The Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was a traumatic affair – over 2 million killed and 14 million people crossing borders. By any stretch of the imagination, the largest movement of people in human history.
But the event also raises the question, Whose Partition? rendering the meaning of words slippery – “trauma” for one (Indians) is “freedom” for others (Pakistanis). Each dreams of the event through a different prism, unable/unwilling to repair the tear in human relations.
Such fracturing (Ireland, Brexit to name other examples) marks a fault-line, tectonic plates dividing peoples with the fixity of ideas that can only rub against each other, with the prospect of perhaps never coalescing.
The creation of lines – arbitrary lines – has been the cause of much human suffering; the Partition being a case in mind but think also of Rwanda and its Hutu-Tutsi acrimonies, the former Yugoslavia and its “ethnic cleansing”, Ireland and its Protestant-Catholic divide. So many British colonies offer similar examples.
And these lines are not the creation of politicians alone: religions – particularly religions of “the Book” – and nationalisms have thrived on them. Faith, country, colour, ethnicity, gender, class… faulty lines created by arbitrary men.