Monday, 20 April, 2009

At the border, the truth

Indian Hindus believe that while their coreligionists were expelled from the newly formed Pakistan, along with the Sikhs, Muslims did not meet the same fate in India. History shows that if five million came to India, six million went from here. Westerners keep writing that Partition created Pakistan for Muslims and India for Hindus, when facts show that India has the world’s second largest Muslim population. All this muddles perceptions and boils blood.

Now, from what little I have read, Partition seemed to have cleared India of most of its Muslim middleclass. Similarly, middleclass Hindus and Sikhs came to India from Pakistan. Many already had some family here.

In the latter case, though, the middleclass were accompanied by many poor as well. They had next to nothing; they came with nothing.

But wasn’t there a corresponding migration of poor Muslims too, or were most of them too far from the new Pakistani borders, in the erstwhile United Provinces and Bihar, to make the journey? How did the population of provinces near the new borders chance, on the Indian side? Didn’t Muslims, irrespective of economic status, leave there?

Is there any book with data on the migration, surely the greatest in human history? Stories and histories tell part of the story, but there must be more to it.

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