History and Historiography

What Really Caused the Violence of Partition?

Inter-tribal warfare is really not a good plan.

By Guneeta Singh Bhalla, The Diplomat

“I still don’t know what happened,” remarks Ranjit Kaur toward the end of our interview.

“Why did we have to move?” she softly asks, staring at me, then through me, as her voice trailed off. Her gaze turned down toward her folded hands and she paused. She is genuinely perplexed, I can tell.

More than 70 years have passed and she hasn’t been able to reconcile Partition in her mind. Her family was attacked by a mob in their ancestral village in Narowal district, West Punjab, when they fled. She looked up at me again and her gaze hit me like a bolt. A lump began to swell in my throat but I fought it back. So many thoughts streamed through my mind: How unfair was this history? How could she live her full life in exile still wondering, seven decades later?

But this isn’t Kaur’s story alone. As she reminds me, “The only consolation was that millions of us were in this together.”


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