Through twenty-five first-hand accounts of those caught in the turmoil of Partition, this book provides us with a means to understanding the human dimension of the division of India in 1947.
The interviews in this book were conducted in what was, in 1947, the epicenter of violence: the city of Amritsar, on the volatile border between India and Pakistan. The links of those interviewed with a single city provide unique insights into processes of migration and refugee resettlement, and lend a unity to the recollections that is rare in Partition literature.
Even as each account possesses unique characteristics, various themes unite the oral testimonies: the suddenness of the uprooting, the belief that migration was only to be temporary, the sense that the violence was politically rather than culturally and religiously rooted.
The abduction and rehabilitation of women and children, the differing experiences of elite and subaltern classes, the memories of refugee convoys and camps, the hazards of border crossing, and the nostalgia for pre-Partition bounds between Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus are other important issues that emerge.
The variety of experiences recounted here is historically important as it reveals the immensely differing impact of Partition and its consequences for people's later lives. This discomfiting fact has frequently been obscured by master narratives of the event-an event which continues to exert a profound impact on the subcontinent.
About the Author
Ian Talbot is director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at Coventry University. He has written extensively on the history of colonial Punjab and the emergence of Pakistan. His most recent books include Pakistan. A Modern History (1999) and Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India (2002).
Darshan Singh Tatla has been an honorary research fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Coventry University. He is a prolific author on Punjab history and the role of the diaspora.
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