The defining moment in Indian history came when India attained freedom in August 1947. This was at a great cost, as its two fertile regions of West Punjab and East Bengal were truncated and became part of a new country, Pakistan.
The Partition caused the greatest human migration in history, for which government agencies of the two nascent nations were abysmally unprepared. A line drawn across the map of undivided India led to an unprecedented scale of human tragedy, of mass killings, looting, arson, abduction and rape.
Wrenched away from their family and friends, homes and livelihoods, the survivors of Partition were forced to rebuild their lives from scratch, away from the land of their forefathers.
The Holocaust left deep, indelible scars on the lives of a generation who consciously tried to consign the bitter memories to oblivion so that they could move on in life.
75 years after Partition, as the generation who witnessed this first hand is fast disappearing, this book records personal stories of people, now old and frail, who lived through these turbulent times. It is an attempt to document these oral histories before the survivors of Partition are no longer alive to bear witness to this monumental event.
Kiran Kohli Narain was born in 1943 into a Punjabi family who became refugees from Pakistan in 1947. The family originally hailed from Sialkot and Lahore. Like most Punjabis before Partition, her family shared good relations with Hindus and Muslims, neighbours and friends cutting across communal divides.
Along with other members of the extended family, her family lost everything they had in Lahore. Again, during the Kabaili Raid in October 1947, Kiran’s family lost all their material belongings in Baramulla, Kashmir and had to make a fresh start in Srinagar, Kashmir.
Her first book – Kashmir: The Loss of Innocence was well received by readers as well as the Press.