New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday announced that August 14 will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day in India, a day before the country celebrates its 75th Independence Day, saying that the pain of Partition could never be forgotten. However, the announcement also stirred up criticism of the politics and intention behind such a move.
The announcement also comes as Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day on August 14.
"Partition's pains can never be forgotten. Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence. In memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people, 14th August will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day," tweeted PM Modi.
Pakistan, including present day Bangladesh, was made into a separate Muslim country by the British colonial rule in 1947. In the process, millions of people were displaced and many lost their lives and properties as large scale rioting broke out on both sides of the border.
The Partition Horrors Remembrance Day has sparked a debate on social media as a section of people saw the move as a negative one that would remind of a deep wound that has not yet healed. Some also questioned the intention behind announcing such a day.
Noted Carnatic singer and social activist, T M Krishna tweeted saying, “‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’. This is vile! It is not about remembering people who lost families to the partition, this is done to open wounds and create communal hatred.”
“We don't need to revisit horrors of partition and reopen the wounds but heal them,” said Historian and author Rana Safvi.
Author Aanchal Malhotra, who has extensively written on Partition, pointed out teh lack of efforts to recognise shared losses on both sides of the border. She tweeted, “Rather than remembering the horrors endured at Partition, I wish there were efforts to recognize the shared losses Indians and Pakistanis bore - of home, family, friendship, education. An entire way of life fractured. The realization of shared loss may lead to shared healing.”
Nother tweeter user, Shreya Malik said on tweeter that her 90-year-old grandmother has asked, “How can any government really bring back the lived experiences, our families and members suffered back during the #Partition1947 ? How can they just dedicate one day for our suffered silences and violence for years ? How ? We lost everything!!”
“Why not a "heal the wounds" day? "Horror remembrance"? How more brazenly open can a Hate Factory get?” asked journalist Ranjona Banerjee.
However, many also welcomed the move as being much needed. Among the supporters of the move were Union ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party leader.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “Partition should serve as a lesson that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past & take India on path of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ & not on that of appeasement, particularly when volatility in our neighbourhood only seems to have escalated more than ever before.”
Kanchan Gupta, Adviser to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcastinf, tweeted saying, “My father was among Hindu Bengalis who came from East Pakistan and suffered immensely. As a refugee legatee, I am overwhelmed by PM dedicating 14 August as #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay.”