One of the greatest tragedies of the Indo-Pakistan relationship has significant roots into the people’s polarization during British controlled India. There is not enough ink to bleed for writing on the damage partition has done to our people. While the British held on to subcontinent called otherwise in history as “Jewel in the Crown” they only let it go until there was no choice left.
As a South Asian and Muhajir Pakistani who has her origins on other side of the border-India; despite taking deep pride in my country and its independence my emotions don’t over shed the negatives of subcontinent separation and how it happened. The violent way we were divided continues to overshadow both our nations’ future and that of its people. Permit me to say that millions still grieve, we could separate but minus the violence. Inside this great land; the Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jains, Christians etc continue to suffer in some way or other due to our bitter legacy.
Today, 68 years post independence what do South Asian people think about this partition. This is a story bringing real life accounts and sentiments of people.
“The heartland for support for Pakistan Movement lay in Uttar Pardesh, which was not included within Pakistan. I cannot believe how my parents were driven out of UP to migrate towards Sindh where I was born. My childhood memories include my mother hiding herself in a teary state in the kitchen or pantry upon receiving some news from her homeland. During her life, she never realized that I knew how she hid her pain, but her pain lives in me.” – Hyderabad, Pakistan
Muslims came back to the Haveli but this time they did not wait for the night and attacked it, but couldn’t enter it still. Then they sent a representative to talk to the Sikhs holed up in the haveli. Sant Gulab Singh refused to accept their conditions that the Sikhs should disarm themselves hence the fight continued for 2 more days. Finally on the last day, Muslims made it clear they would bomb the whole structure if the Sikhs didn’t come out. After the Sikhs came out, they got surrounded by the large crowd of Muslims. The Sikhs arrived at the sarovar of the local Gurdwara Sahib. The Muslim Pathaans armed with latest weapons surrounded the Sikhs sitting around the sarovar. The Sikhs were chanting “Satnam Siri Vaheguru”. By then about 10,000 Muslims came and had a dozen barbers lined up to cut the hair of Sikhs. The children cried for food and milk, as the young and old were helpless to do anything. The whole scene was a scene from hell. – Jaipur, India
“Dekhiye janab, yaa to Hindustan ko Pakistan mein milaa do, nahin to Pakistan ko Hindustan mein mila do. Is batwaare ne bahut nuksaan kiya hai. Waqt agya hai hum sab ko sabaq hasil karlena chahye.” (Look, either merge India into Pakistan or merge Pakistan into India, this partition has caused us all great long-lasting damage. It’s high time we all need to learn from our mistakes). – Lahore, Pakistan
Hindu caste prejudices are self-explanatory as to why India messed up so badly in Kashmir (its only Muslim-majority state), despite receiving significant support from Kashmiri Muslims in the early days of Indian rule. So basically my people continue to suffer this tug of war between two egoistic countries hell-bent on not letting go of the partition saga? Come to Indian controlled Kashmir to see for real the pitiful lives we live. – Srinagar, India
I don’t have any memory of those sad days being 6 months old when my parents along with my 2 elder brothers were forced to leave our home and hearth from near Rawalpindi. But today am 66 years old and still haunted by the description I overheard of how the train left Rawalpindi for Amritar was stopped at a station called Lala Musa. The driver absconded with the engine leaving the angry mob to unleash on my brethren. Three nights passed with no food nor water. Thankfully a small number of armed army men THE Gurkhas kept the day and night vigil and saved us from the mob’s fury. Till this date I am unable to fathom what was our fault? – West Bengal, India
“So what choice had we left when they came to drive us out of our homes and burn the buildings, desecrated the graveyard of my seven generations right in front of our eyes. That night was our hell and 67 years have not wiped my mental trauma. As we fled towards Pakistan amidst the chanting slogans growing louder and louder, I still remember the Hindus repeatedly chanted “Musalmanon ke do hi sthan, Pakistan ya qabristan” (Only two places for Muslims: Pakistan or graveyard). This partition tore my family apart and broke us, completely. – Karachi, Pakistan
There is still hope for us, there is still an opportunity for us to tend those wounds that we ended up giving ourselves and there is always a tomorrow. I have chosen my road and what about you?