AFTER PARTITION, 3.5 million Hindu and Sikh refugees came to India from West Pakistan. Several major cities, such as Amritsar, Jaipur, Ajmer, Alwar, Ludhiana, Jammu, Lucknow and Delhi, witnessed an influx of refugees. The Teen Murti residence of Jawaharlal Nehru—the prime minister of the interim Indian government—was also swarmed with refugees. The Kingsway Camp in the outskirts of Delhi, which had been reserved for the royal tents of the indigenous princes during the Delhi Durbar of 1911, now housed the tents of the refugees.
On 24 January 1948, the press information bureau issued a press note. “At no time has the necessity of giving relief to vast numbers of our suffering countrymen been so great and urgent as it is today,” Nehru said in the note. “I feel that it would be desirable to have a central relief fund which can be used for any type of emergency relief of distress but which must now be especially used for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees from Pakistan who have come to India. I’m, therefore, starting a fund called ‘The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund’ and I invite donations to this fund.”