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The Book and BJP

Column by: Ashfaq rehmani

Email: pasrurmedia@hotmail.com

The partition of India and the associated bloody riots inspired many creative minds in
India and Pakistan to create literary cinematic depiction of this event. While some
creations depicted the massacres during the refugee migration, others concentrated on the
aftermath of the partition in terms of difficulties faced by the refugees in both side of the
border. Even now, nearly 62 years after the partition, fictions and films are made that
relate to the events of partition. Some of the books and films are discussed here.
However, the list is far from being exhaustive.first of all I would like to sahre with you
about “Hoshyar Pur say Lahore tak” in Urdu ” It is a true story based on a train journey
from Indian city of Hoshyarpur to Lahore in Pakistan. It is written by a Police officer
who was with this train.
“Khak aur Khoon” is a historical novel by Nasim Hijazi that describes the sacrifices of
Muslims of the Sub-continent during the time of partition in 1947. When a portion of the
Muslims from the various regions of India were trying to get to Pakistan, some faced
attacks from Hindu and Sikh groups,during their journeys, that involved snatching of
money, and jewelry of their wives and daughters.
“The Broken Mirror” a Hindi novel by Krishna Baldev Vaid, portrays the psychological
and sociological transformations in a West Punjabi village in the phase leading up to the
Partition, with emphasis on commensal taboos and hardened community boundaries.
“Half a Village” a Hindi novel by Rahi Masoom Reza, represents the experiences of
subaltern Indian Muslims in village Gangauli, and their distinctive take on the vacuity of
'high politics'. “Basti” by Intizar Husain is an Urdu novel that focuses on the partition as
memory, through the lens of protagonist Zakir, a historian who seeks to come to terms
with this memory in the context of the happenings in 1971 in Pakistan leading up to the
formation of Bangladesh. “Train to Pakistan” This saga by Khushwant Singh was first
published in 1956. Singh’s version of the Partition is a social one, providing human
accounts in a diverse, detailed character base where each person has unique points of
view, pointing out that everyone is equally at fault and that placing blame was irrelevant.
Interwoven with this point are the subtle questions of morality which Singh asks through
his characters, such as whether or not the bad needs to be recognized to promote the
good, and what constitutes a good deed. Directed by Deepa Mehta, Earth (1998), an
India/Canada co-production, is a thoughtful examination of a circle of friends and
acquaintances affected by the Partition. A scoundrel uses communal violence as an
excuse for retaliation against a romantic rival. The film is based on Bapsi Sidhwa's
Cracking India; Sidhwa co-wrote the screenplay with Mehta. Contains brutal scenes of
communal carnage.

My dear Readr’s, Know a days’s A row over a controversial new book has underlined
that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may be leaning toward a more radical agenda to
reinvent itself after a heavy election defeat in May. The BJP expelled one of its top
leaders on Wednesday for writing a book sympathetic to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the
Muslim founder of rival Pakistan.
The step against Jaswant Singh, former finance and foreign minister, is testimony to the
growing clout of the radical elements in the party that are overshadowing its more
technocratic, pro-reform politicians, analysts said.
Dear reader’s Jinnah: India—Partition Independence is a book written by Jaswant Singh,
former Finance Minister of India, on Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the
politics associated with the partition of British India. The book was released on 17
August 2009 and soon became the subject of controversy, subsequently leading to Singh's
expulsion from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). It contains controversial opinions of
Singh, claiming that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's centralized polity was responsible for
partition, and that Jinnah was portrayed as a demon by India for the partition. The release
ceremony was held at Teen Murti Bhavan in the presence of only a couple of BJP

It may also signal a greater grip of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Singh (RSS), or National
Volunteer Corps, the BJP's ideological parent which aims to transform India's secular
society and establish the supremacy of a Hindu majority. "It's the Talibanization of the
BJP where the hardliners want the secular minority quarantined, if not completely
neutralized," said political commentator B.G. Varghese.

Dear Reader’s The Partition was a highly controversial arrangement, and remains a cause
of much tension on the subcontinent today. British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten of Burma
has not only been accused of rushing the process through, but also is alleged to have
influenced the Radcliffe Line in India's favour since everyone agreed India would be a
more desirable country for most. However, the commission took so long to decide on a
final boundary that the two nations were granted their independence even before there
was a defined boundary between them. Even then, the members were so distraught at
their handiwork (and its results) that they refused compensation for their time on the

Some critics allege that British haste led to the cruelties of the Partition. Because
independence was declared prior to the actual Partition, it was up to the new governments
of India and Pakistan to keep public order. No large population movements were
contemplated; the plan called for safeguards for minorities on both sides of the new
border. It was an impossible task, at which both states failed. There was a complete
breakdown of law and order; many died in riots, massacre, or just from the hardships of
their flight to safety. What ensued was one of the largest population movements in
recorded history. According to Richard Symonds “at the lowest estimate, half a million
people perished and twelve million became homeless”

However, some argue that the British were forced to expedite the Partition by events on
the ground. Law and order had broken down many times before Partition, with much
bloodshed on both sides. A massive civil war was looming by the time Mountbatten
became Viceroy. After World War II, Britain had limited resources, perhaps insufficient to
the task of keeping order. Another view point is that while Mountbatten may have been
too hasty he had no real options left and achieved the best he could under difficult
circumstances. Historian Lawrence James concurs that in 1947 Mountbatten was left with
no option but to cut and run. The alternative seemed to be involvement in a potentially
bloody civil war from which it would be difficult to get out. Conservative elements in
England consider the partition of India to be the moment that the British Empire ceased
to be a world power, following Curzon's dictum that "While we hold on to India, we are a
first-rate power. If we lose India, we will decline to a third rate power."

Directionless after the election defeat, the BJP has been debating its future -- whether its
Hindu-revivalist agenda, once its passport to power, was now irrelevant for younger
voters. The party rose to prominence in the early 1990s on the back of a Hindu-revivalist
movement and ruled from 1998 to 2004 promoting economic reforms. But it suffered a
shock 2004 election defeat. Its May election loss was partly blamed on a lack of political
direction and leadership. Singh's book, "Jinnah: India-Partition Independence" is seen as
challenging the basic polity of the BJP, which demonizes, along with much of India, the
Muslim leader for demanding the creation of Muslim-majority Pakistan. The book is
directly in conflict with the BJP's Hindutva (Hindu-revivalism) and anti-Pakistan
rhetoric," said political analyst Kuldip Nayar. "The expulsion of Jaswant Singh seems to
have had the endorsement of the majority. We can expect a tightening of the RSS hold on
the party." Some analysts feel it maybe premature to say a harsh sectarian agenda is what
the future BJP is going to adopt. A disjointed BJP has also meant the party is unable to
play the role of an effective opposition at a time when the government is surrounded by
myriad crises from fighting a drought to swine flu and questionable diplomacy with

"There will be a sense of revulsion among the BJP supporters and voters that this
opportunity is being lost and the party is bogged down with something from the past
which has little relevance for young Indian voters," said Swap an Dasgupta, a columnist.

A tearful, bewildered Jaswant Singh has been expelled from his party of old, the BJP, and
his new book, Jinnah: India–Partition–Independence has been banned in Gujarat. The
reason? ‘Ideological deviation’, according to the BJP’s party leadership, because Mr.
Singh has praised Mohammad Ali Jinnah and criticized India’s first home minister and
hero of the independence struggle, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
‘I thought this book would set Pakistan on fire. But it is troubling India,’ Mr. Singh told
reporters after his sacking from the party which he helped form nearly 30 years ago. The
furor over the book, the ban imposed by the Gujarat state government and, not least, Mr.
Singh’s expulsion will be received in some quarters in Pakistan as yet more evidence that
India remains congenitally allergic to the idea of Pakistan and that sections of its political
establishment have, and never will be able to, come to terms with this country’s
existence. The corollary: peace with India is not possible.
But that is far from the case. India does have its hawkish elements, but to tar everyone
with the same brush of jingoistic nationalism is not fair. The reaction, indeed over-
reaction, by the BJP is already being criticized in India itself and voices are being raised
in favor of freedom of expression and the need to determine if sacrosanct ‘truths’ stand up
to genuine scrutiny. Indeed, the fact that a stalwart of the BJP has once again praised
Jinnah - L.K. Advani famously praised Jinnah on a visit to Pakistan in 2005 and was
forced out as party chief as a result is an indication of just how untenable a black-and-
white view of history is.
Here in Pakistan, the more important question is: can we imagine a similar statement
about India’s independence leaders? Mr. Singh has been treated shabbily, but the whole
affair demonstrates that India, or parts thereof, is at least trying to come to terms with the
ghosts of partition and assess it in a frank, honest manner. Can anyone in Pakistani
politics claim such boldness?