My father, Chetan Singh Marwaha, who has died aged 88, twice during his lifetime suffered great upheavals during which he lost everything. But he never allowed himself to be deflected from his duty to his family and community.
As a Sikh Indian subject in 1947 he found himself on the wrong side of the dividing line when the nation was partitioned at independence, trying to flee from newly formed Pakistan into India. Like many others he had become a refugee in his own country, witnessing terrible sights on the journey to safety that in later years he talked about with great emotion. He survived only because the train he and his family were travelling on was protected by Gurkhas. People on other trains were massacred wholesale.
After this experience it was not surprising that he and his family headed for Kenya in 1948, after which they moved on to Uganda in 1955. But trouble was brewing again, and once more Chetan lost everything when Idi Amin expelled the Asians from Uganda in 1972. As a British citizen he brought his family to the UK, where he spent the rest of his life.
Chetan had been born in rural Punjab to Chanan Singh Marwaha and Mahan Kaur Lall, and became the first person in his family to attend secondary school – in Rawalpindi. He married Santokh Kaur Sohanpaul at the age of 18, just before Indian independence, but soon left the country for Africa.
He gained skills in electrical and mechanical engineering that helped him set up his own business, winning prestigious engineering contracts in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. He also played an important role in his community, helping to persuade the elders to build a Sikh sports club in Kampala and then fundraising for it. He served on its management committee, eventually becoming president and going on from there to become president of the Ugandan Hockey Association.
After he was expelled from Uganda he settled in Leeds, where he set up an off-licence. As before, he contributed to the Sikh community, becoming president of a local gurdwara, or place of worship, before eventually relinquishing the post on health grounds. On retirement he moved to the West Midlands, where heart bypass surgery gave him a new lease of life.
He returned several times to Uganda and India. Having long been an enthusiastic artist – his large portrait of Guru Gobind Singh still hangs in the Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara in Kampala – he took up painting again in later life, deriving great pleasure from that and from his family.
He is survived by Santokh and their eight children, 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.