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Memories of India’s partition reverberate even after 75 years

This content was published on 13 Aug 2022 – 05:39

Hugo Barcia and Shah Abbas

New Delhi/Srinagar (India), August 13 (EFE).- Memories of the partition of the Indian subcontinent that led to the birth of India and Pakistan continue to resonate with the consequences of the plan drawn up, even 75 years later. Racism for the British arose in the midst of sectarian pogroms, one of the largest exodus in history.

The hasty partition ended nearly a century of direct British control that wreaked havoc among Hindu and Muslim populations on both sides of the border, forcing millions on the wrong side to make the long and dangerous journey. .

Those who tried to cross the border and those who decided to stay had to face brutal repression by the religious majorities of both countries, resulting in between 200,000 and one million deaths.

There are no winners

“This is a human tragedy, there are no winners, only losers,” Kishwar Desai, head of India’s first Partition Museum, told Efe, who estimates that 20 million people were affected by the wave of violence.

The lack of transport for evacuation and the isolation of many people made the journey to the border very difficult, and even when they reached their destination, most faced the problem of having no place to live.

Hundreds of thousands of people have occupied overcrowded refugee camps in unsanitary conditions for years, where food was scarce because of their short stay, but it became home to many.

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However, the situation was no better among those who did not start the journey immediately, seeing their houses burnt or looted by the majority community, many of whom were harassed and forced to leave.

As a result of this violence, many families chose to kill their own women, “thinking it was best for them,” Desai explained, “and at least two million women were abducted and raped, and many children went missing.”

Amol Swani, a woman who witnessed the tension in Pakistan against Hindus like herself and her family after the partition of the subcontinent, says so in her testimony, which the museum has collected in a short video.

“One day we heard a Muslim leader come to our door (…) My father came up the stairs with a can of petrol and a match in his hand and said that if anything happens we will do it. We burned ourselves and gave it to my mother,” the tearful girl recalled. .

Desai explained that she had recently met the son of one of the thousands of women who died during Partition, and was crying as he remembered how he had escaped from his mother’s arms when she jumped into the fire pushed by her family. , I don’t want to see her raped or kidnapped.

This wave of violence sowed poverty among many families, especially in northern India, unleashing one of the most visible sequels that partition still exhibits, but not the only one.

Kashmir division

The Kashmir conflict has been emblematic of the eternal conflict between India and Pakistan since partition, and has its roots in a flimsy plan drawn up by the British before they left.

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Becoming a principality at the time of partition, the Maharaja of Kashmir chose which country to annex, but his Hindu beliefs clashed with the Muslim majority in the northern region.

After picking on India, it didn’t take long for Pakistan to intervene in the region, creating an 18-month conflict that displaced millions, Harvard researcher and history professor Siddiqui Wahid reminds Efe.

Partition “caused traumatic political and economic uncertainty for the people of Kashmir for 75 years. And it has lasted for a long time because the conflict has delayed development in South Asia. The world’s population,” the professor explained.

The conflict, which erupted in the year of partition, was the seed of many disputes between India and Pakistan over the territory, and separated hundreds of families on both sides of the Line of Control, the de facto border between the two countries. .

A relative living in Indian Kashmir said, “A member of our family, Abdul Ahad Kant, was 20 years old when he ran away from Indian agents and took refuge in the Pakistani part of Kashmir.

They don’t know what became of him, except that he died and left behind a family on the other side of the Line of Control, an uncertainty that adds more people to this disputed region. EFE



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