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Quotes / The Partition of India

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"Too loud for hope, too silent for victory."
S.S. Kantha, Synechdoche.

Every time the train stopped at a station, we would all hold our breath, making sure not a single sound drifted out of the closed windows. We were hungry and our throats parched. From inside the train we heard voices travelling up and down the platform, saying, “Hindu paani”note  and, from the other side, “Muslim paani."note  Apart from land and population, even the water had now been divided.
A. Malhotra, Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory

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"As long as we rule India, we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it, we shall drop straight away to a third-rate Power."
George Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905

"Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarreling?"
Mahatma Gandhi

"A machine with no engine and all brakes."
Jawaharlal Nehru, on the Government of India Act of 1935.

"I wish the Musalmans all over India to observe Friday 22 December as the "Day of Deliverance" and thanksgiving as a mark of relief that the Congress regime has at last ceased to function."
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on the resignation of the Congress Governments on the outbreak of World War II.

"A post-dated check drawn on a crashing bank."
Mahatma Gandhi, on the Cripps Mission.

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"India is a continent of human groups belonging to different races, speaking different languages, and professing different religions [...] Personally, I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India."
Mohammed Iqbal, on the concept of Pakistan.

"A madness has descended upon the people!"
― Unknown Policeman in Calcutta, when asked about the situation on the ground in Calcutta, August 1946

"This Bloody Line"
Sir David Radcliffe, in an unusually candid moment of reflection on the Borders drawn.

I fully appreciate the fears of our brothers from [the Muslim-majority areas]. Nobody likes the division of India and my heart is heavy. But the choice is between one division and many divisions. We must face facts. We cannot give way to emotionalism and sentimentality. The Working Committee has not acted out of fear. But I am afraid of one thing - that all our toil and hard work of these many years might go waste or prove unfruitful. My nine months in office has completely disillusioned me regarding the supposed merits of the Cabinet Mission Plan. Except for a few honorable exceptions, Muslim officials from the top down to the peons are working for the League. The communal veto given to the League in the Mission Plan would have blocked India's progress at every stage. Whether we like it or not, de facto Pakistan already exists in the Punjab and Bengal. Under the circumstances I would prefer a de jure Pakistan, which may make the League more responsible. Freedom is coming. We have 75 to 80 percent of India, which we can make strong with our own genius. The League can develop the rest of the country.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel, to the Cabinet Mission in August 1946

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Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
Jawaharlal Nehru, India's First Prime Minister on the eve of Independence, 14th of August 1947

We have undoubtedly achieved Pakistan, and that too without bloody war, practically peacefully, by moral and intellectual force, and with the power of the pen, which is no less mighty than that of the sword and so our righteous cause has triumphed. Are we now going to besmear and tarnish this greatest achievement for which there is no parallel in the history of the world? Pakistan is now a fait accompli and it can never be undone - besides, it was the only just, honourable, and practical solution of the most complex constitutional problem of this great subcontinent. Let us now plan to build and reconstruct and regenerate our great nation.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's First President on the eve of Independence, 14th of August 1947

There is frequent reference to a telegram allegedly sent by the Pakistani raiders to their military headquarters during the invasion of Kashmir in 1948: “All women raped, all Sikhs killed.”
Koenraad Elst, Hindu Revivalism

The single most dramatic instance of religious cleansing took place in 1947, removing the Hindu presence completely from West Punjab, Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, the Northwest Frontier Province and parts of Baluchistan and Sindh. The official number of victims, Hindus and Muslims counted together, is usually given as 600,000. We may assume that for the sake of not exacerbating communal animosity, the governments of both India and Pakistan minimized the true figure, which may well be one or two million.
Koenraad Elst, "Religious Cleansing of Hindus", Agni conference in The Hague

The wounds will take decades to heal, and centuries to overcome the trauma of them.
Gulzar

Hindus were always in the wrong no matter who committed aggression in the first instance and who was the real culprit for creating communal tension at any time. The history of the Freedom Movement (1885-1947) was tailored in order to put Hindus in their proper place, that is, as those who brought about the 'tragedy of Partition'. It did not mean a fig to the Indian 'secularists' that Hindus by and large as well as their organizations (The Hindu Mahasabha, The Arya Samaj, The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) had resisted tooth and nail the Muslim League demand for Pakistan; that 97% Muslims of India ruled by the British had opted for Partition in 1946; that the Communist Party of India had marshalled ideological and statistical arguments in support of the Muslim League case; that Socialists had pounced upon Hindus who criticized Muslims and/or Islam; that it was the Indian National Congress which had accepted the Mountbatten Plan of Partition in June 1946; and that Mahatma Gandhi had thrown up his hands in utter helplessness at the last moment after having continued to assure the Hindus of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Bengal that "vivisection of the Motherland could take place only on his dead body"! The exercise used the Nazi logic of accusing the sheep of provoking the wolf.
S.R.Goel, Freedom of Expression: Secular Theocracy versus Liberal Democracy
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