NCERT Textbook - Understanding Partitions Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

History Class 12

Created by: Rajni Sharma

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Understanding Partitions Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


375
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


375
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 376
We know that the joy of our country’s independence from
colonial rule in 1947 was tarnished by the violence and
brutality of Partition. The Partition of British India into the
sovereign states of India and Pakistan (with its western and
eastern wings) led to many sudden developments. Thousands
of lives were snuffed out, many others changed dramatically,
cities changed, India changed, a new country was born, and
there was unprecedented genocidal violence and migration.
This chapter will examine the history of Partition: why and
how it happened as well as the harrowing experiences of
ordinary people during the period 1946-50 and beyond. It will
Understanding Partition
Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences
Fig. 14.1
Partition uprooted millions, transforming them into refugees, forcing them to begin
life from scratch in new lands.
THEME
FOURTEEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


375
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 376
We know that the joy of our country’s independence from
colonial rule in 1947 was tarnished by the violence and
brutality of Partition. The Partition of British India into the
sovereign states of India and Pakistan (with its western and
eastern wings) led to many sudden developments. Thousands
of lives were snuffed out, many others changed dramatically,
cities changed, India changed, a new country was born, and
there was unprecedented genocidal violence and migration.
This chapter will examine the history of Partition: why and
how it happened as well as the harrowing experiences of
ordinary people during the period 1946-50 and beyond. It will
Understanding Partition
Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences
Fig. 14.1
Partition uprooted millions, transforming them into refugees, forcing them to begin
life from scratch in new lands.
THEME
FOURTEEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
377
also discuss how the history of these
experiences can be reconstructed by talking to
people and interviewing them, that is, through
the use of oral history. At the same time, it will
point out the strengths and limitations of oral
history. Interviews can tell us about certain
aspects of a society’s past of which we may know
very little or nothing from other types of sources.
But they may not reveal very much about many
matters whose history we would then need to
build from other materials. We will return to
this issue towards the end of the chapter.
1. Some Partition Experiences
Here are three incidents narrated by people who
experienced those trying times to a researcher
in 1993. The informants were Pakistanis, the
researcher Indian. The job of this researcher was
to understand how those who had lived more or
less harmoniously for generations inflicted so
much violence on each other in 1947.
“I am simply returning my father’s karz, his debt”
This is what the researcher recorded:
During my visits to the History Department Library of Punjab
University, Lahore, in the winter of 1992, the librarian, Abdul Latif, a
pious middle-aged man, would help me a lot. He would go out of his
way, well beyond the call of duty, to provide me with relevant material,
meticulously keeping photocopies requested by me ready before my
arrival the following morning. I found his attitude to my work so
extraordinary that one day I could not help asking him, “Latif Sahib,
why do you go out of your way to help me so much?” Latif Sahib
glanced at his watch, grabbed his namazi topi and said, “I must go for
namaz right now but I will answer your question on my return.”
Stepping into his office half an hour later, he continued:
“Yes, your question. I … I mean, my father belonged to Jammu, to
a small village in Jammu district. This was a Hindu-dominated village
and Hindu ruffians of the area massacred the hamlet’s Muslim
population in August 1947. One late afternoon, when the Hindu
mob had been at its furious worst, my father discovered he was
perhaps the only Muslim youth of the village left alive. He had already
lost his entire family in the butchery and was looking for ways of
Source 1
Fig. 14.2
Photographs give us a glimpse of
the violence of that time.
UNDERSTANDING PARTITION
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


375
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 376
We know that the joy of our country’s independence from
colonial rule in 1947 was tarnished by the violence and
brutality of Partition. The Partition of British India into the
sovereign states of India and Pakistan (with its western and
eastern wings) led to many sudden developments. Thousands
of lives were snuffed out, many others changed dramatically,
cities changed, India changed, a new country was born, and
there was unprecedented genocidal violence and migration.
This chapter will examine the history of Partition: why and
how it happened as well as the harrowing experiences of
ordinary people during the period 1946-50 and beyond. It will
Understanding Partition
Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences Politics, Memories, Experiences
Fig. 14.1
Partition uprooted millions, transforming them into refugees, forcing them to begin
life from scratch in new lands.
THEME
FOURTEEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
377
also discuss how the history of these
experiences can be reconstructed by talking to
people and interviewing them, that is, through
the use of oral history. At the same time, it will
point out the strengths and limitations of oral
history. Interviews can tell us about certain
aspects of a society’s past of which we may know
very little or nothing from other types of sources.
But they may not reveal very much about many
matters whose history we would then need to
build from other materials. We will return to
this issue towards the end of the chapter.
1. Some Partition Experiences
Here are three incidents narrated by people who
experienced those trying times to a researcher
in 1993. The informants were Pakistanis, the
researcher Indian. The job of this researcher was
to understand how those who had lived more or
less harmoniously for generations inflicted so
much violence on each other in 1947.
“I am simply returning my father’s karz, his debt”
This is what the researcher recorded:
During my visits to the History Department Library of Punjab
University, Lahore, in the winter of 1992, the librarian, Abdul Latif, a
pious middle-aged man, would help me a lot. He would go out of his
way, well beyond the call of duty, to provide me with relevant material,
meticulously keeping photocopies requested by me ready before my
arrival the following morning. I found his attitude to my work so
extraordinary that one day I could not help asking him, “Latif Sahib,
why do you go out of your way to help me so much?” Latif Sahib
glanced at his watch, grabbed his namazi topi and said, “I must go for
namaz right now but I will answer your question on my return.”
Stepping into his office half an hour later, he continued:
“Yes, your question. I … I mean, my father belonged to Jammu, to
a small village in Jammu district. This was a Hindu-dominated village
and Hindu ruffians of the area massacred the hamlet’s Muslim
population in August 1947. One late afternoon, when the Hindu
mob had been at its furious worst, my father discovered he was
perhaps the only Muslim youth of the village left alive. He had already
lost his entire family in the butchery and was looking for ways of
Source 1
Fig. 14.2
Photographs give us a glimpse of
the violence of that time.
UNDERSTANDING PARTITION
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 378
escaping. Remembering a kind, elderly Hindu lady, a neighbour, he implored
her to save him by offering him shelter at her place. The lady agreed to help
father but said, ‘Son, if you hide here, they will get both of us. This is of no
use. You follow me to the spot where they have piled up the dead. You lie
down there as if dead and I will dump a few dead-bodies on you. Lie there
among the dead, son, as if dead through the night and run for your life
towards Sialkot
 
at the break of dawn tomorrow.’
“My father agreed to the proposal. Off they went to that spot, father lay on
the ground and the old lady dumped a number of bodies on him. An hour
or so later a group of armed Hindu hoodlums appeared. One of them yelled,
‘Any life left in anybody?’ and the others started, with their crude staffs and
guns, to feel for any trace of life in that heap. Somebody shouted, ‘There is
a wrist watch on that body!’ and hit my father’s fingers with the butt of his
rifle. Father used to tell us how difficult it was for him to keep his outstretched
palm, beneath the watch he was wearing, so utterly still. Somehow he
succeeded for a few seconds until one of them said ‘Oh, it’s only a watch.
Come let us leave, it is getting dark.’ Fortunately, for Abbaji, they left and my
father lay there in that wretchedness the whole night, literally running for his life
at the first hint of light. He did not stop until he reached Sialkot.
“I help you because that Hindu mai helped my father. I am simply returning
my father’s karz, his debt.”
“But I am not a Hindu,” I said. “Mine is a Sikh family, at best a mixed Hindu-
Sikh one.”
 “I do not know what your religion is with any surety. You do not wear
uncut hair and you are not a Muslim. So, for me you are a Hindu and I do my
little bit for you because a Hindu mai saved my father.”
 “For quite a few years now, I have not
met a Punjabi Musalman”
The researcher’s second story is about the manager of a youth hostel in Lahore.
I had gone to the hostel looking for accommodation and had promptly
declared my citizenship. “Y ou are Indian, so I cannot allot you a room but I
can offer you tea and a story,” said the Manager.  I couldn’t have refused such
a tempting offer. “In the early 1950s I was posted at Delhi,” the Manager began.
I was all ears:
“I was working as a clerk at the Pakistani High Commission there and I
had been asked by a Lahori friend to deliver a rukka (a short handwritten
note) to his erstwhile neighbour who now resided at Paharganj in Delhi.
One day I rode out on my bicycle towards Paharganj and just as I crossed
the cathedral at the Central Secretariat, spotting a Sikh cyclist I asked him
in Punjabi, ‘Sardarji, the way to Paharganj, please?’
Source 2
© NCERT
not to be republished
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