13 June, 2021

The Fear And Loathing

New narrative vigour and fresh insights into a theme that's been reduced to a static tale of suffering

The Fear And Loathing
Nobody knows how many died during Partition violence; G.D. Khosla, a civil servant, estimates the death toll at half a million. Nobody knows for sure how many were displaced and dispossessed. Roughly speaking, between 1946 and 1951, nearly nine million Hindus and Sikhs came to India, and about six million Muslims went to Pakistan. Of the nine million, five million came from what became West Pakistan, and four million from East Pakistan. For three months, between August and October 1947, Punjab was engulfed in a civil war.

By 1951, nearly 3,29,000 Muslims in Delhi had headed off to Karachi. The city’s Muslim population was thus reduced from 33.22 per cent in 1941 to 5.71 per cent a decade later. Most who stayed sought shelter in refugee camps. Thousands were herded within the walls of the Purana Qila with no proper shelter or sanitary arrangements. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, then living in Old Delhi, saw Muslims "waiting for the evacuating lorries with vacant looks in their eyes, disregarding the rain and the storm, as if their only thought were to...

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