Healing the wounds of Partition ..

I read this interesting, albeit a little contentious, piece by Ravinder Kaur that examined the impact of partition on settling the communal question. The article states:

“The sixtieth anniversary of the independence of Pakistan and India on 14-15 August 2007 has prompted official celebration in both countries, as well as an ocean of commemorative coverage in the world’s media. The terrible violence that accompanied the birthpangs of the two states from the ashes of empire is an inevitable theme in much commentary. What is being less addressed amid the profusion of human stories – and what this article considers – is whether the problems of communal division in the sub-continent were or are best addressed by the partition of territory.”

The recent weeks have seen a splurge of such discussions in the media (including the new media) that attempt to re-examine and explore the partition of India. In particular, the sufferings of millions who crossed the line have yet again come to light.

Another reflective piece that I discovered is “pain of partition” that recounted the sufferings of migrants on both the sides of the divide.

And today, Vidya Rao – a celebrated classical singer from India sent this petition that seeks to heal the wounds that still hurt our collective lives:

Apology Petition

“Dear Victims of the Partition-related Violence in South Asia:

The mass murder, rape, pillage and suffering that accompanied the partition of British India in 1947, have left deep scars on the psyche of the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan.

Tens of thousands were murdered, raped, and maimed, and millions were displaced in an immense human tragedy, that continues to poison our discourse, and feed mutual suspicions and hatreds.

Therefore, we, the members of the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA), and others, who have signed below, believe that the time has come for all of us jointly to condemn, without distinction, the insane orgy of violence and intimidation that accompanied the great human divide of 1947.

On the 60th anniversary of the Independence of India and Pakistan, we recall that dark chapter in our history so as to ensure that these tragedies will not be forgotten, or repeated.

We hope that coming generations will learn from this man-made calamity, and turn away from divisions based on religion, ethnicity, language, national origin, caste, or creed.

Taking lessons from history, we undertake to shun the political use of religion and communalism.

We regret that our forebears, the colonial British administration, and the successor governments did not prevent the tragedy. They also failed to punish the perpetrators, and apologize to you and your families.

In the spirit of harmony and goodwill among the people of South Asia, and to help build a new South Asian present and future, we grieve for and with you. We offer our deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets to you and your families.

We are sorry!”

This petition can be accessed here and those interested may like to sign it. I know the prevalent cynicism about such online petitions, but long journeys begin with small steps.

We have a barricaded road ahead – let’s aim to tread this difficult path.

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