detail of the recovery operation, particularly in the Bhogal district of Delhi. This longer interview has not been posted on YouTube but the audio file is available below.
Sheila Sengupta was Sheila Bose before her marriage. She was the niece of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.