THE book is in parts an eye-witness account of an era, by the writer, whose family, among millions of others, was catapulted across the new Punjab border, in the wake of India ’s partition in 1947. Sixty years on we are still grappling with the aftermath of that partition and the animus it spawned, comments the Preface.
“Partition memory is remembrance of brutality past. Brutality born of the animus of division of the Indian sub-continent and the speed with which the division was carried out by the departing British imperial power, still defies imagination,” the author comments. And, goes on to say, “It might have been heaven to be alive in that dawn of freedom for most Indians in 1947, but for millions from Punjab and Bengal it was hell in all its different shades. Those uprooted or about to be uprooted from their hearths and homes, could not see the multi-coloured rainbow but a dark cloudy sky with blood red patches.”
In the book, the author has recounted with great detail and clarity, the past and present relationship between India and Pakistan , along with historically documented incidents which led to the partition. He also talks of the present state of Pakistan, the terror groups, and how all this affects the secularity of India. “Pakistan has been reluctant to abandon the denial mode about the involvement of its ‘non-state’ or ‘state-less’ operators from its soil … Persistent stone-walling tactics run the risk of worsening the chances of peace,” the author says.
On the Kashmir issue, the author gives the example of Ireland and suggests a four-way consultative process between the governments in Delhi, Islamabad, Srinagar, and Muzaffrabad, which could see implementation over five or more years. “Damage done over 60 years can be repaired but only with patience,” he says.
Again, in the Preface, the author hopes, “…personally a visit to my old home town, house and school (in Pakistan ) after 57 years was a rewarding experience, reaffirming my faith in the ordinary people and their goodwill beyond borders.”
South Asian conglomeration of SAARC, however fitful, has lit a flame of hope, feels the author.
The author has done well by substantiating what he says by reproducing historical statements and speeches titled – Statement made by Prime Minister Attlee in the House of Commons, 20th February 1947; The Prime Minister’s Letter of instructions to Lord Mountbatten; Statement made by his Majesty’s Government 3rd June 1947; Pandit Nehru’s Speech on 3rd June 1947; Mr Jinnah’s Speech on the same day; etc (www.lancerpublishers.com)