1947 Partition Stories I Raghuvendra Tanwar: Partition History Comes Naturally To Him

The partition of undivided India into two states, India and Pakistan, in the year 1947 remains one of the greatest tragedies, not just for the two countries but the entire world. While the partition showed some of the worst sides of humanity but even in those dark days the human spirit of compassion remained resilient. Individuals reached out across cultural and religious boundaries to help those in need. Tridivesh Singh from India, and Tahir Malik and Ali Farooq Malik from Pakistan, came together to tell stories from both side of the divide which show us humanity’s triumph over our angry, violent inner nature. The Dispatch brings to you the select stories from the book ‘Humanity amidst Insanity’.

Raghuvendra Tanwar, 53 a prominent historian, is a specialist on partition and is based in Kurukshetra, Haryana. While he was born after partition, he has grown up on stories of how his grandfather rescued a group of Muslims migrating from Lukhi village in Kurukshetra, a village where Hindus and Muslims had co-existed for years without any problems. Apart from this, his wife’s parents belonged to West Punjab and belonged to that category of people who never thought that partition was something permanent. In fact, during the partition his mother-in-law was holidaying in Manali. His own area of interest is the partition and he has written some very well received books on the issue. Giving a brief background to the geographical location and social structure of his village Lukhi — close to Kurukshetra – the place where village Rajputs saved Muslims, Raghuvendra Tanwar says,

‘Lukhi is situated about 15 km from Kurukshetra and is one of the oldest villages of the area. Indeed its historical roots go back to about 1000 A.D. i.e. the displacement of the Tomar dynasty from Delhi. The village has stood out over the centuries for the closeness of relations between its Rajput  and Muslim inhabitants. Historically, Muslim Rajputs and Hindu Rajputs have had good relations in this part of the country,.

Tanwar was born after partition and his case is again a perfect illustration of the post-oral memory at play; in fact, he himself says in his book: ‘For years and years I have heard stories from old men of my village of how Muslim families were unwilling to leave and how the villagers, mainly Rajputs, wanted them to stay on’.

Describing the whole episode in which his grandfather Thakur Hakam Singh and his brother Thakur Prithvi Singh were part of the effort to save Muslims Tanwar says, “Their village was surrounded by people from the Kurukshetra refugee camp (non-Muslims who had come from West Punjab) and from Thanesar. They wanted the Muslim families to be handed over to them. For more than one day, Rajput families of the village (including my own) guarded these families and made sure that the Muslim families suffered no harm”.

He goes on to say, “When an army detachment came to recover the families, about 50 Rajputs accompanied the families to the large Muslim convoy that was then passing near Rajpura to ensure their safety”.

Tanwar further adds that that while there were about 200 Muslims, large quantities of food were prepared for them and two bullock carts with the finest pair of bullocks were gifted to the departing families to carry the food.

While Tanwar’s grandfather helped Muslims to leave safely, the family he married into migrated from Pakistan. His father-in-law, Dr. PN Anand and mother- in-law, Swarn Anand both migrated from Pakistani Punjab. His father-in-law was a medical student in Lahore. Not being able to predict whether he would return to Lahore, he left for Amritsar with some other friends. They left in such a haste that they did not even carry their books and class notes. His mother-in-law belonged to Khanewal and she and her family took it for granted that they would return to their home.

Tanwar also says, “Several of my father’s friends had been in touch with him. My father had passed away almost 20 years ago and the links have naturally been broken”.

He himself is deeply interested in partition and has written a number of books including, Reporting the Partition of the Punjab. Being a scholar of partition he has also interacted with many individuals from across the border.

Talking about his links with Pakistan, he mentions the visit of a Pakistani delegation to Kurukshetra,”About three years ago, we had received a large delegation of Pakistani politicians and media most were very nostalgic as they visited the villages around Kurukshetra”.

He is also in touch with prominent Pakistani scholars like Professor Imran Ali and Professor Tahir Kamran.


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