Punjab Research Group

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:


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 heart of Punjab – book reviews

Posted in Book reviews, New Publications by Pippa on July 5, 2009

Reviews of an authentic account of a Punjabi village and the first sizeable document about the historical and revolutionary Sikh National College

By heart of Punjab I do not mean Lahore, the terribly enlarged heart of Punjab. I mean a “Punjabi village” which by its community life and tradition, language and idiom — including a farmers and craftsman’s working life, vocabulary and folklore — represents the heart of Punjab.

Dr. Shamsher Singh Babra is a renowned economist, has been a Divisional Head at the World Bank, a visiting fellow at Oxford, a consultant at the UNO and has appeared as an expert at the British House of Lords. His Punjabi book, Vichchoray da Dagh, is about Chotian Galotian, his native village in Sialkot at Gujranwala-Sialkot district border where he lived until his graduation from Sikh National College Lahore 1947. Unblossomed Buds, his other book in English, is the first sizeable document about the historical and revolutionary Sikh National College. It is also the key to Vichchoray da Dagh, which is arguably the best book written about a Punjabi village with the ability to thrill and move its readers to tears.

The Punjabi village — as my generation born in the nineteen thirties, or the author’s, born in the twenties knew it — is almost dead now. Punjabi village died without anyone writing its obituary or, as in this case, its elegy. It is a historical document because, with an economist’s discipline, the distinguished doctor has collected data from fellow villagers all over the world.


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