Untold Stories of Loss in India's Partition

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Regarding the March 12 front-page article "India's Survivors of Partition Begin to Break Long Silence":

The partition of India in 1947 ranks with the Holocaust as one of the most tragic events of the 20th century. But while the Holocaust has been documented exhaustively, coverage of the 1947 partition has been very limited within India and virtually nonexistent elsewhere. Yet the countries created as a result of these two events -- Pakistan (the eastern half of which became Bangladesh) and Israel -- lie at the root of the greatest security threat confronting the world today: Islamist terrorism. The Palestinian situation has been a cause celebre of Islamist militants, including al-Qaeda, for years, and numerous terrorist plots since Sept. 11, 2001, have had a connection to Pakistan.

Among the 14 million people displaced as a result of the Indian partition were two families with young boys destined to make their families famous: the Singhs and the Musharrafs. It must be noted that India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, was born in what is now Pakistan, and Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, was born in Delhi.

I was born soon after partition on the Indian side of the subcontinent to parents who had lost their home, their business and their land because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had to flee because they were Hindus in West Punjab, a Muslim area that became part of Pakistan. When I was growing up, they were building a new life from scratch. I remember women whose sons and husbands had been killed before their eyes. I remember meeting divided families whose members had been lost during partition -- never to be seen or heard from again. There are millions of such tales.


Duluth, Ga.

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