Why Remember Partition Horror? Asks Dr Ram Puniyani

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Partition and Partition Horrors

Partition of India: one of the major tragedies of the twentieth Century World

By Dr Ram Puniyani

India’s partition has been one of the major tragedies of the twentieth Century World. The loss of lives and the mass migrations have very few equivalent tragedies in the World. The wounds of the tragedy are not totally healed but people have engaged with the changed dynamics of nationalism.

In the middle of all the gnawing problems which India is facing; Mr Narendra Modi declared that 14th August, a day prior to Independence Day, will be observed as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’. We do observe 15th August as a day of liberation from the British colonial rule, a day when we did embark on our journey towards strengthening of fraternity, and equality with liberty and social justice as the base.

No doubt many families made herculean efforts to bear with new realities and the loss of their near and dear one’s. The hardships which they faced have been recounted in many brilliant works, ‘Partition stories’, the memorable classic books on women’s suffering and so many other facets of the tragedy.

Why suddenly the wounds of that tragedy are being rubbed? Is it with the feeling of remorse aimed at dumping of the ideologies and understanding the political games played by colonial powers which led to this horrific tragedy?

Why Remember Partition Horror? : To blame for partition put on the Nehruvian Legacy?

One of the answers in initiating this game comes from a tweet from a BJP leader “BJP general secretary (organization) tweeted that it was a laudable attempt to remember the tragedy sought to be whitewashed by proponents of “Nehruvian legacy.” The other goal was embedded in a statement from another BJP leader Hardeep Singh Puri who said, “Partition should serve as a lesson that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past & take India on the path of ‘Sabka Sath (everybody together), Sabka Vikas (everybody’s development), Sabka Vishwas (Everybody’s trust)’ & not on that of appeasement, particularly when volatility in our neighbourhood only seems to have escalated more than ever before.”

The way social common understanding has been instilled the blame of partition has been put on the Nehruvian Legacy and appeasement (of Muslims) policy, meaning thereby the role of Muslims. Both these though made popular in societal thinking are far from true. The partition tragedy was primarily the outcome of British Policy of ‘divide and rule’, which they implemented with great intensity particularly after 1857. It is their policy that gave a fillip to Muslim and Hindu communal forces. The main factor of partition was the British policy, while the likes of Maulana Azad and Mahatma Gandhi opposed it to the hilt to the end.

The added factor for Gandhi in particular to keep quiet when the partition planning was being hatched was the rise in communal violence due to the hate spread by communal forces from both sides. This game of spreading hatred was mutual from both sides and victims also came from both sides. While a hint of appeasement in Puri’s statement is directed to Muslims, let’s have a look at what Sardar Patel had to say about this Hate spread by Hindu communal organization RSS. This was in the wake of the partition tragedy and Gandhi murder. “All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji.”

So far Gandhi was the main target of Hindu nationalist propaganda, now all this is being directed against Nehru. The yielding to the plan of partition was not the choice for Congress leadership but was their helplessness in the face of communal djinns let out of the bottle by the colonial powers. For the matter of record, lets understand the longest-serving President of Congress Maulana Abul Kalam Azad stood against it all through. There were many in Congress central committee who yielded to the demand of partition much early, like Rajagopalachari and there were others who by and by realized that there is no other option to save the subcontinent from the civil war-like situation and to initiate building the nation on the modern lines.

Interestingly when Lord Mountbatten put this proposal to the top leadership it was Sardar Patel who yielded before Nehru accepted this. This is excellently documented in Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s ‘India wins Freedom”

As far s appeasement is concerned the communal elements like Puri have been accusing Congress of this appeasement right from the beginning when INC was formed and the giants like Badruddin Tayaabji presided over this organization.

While Godse held Gandhi as responsible for partition and Gandhi’s ‘Partition will take place on my dead body’ is hurled by communalists to mock him, it was Patel who could see the game of RSS, which on one side was spreading hatred against Muslims and contributing to the process of social division along religious lines and on the other sticking to ‘Akhand Bharat’, which meant that Muslims should submit to Hindu supremacy for which they were not willing. Incidentally, the progenitor of the concept of Hindu Rashtra, Savarkar, was the first one who stated that there are two nations in this country, the Hindu nation and the Muslim Nation.

Choudhary Rahmat Ali, studying in London articulated the word Pakistan in 1930 for Muslim majority nations. Many historians hold that Savakar’s two-nation theory inspired Jinnah to formulate the demand of Pakistan and stick to it.

So today what role does Modi’s decision to observe 14th August in such a negative light play?

Clearly it is to worsen the Hate against the Muslim minority on one hand and to put the whole blame for partition on Nehru. The recent event where Hate is ruling the roost is frightening. A Muslim rickshaw puller is dragged, with his daughter clinging to his legs asking for pardon, and asked to shout jai Shri Ram while being beaten. The other facet is the type of intimidating slogans, inciting violence, (Goli maro (Shoot them), kate jayenge (They will be slaughtered)) within few Kilometers of the place from where the ruling elite lords over the country. 


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