Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Center Commemoration
Independence and Partition Commemorative and Mujib Remembrance; August 15, 2020
Sachi G. Dastidar
· Welcome to you all at our Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project or ISPaD for this new virtual experiment. Next time please join in person in NYC. Our events are family oriented, So, please join with your family and kids. Many of our friends like Jay Hyman, Alireza, Sumedha, Shefali, Dilip and Dipa, Banani, Debashree and others have provided food and snacks for our events that included Persian, Jewish, Caribbean, Indian, Bengali and American food.
· I thank Mr. Shuvo Roy for organizing this year’s event.
· 74th Independence Day is a joyous event. Partition is a painful event for people like us who lost their homeland for no fault of ours. It was a joyous event for the Muslim League Party and the British. My grandma, grandpa and two uncles spent years and years in British oppressor’s prison for saying Vande Mataram or Glory to the Motherland for India’s independence and driving the colonizer out, yet soon got evicted from home of tens of generations by partition-supporter Muslim League Party activists as penniless refugee.
· I appreciate Mr. Khurshedul Islam’s suggestion as to evaluate how far have we have come since British-created divide-and-rule policy starting on October 16, 1905 by dividing Bengal Province into Muslim Bengal and Hindu Bengal when there was no such demand from Muslims and Hindus, and then giving money to start a separatist Muslim League Party.
· Let me look back at what happened since India, Bengal, Punjab, Assam were partitioned in 1947, and Kashmir in 1948.
· With that Pakistani Punjab became a place devoid of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and losing many of her Christians to India. She lost her Hindu-Sikhs from Sindh, Pathan and Baloch areas.
· Indian Punjab lost most of her Muslims, but not all. Thank goodness most Muslims stayed in India, though most supported pro-partition Muslim League Party as British started an apartheid voting system in India for Muslims and Mon-Muslims.
· Pakistani Kashmir’s 20% non-Muslims vanished altogether. My friend Bal Gupta of Atlanta lost 26 members of his family. Should we care about that? It is great that Indian Kashmir has retained her Muslim majority, although some Muslims are agitating, while their Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are happy.
· Bangladesh/East Pakistan lost 50 million Hindus from 1947 through 2001 Census, plus many Chakma and Buddhists. Can our displaced minorities return back? Incidentally, our Big Powers and pushing Bangladesh to ignore 71 genocide, but still are protesting Nanking massacre though the number of people killed is very small compared to Bangladesh killing by Pakistan. And because of that Japan, China, North and South Korea have not normalized their relation. Why his hypocrisy?
· In 1947 India’s West Bengal lost some Muslims but quickly many more returned increasing its share of state population.
· Burma declared herself Buddhist-Burmese and after 1962 coup deported millions of indigenous Hindus, Muslims, Christians to India. I had classmates who were deported. Why didn’t revolutionaries and pacifists protest? A new form of racism?
· Sri Lanka declared herself Buddhist-Sinhala and expelled Tamil Hindus, Muslims and Christians to India. My NY Tamil neighbor’s parents were deported although they were Sri Lankan.
· China after occupying Tibet cleansed tens of thousands of Buddhists to India. Did we protest? Did our Left and Right protest?
· Years later, after Tibet’s occupation, China marched her army through the Indian territory of Eastern Ladakh in 1962 occupying an area slightly smaller than Bangladesh. So, what did we do?
· Many Indian states were divided because of ethnic sectarianism.
· Bhutan claiming to be Buddhist-Bhutanese monarchy recently expelled over a quarter of her citizens, the Nepali-speaking Hindus. Many of our Nepali neighbors in New York are those refugees. Our reaction?
· Nepal during her Hindu monarchy expelled her plains Hindi-speaking Madhesis to India, though India is the only country which allows Nepalese to work without any paper. And now the communist rulers of Nepal have come up with a new map. Surprise? Are they following the same “anti-Delhi” policy of communist rulers of Indian West Bengal?
· In 1971 Pakistan killed over 3 million Bengali Hindu and secular Muslims when Bengalis formed the majority of their nation, yet no Army mass murderer or babus have been arrested. Why? Why no nation in the Subcontinent but Bangladesh and no Muslim-majority nation demanded trial of mass murderers? Their followers also murdered the Father of the Nation Mujib and his entire family including babies. Why haven’t we asked for trial of those murderers living in the U.S., Canada, Britain and in Muslim-majority nations? Why our lives don’t matter? How can we move ahead forgetting our history? We admire the courage of our transformative leader Bangabandhu or Friend of Bengal.
· Time is long past when people sharing a generic Indian culture to come together, not at the cost of one another but for prosperity of all. This must be at equal footing for all. I find that spirit side-by-side with intolerance. All nations need to be equally tolerant, secular and pluralistic.
· I am speaking from what I found from my visits from Kathmandu, Nepal to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, from Karakorum Mountains in Pakistani Kashmir to Jaffna in Sri Lanka and Chittagong in Bangladesh, and from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to Rawalpindi, Pakistan to Maldives, and from Tuichwang, Mizoram, India to neighboring Bagan in Myanmar. If Mizoram and Bagan were in Europe or South America the journey could have taken a few hours instead days now via Assam, North Bengal, Kolkata and Yangon. From Pakistan to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to distant states of India, I was invited by strangers to their home. This is wonderful, heartwarming, and life changing. One poor family invited me to stay with them who had only a torn sari on the floor as bed and a roll of hay as pillow.
· In my mind, India is nation of nations where national, sectarian, regional or narrow-based parties and ethnic states fight against “Delhi” in a pathologically dysfunctional manner to hide their own incompetence and sectarianism. From distance I sometimes wonder if India’s neighbors too are fighting against “Delhi” like Indian states, as ethnic cleansing from their nations suggest with no reaction from leaders. Their populations are warm to each other as my experience suggest. Why reality and rhetoric do not match? Once I was welcomed by a family in Pakistan while their boy was staying at our home in New York as he had no place to stay.
· We must move ahead economically, socially and culturally. We want a prosperous region. We need not only people-to-people contact but need all nations to treat all of her citizens equally, without glorying past or present oppression. Yet, history must not be forgotten. As we forgot our history, 1947 partition was quickly repeated with 1971 partition.
· Our Partition Center tries to preserve stories of horrendous oppression, killing and displacement from victims, as well as love from neighbors. Ispad also tries to bring people together, not censoring our past.
· We record stories of refugees, protectors and survivors affected by partition, from 1947 to the present. Please check ispad1947 channel at YouTube. Please join our channel. If you know of such individuals, please record and send us the interview for uploading.
· We have a small Partition Museum. We would appreciate if you start one in your own home, neighborhood, village or town like the Irish, Jewish, Armenian, African American, South African, Holocaust victims, Gypsy Roma, Slaves, Palestinian museums in many countries. My New York City has all such museums by the dozens. We have a partition library whose partition collection is possibly lot bigger than any library here.
· If you have artifacts of displaced families which could be displayed, please let us know.
· Please join our annual conference and journal release on Saturday, October 17, 2020 starting at 10:30 AM EST. We have already received several proposals for presentation. We welcome yours. We have books and journals for sale at Ispad office.
· Lastly, our project runs through donation. We appreciate any donation you are able make. ISPaD is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. Moreover, we welcome your active participation.
· In the end, we don’t want more partition, genocide and displacement. I will be happy to answer any question. Be well and be safe! Thank you.