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PoliticsIndiaPartition Horrors Remembrance Day, 14 August, explained

Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, 14 August, explained

New Delhi/Kanpur: Post-independence, how dead bodies of Hindus had arrived in a truncated India can never be forgotten by the community, Vishwa Hindu Parishad's (VHP) provincial head Virendra Pandey said to a crowd of teary-eyed people at the Dipti ka Parav of the city in Uttar Pradesh. The VHP leader was speaking on the occasion of Akhand Bharat Sankalp Diwas organised to commemorate Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a call for observing 14 August of every year as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day. He had said that “the partition’s pain can never be forgotten. Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence”, and that the day would be marked “in memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people”.

The VHP leader said that despite being a majority, Hindus try their best to improve the social environment and will continue to do so. "For the sake of Akhand Bharat, we all should take an oath that we have to fulfil," Pandey said. The district publicity chief of the VHP, Prashant Shukla, shared the information late in the evening with the press.

The VHP observed Akhand Bharat Sankalp Diwas in the city the partition after yesterday's event. Other than Pandey, VHP office bearers Shailendra, province co-convenor Ashish Gupta, state mother power Archana and Neema Tripathi, district president Anurag Dubey, district minister Yuvraj, co-ministers Kalicharan, Raju Gupta and Sudhir, Satish Gupta and other workers of the Hindu organisation attended the ceremonies.

The prime minister paid homage to all those who had lost their lives during the partition.

Partition of India

The date 14 August also marks Pakistan’s independence day. On 10 August, Islamabad criticised India’s announcement as a “mischievous” way to “hypocritically and one-sidedly invoke the tragic events and mass migration that occurred in the wake of Independence in 1947”, and said that “If the Indian leaders genuinely care about agony, suffering, and pain, they must work to improve the conditions of the Muslims and other minorities in India”.

The partition of India into India and Pakistan led to wide-scale violence and Hindu-Muslim riots, loss of property and extreme political turmoil in the weeks and months before and after 14 August 1947. It is acknowledged as one of the most violent and abrupt displacements in the recent history of the world.

The union government issued a statement to mark Partition Horrors Remembrance Day the partition, which reads: “More than being a story of a violent divide based on faith and religion it is also a story of how a way of life and ages of co-existence came to a sudden and dramatic end.” Estimates of the numbers of those killed vary; according to the official document, it could be between 5,00,000 to over a million, but “the generally accepted figure stands at around 500,000”.

Political developments leading up to the partition

The Muslim League led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was a chief advocate of carving Pakistan out of India, had emerged as a powerful party rather late. The party representing Muslims alone had not been very successful in early elections, like in 1937. The demand for Pakistan, a separate country for Muslims carved out of India, grew stronger after the Muslim League moved a resolution in Lahore, demanding a measure of autonomy for the Muslim-majority areas in 1940. In less than a decade, it gained prominence.

Among those who raised the demand first was Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal, the writer of “Saare jahan se achchha Hindustan hamara” from the lineage of Kashmiri Pandits who had converted. A few years after writing the song about unity beyond religion, Iqbal drastically changed his views. In his presidential address to the Muslim League in 1930, he spoke of a need for a “NorthWest Indian Muslim state”.

While apologists for Indian Muslims claim that the Muslim League mostly put forward the demand for partition to bargain for greater power in independent India rather than subordination to the Congress, proponents of Hindutva say the partition of India could have been prevented, and blame the leadership of the Congress — mainly Gandhi and Nehru — for allowing the country to be torn apart on the basis of religion.

Why did the partition result in such large-scale violence?

Britain was in a hurry to leave this country in the aftermath of World War II where resources of this member of the Allied Powers were stretched thin across a vast stretch of British colonies. The British Empire had instructed Governor-General Lord Mountbatten to draw a plan for the independence of India by June 1948, but he chose to advance the date apparently because he was keen to return to the UK as soon as possible.

A barrister called Cyril Radcliffe was entrusted with the task of redrawing the boundaries of the two new nations, even though he had never visited India before then. The lack of planning, administrative flux, massive communal rioting and disturbances created the horrors of the partition. As per government data, about 6 million non-Muslims moved out from what became West Pakistan, and 6.5 million Muslims moved out from the Indian part of Punjab, Delhi, etc, into West Pakistan.

An estimated 2 million non-Muslims moved out of East Pakistan and later, in 1950, another 2 million non-Muslims moved into West Bengal. It is estimated that about one million Muslims moved out of West Bengal, according to the document.

While about 800 years of Muslim rule had seen several battles and riots between Hindus and Muslims, the British had wrecked several administrative systems in the last 90 years of its rule, which aggravated the loss of property, massacres and re-settlement. Trains laden with corpses, cramped and unsafe refugee camps wails of raped and tortured women became common sights of the time in many areas of north and east India.

Relevance of Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, 14 August

There are parallels of such occasions in the world. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, or the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, for example, is an international memorial day on 27 January that commemorates the victims of the Holocaust, which resulted in the of a third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities between 1933 and 1945 by Nazi Germany, an attempt to implement their "final solution" to the Jewish question. 27 January was chosen to commemorate the date when the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.

Similarly, Partition Horrors Remembrance Day would recall the plight of people who had been turned into refugees by the decision of a fleeing British government, the Congress and the Muslim League. While it can be a communally neutral occasion, the opposition saw in it "divisive politics" of the BJP. After protests last year, the INC repeated its condemnation. The opposition party's posted a thread of tweets that read:

"The real intent of PM to mark Aug 14 as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day is to use the most traumatic historical events as fodder for his current political battles. Lakhs upon lakhs were dislocated and lost their lives. Their sacrifices must not be forgotten or disrespected.

"The tragedy of partition, cannot be misused to fuel hate & prejudice. The truth is Savarkar originated 2 nation theory and Jinnah perfected it. Sardar Patel wrote, 'I felt that if we did not accept partition, India would be split into many bits and would be completely ruined.'

"Will the PM also recall today Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, the founder of the Jan Sangh, who championed the Partition of Bengal against the wishes of Sarat Chandra Bose, and who sat in free India's first Cabinet while the tragic consequences of Partition were becoming evident?"

The tweets above drew a lot of criticism from thousands of Twitter users. "Sarat Bose with Surawardy the jihadi terrorist wanted independent Bengal so they could Islamise the whole thing, if not for Shyama Prasad West Bengal would've been Bangladesh and we know conditions of Hindus there. The question is, Jairam Ramesh, why do you support anti-Hindu jihadis and sympathisers?" questioned Rajarshi Nandy. "Will Congress… acknowledge that today only 8% Hs are left in B'desh due to constant M persecution? So if the Muslim League's demand for Bengal to go to Pakistan happened not a single Bengali Hindu would have been left now. Why does Congress hate Hindus so much?" he asked.

Aravindalochanan Govindan wrote: "Syama Prasad Mookerjee resigned from cabinet when your leader Nehru was sitting quietly over the massacre of Hindus in East Bengal. Had it not been for SPM, Hindu refugees from East Bengal wouldn't have received any help from the Indian state. Wonder when you ppl will try to learn history."

"The LIES of Jairam Ramesh," wrote a user, adding that the then Congress president Acharya Kriplani as well as the Bengal unit of the party "SUPPORTED the division of Bengal," with a citation from the book Jinnah by Ishtiaq Ahmed.

Vikas Saraswat wrote: "Muslim supremacism and Muslim separatism are so conspicuous throughout history that only a charlatan like you will fail to see it. Savarkar merely reiterated the fact that Shah Waliullah to Sir Syed had been reiterating continuously. Not to speak of Islamic butchers in power."

Partition Horrors Remembrance Day serves the purpose of reminding generations that have not been witness to the atrocities on humanity at the time, more so as India is overwhelmingly becoming a nation of the young who do not have a good sense of history, often wondering what communal strifes in the country are all about. It is wholly possible that the Modi dispensation devised this day to address the woke tendency of the youth, which is cannot do directly by blaming Muslims alone for the carnage.

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