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Partition Punjab’s Partition was ethnic cleansing, says Professor Emeritus at Stockholm University

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by Archived_Member16, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16
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    Punjab’s Partition was ethnic cleansing, says Professor Emeritus at Stockholm University

    Aditi Tandon/TNS

    New Delhi, February 25


    For the first time, new facts have come to light about Partition, tracing Punjab's transition, from the land of pluralistic culture to a centre of horrific bloodbath and forced migration.

    Put together into a book by Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Stockholm University, and the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, these facts build the theory of ethnic cleansing of minorities during India’s Partition. They use secret British documents and 230 interviews with survivors in both East and West Punjab to reveal how criminal gangs operating at the time coupled with the weak stances taken by partisan politicians and the waning authority of the British led to the death of at least five lakh Punjabi Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The peak period of violence was August to November 1947 when 10 million were forced to cross the border demarcated by the Radcliffe Award.

    “The first case of ethnic cleansing after World War II took place in Punjab. My work is the first academic account on the Partition of Punjab and presents evidence of what happened in East Punjab and West Punjab before and after the transfer of power. The magnitude of the testimonies presented here is incomparable,” Prof Ahmed told The Tribune after he introduced the work at a seminar in Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

    Considering no official documents are available from either India or Pakistan on that period, the work titled "The Punjab, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy Through Secret British Reports and First Person Accounts”, is of extreme importance. Current works on the subject are limited in scope.

    The question the author answers in the new research, which chronicles week to week account of Partition, is why Punjab was partitioned considering it had 53 per cent Muslims, 30 oer cent Hindus and 14 per cent Sikhs.

    “The Punjab Partition puzzle is that the division was agreed upon at an all-India level as part of the overall plan to partition India. In Punjab, the Sikh leaders were adamant that if India was divided on religions lines, so should Punjab be, this when the Punjab province was a Muslim majority province. The Muslim League agreed to the division because had they not, there would have been no Pakistan. But the question is why Punjab had to be partitioned and what led to the communal divide,” says Prof Ahmed .

    The conclusion he draws is that Muslims of undivided Punjab first unleashed violence on the Sikhs and Hindus in the Muslim-majority districts of northern Punjab in March 1947. But at the end of the year, more Muslims had been killed in East Punjab than Hindus and Sikhs in West Punjab.

    “The British ignored repeated warnings from the Punjab Governor who said bloodbath was inevitable were Punjab to be partitioned. Yet troops were not made available. When the Partition process culminated, unwanted religious minorities had been eradicated on both sides,” Ahmed says.

    He says until August 4, 1947, the Punjab administration had reported 5,200 killings. It was after the transfer of power that mass killings began and because the Muslims were attacked much later in July 1947 by Sikhs and Hindus and began migrating to West Punjab (except from Malerkotla) from August 12, they faced larger casualties than the Hindus and Sikhs who began migrating post-March 1947.

    The book chronicles the decline of communal harmony in Punjab with the decline of the Punjab Unionist Party and the rise of the Muslim League. The author quotes records to show how Hardit Singh, the then spokesperson for Sikhs, declined Jinnah’s offer to join Pakistan. “Hardit Singh asked Jinnah what would happen to his word after him, and Jinnah replied that Pakistan would honour his word like the word of God. Hardit Singh knew which side to opt for,” says Prof Ahmed.

    source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130226/punjab.htm#5
     
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  3. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
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    I have been studying Partition for the last few months and have come to this conclusion, as have others before me.

    Some bloodshed was inevitable, given the culture of Punjab and the traumas of forced relocation. The bloodbath that occurred, however, could have been easily avoided.

    Whatever else can be said about the British, they are able organisers and administrators. Had Mountbatten stayed the year he was supposed to, had the British Army overseen the relocation, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved.

    I have never been satisfied with the reasons given for his leaving early. My personal conclusion is that the British were well aware of what would happen and this was punishment to the new countries for daring to stand against His Majesty. Perhaps there was the hope that both countries would be failed states and the British would be invited back. That may not have been a realistic hope, but at that point in history, delusion was a hallmark of British political life. (See the founding of the State of Israel as another example.) It certainly succeeded in getting both Pakistan and India off to a very rocky start as independent nations.

    Clearly I am not a historian and I may be clear out in left field on this, but those are my thoughts.
     
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  4. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Having been born in Ferozepore which is 10 miles away from the Pakistan border, families from my both sides were uprooted. The father's side from Rawalpindi and mother's side from Multan. They had to leave with their clothes on their backs. The stories I heard from Pita ji, my grand dad, Ammi ji and Papa ji were truly heart breaking.

    The pilgrims came from Plymouth, UK to the new world with renewed aspirations, hopes and desires. The Sikh and Hindu families had to run to the unknown world for their own survival with no hopes or aspirations. Thousands of them could not make it and were murdered by the ones who were once their friends and became their arch enemies overnight.

    The ironies of life.
     
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  5. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Punjab and BENGAL were divided by the British to PUNISH these two states and their inhabitants..these TWO were in the FOREFRONT of the battle of Independence..SHUBASH CHANDER BOSE with his Azad Hidn Force japanese allies and all that..and of course the SIKHS with their Ghdar party and various Morchas and all....
    Coupled with the fact that the power greedy POLITICIANS who wanted a Transfer of power at ANY COST - division and massive human losses not withstanding...this blood bath was a tragedy egged on by their EAGERNESS to occupy the Corridors of Power and taste "POWER".
    One more thing is true..it was the SIKHS that SAVED whatever balance of PUNJAB from going to pakistan..otherwise DELHI would have been the Border instead of Lahore..and the Nehru-Patel Gang was perfectly happy to have the Border even at Delhi simply to be in POWER at any cost !!
    And PAKISTAN succeeded more at "ETHNIC CLEANSING" because for one it started EARLY..FEB 1947...at least 6-7 months before anyone else woke up..Gurdwaras were being Burnt and Sikh/Hindus homes being torched in the far OUTLYING REGIONS..by raging mobs who attacked and plundered at night.....and thats why today Pakistan has almost NEGLIGIBLE Hindu'sikh population whereas the INDIAN PUNJAB has a substatntial MUSLIM population and the State of MALERKOTLA was not even TOUCHED during 1947 as a tribute to the "nawab of malerkotla" Sher Mohammed having said in the Court of Wazir Khan of Sirhind..I dont kill children..my fight is with Guru gobind Singh..not 5 year old children...and walking out of teh court in disgust when the deciison w as made to Martyr the 2 younger sons of Guru gobind Singh in the walls of Sirhind. That single act of the Nawab of malerkotla many DECADES EARLIER saved malerkotla and today its still the one and only MUSLIM MAJORITY District in Indian Punjab.
    Its also another Truth that The POLITICIANS on BOTH sides of the Border fear the UNIFICATION of PUNJAB !!! :faujasingh:
     
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  6. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    I don't understand Why so many people believe in conspiracy theories.Both Punjab and Bengal had 50-60% muslim majority and India being divided on religious line where muslim majority area's were going to Pakistan and Hindu to India.Logically both states should had gone to Pakistan but because situation was tense and non muslim minorities were not willing to live with muslims as muslims were not willing to live in India. Partition of those states was inevitable.I don't understand how can anybody even blame Britishers.


    One of the other reason was that Muslim population in East Punjab was quite high while Hindu-Sikh population in West Punjab was barely 18%
     
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  7. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Kds Ji..The truth is sometimes hard to digest..
    Its a fact of History that IF there had been no KHALSA of Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh Ji..the Border of AFGHANISTAN would have been DELHI as early as the 17th Century...
    The Afghan Rulers were walking all over the way to delhi each year..and taking back thousands of Indian Girls and boys as slaves to be sold in Kabul for pennies.. It was Maharaja Ranjit singh and hari Singh nalwa that pushed out the Afghans back from Peshawar and Jamrud !!. This is history and not a conspiracy...but not "politically acceptable" in the Hindu India today..
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    I was not there, nor any member of my family. I have only history books. There it looks just like a conspiracy.... an open conspiracy.

    Imagine 3 cobras in a bag. These are not ordinary cobras. Two of them are visionaries. Ordinary people know they are in there. Ordinary people cannot see what is happening inside. But it is not secret that ...Something is happening inside.

    All 3 cpbras have a a history of enmity. First one out makes a clean get-away. The 2 that can't get out of the bag, are left to define history for the region. None of the 3 will be distracted from their vision of the future and its ultimate objectives by ordinary human suffering.

    Ordinary people are always subject to the collateral damage of great conflicts of visionaries. On the big stage we are expendable resources.
     
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    #7 spnadmin, Feb 26, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  9. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    I was referring to conspiracy theory that Britishers divided Punjab and Bengal just for taking revenge, when there is hardly any proof that Britishers did it just for revenge.Punjab was partitioned because it has two options

    1) The entire Punjab go to Pakistan

    2)Punjab gets divided and East Punjab will be given to non muslims
     
  10. Archived_Member16

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    THE NATIONAL ARCHIVERS: Evaluating partition

    UK High Commissioner Terence Shone writing to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, 14 October 1947 (DO 142/259)

    Transcript
    ( http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/topics/evaluating-partition.htm )

    19. We are, no doubt, still far too much embroiled in the storm of events to be able to view them in perspective or to give a full explanation of why they burst upon us with a force that has seemed almost overwhelming. I have suggested above that on the transfer of power to Indian hands, there was a sudden release of elemental feelings, and of emotions on which the effects of education, or semi-education, and the stimulus exerted for years past by revolutionary leaders cannot yet be gauged. The division of the Old India, which provided the basis for the transfer of power, although agreed to by the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh political leaders, was a grievous disappointment to all three parties. As between the two major communities, it ran counter, on the Hindu side, not only to the fundamental tenets of the Congress Party (let alone the Mahasabha and other political parties and organisations) that India must remain one, but also to a similar feeling in the inmost hearts of large masses of the population including, I should say, not a few Muslims, especially amongst those whose homes and interests are in what is now the Dominion of India. There have always been, and still are, Muslims, including leaders, in the Congress Party; so far as I know, there are no Hindus in the Muslim League. Compensations for Congress, at least, were that the Plan of June 3rd afforded means of getting rid of British rule at the earliest possible date and the hope of creating a strong central Government for what is now the Dominion of India. Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League, on the other only obtained a "truncated, moth-eaten Pakistan" which, however, if far different from the Pakistan of their dreams, they preferred to no Pakistan at all. The ever-deteriorating relations between the leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League had made it clear that collaboration between them in any Central Government was impracticable; and when the only power which had been able to keep them together (if latterly with ever increasing difficulty) set a date for withdrawal, the two main parties were forced to accept the best arrangement they could get. Neither was satisfied; one at least - the Congress - did not, I feel sure, regard the arrangement as lasting.

    20. Painful as it is to say it, I believe it to be true that the two new Dominions were born of antipathy - to use no stronger word - and pressure of circumstances, rather than of desire to forgot the past and face the future in a spirit of mutual co-operation. In the circumstances, as "The Round Table's" leader writer suggests, it would have been a miracle if they had settled down in peace and amity. From the point of view of the Muslims, the partition of the Punjab cut in twain the very heart of Pakistan. The position there was further complicated by the presence of the third party (the Sikhs) who, though relatively small in numbers, had shown signs of being determined to resist the partition of their community by any means in their power.

    They had for long been animated by hatred for the Muslims; and it may be questionable whether their leader in the last Viceroy's Cabinet, Sardar Baldev Singh, was truly representative of his people. Alternatively, he and/or other Sikh leaders may have accepted partition because there was nothing else for it at the time but rebellion (which they had reason to know would then be ruthlessly put down) but with the ulterior design that if opportunity offered, the Sikhs would somehow or other be brought together again. It is one of the main complaints of the Pakistan Government against the Government of India, in their appeal to H.M. Government and the Dominions, that adequate measures have not been taken to curb and control the Sikhs. There can be no doubt that Sikhs have played a prominent part in the slaughter of Muslims, perhaps even more in the Sikh States than in the East Punjab; and the Sikh refugees who have been moving into that province from, the West Punjab in their tens of thousands, have been moving in convoys, with their animals, vehicles and household effects, in quasi-military order, to settle down on the lands from which the Muslims have been expelled. As I have mentioned above, there is plenty of evidence to show that Sikhs have played a leading role amongst the terrorists who came so near to undermining the Central Government in Delhi; it seems certain that some underground organisation was at work to this end (Pandit Nehru has himself referred to the "core" of lawlessness which must be rooted out and dealt with); and there has been much talk of the intention of the Sikhs to create, sooner or later, a "Sikhistan". In the light of recent events, it can hardly be said, with conviction, that there is no basis for the Pakistan Government's complaint in regard to the Sikhs.

    ...
    Communal strife burst upon both new Provinces before they were in a position to grapple with it. This was particularly the case in the East Punjab where, it may be said, the new administration has scarcely ever been able to function. Local conditions were thus all too favourable for passion, anarchy, and chaos. The streams of Hindu and Sikh refugees from West Punjab poured through the East Punjab and carried the germs or communal infection to Delhi and the surrounding country. The Government of East Punjab were virtually helpless; the Central Government were taken unawares; the police were no longer reliable; the Armed Forces, which had to be called in at once to restore some semblance of order and afford some measure of protection to the ever-growing columns of refugees, were still in process of being divided and were becoming infected by the communal virus. Slaughter in one Province led at once to vengeance in the other; but in all the circumstances, whatever the comparative loss of life and destruction of property, as between India and Pakistan, the difficulties on the Indian side were probably the greater.

    source: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/topics/evaluating-partition.htm
     
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  11. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Is there a "Conspiracy" theory in the second-last para above ? Sirdar kapur Singh in his book Sachi Sakhi refers to a highly secret confidential memo form Delhi on .."Sikhs are a lawless terrorist KAUM and an eye should be kept on them and they should NOT be allowed to be settled in East Punjab (as it may make that a Sikh majority state ??) but spread out all over India to dilute their presence.... IS this WHY Nehru vehemently OPPOSED the Legitimate creation of a Language Based PUNJABI SUBA right until the day he died from the shame of losing to the Chinese in 1962 despite his Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai show. PUNJABI was the ONLY Language among the 15 officially recognised langauges denied its own state simply becasue of its association to SIKHS until the Sikhs had proved their "loyalty" again and again in 1947 in kashmir and in 1965 War with pakistan.
    Yes conspiracies and King Cobras were aplenty around this tme..and many still live..happily ever after..Genuine TRUST is still elusive..apologists excluded.
     
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  12. aristotle

    aristotle
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    Whatever be the reason, in my view, Sikhs had to pay the heaviest price.
    Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Rawalpindi (once known as 'Sikhan da Baugh') was lost. Even after entering India, Sikhs faced immediate discrimination (like an ordinance indicting Sikhs for rioting; banning of Punjabi language in schools by the Hindu-majority Jalandhar municipality; rioting of Sikh properties in Amritsar against the banning of tobacco smoking in the city etc.)
    I'm no expert on this topic, but the price we had to pay was too heavy...
     
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  13. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    arsitotle ji...

    SIKHS are still paying that heavy price..even after 65 YEARS....of "Independence"...the stark truth for them is that they did not get Independence..just changed Masters from British to Hindu..as did the rest of India !!!...and the British were NOT as CORRUPT. LAZY..or blood-thirsty !!:swordfight-kudiyan:
     
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