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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Memories of Partition

Memories of Partition

An exhibition starting in the Capital on Thursday will showcase books, photographs, films, art, even oral testimonies, from 1947-49

An old photograph of a refugee camp at Humayun’s tomb. Photo courtesy: The Partition Museum ProjectPremium
An old photograph of a refugee camp at Humayun’s tomb. Photo courtesy: The Partition Museum Project

It was their second meeting, in a queue at a refugee camp in Amritsar in independent India. As soon as Bhagwan Singh Maini, from Mianwali in newly created Pakistan, saw Pritam Kaur, from the neighbouring Gujranwala locality, he approached her. “Are you the same person?" he asked. She was. They had first met when their marriage was being considered. During Partition, Kaur, like Maini and a million others, had to leave what had become part of Pakistan for India. That second meeting at the camp led to many more frequent meetings, and later, marriage.

These questions led to The Partition Museum Project, chaired by author Kishwar Desai and supported by the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage. The project plans to set up a “living" museum in Amritsar in Punjab that “commemorates Partition and the sacrifices made by people on both sides of the border". It will hold oral histories, photographs, documents from archives, films, documentaries, paintings, poetry and other items that will tell the story of history’s largest mass migration. “The collection at the Yadgar-e-Taqseem museum will be constantly updated, hence the ‘living’ prefix," says Desai, whose maternal grandparents crossed the border to India in 1947. “The idea is not to blame anyone, it’s just about healing and reconciliation."

The museum is expected to be opened by the end of this year.

Since last year, Desai, along with others, has been collecting material for the museum; most of it will be on display as part of the exhibition Rising From The Dust: Hidden Tales From India’s 1947 Refugee Camps, starting on Thursday at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in Delhi.

“It’s time to lift the veil of silence over Partition," says Desai.

Rising From The Dust: Hidden Tales From India’s 1947 Refugee Camps will be on from 19-26 May at the Visual Arts Gallery, IHC. If you have a memory, an anecdote or any material related to Partition or a refugee camp to share, mail

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Pooja Singh
A journalist with over 15 years of experience. A Chevening fellow and graduate of Columbia University, New York
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Published: 18 May 2016, 07:05 PM IST
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