Divide and Quit

Divide and Quit

Divide and Quit

Divide and Quit

Excerpt

The dawn of Indian independence was marred by massacres and migrations in the Punjab on a scale unparalleled in world history in time of peace. Within the space of three or four months thousands were killed or died of privation and millions were compelled to abandon for ever their ancestral homes and to start life afresh in new surroundings. These melancholy events attracted attention at the time, but they were so local in their effects that they have quickly faded from the world's memory. Nor have India and Pakistan been sorry that they should fall into oblivion. Yet though sordid and discreditable in themselves--redeemed, if at all, not by striking deeds of heroism (for the weaker party were everywhere driven like sheep to the slaughter), but only by the dumb, patient endurance of the multitude--these large-scale massacres and migrations were sufficiently unusual to deserve more chronicling than is supplied by contemporary newspaper articles or by second-hand propagandist compilations of atrocity stories. Yet this is virtually the only record of them that has so far appeared.

In this book I have attempted, on the basis of my own recollections of these events, to throw a genuine, if limited, ray of light on both their character and causes. The book falls into two fairly distinct halves. The second half contains a detailed, connected, and in places almost day-to-day account of the disturbances that occurred from the end of August 1947 onwards in the State of Bahawalpur--a territory immediately adjacent to the Punjab--and of the manner in which they were handled or mishandled. There are incidental references to the disorders and migrations that were simultaneously in progress throughout the Punjab, but no attempt has been made to give a comprehensive--and necessarily second-hand--account of these. The narrative is confined almost entirely to my own limited but first-hand experience of the troubles in Bahawalpur. Within this narrow scope it is a faithful and authentic record of what . . .

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