Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that the 14th of August, henceforth, shall be recognized as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’. It is the first time in the history of Independent India that the horrors of the partition of the country in 1947 has received institutional recognition from the highest seat of government in the country.
Naturally, certain people are not too happy with the development. Atul Khatri, apparently comedian, but terribly unfunny if he is indeed one, questioned who even wanted to remember the horrors of partition, in a tone that mocked the Prime Minister of India.
Apart from the comedian, there was also a former journalist who took offense at the recognition of the horrors of partition. She accused Prime Minister Modi of polarising Independence Day through the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.
Then there was the Stanley Pignal who claimed that Prime Minister Modi was celebrating “Partition Horrors Celebration Day”. It appears he does not realise that people do not celebrate horrors, they recall them with solemn remembrance as a memory of the tragedy that they were forced to endure.
Of course, there are some Pakistanis who are not pleased as well. But that is only to be expected as the date collides with their independence day. Nonetheless, there is good reason why people of a ‘secular’ bent are not happy with the official recognition of the horrors of partition.
The foundation of Indian Secularism is built atop the corpses of Hindus who were raped, massacred and butchered during the Independence Era. Post-independence, we were fed a heady cocktail of Congress propaganda that valourised their struggles against the British, and totally negated the fact that they were utterly incompetent at preventing the atrocities committed against Hindus.
In order for their political careers to succeed, the Congress tried extremely hard to create an ‘alternative history’ for the citizens of India where the horrors of partition were relegated to the dustbins of history.
Instead, Jawaharlal Nehru was presented as Marvel’s Iron Man without the suit and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as the second coming of Jesus Christ. Even those who had actively participated in the horrors were either pardoned or accommodated into the newly created Indian Union.
But be that as it may, the partition of the country affected every single Indian, whether directly or indirectly. And after 74 years, we have crores of citizens who are descendants of those who had to endure the horrors at the time and of those who had to flee their native land and migrate to India to secure a better future.
A tragedy of that scale could never be washed away. With the passage of time, however, maintaining a silence over the horrors of partition has become a cornerstone of Indian Secularism because, apparently, speaking of the tragedy would ‘spark communal disharmony’ and ‘hurt Muslim sentiments’.
On one hand, it is claimed that Indian Muslims had nothing to do with partition and on the other hand, it is claimed that speaking of the horrors would cause communal disharmony. It just does not make any sense, but then, neither does Indian Secularism.
As a wise man once said, “What began as a tragedy shall end as a farce.” According to Indian liberals, Islamists worldwide are always the victims and never the aggressors and therefore, we must not broach any subject that might portray them in a negative light.
Denial of the tragedy of the Hindu community is, obviously, the cornerstone of the brand of Secularism liberals espouse. They fail to realise that the reason why Indians hate Pakistan is due to the events of the partition era. They fail to realise that the dream of Akhand Bharat is so alluring to so many because a significant section of Indians have their ancestral lands in places that today lie in Bangladesh or Pakistan.
They fail to realise that mere pages of history books cannot silence the cries of millions and millions of people. Prime Minister Modi only paid homage to those who had to endure torture beyond recognition during the partition of the country. And in doing so, he has institutionalised a part of our history that has remained buried for far too long. It was long overdue, indeed, but it is better late than never.