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We Wish You all a Happy and Safe Holi              March 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:March' 2020


Let’s clear false myths!

Humra Quraishi

Nida Fazli As I have been writing all along, the anti CAA- NRC – NPR protests have dragged along fierce debates and fiercer discussions. You are this side of the fence or on the other. Facades are done away with. All out in the open.
And in the midst of this surcharged atmosphere, myths and misconceptions are doing the rounds…Let me try to clear any misconception that Indian Muslims did not suffer during the Partition.
- I’d met and interviewed poet Nida Fazli and was reminded of the details he’d told me of how the Partition had changed the course of his life. He told me “just before the Partition I got engaged to a woman I was in love with, but my family and also that of my fiancé’s, decided to migrate to Pakistan. I was determined not to move from here and stayed back. Very painful years. Neither my fiancé and nor my family got back. I was all alone here. Only after several years of loneliness, I found a companion in Mumbai.”

Qamar Azad Hashmi The late Qamar Azad Hashmi, writer and mother of activist Safdar Hashmi, detailed, “In common with thousands of people, my family was affected by the Partition; we had to even shift out of our home in Delhi and live in refugee camps set up in Humayun’s Tomb … Initially, I went with my family to Pakistan, but I returned the very next year and got married here… While my husband’s family had moved to Pakistan, he too was determined to stay put here in Delhi, though his business suffered tremendously after the Partition. We brought up our children in extremely tough financial conditions.”

Talat Mahmood The legendary singer with that beautiful voice with a melancholic strain to it, Talat Mahmood, was one of those Indians who did not want to shift to the newly carved country, Pakistan… His father, Manzoor Mahmood, owned an electric fittings cum a gramophone shop in Lucknow, and he was better known as the one who sang Iqbal’s popular taranaa at the Muslim League functions ‘Chino Arab hamara/ Hindoostan hamara…’ At the time of the Partition, Talat was in Calcutta with his elder sister, and though his entire family migrated to Pakistan, he and his sister opted to stay back in India.
This decision to be forever cut off from his immediate family did affect him. As his niece, Rafia Hussain, had on an earlier occasion told me, “Temperamentally, he could not adjust to the ways of the film world .Also, that initial shock that his entire family had migrated to a new country and would be settling down there, had affected him to a certain extent …he was far too sensitive, he’d internalized that pain. But till the very end he was sure that he would never leave his home country …after all , he had opted to stay back at any cost.”

Identity crisis

Several academics and historians have focused on the fact that hundreds and thousands of Muslims did not want to cross over to the new country, and stayed back .They opted to stay put in India. In his book, - ‘Muslims Against Partition’, (Pharos Media), academic Shamsul Islam, has focused on this fact, that is, a large number of Muslims were not supportive of the creation of Pakistan.

Muhammad Mujeeb To quote him , “ It is true that India was partitioned in 1947 due to Muslim League’s demand for a separate homeland for Muslims .And there is no denying the fact that the Muslim League was able to mobilize a huge mass of Muslims in favour of its demand . But it is also true that a large section of Muslims and their organizations stood against the demand for Pakistan. These Muslims against the Partition challenged the Muslim L e a g u e theoretically a n d c o n f r o n t e d the latter on the streets.”
He has also dwelt on an crucial offshoot– The Partition of India created a serious i d e n t i t y crisis for Indian Muslims…And as historian Muhammad Mujeeb commented that after the Partition, Muslims “became a smaller minority in India ,physically not less, but more vulnerable, by the creation of the separate state of Pakistan, with their loyalties obviously open to suspicion and doubt, and their future nothing but the darkness of uncertainty.”

Mushirul Hasan As historian Mushirul Hasan wrote, “Partition was a nightmare. The so called Islamic community in India which had no place in Jinnah’s Pakistan was ‘fragmented’, ‘weakened’ and left vulnerable to right-wing Hindu onslaughts. Despite a creation of a separate Homeland for Muslims ,India remained home to a large number of Muslims.”
To quote diplomat-author ,Pran Nevile, from his memoir ‘Carefree Days: Many Roles, Many Lives’ (Harper Collins), this particular paragraph which details how Muslims living in Delhi were attacked around the Partition phase-: “By the beginning of September 1947, Delhi was flooded with refugees from Punjab. There was an acute shortage of housing in Delhi. The exodus of about 2000 officers and clerks more than balanced the influx of over 3000 from Pakistan comprising the staff of the railways, Posts and Telegraph department and other central government officers who had decided to opt for India.

I was then living as a sub-tenant of a Punjabi family in the Western Extension Area, a new residential complex off Pusa Road which had come up during World War II…By the first week of September, with the influx of over a lakh of refugees in Delhi, the communal situation became tense.
I vividly remember how a bulk of Muslim families were driven out of their homes on Ajmal Khan Road and some other areas of Karol Bagh. Here I would like to cite the case of a Muslim family, our immediate neighbours whom we managed to protect. A family of three, Mr. Khan, an executive engineer, his wife and grown up daughter were occupying the government-requisitioned house. Some anti-social elements and groups of refugees were actively involved in attacking Muslim houses identified by local goons. It was on the night of 7 September that we came to know their house could be attacked in the morning. We gave them shelter for the night and early in the morning, our neighbour, a Sikh gentleman, drove Mr Khan’s car and took his family safely to the Imperial Hotel on Queensway. An hour later, the house was ransacked by the goons, who rebuked us for aiding in their escape.

Touching verse

Perhaps, bruised sentiments lie best captured in this verse of Devi Prasad Mishra ( translated from Hindi ) tucked in the pages of ‘Kavita 93 ’ ( Virgo Publications)

“Remains of me/
Here I was born/
On this stone/
On a face like/
My own face/
I put my face and /
Wept for days/
Here I sat holding my head/
And there flowed my blood/
Somewhere here/
On this part of the earth/
I was threatened to vacate the
And here perhaps
In the neighbourhood of me/
Are traceable/
Remains of me.”