Punjab Research Group

International Conference on “1947 : RETHINKING” 13th – 14th March, 2015

Posted in Conferences, Partition by Pippa on February 15, 2015

1947: Rethinking

Organised by Department of History, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra

For participation and further details please contact:-

Director of the Conference:

Prof. Amarjit Singh, Chairman, Department of History, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra-136119 (Haryana) (M) – 098121-84925

Landline No (s) – 01744-238410, 238196, 238679, Extn. 2558 & 2559 (Office)

 

Organizing Secretaries:

Dr. Nandini Bashistha, Assistant Professor, Dept. of History, K.U.Kurukshetra (M) – 09729074479

Mr. Dharamveer Saini, Assistant Professor, Department of History, K.U.Kurukshetra (M) – 097288-61900

 

Email:

chairperson.history@kuk.ac.in

amarjitsingh_45@yahoo.co.in

Please attached for full details:Concept Note-1, Information regarding International Conference-1

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Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten by Rajmohan Gandhi

Posted in New Publications, News/Information, Partition by Pippa on February 17, 2014

The politics of exclusion By Sarmad Sehbai

Posted in Articles, Partition, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on January 21, 2014

This is an old article but worth sharing here:

Tossing the empty bottle he shouts,                                                          

‘Oh world! Your beauty is your ugliness.’                                                  

The world stares back at him                                                                  

Their bloodshot eyes rattle with the question                                          

‘Who nabs the pillar of time                                                                        

By the noose of his drunken breath?                                                      

Who dares to break into dim corridors                                                        

Of twisted conscience?                                                                            

Who intrudes upon poisonous dens                                                            

Of demonised souls?                                                                        

Through icy glasses his rude glance                                                                    

Chases us like a footfall                                                                            

Foul monster!’                                                                                        

Bang! Bang!                                              -Majeed Amjad, Poem for Manto

Saadat Hasan Manto, a red rag to both conservative and progressive writers, was feared by the reactionary press, the state and the literary mafias of his times. All his life he fought the bigoted social reformers, ideologues and religious fanatics, facing various court trials with a heroic smile. His characters were not the mouthpieces of ready-made truths who would sermonise from a pulpit as saviours; neither Noori na Naari, neither angelic nor satanic, Manto’s Adam was born out of mud.

Manto spent the prime of his youth in Bombay and Delhi where he celebrated his poverty and prosperity, his successes and failures with the same zest for life. In 1948, betrayed by his friends, Manto decided to leave Bombay and move to Pakistanin the hope of a better life in the new country. He was disturbed by the communal riots and the gruesome scenes he had witnessed during the migration. With his failing health and two dependent daughters, he couldn’t figure out his whereabouts: “all day long I would sit on the chair lost in my thoughts not knowing what to do.”Lahore was far from welcoming. The doors of Radio Pakistan were closed to him and the reactionary press was hounding him for his bold writings. After a few months he wrote Thanda Gosht for which another trial was ready for him.

Manto could have survived all those slams and slurs but what threw him into total despair was the attitude of his own friends who expelled him from the Progressive Writers Association (PWA) in 1949. What had created panic among the progressives was first, a book Siyah Haashiye, and then Urdu Adab, a literary journal, through which Manto included writers from all schools of thought without bias. Siyah Haashiye was a book of black jokes about the callous killings during the riots. It showed a terrifying despair where one could not tell laughter from a scream. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, the secretary-general of the Punjab branch of PWA, said after reading the book, “What I can see is a field littered with dead bodies where the writer is stealing cigarette butts and money from their pockets.” Qasmi’s critique was as callous as the callousness of the characters in the book.

On the publication of Urdu Adab, edited jointly by Muhammad Hasan Askari and Manto, Qasmi as the spokesman of the PWA, wrote  an open letter to the latter: “Get rid of the opium of art for art’s sake; bring Askari into your fold by converting him to the art for life. Our movement is based on owning, understanding and respecting the suffering of the masses.” Qasmi guided Manto like a protective father, fearing that Manto could be spoilt by Askari’s “influence of decadent French writers like Baudelaire, André Gide and Flaubert.”

In November 1949, at the all-Pakistan conference of PWA, a resolution was passed against certain writers including Hasan Askari, Manto and, according to Abdul Salam Khurshid, Qurratulain Hyder, whose name was later withdrawn. While Manto didn’t react directly at the time, he later (1951) wrote in Jaib-e-Kafan, “I was angry that Alif (Qasmi) had misunderstood me, doubted my intentions … I am depressed. I earn through my writings by working day and night. I have my wife and children, if they fall sick and if I were to beg for money going door to door I will be really disturbed. Art is autonomous and is an end in itself. It’s no one’s monopoly and it cannot be hegemonised by ideology. The government takes me as a communist and the communists take me as a reactionary.” Probably during the same period he wrote his epitaph which was inspired by Ghalib’s couplet, “ya rab zamana mujh ko mitata hey kis liay/loh-e-jahaan pe harf-e-mukkarrar nahin hoon mein [Oh God, why is Time rubbing me off? I am not a letter twice written on the slate of the world].”

Urdu Adab was closed down after the publication of only two issues. In the first two issues both the progressive and non-progressive writers were published but soon after an ‘office order’ by the PWA forced the progressive writers to boycott the journal. Many of them requested Manto to return their work to them. A desperate and visibly intimidated Arif Abdul Matin wrote to Manto, “for God’s sake return the manuscript of my play; it is no longer possible for me to get it published in Urdu Adab as our union has decided not to cooperate with certain writers.” Qasmi also withdrew his request for Manto’s story which earlier he had wanted to publish in Nuqoosh: “I had asked for your story before the decision by the union to avoid publishing those authors who don’t agree with the progressive movement.”

Why was Manto considered a threat to the progressives? Could it be ‘obscenity’ that had offended them in the context of the newly-founded Islamic Republic of Pakistan? But Faiz Ahmed Faiz had appeared in his defence at the trial of Thanda Gosht, and had not found the story obscene. According to Intizar Hussain, writing in Saadat Hussan Manto — After 50 Years published by GC University,Lahorein 2005, the reason for Manto’s exclusion “was all about the reaction of progressives to the Partition of India.” Quoting Askari, he says, “the progressives in their opposition to Partition were implying that had there been no demand for a Muslim country there would have been no communal riots.” Even this doesn’t appear plausible. If the progressives were not in favour of a Muslim state, why would Faiz, a staunch progressive, be the first and one of the very few commissioned officers who opted for the newly established state of Pakistan, and continued his job with the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Public Relations? And why would he write an editorial in The Pakistan Times on “the glorious role” of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in “the birth of a major state and the liberation of a major nation.”

In Siyah Haashiye or Urdu Adab, Manto did not appear to advocate a separate country but simply brought out the barbaric humour out of the killing of people in the name of religion. Manto in his writings had never defended one religion against another. Mozel, a Jewish woman, dies while saving a young Sikh, Tirlochan. While she is dying, Tirlochan tries to cover her naked body with his turban, but she sneers back: “Take away your religion.” In Thanda Gosht, it is the “wretched blood” of the wounded Ishar Singh that topples religion, caste and race. As to the demand forPakistan, Manto who had property in Amritsar didn’t claim anything after Partition except for an ice store inLahoreand that too was denied to him.

“Those who were talking of freedom of expression were resented by the progressives,” says Syed in Noori na Naari. But why should the progressives resent Manto when in their manifesto they had committed “to promote the freedom of expression”? They were struggling for the freedom of expression and so was he; they were “respecting the suffering of the masses” and he was going through suffering; they were talking about poverty and he was living it; they were romanticising the fallen man and Manto himself was the fallen man. So what caused such a reaction to the most gifted short story writer of his times? Muzaffar Ali Syed further elaborates, “immediately after the Second World War, the leaders of bourgeoisie socialism were ready to collaborate with the bourgeoisie — they were willing to sacrifice Mira ji, Manto and [Noon Meem] Rashid.”

Perhaps all that has been said are mere polemics of their times but there could be more than meets the eye…

Sometime in the mid-1930s, on a foggy “Night in London,” young Sajjad Zaheer saw “The Light.” In Nanking restaurant, amongst a coterie of like-minded male writers, Zaheer, lovingly called Banne Miaan, announced the manifesto of the PWA. Zaheer’s novel A Night in London established him as an icon of social commitment. The novel featured Hiren Pal, a committed freedom fighter who leaves his beloved Sheila Green to pursue the ideals beyond the love of a woman. This motif became a template for the progressive writers, “Aur bhi gham hein zamanay mein mohabat kay siwa [There are other woes in the world, apart from the woes of love]”.

The ‘othering’ of the female to assert the progressive mission created a binaric schizophrenia between the love of woman and social reality. The deferral of anima, the feminine side of male, is to repress the mother, the womb, the unconscious and to assert the father. As [French psychoanalyst] Lacan states, “When ideologues preach, they assert the patriarchy and it’s phallic.” Manto renames Qasmi as Alif, the vertical alphabet of Urdu language. The unbending thrust of ‘Alif’ is suggestive of phallic oppression. In his playful irreverence, Manto calls Zaheer an armchair communist, Faiz an afimi (lotus eater), and his own guru Bari Aleeg, a coward and a runchhor (unreliable). He prays to God to turn Chiragh Hasan Hasrat into Stalin who could dictate from behind the iron curtain. For Manto, they were the oppressive fathers who in Freudian terms would tell the child not to play with his genitals.

Mumtaz Shirin says, “Manto has presented the mother in the image of the prostitute.” In her book Noori na Naari, she discovers Manto in myth and religious archetypes. For her, Manto juxtaposes the holy mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, the sinful whore; the sacred and the profane. Manto’s heroines don’t queue up with the hearth-bound bibis or the drawing-room ladies of the elite; they stand out mostly as sex workers fighting for bare existence in a male’s world of exploitation and human degradation. With detached limbs and body parts as utility props they are the disfigured image of Madonna; damaged Eros. The loss of mother is the loss of womb, the loss of compassion, love and humanity in a society which is admonitory, tabooed and restrictive like the punishing father.

Manto resurrects the ghost of the feminine side, otherwise banished by the progressive patriarch, and by giving her a voice topples the despotic father figure of reform, pity and sympathy. Manto brings out the mother from the womb of a prostitute and confronts the oppressive father. He shatters the romantic ideal of the progressives by bringing out Sheila from their closets. He strips off her romantic trappings and places her next to Janki and Saugandhi. Perhaps this act of Manto made the progressives run for lights; he had nabbed “the pillar with the noose of his drunken breath.” His rude glance will keep chasing us like a footfall for many ages to come.

Sarmad Sehbai is a poet, playwright and drama director.

Link to article: http://herald.dawn.com/2012/05/14/the-politics-of-exclusion.html

Women and Partition by Pippa Virdee

Posted in Articles, New Publications, Partition by Pippa on October 9, 2013

A couple of new articles on women and partition:

Pippa Virdee, ‘Remembering partition: women, oral histories and the Partition of 1947.’ Oral History, Autumn 2013, Volume 41, No 3, pp. 49-62.

Abstract: This article explores key developments in the way Partition has been represented in the history of India and Pakistan. It more specifically examines how alternative silent voices have been become more visible in the past fifteen years in the historiography of Partition. This shift has been made possible with the use of oral testimonies to document accounts of ordinary people’s experiences of this event in the history of India and Pakistan. The article then goes on to reflect on the author’s experiences of working in South Asia and the use of oral history as a radical and empowering tool in understanding women’s history in Pakistan.

Follow link for details: http://www.oralhistory.org.uk/journal-search.php?parameter=issue&searchkey=86

 

Pippa Virdee, ‘The Heart Divided: Writing the Human Drama of Partition in India/Pakistan’

http://imowblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/clio-talks-back-heart-divided-writing.html

Recording Punjab’s darkest hours for posterity

Posted in Articles, News/Information, Partition by Pippa on October 9, 2013

Special Issue, Journal of Refugee Studies

Posted in Academic Journals, Partition by Pippa on October 1, 2012

Some of you may be interested in a couple of articles in the current edition of Journal of Refugee Studies.

Special Issue: The Refugee in the Postwar World, 1945–1960

Guest Editors: Anna Holian and G. Daniel Cohen

Volume 25 Issue 3 September 2012

 

Cabeiri Debergh Robinson, ‘Too Much Nationality: Kashmiri Refugees, the South Asian Refugee Regime, and a Refugee State, 1947–1974’

Abstract

This article examines the development of a regional refugee regime through an examination of the international context in which ‘Kashmiri refugees’ emerged as rights-bearing political subjects. I distinguish between the refugee regime that was developing in Europe at the end of the Second World War and the refugee regime that was developing to handle the integration of Partition refugees into the new nation-states of Pakistan and India during the Partition of British colonial India in 1947. I also describe how the ‘Kashmiri refugee’ emerged as a distinct political subject within the South Asian refugee regime through treaties between India and Pakistan and provincial legal provisions, designated administrative practices by the national governments, and the eventual creation of a ‘refugee electorate’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The constitution of a modern regional refugee regime that recognized refugees as inherently political subjects enables a critical perspective on the globalizing claims of the ‘international refugee regime’.

 

Tahir Naqvi, ‘Migration, Sacrifice and the Crisis of Muslim Nationalism’

Abstract

Drawing on oral histories and British, Indian, and Pakistani archives of the post-Partition era, this article considers the historical subjectivity of refugees to Pakistan who came from the minority-Muslim provinces of India. In contrast to Muslim refugees who arrived under the cover of a bilateral transfer of population, Pakistan’s leadership discouraged residents of the minority-Muslim provinces from leaving India. I trace how migrants (muhajirs) from the minority-Muslim provinces imagine their migration in terms of the theologically informed concept of ‘sacrifice’. I contend that the sacrificial imaginary mediates the rupture that Pakistan’s sovereignty created between membership and inclusion within the Muslim nation.

http://jrs.oxfordjournals.org/content/current

Horrors of Partition, by A.G. Noorani

Posted in Book reviews, New Publications, Partition by Pippa on March 1, 2012

Frontline Vol 29 – Issue 4

Book review of The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed by Ishtiaq Ahmed; Partition Observed edited by Lionel Carter and Partition and Locality by Illyas Chattha.

In addition to the loss of human lives and property, the near-fatal blows on cultures mark Partition’s distinctively hideous features.

THE partition of the subcontinent of India deserves to rank as one of the 10 great tragedies in recorded human history. That is saying a lot. It is not only the loss of human lives and property but the near-fatal blows on cultures that mark its distinctively hideous features. Urdu and the composite Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb (culture) suffered grievously. People were uprooted, leaving an impoverished culture behind them. Of all the provinces, Punjab suffered the most. The massacre that preceded and followed its partition, along with that of India, was predictable and was predicted.

“Pakistan would mean a massacre,” the Premier of Punjab Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan predicted to the distinguished civilian Penderel Moon as early as in October 1938 ( Divide and Quit, page 20). That was well before the Muslim League adopted the Pakistan resolution on March 23, 1940, in Lahore, radically altering Sir Sikandar’s draft just 24 hours before it was passed. He repudiated it because it dropped the organic link between the two parts of India, which he had provided. He told the Punjab Legislative Assembly, on March 11, 1941, “We do not ask for freedom that there may be Muslim Raj here and Hindu Raj elsewhere. If that is what Pakistan means I will have nothing to do with it.”

Read full review:

http://www.frontline.in/stories/20120309290407300.htm

The Punjab: Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed by Ishtiaq Ahmed

Posted in Book reviews, New Publications, Partition by Pippa on February 10, 2012

Extract from The Punjab Bloodied Partitioned and Cleansed by Ishtiaq Ahmed, (Rupa & Co, 2011)

INTRODUCTION
(Pages xxxviii-xxxix)

A Sikh Plan to eradicate all Muslims from East Punjab They alleged that the Sikhs had a definite plan to eliminate Muslims from East Punjab and that the Hindu group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was behind many heinous bomb blasts and other assaults on Muslims. Notes on The Sikh Plan says:

‘The ultimate goal which the Sikhs had set before them seems to have been the establishment of Sikh rule in the Punjab. Their preparations to this end were aimed directly and exclusively against the Muslims. Whether the Hindus who formed the bigger minority in the Punjab, would ultimately have acquiesced in the fulfillment of Sikh ambitions at their expense, is doubtful; but for the time being they made common cause with the Sikhs. The activities and preparations of the two, therefore, run parallel to each other and even where active conspiracy between them is not evident, the fact that they regarded the Muslims as their common enemy created mutual disposition towards collaboration which virtually amounted to a conspiracy and let [sic] to concerted effort’ (1948: 1-2).

Chaudhri Muhammad Ali, who represented Pakistan in the Steering Committee of the Partition Council set up by the colonial government, and was later prime minister of Pakistan (1955-56), alleged in his book, The Emergence of Pakistan, that the Sikh leadership at the highest level, especially the Maharajas of Patiala and Kapurthala, were involved in a macabre conspiracy to wipe out all Muslims from East Punjab.

The former Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court, Muhammad Munir, one of the two members nominated by the Muslim League to the Punjab Boundary Commission, admitted in his book, From Jinnah to Zia, that the first large-scale communal attack in Punjab occurred in the Rawalpindi region in March 1947 against Sikhs and Hindus, and its perpetrators were Muslims (1980: 17). He reiterated the charge that the Sikhs had a plan to eradicate all traces of Muslim presence in the eastern parts of Punjab.

Extract: http://books.hindustantimes.com/2011/09/extract-the-punjab-bloodied-partitioned-and-cleansed/

Review in The Asian Age: http://www.asianage.com/books/conspiracies-partition-635

Review in the Deccan Chronicle: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/lifestyle/books/conspiracies-partition-459

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Partition and Locality. Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947–1961 by Ilyas Chattha

Posted in Migration, New Publications, Partition by Pippa on November 27, 2011

This book provides original and challenging insights into the processes of violence, demographic transformation, and physical reconstruction arising from partition of the subcontinent in 1947. The study focuses on the cities of Gujranwala and Sialkot that experienced violence, demographic shift, and economic transformation in different ways. The work is not only a significant contribution to the understanding of the Partition process of British India and its aftermath in Punjab that became Pakistani territory, but it also provides an authoritative and thought-provoking approach to the themes of broader twentieth-century processes of collective violence, mass displacements, and economic recovery.

About the Author: Educated at the Universities of Warwick and Southampton, Dr Ilyas Chattha obtained a PhD in 2009. He is presently based at the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, University of Southampton, and is carrying out research on the impact of Partition on the Punjabi Christians in Pakistan.

To Purchase: http://www.oup.com.pk/shopexd.asp?id=2104

EXCERPT: Stories of an unacknowledged massacre: http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/23/excerpt-stories-of-an-unacknowledged-massacre.html

Book review in Pakistan Today: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/10/the-review-30th-october-2011/

The Long Walk Home By Manreet Sodhi Someshwar – book review

Posted in Book reviews, Partition by Pippa on August 27, 2009

The Sunday Tribune,  August 23, 2009

Tumultuous history of Punjab by Aradhika Sharma

Some things don’t change Anant, you are the son, Neymat tells her brother as the three siblings (Anant, Neymat and Noor) gather to mourn the death of their father, the protagonist of the story. The Long Walk Home is the journey of Baksh, the man who had lived through the holocaust of Partition. It’s an ambitious panorama that she undertakes to paint but her technique of telling the story of the life of one man and about the life of two nations through his experiences pulls the story through.

Someshwar, as a matter of fact, has taken quite a risk because she not only seeks to portray the troubled pre-Partition and Partition times but also tries to straddle two-time frames, thus integrating history into the modern-day scenario. This could have resulted in rather confusing reading, but Someshwar, with consummate skill, manages to give the book a linearity that makes it seemingly easy. She uses what she calls “the device of layering the intimate with the epic to make history accessible”.

Read full book review: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090823/spectrum/book2.htm

Rabba Hun Kee Kariye – review and next screening

Posted in Film, Partition by Pippa on April 1, 2009

Please find attached a recent review of the partition documentary Rabba Hun Kee Kariye in the Mail Today ( 25th March) by Ajay Bhardwaj. mail-today

 

Also the next screening of Rabba… is at Peace and Global Justice Day  – Marian College, Indianapolis

 

April 7  — Marian College Peace & Global Justice Day  

Sessions discuss capital punishment, racism, forms of interfaith activism; watch a film about mass murder in Punjab

When: Tuesday April 7, all day
Where: Marian College Allison Mansion


Rabba Hun Kee Kariye” will show at
3:00:

 

Rabba Hun Kee Kariye (Thus Departed our Neighbors) tracks a shared history of Punjab – a sub-continental culture, language and a way of life – that was torn asunder in the fateful year of 1947. It captures the documentary filmmaker’s unexpected encounter with feelings of guilt and remorse about the genocidal violence of the partition. These informal tales, almost like folklore, are strewn across the memory-scape of Punjabi countryside. This documentary invokes it in the public domain for the first time.

 

http://www.marian.edu/PeaceAndJustice/Pages/default.aspx

 

 

 

 

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Humanity Amidst Insanity: Hope During And After The Indo-Pak Partition

Posted in New Publications, Partition by Pippa on January 7, 2009

New book by Maini, Tridivesh Singh, Malik, Tahir, Malik, Ali Farooq, Humanity Amidst Insanity: Hope During And After The Indo-Pak Partition, UBS Publishers Distributors PVT. LTD., 2008

ISBN: 97881747663

 

A novel approach by an Indian and two Pakistani journalists to bring the humane and positive episodes of the 1947 partition holocaust, to the fore. A series of interviews of the survivors of Indo-Pak partition who owe their survival to the other community. Tales of hope and faith in the crisis of humanity, when people were killing each other in the name of religion, these angels of sanity helped the innocent and gave them life. An analytical approach to the good involved and practiced during the times of violence and terror. A new look at the relations that could become a reality for the Indo-Pak partition sores which have long been unhealed.

 

The book is not available in the UK, but you can order it online from:

www.bahrisons.com

www.gobookshopping.com

It has received two reviews so far:
http://splus.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/print/Writers-Block/06-Dec-2008/Changing-mindsets

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20081221/spectrum/book4.htm

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