Tag Archives: Partition

An Incomplete Reunion – Ruining the Post-Partition Party: Archit Guha

Guest post by ARCHIT GUHA

Reproduced without Permission from Life
Reproduced without Permission from Life

By this point, every Indian, Pakistani, and their grandfathers has watched the Google Partition ad, tears welled up in their eyes. For the uninitiated, Google’s recent advertisement tugs at heartstrings, telling the tale of two chaddi buddies, separated by Partition, and reunited by their grandchildren nearly seventy years later. When the ad went viral via Facebook, sitting thousands of miles away in America, I bawled as I watched the granddaughter listening to her grandfather’s nostalgic retelling of the idyllic life he led in Lahore, eating jhajhariya, with his buddy Yusuf, and his granddaughter’s instant Google fixes to reunite him with Yusuf in Delhi. Continue reading An Incomplete Reunion – Ruining the Post-Partition Party: Archit Guha

Dilemma of Indian Muslims After Partition: Yasmin Qureshi

Guest post by YASMIN QURESHI. Excerpts from this essay were read at an event organized by the Partition Archives project in Berkeley earlier this year.

Abbu’s family, like many other Muslims in India was torn between staying in their ancestral land and going to the new country founded for Muslims. The call for Pakistan and the Muslim League movement was more prominent in the elite or educated classes. For Abbu’s family it was a distant idea and life outside Dilli was inconceivable. But the partition wave didn’t leave them untouched and a few family members including Abbu migrated to Lahore. Lahore was chosen because they had heard it was similar to Dilli. A year in Lahore was enough for them to realize their heart was still in DilliGhalib ki galiyan, echoes of azaans from Jama Masjid, pigeons flying above their roofs and the aroma of korma brought them back to the home their father had built.

The conflict of choosing between the newly founded nation states of India and Pakistan divided many families. Some of Abbu’s relatives shuffled between the two for many years till they were forced to make a choice by the governments in the 1960s. His elder sister’s family and a few other nieces and nephews decided to become Pakistani citizens.

For Muslims that stayed in India, the next few decades were years of fear and subjugation. Communal violence, often organized and manufactured by political parties or the right wing Hindu organization, RSS throughout the 1960s in cities where Muslims were in large numbers was a threatening message to the Muslims that if they choose to stay here they would have to live as a silenced minority with a constant reminder they were guilty of dividing India. Continue reading Dilemma of Indian Muslims After Partition: Yasmin Qureshi

What Indian school children learn about the Partition

I wrote recently about the surprising political maturity with which NCERT textbooks teach Indian students about the Partition. These textbooks were prepared under the National Curriculum Framework of 2005. This is of course not limited to the Partition chapter or indeed just the history textbooks. But I was particularly moved to see the Partition chapter. As you read it you realise what school textbooks can do in shaping how future generations see themselves, their own history and identity. I think a lot of people in both India and Pakistan would like to read it. Here it is:

Iqbal Chacha and a Voice from the Past: Sameer Khan

Guest post by SAMEER KHAN: Mr. Chaddha lived in my neighbourhood, a tall lanky elderly gentleman who looked young for his age. I would often see Mr. Chaddha come for a morning walk in our local park, but I stayed aloof, not having an interest in the elderly gentlemen in the park who were either part of laughter clubs or the local residents union.  Whenever I managed to struggle out of my bed for my morning exercise I would notice Mr. Chaddha walking ramrod straight like a soldier. He was never generous with his smiles and would simply nod his head whenever I greeted him.

One pleasant winter morning as I passed Mr. Chaddha in the park I was surprised to hear him call my name. I went towards him, and looking at me from his towering height he asked me, “Can you read and write Urdu?” Startled by the question I answered, “Uncle I can read Urdu but I am not too confident of my writing abilities.“

He said, “Well actually I want someone to write a letter for me in Urdu” Continue reading Iqbal Chacha and a Voice from the Past: Sameer Khan

An undivided history of Punjab’s Partition: Ajay Bharadwaj

This is a book review by AJAY BHARADWAJ of an authoritative new book on the Punjab’s Partition by Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed. If you have any questions about the book or about the Partition in general, please leave them in the comments section and we will soon put them to Prof Ahmed.

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The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed
By Ishtiaq Ahmed
Rupa Publishers, Delhi; 2011, 754 pp., Rs 995

Ishtiaq Ahmed claims that his work is “the first holistic and comprehensive case study of the partition of Punjab” (p.xlv); he has lived up to it admirably.  A study of rigorous scholarship, with painstaking fieldwork on both sides of the divide, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed’ offers unbiased insights into a minefield called the Partition of Punjab. As the title itself suggests, the book delves deep into the most difficult aspect of Partition history which has come to define it — the scale and magnitude of the killings at that juncture.

The primary sources that Ahmed has accessed in his endeavour are equally interesting for a number of reasons. While the historian draws extensively from the classified fortnightly reports (FRs) of the Punjab governors and chief secretaries to the viceroys, he simultaneously pays heed to oral history or the personal narratives of individuals — “witness to or victim of traumatic events” — that he has recorded over a decade and a half. The coming together of the two strands creates an intricate web of high politics and everyday life, which contributes to a layered, richly detailed and immensely moving account of the partition of Punjab — leaving a permanent imprint on the mind of the reader. Continue reading An undivided history of Punjab’s Partition: Ajay Bharadwaj

Let’s Meet – On Ajay Bharadwaj’s ‘Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te’: Virinder S Kalra

Guest post by VIRINDER S KALRA


Milange Babey Ratan De  Mele Te (Let’s Meet At Baba Ratan’s Fair); Length: 95 minutes, Year 2012; Directed and Produced by Ajay Bhardwaj

Ajay Bhardwaj’s third documentary film based in East Punjab, India, takes us into a deeper exploration of some of the themes touched upon in his previous works: Kitte Mil Ve Mahi and Rabba Hun Ke Kariye. Indeed, at one level Milange Babe Ratan De Mele Te is about a journey of an impossible return to a pre-Partition Punjab in which religious identity was fluid and the sacred and profane intermingled and fused. Continue reading Let’s Meet – On Ajay Bharadwaj’s ‘Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te’: Virinder S Kalra

The muezzin’s last call at Babri Masjid: Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K Jha

This guest post by KRISHNA JHA and DHIRENDRA K JHA is an excerpt from their book, Ayodhya: The Dark Night, about the original Ayodhya conspiracy of 22 December 1949

Published December 2011 by HarperCollins India;Rs 499; Pages 232
Published December 2011 by HarperCollins India; Rs 499; Pages 232

The sound of a thud reverberated through the medieval precincts of the Babri Masjid like that of a powerful drum and jolted Muhammad Ismael, the muezzin, out of his deep slumber. He sat up, confused and scared, since the course of events outside the mosque for the last couple of weeks had not been very reassuring. For a few moments, the muezzin waited, standing still in a dark corner of the mosque, studying the shadows the way a child stares at the box-front illustration of a jigsaw puzzle before trying to join the pieces together. Continue reading The muezzin’s last call at Babri Masjid: Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K Jha