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10,000 partition stories to be added to ‘The 1947 Partition Archives’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

partitionWashington: During India-Pakistan partition in 1947, Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah sent a message to renowned Indian author Khushwant Singh asking him to stay in Lahore and become a high court judge, an offer he declined and decided to move to Delhi.

“I drove on a totally empty road, blank road, all the way to Delhi. I didn’t see a soul till I reached Delhi,” he told 21 year old Manleen Sandhu before his death in March 2014 relating his personal experience of Partition.

“Jinnah sent a message to me through my father–he was his friend–to stay on in Lahore and become a high court judge. I was a lawyer.”

“Bad times. No humanity at all…After Partition I returned to Lahore many times. I had no venom against anyone,” he said shaking his head as he explained his decision to move amid escalating violence.

Khushwant Singh’s story is among nearly 2000 stories comprising over 4000 hours of video footage recorded by citizen historians like Sandhu for ‘The 1947 Partition Archive’.

What began as a small grassroots effort to preserve the disappearing memory of Partition, at the University of California at Berkeley in 2011, has quickly spread across the globe to 157 cities where Partition witnesses reside.

Young, tech savvy citizen historians train to record oral histories and spread out in their communities with their phones or any other recording device as part of what has become the largest known oral history collection of South Asian memories.

Today a majority of the stories come from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, though many pour in from diasporic communities spread across Europe, North America, the Middle East and Australia.

They’re telling of how far refugees scattered in search of a stable life following Partition.

With those who were teenagers at the time of Partition, in their 80’s now, The 1947 Partition Archive has announced a manifesto to record 10,000 stories through 2017, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Partition.

The people-powered Archive relies in part on trained volunteers, or citizen historians, for recording the stories, according to a media release.

To accelerate the recording of stories and reach the 10,000 story goal, the Archive is announcing its next call for story scholars, a ten month long concentrated story collection fellowship programme.

Anyone who has attended a free training to become a citizen historian and recorded a story is eligible to apply. Applications opened on Aug 30 and the deadline to apply is Oct 31.

An anonymous donor, feeling the urgency for recording stories, has endowed the programme with $100,000 which will fund the field work and back-end archiving for 10 story scholars. Together they will record 1800 stories.

As founding donor Dr. Narinder Kapany, an Indian-born American physicist known for his work in fibre optics, says, “Partition affected every community. Stories of Partition are everyone’s stories. And time is of the essence to make them known.”

The Archive will begin releasing the stories for public viewing in 2017.

The Archive’s long term plans include building Centres for Learning on Partition that combine tolerance education, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It will be launching its task force for institutionalising the memory of partition later in 2015.

The first exhibit based on The Archive’s stories launched in 2014 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

With inputs from IANS

Next Story

ISIS Announces New India and Pakistan Provinces

The "Islamic State Pakistan Province," in communiques issued via its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer

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ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
FILE- An Islamic State flag is captured in this photo illustration. VOA

The Islamic State group says it has established a “province” in Pakistan, days after the terrorist organization used the name “Hind Province” for an attack it claimed in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region.

Both of the divisions formerly fell under the “Khorasan Province” or ISKP — the name the Middle East-based terrorist group uses for its regional operations launched in early 2015 from bases in the border region of Afghanistan — according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist threats.

The “Islamic State Pakistan Province,” in communiques issued via its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer this week in Mastung, and it reported shooting at a gathering of militants linked to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban militant group in Quetta.

Both the districts are located in violence-hit Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. Several separatist Baluch groups and sectarian organizations also are active in the province.

ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
FILE – Rescue workers and army soldiers gather at the site of a blast at a vegetable market in Quetta, Pakistan, April 12, 2019. VOA

There was no immediate reaction available from the Pakistani government.

Islamabad maintains there is no “organized” presence of IS in the country. Pakistani military officials say an ongoing nationwide military-led “intelligence-based operation” is primarily aimed at denying space in Pakistan to extremists linked to any terrorist groups.

The group released no details about the boundaries of the territory it is now claiming. In previous Islamic State propaganda, all of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan, parts of modern Iran and Central Asia make up the so-called Khorasan Province. IS also has spoken about creating its own chapter for the Indian subcontinent.

Marketplace expolsion

IS also took responsibility for last month’s suicide blast in a marketplace in Quetta city that killed 20 people and left nearly 50 injured. The targets of the attack were members of the ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslim community.

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On Friday, IS declared in a statement via Amaq the creation of “Hind Province,” while taking responsibility for clashes with Indian forces in Amshipora in the Shopian district of Kashmir.

IS has increased attacks lately in the region, including taking credit for the group’s Easter Sunday first-ever bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people.

Observers say altering its provincial structure and fragmenting the “Khorasan Province” by IS could be aimed at bolstering its credentials after losing its “caliphate” in Syria and Iran, where the terrorists at one point used to control thousands of miles of territory.

“As ISIS [one of several acronyms used for IS] seeks to build and restructure foundations of insurgencies across the globe after its losses in Iraq and Syria, it is attempting to recruit also from Pakistan, a country with an existing jihadi militant population,” tweeted Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group.

ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
the terrorist organization used the name “Hind Province” for an attack it claimed in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region. Wikimedia Commons

The suspected rebranding of ISKP comes as the United Nations earlier this week designated the “Khorasan Province” as a global terrorist, noting the group was formed in January 2015 by former members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who pledged allegiance to Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISIS/ISIL.

The United States has already blacklisted ISKP as a foreign terrorist organization, and American troops are conducting regular airstrikes against the group’s bases in Afghanistan with the help of local forces, killing thousands of militants.

Analysts say American counterterrorism airstrikes and clashes with the Afghan Taliban have prevented ISKP from expanding its regional influence and the rebranding strategy could have stemmed from those challenges.

“Khorasan chapter has been struggling to establish a footprint in Afghanistan and the region in general, and they may be following al-Qaida’s strategy to create regional affiliates,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, who heads Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace and Studies (PIPS). (VOA)