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Hasan_pg47to53 - n.a n I.I a u I i e The human factor...

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Unformatted text preview: n .a n- I .I a .- .- u I i. - - .. ... .. ..__ e . The human factor: refugees flock into Delhi following the Partial: riots. 1947. PARTITION THE HUMAN COST Mushjrul Hasan looks at the reflection of the trauma and tragedy of partition through literature and personal histories. The sun had risen fairly high when we reached Amritsar. . . Everytime I visited Amritsar. I felt captivated. But the city. this time. presented the look of a ere. rhation shat. eerie and stinking. . . The silence was so perfect that even the faint hiss of steam from the stationary engine sounded a shriek. Only some Sikhs were hanging about, with un- sheathed Itirpans which they occasion- ally brandished. . . The brief stoppage seemed to have lingered into eternity till the engine whistled and gave a gentle pull. . . we left Chheharta he- hind and then Atari and when we entered Wagah and then Harbanspura everyone in the train felt uplifted. A lourney through a virtual valley of destruction had ended when finally the train came to a halt at Platform No. 2 — Lahore. the moment was as gratifying as the consummation ofa drum. Mohammad Saeed. labore- A Memoir (1989) dim-row v.41 SWTNWI cw writers reveal such poign- ancy and tragedy of nationally~ contrived divisions and borders. India's partition cast its shadow over many aspects of state and society. Yet the literature on this major event is mostly inadequate, impressionistic and lacking in scholarly rigour. Even after fifty years of Independence and despite the access to wide-ranging primary source materials. there are no convincing explanations of why and how MA. Jinnah's ‘two-nation‘ theory emerged, and why partition created millions of refugees and resulted in Over a million deaths. Similarly. it is still not clear whether partition allowed the fulfillment of legitimate aspirations or represents the mutilation of historic national entities. Part of the reason for this flawed frame of reference is the inclination of many writers to draw magisterial conclusions from isolated events and to construct identities along religious lines. As a result. the discussions tend to be based on statements and mani- festos of leaders and their negotia- tions with British officials in Lutyens' Delhi and Whitehall. The fiftieth year oiliberation from colonial rule is an appropriate moment to question commonly-held assumptions on Muslim politics, to delineate the ideological strands in the Pakistan movement, explore its unities and diversities. and plot its trajectory without preconceived sup- positions. Was there intrinsic merit in religious/Islamic appeals? Does one search for clues in British policies (which were tilted in favour of the Muslims to counter the nationalist «l7 Reprinted with permission for one-time classroom use More than a statistic? Victims ofthe conununal riots are removed from the streets ochw Delhi in September 194'! — behind the hon'lfying death toll; lay [as with the Holocaust} countless individual tragedies and the destruction offunllies and culture. aspirations} — in the ensuing clash between Hindu and Muslim rerivalist movements and in violent contests over religious symbols (a dispute recently played out around the Babri Masiid at Ayodhya)? How and why did the idea ofa Muslim nation appeal to the divided and highly stratified Mus- lim communities. enabling jinnah and his lieutenants to launch the cru- sade for a separate Muslim home- land? As a starting point. it is necessary to repudiate jinnah‘s 'two—nation' theory. Time and again it has been pointed out that the Hindu and Muslim com- munities lived together for centuries in peace and amity. In fact. their com- mon points of contact and associa- tion were based on enduring inter- social connections. cross-cultural exchanges and shared material inter- ests. Neither the followers of Islam not of Hinduism were unified or cohesive in themselves. Their his- tories. along with social. cultural and occupational patterns. varied from class to class. and region to region. During his tour in 1946-47 the British civil servant Malcolm Darling found. in the tract between the Beas and Sutlej rivers in Punjab. much similarity between Hindus and Mus- lims. He wondered how Pakistan ms to be fitted into these conditions? He was bothered by the same question while passing through the country between the Chenab and Ravi; 48 What a hash politics threatens to make of this tract. where Hindu. Muslim and Sikh are as mixed up as the ingredients ol’a well made pilau. . . l noted how often in a village Muslim and Sikh had a common ancestor. It is the same here with Hindu and Muslim Raiputs. and today we passed a village of Hindu and Muslim Guiars. A Hindu Rajput. . . tells me that where he lives in Karnal to the south. there are fifty Muslim villages converted to lslam in the days of Aurangzeb. They belong to the same clan as he does. and fifteen years ago offered to return to the Hindu fold. on the one condition that their Hindu kinsfollt would give them their daugh- ters in marriage. The condition was refused and they are still Muslim. In this area. even where Hindu and Mus- lim belong to different clans, they still interchange civilities at marriage. invit» ing mullah or Bahrain, as the case may be. to share in the fasting. The search for a political explana- tion of partition must begin with the fluid political climate during and after the First World War. characterised by the drive for power and political leverage that preoccupied all political parties and their followers. This accounts for the swifrness with which the two-nation idea succeeded in becoming actualiscd; the vocal demand for carving out a Muslim natiori summed up the fears of the powerful landed classes and the aspirations of the newiy-emergentprofessional groups in north India and the small but influential industrial magnates of the western and eastern regions. The bitter and violent contest over power-sharing reveals a great deal about the three major themes that have dominated South Asian historio- graphy — colonialism. nationalism and communalism. What it does not reveal. however. is how partition affected millions. uprooted from home and field and driven by sheer fear of death to seek safety across a line they had neither drawn not desired. The history books do net record the pain. trauma and sufferings of those who had to part from their kin. friends and neighbours. their deepen- ing nostalgia for places they had lix ed in for generations, the anguish of devotees removed from their places of worship. and the harrowing experi- ences of the countless people who boarded trains thinking they would be transported to the realisation of their dreams. but of whom not a man, woman or child survived the journey. Most Hindus and Muslims living in harmony and goodwill could not come to terms with the ill«will and hostility that was canveyed through speeches and pamphlets. There were many places in India where the Mus- lim League's message was received but failed to impress. Indeed, most Muslims l'll' :16" understood not approved of Pa:-...-[:lfl- except as a remote place when: thcl' would go. as on a pilgrimage. SDI“: left hoping to secure rapid promo' _' .the peasants and the mill-workers ,, they were physically loaned .' .India‘ or ‘Pakistan interesting;- - J enmplti the Muslim employees .ile 8,000 government servants -,' aimed to their homes in March .4 13, lust a few months after they ... . left for Pakistan. ' In other words. most people were _' . . i rent to the newly-created geo— graphical entities. and were commit- ‘. . neither to a Hindu homeland nor ... an imaginary world of islatn. They were unclear whether Lahore or Gur- daspul'; Delhi or Dacca would ‘ gin Gandhi‘s India or Jinnah‘s Pak- istan. They were caught up in the 'eross-fire of religious hatred - the hapless victims of a triangular game- plan masterminded by the British, the Congress and the Muslim League. The English have Elung away their Raj like a bundle of old straw' one angry peasant told a British ofiicial. :and we have been chopped in pieces like butcher's meat'. This was a telling comment by a ‘subaltern‘ on the meaning attached to the Pakistan movement. Saadat Hasan Manto. the famous Urdu writer, captures the mood in ‘Toba Tek Singh'. one of his finest stories: As to where Pakistan was located. the inmates knew nothing. . . the mad and the partially mad were unable to decide whether they were now in India or Pakistan. lftheywete in india where on earth was Pakistani. . . Pakistan. a prized trophy for many Muslims, was won. but people on both sides of the fence were tor- mented by gruesome killings. by the irreparable loss of lives, and by the scale and magnitude of an epic - tragedy. There can be no doubt that from a purely liberal and secular per- spective. the birth of Pakistan destroyed Mohammad iqbal's melodi- ous lyric of syncretic nationalism — Nays Sbiuala (New Temple) — once the ideal of patriots and freedom- fightcrs. The vivisection of India severed cultural ties, undermined a vibrant, composite intellectual tradi- tion and introduced a discordant note in the civilisational rhythm of Indian society. indeed. the birth of freedom on that elevated day — August 14th. 1947. for Pakistan and August 15th. for India — did not bring India any 'ennobling benediction'. 0n the con- trary, the country was shaken by ‘a volcanic eruption‘. There was little to celebrate at the fateful midnight hour. In the words of Faiz Ahmad Faiz. the renowned Urdu poet, This is not that long-looked-for break of day Not that clear dawn in quest of which those comrades Set out. believing on: in heaven‘s wide void Somewhere must be the star 5 last halt- ing place PromisedlandTSpedaltr-linoflketheflafiofdte PakistanGoyermentfi-ombellfi to Karachi. Muslim National Guards salute their departure. SEFTEM'IEJ 1W- Somewhere the verge of night's slow- washing tide. Somewhere an anchorage for the ship of heartache. So. which country did poets like Faiz and writers like Manto belong to? Manto. for one. tried in rain to ‘sepa- rate India from Pakistan and Pakistan from lndia‘. He asked himself: 'Will Pakistan literature be different - and if so. how? To whom will now belong what had been written in undivided India? W111 that be partitioned too?‘_ The uppermost question in his mind was: 'Were we really free'? Manto‘s anguish and dilemma was shared by the silent majority on bath sides of the fence, including those 1,000 persons who, after eighteen months of separation. met at the Husainiwala customs barrier in February 1949. They did not pull out daggers and swords but affectionately embraced one another with tears rolling down their cheeks. Their sen- timents were reflected neither in the elegant exchanges between the Viceroy and Secretary of State. nor in the unloyely confabulations between the Congress and the League man- agers. Today the curtain is drawn on the Husainiwala border; small groups from Pakistan and india congregate at Wagah to witness a colourful military parade that is held every evening to mark the closing of the iron gates on both sides of the fence. Their expres- sions seem to echo the widespread feeling in the subcontinent that never before in its history did so few divide and decide the fate of so many in so short a time. 'What a world of loneliness lies upon Shabbir (Husain. grandson of the Prophet of Islam) this day!‘ Every- one who heard these lines in Gan- gauli village, the setting for the Rabi Masoom Reza's novel Aadba-Gaon (Haifa-Village), wept bitterly. They did so to mourn Husain's martyrdom in Karbala centuries ago. but also because 'the cut umbilical cord of Pakistan was around their necks like a noose, and they were all suffocating'. Now they knew what 'a world of loneliness‘ meant. Independence and partition brtiught varied moods of loneliness. Every individual in Gangauli 'had found himself suddenly alone‘. All of them turned. just as they did every day of their existence, to Husain and his seventy-two campanions for strengthI confidence and spiritual comfort. ‘There was a desire to dream. but what was there safe to dream about?‘ The atmOSphere was foul and murky all around. 'The 49 (if 1’ mm? 1531004 of one 's veins was wandering hopelessly in Pakistan. and the rela- tionships and mutual affections and friendships. . . were breaking. and in place of confidence. a fear and deep suspicion was growing in people's hearts‘. c C I 3 Today we saw for ourselves something of the stupendous scale of‘tlge Punjab upheaval. Even our brief bi ' _cyc view must have revealed nearly all a million refugees on the roads. At one point during our flight Sikhs ' Maslern refugees were ?dn3fl tit-$22“.- most afl‘ected by violence and killings. 12 million Hindus. Sikhs and Muslims were involved. and migration of some 9 million people began overnight in an area the size 'of Wales. In the north Indian state of Uttar Pradcsh (UP). nearly 4.000 Muslims a day boarded the train to Pakistan until 1950. The number of migrants from cen- toil and eastern regions was compara- tively small. but the proportion of professional emigrants was relatively high. Educational institutions were depleted of students and teachers overnight. Enrolment figures at the Twoaway mac: Muslim refugees on the road following moon. pass Hindus -_ _ Sikhs going in the opposite direction. The nnprecedatt'ul “been! of 194'! not onlyhlvulved large numbers oipeopie. but also whetesaledisplaeement oilceygrnups “dailies-la side by side in opposite directions. There was no sign of clash. As though impelled by some deeper instinct. they pushed forward obsessed only with the obiective beyond the boundary. Alan Campbell-Johnson. Government House. New Delhi. Sunday. September let. 194? The partition of the subcontinent led to one of the largest ever migrations in world history. with an estimated 12.5 million people (about 3 per cent of undivided India) being displaced or uprooted. In Punjab. the province 50 famous seminary in the city of Deoband were down from 1.600 to 1.000 in 1947-48. Income dwindled. as large numbers of students and patrons migrated to Pakistan. The All- garh Muslim Uilhtersity was rudder- less without some of its distinguished teachers who searched for greener pastures in Karachi. the eventual homeland of the mubaflrin (migrants). In Bihar. emigration began in November-December 1946 as a sequel to rioting in many places. Peace was soou restored and flu movement stopped just before parti- tion. There was fresh migration after August 199’? mainly for economic rea. sons and because of the acute food shortage in North Bihar. whidt had a common frontier with East Pakistan. Migrants totalled 4600.000. although some returned to their homes during 1950-51. The Princeiy State of Hyderabad had received a continuous migration of Muslims in Itheir thohsartds. partic- ularly since-1857'. from the rest of India. In 1947 the numbers increased to hundreds of thousands Drawn from both the rural and urban areas. therewere traders artisans. domestic I ’ and government semi-Its. agricultur- 'ists and labourers However. the influx came to an abrupt end on 'September 13th. 1948. the day the r armed forces of India moved into the :state ‘in response to the call of the pepple'. Almost immediatelyr a reverse movement started: a numher of Hyderabadi Muslims left for Pak- istarufthile others returned to places ad originally come from. f lsewhere. nearlyr 450 Muslims a ' --day continued their trek across the 'Rajasthan-Sind border. From January 'to November lst. 1952. 62.467 Mus- { lims went via Khokhropar to Sind in West Pakistan. 'Some hundreds go daily and have been going. in varying numbers. for the last three-and-a-hall' years'. Nehru informed his chief mini- sters. 'The fact that they go there itself indicates that the conditions they live in are not agreeable to them and the future they envisage for themselves in India is dark‘. But quite a number of established and prosper- ous professionals from UP. Bil-Ia: and the Princely States of Hyderabad. Bhopal and Rampur also left. Men in government and the profes- sions from Delhi. UP and Bihar formed the core of muhajirin. The Delhi police was depleted of its rank and like because of ‘mass desertion’. All the three subordinate judges in the Delhi court rushed to Pakistan. People employed with local and provincial governments also opted for Pakistan, although some changed their minds later and returned to lndia. Poets and writers. Josh Mali- habadi being the most prominent. joined the trek at different timCS- Some landlords. including Jinnah's lieutenant Nawab Liaquat Ali K111". were among the muhaiitin The Rain of Mahmudabad left his family behind in the sprawling Mahmudabad ”01155 in Qaiser Bagh. Lucknow. to under- take the mission of creating an 15' lamic state and societyr in Pakistan- I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I l l l . 2-. prominent Muslims stayed. I”, . muse who headed the Mus- ..- gee campaign. landlords like .-1..sn1ail.NawabJamshed All .._.‘t|'I= Nawab of Chattari and the '. Salempur. Nanpara. Kotwara. r and Jehangirabad clung to _:. estates. Ismail was elected 5.. vice-chancellorship of Aligarh _- gm University in September I but relinquished the post on her 14th. 1998. Several- others ‘ ' 0f hostility. suspicion and dis- They had a litany of complaints rring Hindu-Muslim riots. dis- nation in employment and offi- '. neglect of Urdu. Syed Mahmud, . IThirn-one Muslims were jailed for I ti-governement activities in addi- 1on to many more detained under the Public Safety Act. Muslims in Agra re required to register themselves th the district magistrate. Their .buses were searched and a former legislative assembly member. Shaikh Badruddin. was arrested for possess- ing unlicensed arms. Muslims in Kan- pur had to obtain a permit before .u'avelling to Hyderabad- their rela- 'tives there had to register at a recog- -nised hotel or a police station in folder to visit them Muslim officers 0n the railways in :Kanpur. some of whom had served {for more than ten years, faced suspi- -_'cion and dismissal. Aligarh's district lmagistrate was severe on university students and teachers who had already incurred the wrath of the local leaders for their involvement in the Pakistan movement. The univer- sity. threatened with closure. was eventually saved by Nehru's interven- tiun. Zakir Husain, the newly- appointed vice-chancellor. placed it on a firm footing with the active sup- port of Azad. free India‘s first educa» tion minister. Liberal and socialiSt teachers staged a rearguard action to combat the influence of communal tendencies. In general, however, Mohanlal Gautam. the leading Con- gressmen touring UP. found 'an all- pervading sense of fear' among the Muslims. The Evacuee Property laws. which restricted business opportunities and disabled large numbers of Muslims. Were most inequitable. Most Muslims Could not easily dispose of their property or carry on trade for fear of t. the long arm of the property law. A number of old Congressmen contin- ued to send small sums of money to their relatives in Pakistan. They were promptly declared evacuees or prospective evacuees. Nehru was per- sonally distressed by all this. as he was by the spate of communal vio- lence in UP: People die and the fact of killing. though painful. does not upset me. But what does upset one is the complete degradation of human nature and. even more. the attempt to find justifica- tion for this. FFH‘l-JIIIEI lu' tition was a total catastrophe for Delhi'. observed one of the few sur- viving members of Delhi‘s Muslim aristocracy. ‘Those who were left behind are in misery. Those who are uprooted are in misery. The peace of Delhi is gone. Now it is all gone'. In UP and Bihar very few Muslims were left in the Defence services. in the police. the universities. the law courts. or the vast Central Secretariat in Delhi. Large-scale immigration of mostly educated upper-caste Hindus in Lucknow — 70 per cent of th...
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