The Partition of 1947 between India and Pakistan that would kill and displace millions of people was a product of several factors. The Primary factors generating the feeling among people that they had to move were the strong fundamental differences in faith, the rabid hatred and violence that threatened respective sides, and finally the lack of knowledge among the people about the magnitude and scope of the partition to come. These motivations felt among the people to move were a product of competing political forces, vowing for each side. These feelings that arose from the people within India was a product of competing politicians who left respective groups bewildered and misguided by leadership that failed to have their interests at heart. The British simply wanted to sustain their own personal control over India, while Jinnah and the Muslims and the Indian national congress were simply seeking political capitol and sustained power on their own. Each of these sides collectively pulling and tugging the people in different directions generated a fierce disgust among Hindus and Muslims for eachother that they don’t really know why they feel, which is evident in their remorse about what happened.
The British for years pitted Muslim against Hindu with the purpose of diverting the animosity against the British felt from years of repression at their neighbors, and blaming their misfortunes caused by the British against one another. This led to people exascerbating the differences among the two groups to the point where coexistence no longer seemed plausible. With the British abruptly leaving India, the hostility remained as Britain did nothing to solve the problem they created. As one man said toward the end of Division of Hearts, “The British abandoned us and said find your own solutions, division came from the religious hatred stirred up to continue their rule”. This statement demonstrates how integral Britain was in not only stirring up the hatred, but doing nothing to quell the century of division they orchestrated. This is important to note because it would lead to the Hindus and Muslims not only disagreeing with the opposing religions but dispising them.
The differences in faith between a Muslim and a Hindu were massive. Many Muslims felt so strongly that Hindu faith conflicted with their beliefs so much, that they must move and practice among believers. In the movie, The Division of Hearts a man with a mustache says ” They ask us to worship statues, this is silly, how can we worship something that cannot remove a fly from it’s face”. This statement demonstrates how negatively the perceptions, even after the fact to a degree, that Muslims in particular, as the minority, garnered towards the Hindu faith. Many Muslims looked at it as a matter of honor and did not want to dishonor their people and the purity of their faith. A mention is made in the movie about Muslims who were caught and killed by other Muslims for staying behind. It seemed neither side felt they could flourish until they were cleansed of the other, and even before partition actually happened, extreme violence brewing among the two sides for shadowed the inevitability of partition. The hate they felt was not only said but exhibited through actions. The Other side of Silence by Urvashi Butalia captures the extent of the hatred in the fervent days of partition, and demonstrates how people almost seemed temporarily possessed by hatred. In a period of extreme religious passion, Muslims and Hindus brutalized one another to the point of no return, and no looking back. Hajrit, a Hindu man in the story says “But one day our entire village took off to a nearby Muslim village on a killing spree. We simply went mad, and it cost me 50 years of remorse and sleepless nights” (Batalia, 73). A Muslim farmer in the story named Nasir Hussain says ” I still cannot remember what happened to me… It was a matter of two days and we were swept away by this wild wave of hatred… I cannot even remember how many men I actually killed. It was a phase, a state of mind over which we had no control, we did not even know what we were doing” (Batalia, 73). These powerful statements are indicative of how this was not just civil strife, this was a war zone where the mere sight of the opposing side ignited an untamable sense of evil intentions, and it was out of their realm of control. People did not leave as a matter of convenience, they left as a matter of necessity. As long and one border existed, people, especially women were susceptible to rape, murder, and inhumane treatment. Batalia mentions ” The transformation of the ‘other’ from a human being to the enemy, a thing to be destroyed before it destroyed you, became the all important imperative. Feelings other than hate, indifference and loathing had no place here” (Batalia, 74). The differences in belief were elevated to the people feeling as if every time they witnessed the other, they were seeing the devil. The social and also the political climate was unsuited for Hindu-Muslim coexistence.
Another reason people felt the need to go was because of their respective governing bodies misguidance and miscalculations of the nature and scope of the population shifts that would take place. As one old lady in the movie mentions, “We thought is was all a game, we were just going to go and live in our country with our people, not we were older and had more experience did we know exactly what was happening”. For the people, this was viewed simply as moving to a new place and living among your own people. This exhibits how they perceived this as an eveloving situation where you would simply hop on a train and get to Pakistan. They trusted their leadership to be there, and they would soon find that they were not there. They were left in disarray, however, as the governments did not take into a consideration the impact and hardship that people would face in crossing the borders. The respective sides did not anticipate the scale of the crossings. Butalia mentions “Despite the concerns expressed by many people, neither the Indian, nor the Pakistanis, nor indeed the British- seemed to have anticipated that there would be such a major exchange of population; that driven by fear, people would move to places where they could live among their own kind” (Batalia, 73). This is a powerful statement exposing how out of touch the leadership was with the situation on the ground. After spending great deals of time spewing rhetoric to their people, they failed to provide enough resources for crossing, leaving many hundreds of thousands dead on trains and nearly 400,000 people to move on foot, as Butalia points out. People left because their respective leadership was generating hatred among the opposing side, and exhibiting an intense form of pride fed into the notion that to not leave would be dishonoring your group. The leadership failed however to measure the level of hatred that they would spark among the people, which would ended up forcing people to leave because of physical threat of violence. In other words all the reasons that people were had to or choose to leave were a product of the government selfishly devising plans that what would suit their political interests and desires, proceeding to leave their people out to dry.
In concluding, I feel that this whole thing is really an a reminder of how the acts of a government or small group of people can lead to the suffering of millions. It was a triple threat of the British, Hindu, and Pakistani sides all contributing to the travesty occurring during partition. Two groups who had coexisted for centuries were suddenly possessed with such rabid hatred that caused rape, murder and ultimately regret. The British ignited this hostility for their own political welfare, and when it became no longer convenient they deserted India as if they were not there for over a hundred years. Instead of attempting to solve the mess they created, they simply bailed, laving India in a wretched state. It’s unfathomable to me how heartless people can be. The Indian and Pakistani sides simply played politics as well. Jinnah, a mildly religious man, suddenly utilized religion to rally his people against India to get a state and rule for six month, so he could get his 15 minutes. This is a reflection to me of how politics can be so utterly destructive, not to the politicians, put to the people they rule.