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Diary of Partition Days

- Ramanjit Singh

Map of "Panjab" from Pope, G. U. (1880), Text-book of Indian History: Geographical Notes, Genealogical Tables, Examination Questions, London: W. H. Allen & Co. Pp. vii, 574, 16 maps

A digitized collection of historical books on Punjab is available in the Panjab Digital Library (based in Chandigarh, Punjab). There are series of books on the subject of Partition such as growing religious tensions starting in 1946, the Punjab Boundary Commission reports of 1947, train massacres in west and east Punjab, and personal accounts of the refugees. This library provides a wealth of information for your own research and knowledge.


Link to books related to the Partition:


The most interesting books are related to the simmering religious tensions that boiled over in 1946 and in early part of 1947. One could sense the explosive nature of the mistrust among the communities, the hate speeches of the leaders, especially from the Muslim League, and the complete breakdown of governance. It seems that the British were deliberately creating an atmosphere for a civil war. It was as if we were all in a runaway train that was speeding into an abyss.


One of the books that is available in the digital library is 'Diary of Partition Days', authored by Dr. Ganda Singh, one of the most respected Punjabi historian, honored with Padma Bhushan and author of several books on India, documented the events of Partition starting from 1946 to 1947. He has documented the hate speeches, the preparation for violence and the crumbling law and order situation in Punjab.


Excerpts:

"This diary was written by me during the most eventful days of the present century from the Panjab point of view. The upheaval that the country saw immediately before and after its division in 1947 is unparalleled in its history. From what I heard from several first-hand secret sources in 1946 and 1947 ... I felt that something extraordinary was about to happen. This prompted me to be more regular in recording day to day events in greater detail."


If you read this book, one realizes how precarious the lives of innocent Punjabis became in such a toxic environment. The entire administration crumbled into factions each jostling for power. The minorities on both sides of Punjab were left with no one to defend them. In the vast expanse of the Punjab plains, the minority villages of Hindus, Sikhs in west Punjab and that of the Muslims in east Punjab were surrounded by extremists that were vying for their blood. The Partition was not just a separation of communities but it was meant to erase any memory of the "other" from both sides of Punjab forever.


The elements of an impending civil war were quite evident for every one to see in 1946. Daily stabbings in Lahore and Amritsar, the murders in Northwest Frontier had already started in late 1946. Agitation for and against Pakistan led to riots in Lahore in March of 1947. The brutal countdown to this civil war started in Rawalpindi district in March of that fateful year when thousands of Sikhs and Hindus were massacred. The killings too started in district Multan during the same month.


The situation in central Punjab, in the districts of Lahore and Amritsar was dire and looked like a powder keg that was ready to explode at any given moment. I would further venture by saying that the main individuals who were specifically from the central Punjab region were fermenting the most hatred and xenophobia among the communities. Much less so in the outer parts of Punjab, but more so in the central parts of Punjab. Probably this area was core to the Punjabi conscience, more densely populated, this is where the religious divisions mattered the most. Probably it was here that one's victory over the other mattered the most.


Lahore and Amritsar were sister cities, both a mirror image of each other, both representing the idea of Punjab from a point of view of a Muslim, a Hindu or a Sikh. It is here where the bloody carnage for and against Pakistan was most ferocious and unrelenting. It was indeed in these two cities and districts, where the violence and loss of human life was most staggering. The large scale violence in June and July of 1947 was just a preview of what was going to come in the month of August, Our Eternal August.


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