The Partition of India in 1947 promised its people both political and religious freedomthrough the liberation of India from British rule, and the creation of the Muslim state of Pakistan. Instead, the geographical divide brought displacement and death, and it benefited the few at the expense of the very many. Thousands of women were raped, at least one million people were killed, and ten to fifteen million were forced to leave their homes as refugees. One of the first events of decolonization in the twentieth century, Partition was also one of the most bloody.
In this book Yasmin Khan examines the context, execution, and aftermath of Partition, weaving together local politics and ordinary lives with the larger political forces at play. She exposes the widespread obliviousness to what Partition would entail in practice and how it would affect the populace. Drawing together fresh information from an array of sources, Khan underscores the catastrophic human cost and shows why the repercussions of Partition resound even now, some sixty years later. The book is an intelligent and timely analysis of Partition, the haste and recklessness with which it was completed, and the damaging legacy left in its wake.
Khan (postdoctoral fellow, Univ. of London) eloquently discusses the making of India and Pakistan after British rule on the subcontinent was dismantled in 1947. She emphasizes that the partitioning that created two separate countries was a fateful folly committed by the British and some nationalist forces, revealing how partition changed the lives of millions of people across all walks of life. With insistent irony, Khan argues that the British government executed the partition plan in a "shoddy" manner that destroyed the lives of thousands and the dreams of millions. Powerfully described here, the horrendous aftermath of the partition has created a wedge between Hindus and Muslims, and the book gives a clear warning about the dangerous consequences of heedless partition and extreme nationalism. Drawing from varied historical literature and archival sources, the author has obviously provided a new look at this still important subject. Strongly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.