On the 14th of August, Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day. It is the day when Pakistan, the Islamic State, was carved out of India after a blood-soaked partition, based on the two-nation theory that asserted that Muslims and Hindus cannot co-exist in the same country because Muslims are a country unto themselves. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended that silence by institutionalising the conversation around the partition by announcing 14th August to be observed as #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay.
Taking to Twitter, PM Narendra Modi announced that 14th August would henceforth be celebrated as Vibhishika Memorial Day or #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay.
देश के बंटवारे के दर्द को कभी भुलाया नहीं जा सकता। नफरत और हिंसा की वजह से हमारे लाखों बहनों और भाइयों को विस्थापित होना पड़ा और अपनी जान तक गंवानी पड़ी। उन लोगों के संघर्ष और बलिदान की याद में 14 अगस्त को 'विभाजन विभीषिका स्मृति दिवस' के तौर पर मनाने का निर्णय लिया गया है।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 14, 2021
The Prime Minister said, “The pain of partition of the country can never be forgotten. Because of hatred and violence, lakhs of our sisters and brothers were displaced and even lost their lives. In memory of the struggle and sacrifice of those people, it has been decided to celebrate 14th August as ‘Vibhishika Memorial Day'”
He further tweeted, “#PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay This day will not only inspire us to eliminate the poison of discrimination, animosity and ill-will, but it will also strengthen unity, social harmony and human sensibilities”.
The partition was outlined in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj. According to official numbers, at least 2 million lives were lost during the partition and 10-20 million people were displaced. The unofficial numbers are much higher than the official ones.
Even the run-up to the partition was littered with the blood of Hindus. The Khilafat movement, supported by MK Gandhi, was introduced into the district of Malabar on 28 April 1920, by a Resolution at the Malabar District Conference, held at Manjeri, the headquarters of Ernad Taluk. What followed was a massacre of Hindus of proportions that is still seldom discussed. From the August 20, 1921 to 1922, lakhs of Hindus were murdered, women raped and burnt by Muslims who wanted to establish a Caliphate in Kerala.
Not just this, Direct Action Day saw the murder of thousands of Hindus in West Bengal after Mohammad Ali Jinnah had given a call to massacre Hindus to establish Bengal as the first Muslim state. The Noakhali massacre that followed also saw the murder and rape of thousands of Hindus.
During this entire dance of death, the Indian establishment at the time, that included Jawaharlal Nehru and MK Gandhi maintained stoic silence and let the Hindus perish. In fact, even after the massacres and the blood-soaked partition, Nehru ensures that full population exchange was halted even though most Hindus and Sikhs were either driven out of Pakistan or murdered brutally.
The silence surrounding the horrors of the partition, the radicalism of the Muslim population that led to the partition, the betrayal of the Indian leaders that led to the blood of Hindus flowing like water and the subsequence consequences of the nation being torn on the lines of religion and then, Hindus being asked to accept their massacre in the name of brotherhood and more, has seldom been discussed. The silence around the subject in the name of ‘secularism’ has left deep, unresolved scars that can perhaps only heal when the conversation around the partition is institutionalised.