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A line on the map: Recounting tales from partition

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

EvictbonusarmyAfter the draconian rule of the Britishers for a stint of 200 years -that had fettered the citizenry of the country, 15th of August 1947 came as a relief for many. Citizens across the board were found jubilating over the newfound independence, an independence that had unshackled a million out of the clutches of the colonial rule. At the crack of dawn the newly independent country was imbued with an essence of revelry, with speeches of the sought after freedom fighters orchestrating the sovereign alleys.

However, the looked-for independence had struck a staccato of delirium, hounding the people of the country with the imminent peril of partition. The country was still in sync with revelry when its citizens were forced to abandon their abodes, property and livestock, attuning to the geographical divide which resulted in the formation of Pakistan and India.

Despite toeing the 68th year of Independence, there are people who still find themselves in a dither while retrieving those shrivelled memories of independence. The twitch on their faces unravels a sense of woes attached to the bygone days of freedom.

Roshan Lal Thackral
Roshan Lal Thackral

Dipping his coveted Parle-G biscuit into his cup of black coffee, the garrulous 80-year-old Roshan Lal Thackral unfolded his treasure trove; a trove filled with memories of the past. Recalling his experience of the country’s much awaited independence on the 15th of August 1947, he said, “Independence for me was nothing less than a death knell which kicked off a journey of hysteria, pain and sufferings. With the country’s independence knocking at the door, the tremors of partition seemed to crack down upon us- me, my family and my fellow countrymen- with a seemingly impending danger waiting at the other end of the threshold.”

Flipping through the withered pages of past, he further lamented, “We were forced to leave Multan. I was in class six then; the Strum and Drang that was unleashed by partition had left us tongue tied. The seething tension in the newly formed Pakistan wasn’t conducive for us Hindus.”

“I still remember how my father Bhagat Parmanand ji left no stone unturned in an attempt at salvaging the Hindus settled in Multan from the perils of partition. He was the last one to board the India-bound train; he made it sure that each and every Hindu from Multan or nearby villages was transported to India safe and sound,” he retailed.

Dhinanath Gogia
Dhinanath Gogia

Expatiating the long-lost moments of struggle, Dhinanath Gogia who had testified partition as a toddler lamented, “We were not in a position to celebrate our independence. We were forced out of our houses. We had to struggle a lot initially. Most of the refugees like us had taken to the streets of Old Delhi. In order to make both ends meet, we had to take up menial jobs.”

“My elder brother used to inflate balloons and I used to sell them near the temple,” interrupted old Thackral. “We wouldn’t have stood our grounds hadn’t it been for the Indian government. The government made sure that each and every one of us ended up with land and food. The entire stretch of G.B.Road and Kamala Market was rendered to the refugees, they were allotted houses and shops,” recalled Thackral.

“I was 10-year-old in the year 1947. We were left to ourselves; the Indian government didn’t do its bit to save us from the precariousness. Both Hindus and Muslims had to go through terrible circumstances. Trains carrying Hindu passengers were vandalized, they were set ablaze,” recollected the puckered face Harish Mukki with his eyes still reflecting the pangs of partition.

“I would never like to go back to Pakistan. I am happy here in India. For me bygones are bygones and I do not intend to jaunt in those alleys of Pakistan which force me to stumble upon dreadful memories of partition,” Thackral added.

On the contrary Mukki had a different idea of Pakistan. He revels in the fact that he was bestowed with a warm welcome on his last visit to the country in the year 2000. He was happy to gab with his friends settled in Pakistan. “People still remember me over there and I couldn’t feel any form of agnosticism pervading our reunion. I was happy to junket in those streets which drove me back to my childhood,” he said.

Therefore, even though the crack of dawn on the 15th of August brought with itself freedom and exempted Indians of incessant misery and bondage, the surging climate wasn’t all hunky-dory. There was an India which was still bemoaning at the country’s uncalled partition; a partition which kicked off an era of neo colonial politics with people still being fettered by territorial limits and communal propositions.

However, fending off politics and territorial hegemony, their voices in unison reiterated their faith in the country, hailing “Hamara Bharat Mahan, Jai Hind!”

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Star ICC Asks Anonymous Accuser Of Sexual Assault Charges To Step Forward

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were "clear instructions" given to make the sales team fulfil the targets.

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Star ICC
#MeToo: Star India internal panel writes to anonymous accuser to come forward

The Internal Complaints Committee of Star India on Sexual Harassment (Star ICC) has written to the anonymous accuser — who had alleged “sexual exploitation” of women employees — asking her to reach out to the committee or its external member on allegations made by her in tweets.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Star ICC, formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 said it had reached out to the accuser through two emails on the ID provided by her through her tweets. The committee’s external member is Veena Gowda, a Mumbai-based woman rights lawyer.

The accuser, who tweeted through handle @ApurvaS17 — saying she would remain anonymous — had made sexual harassment allegations against the company’s officials in an open letter.

Star ICC
Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a Star India spokesperson said in a statement that despite no response by the anonymous accuser to the messages sent, the Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy” in respect of the allegations.

“We strongly urge any genuine complainant to approach the Star ICC. At Star, we stand with women in drawing the line on any behaviour that violates human dignity or the ability for women to pursue their dreams with respect and freedom. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment,” read the statement in response to an email query by IANS.

It also said that the anonymous tweet shared on October 13 raised an allegation that “runs completely counter to everything we believe in and the norms and values that we deeply embrace.”

The statement further said: “Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt to malign and defame the reputation of the company and the CEO.” It said that Star reserves its right to initiate appropriate legal proceedings in this regard.

Star ICC
The Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy.

The accuser in her tweets had said that the #MeToo movement had encouraged her to come forward and that she had quit her job at Star India in the Airtime Sales section after 26 months and nine days and was now a homemaker, “taking care of my baby and hubby in a beautiful country, far away from Mumbai.”

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were “clear instructions” given to make the sales team fulfil the targets in case they want to continue with their employment contract, “for which even if you have to take the clients to a hotel room and sleep with them for days.”

She said there were many instances when she and three of her female colleagues (interns) had clear instructions to reach a hotel after office hours for a private party hosted for influential friends.

Also Read: India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

She says the influential friends were “mostly bureaucrats and sometimes politicians and foreign nationals” who were “all ready to violate you, force you to dance against your wishes, drink with them, make drink(s) for them, exchange your numbers and even quietly accompany them to their respective rooms if they want you to”.

Veteran writer-director Vinta Nanda, who earlier this month accused actor Alok Nath of sexually violating her 19 years ago, wrote on Twitter: “I’m neither shocked nor surprised. I salute your courage to have come out and spoken out. The rot runs deep.” (IANS)