Tag Archives: religious identity

The partition story ~ Kuldip Nayar

Partition of the Indian subcontinent is 66 years’ old. On August 14, 1947, the states of India and Pakistan came into being in the wake of division. Even today they have not settled down as neighbours, much less as friends. Borders are bristling with troops and clashes are inevitable. A few days ago, five men from the Indian army were killed. The Pakistan army may not be directly involved. But it helps the jihadis and even the Taliban in their plan to destablise India. It looks the Pakistan army is not interested in conciliation between Islamabad and New Delhi. One incident or the other always takes place before the talks between the countries begin.
What surprises me is that no front-rank politician, historian or any other person of eminence has given me a cogent reason, much less a convincing one, to explain why the two communities, Hindus and Muslims, separated after having lived together for more than a thousand years.
The radicals may claim that they maintained peace because they were the rulers. Yet the fact is that Hindus and Muslims had developed a composite culture which recognized the mingling of two civilizations and which had overcome the pulls of polarization. Social contacts were regular and festivals of the two communities were celebrated jointly. Still it did not take the articulators of religious identity to tear the fabric apart from the thirties. Was pluralism only a cover to hide differences? And in reality, the two communities had never occupied the common ground and had remained distant from each other.
Had this been the case, why the exchange of population was ruled out when the separation was contemplated? Even Muslims on their own did not raise any objection that those left behind in India would number more than the ones in the Muslim homeland, Pakistan. Hindus left Pakistan and Muslims from Punjab and a few other cities in the north. It was a forced eviction.