Tuesday January 21, 2020
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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!”

Next Story

Mercy for the Nirbhaya Rapists?

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past.

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Nirbhaya
The Nirbhaya incident in Delhi was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India.

By Salil Gewali

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past. Apart from various kinds of physical tortures, the mental tortures undergone by defenseless females are endless. Within the confinement of four-walls innumerable sins are still being committed which mostly go unreported. However, it was Nirbhaya’s rape incident in Delhi that was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India. Post-Nirbhaya incident, a lot many changes in the laws have been made. The safety and security of women have been prioritized, the nation-wide the whole police departments have been sensitized, to a greater extent the road transportation has been made women-friendly.

Nirbhaya rape
The public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night.

Thanks to the countless number of protests across the country condemning the six rapists. The people from all walks of life came together and relentlessly pressurized the government that the Nirbhaya convicts must be awarded capital punishment. Media’s contribution in the campaign is immeasurable. Alas, India’s judiciary is so annoyingly slow it has taken over 7 years to pronounce the death sentence.

Nirbhaya rape
Advocate Indira Jaising suggested that the convicts of Nirbhaya rape case could be “forgiven” by the parents.

However, now nothing could be so mind-blowing than the flood of condemnation against the comments by a veteran advocate and social activist Indira Jaising. Without a sense of guilt and potential backlash, she suggested that the convicts be “forgiven” by the parents. Jaising’s idea has clearly touched a raw nerve of the major population in the country. People’s anger is spilled well over social media. What is most noteworthy is the scathing condemnation directly from the horse mouth — the mother Asha Devi. A very bold lady, who determinedly fought for justice for so many years, thunders – “Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Just because of people like her, justice is not done with rape victims,” Asha Devi aptly further adds — “Can’t believe how Jaising even dared to suggest such this; I met her many times over the years in Supreme Court, “not once” she asked for my well-being and today she is speaking for convicts. Such people earn a livelihood by supporting rapists; hence rape incidents don’t stop,”

The latter comments by the Nirbhaya’s mother clearly hint the doubt at the “integrity” of the advocate Ms. Jaising. How on earth that one who has not spoken a word of sympathy in spite of many encounters in the court can reserves the right to suggest that which offends the distressed victim party. Asha Devi deserves a salute for her boldness. Yes, India Jaising is one of the advocates who knocked the door of the Chief Justice of India in the middle of the night in July 2015 in order to seek the mercy for the dreaded terrorist Yakub Menon.

Nirbhaya rapists
In 2015, the Delhi Government proposed to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine.

Again, here is another bombshell to drop which many of us may have forgotten. Can we ever “forgive” for the shocking proposal in 2015 by Delhi Government to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine?  Who has approved such bizarre ideas and which leaders are responsible? What kind of lesson should the citizens take from this?

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I think the public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night. They had used the iron-rod to inflict deep injuries upon the girl which is unspeakable, which is very unpardonable. So, given the increasing cases of rapes and subsequent inhumane cruelty and cold-blooded killings, Capital punishment can be the only answer and “one of the deterrents”. Before the divine retribution, the hard rod of punishment should not be spared at all. 

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali