Re:Etchings of Violence: PARTITION VOICES AND MEMORIES FROM AMRITSAR
- --- RAVISINGH@... wrote:
There is a very good book on organised riots called
Contesting The Nation, it gives very graphic
accounts of the BJP politics especially in Utter
Pardes.Its simple as BJP followers throwing a cows
head into a Hindu Temple just before any elections
and it usually ends in hundreds dead and BJP
This is followed by many parties including the
The Arya Samaj was very active in religious
conversions of the Sikhs after the fall of the Sikh
Kingdom.It was in the interest of the right wing
Hindu organisations to cause hatred between the
Sikhs and the Muslims so that the whole of Panjab
doesnt slip away from India.
I have been around different parts of Pakistan and
all i got was a very respectful and warm
welcome.There are many elders in Pakistan who fondly
remember their villages.houses and friends in Panjab
with great joy and become very emotional with the
sadness of the partition.
Subject: Etchings of Violence: PARTITION VOICES AND MEMORIES FROM
[December 29, 2005]
Etchings of Violence
(India Today Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)EPICENTRE
OF VIOLENCE: PARTITION VOICES AND MEMORIES FROM
Edited by Ian Talbot and Darshan Singh Tatla
Price: Rs 595
Many modern scholars argue that communal riots can
only continue when government fails. Ian Talbot and
Darshan Singh Tatla's collection of interviews with
refugees from East Punjab at Partition supports this
view. As Talbot puts it in his introduction, "None
of this (violence) could have continued... without
the connivance of officials, policemen and soldiers.
Many of the attacks in both sides of Punjab were
carried out with military precision."
Without any editorial comment, save a short
introduction, the interviews are presented as
straight transcriptions translated largely from
Punjabi. All of the interviewees were what Talbot
calls "acute refugees" who eventually settled in
Amritsar, an epicentre of Partition violence and a
place of transit for tens of thousands of displaced
people. In the city itself on the eve of Partition,
Muslims made up 49 per cent of the population, most
of them artisans. By 1951 they were 0.52 per cent.
The interviewees, mainly Sikhs from varied economic
and educational backgrounds, reveal the resilience
of the refugees and how little they relied on
government assistance to support themselves.
Voluntary organisations and gurdwaras came forward
spontaneously to help feed and clothe them. One
figure, Bijli Pahalwan, is mentioned more than once.
A leading Hindu transporter of the city, he arranged
free transport and truckloads of men to defend the
Golden Temple in case of attack.
Each interviewee describes his or her relations with
Muslims before independence. More often than not
these relations were close. Sardar Aridaman Singh
Dhillon's grandfather protected Muslims in his area
and ensured they crossed safely to Pakistan,
motivated by the principles of Sikhism. Dhillon sees
the original roots of the divisions in Punjab in the
aggressive attitude of the Arya Samaj to other
religions and its expression in the Punjabi press
published from Lahore. He is one of the few to
mention the press. For many during Partition local
news seemed to come through word of mouth, much of
it rumour. Dhillon also assesses the damaging role
the British and the local Congress party played,
while many of the other interviewees blame Partition
more generally on politicians.
Inexplicably only four of the respondents in this
collection are women, although those who are
included have valuable experiences to relate. One
helped to recover Muslim women abducted by Sikh and
Hindu men and take them to Pakistan. One of the
women escaped back to India at great personal risk
and others objected violently to being taken away.
Another interviewee tells how her brother intended
to kill her so that she wouldn't be raped if their
column of carts were attacked by Muslims, but that
other refugees dissuaded him. Three of the
interviewees were under 10 years old at
independence, perhaps too young to have been
included. This is, however, a small complaint.
Nearly 60 years have passed since 1947 and the
chances to hear the voices of witnesses to Partition
are dwindling just as the importance of oral
accounts of historical events has been widely
recognised. In this context this serious and
scholarly volume is to be warmly welcomed.