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Partition, Advani and Pakistan !
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Addressing a public rally last Sunday Congress spokesperson Mr. Shakeel Ahmed described Mr. LK Advani as a Pakistani who came to India to seek power. Mr. Shakeel Ahmed said:
“Pakistan born Advani's intention was not to serve Hindus but he wanted to become Prime Minister of India. Advani was not just born in Pakistan but he also completed his Bachelors degree from Pakistan. He has only completed his Law degree from a Mumbai college. After completing Bachelors degree, a person thinks about his career. Advaniji's thought was also the same. After taking Bachelors degree, he decided to serve Hindu community. This is ok, but his intention was to grab the power. In Pakistan, the Hindu population is three percent and their condition is also very poor. If Advaniji really wanted to serve Hindus, he must have stayed in Pakistan and fought for them. But he knew that it was not possible to become even an MP or Prime Minister candidate in Pakistan, so he decided to move back to India for power's greed.”
The BJP condemned Mr. Sahkeel's statement and demanded immediate apology from the Congress Party. An apology is inadequate. Much, much more needs to be done. The time has come for plain speaking.
This is not the first time that such criticism has been leveled against Mr. Advani due to his origins from what is now Pakistan. I hold no brief for Mr. Advani and have often criticized his decisions. But I take this latest jibe against him personally because I too was born in what is now Pakistan. I was born in Karachi and belonged to Lahore and came to Delhi aged twelve after my father was transferred by the government from Karachi to Delhi in 1947. Mr. Shakeel Ahmed and others who consider those who at the time of Partition belonged to what is now Pakistan as being in some manner different from them are right. They were not people who betrayed the nation, their own most solemn assertions, their honour and their principles. They were victims of the betrayers who did all this. By his jibe against people born in Pakistani Mr. Shakeel Ahmed has opened a can of worms. He has provoked a reappraisal of history and the role of the Congress party. Mr. Kuldip Nayar, also born in Pakistan, in a recent article wrote that it is futile to discuss who was responsible for the Partition because it is now only of academic interest. I beg to differ. After Mr. Shakeel Ahmed’s remarks it is necessary to understand the past in order to deal with the present and chart the future.
Around the time of Independence I heard as a boy Nehru addressing a rally at India Gate. He justified Partition by saying that when a hand becomes diseased it has to be cut off. Even at that tender age I heard him with utter contempt. Deprived of our ancestral home in Lahore, disrupted from my elite schooling in Karachi, our entire joint family struggling to reclaim an ordered life, I knew that among the refugees we were the lucky ones, with our lives intact, employed for the most part by the government or by universities, compared to the jobless, the bereaved and the homeless thrown into makeshift camps. “What a twit,” I thought. “We of the Punjab lived in a diseased land while you from Allahabad live in a healthy land?” I will not dwell on the betrayal of all that the Congress claimed it stood for by accepting the Partition. Books have been written on the subject. But the recall of a few salient facts would be in order.
India was partitioned first and the provinces, Punjab and Bengal, were partitioned later. The Punjab assembly was divided between Muslim majority West Punjab and the Hindu-Sikh majority East Punjab to ascertain the view about partitioning Punjab from both sides. The Hindus and Sikhs knowing that Pakistan had already been accepted voted for partitioning Punjab in order to remain with India. The Muslims voted against partitioning Punjab.
While the total number of riot victims across India during the two year period before Independence was approximately 16000, the total killed within four months after Independence in Punjab alone was between 6 lakhs to one million. The total number of displaced refugees was over 10 million, the largest displacement of population in recorded history.
A demographic change has occurred in the subcontinent. A vast new generation of young Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis has access to information technology. They are hungry for truth. They will acquire the truth about our Independence and the Partition. They will restore the cultural unity of the subcontinent to discover their roots and reclaim their identity. They will bury the Congress which was a colonial power’s instrument to partition the subcontinent. This may or may not happen in my lifetime. Happen it will. The remorseless law of nature which determines the course of history will assert itself. It will bury the Congress. It will recreate a united subcontinent in the new avatar of a South Asian Union. Human folly can delay it. Human perversity cannot prevent it.
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