The British are leaving India. On the 14th August 1947 Pakistan celebrates. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the first Governor-General of Pakistan and Lord Mountbatten, the British Viceroy, parade through Lahore .
The next day, Mountbatten is back in Delhi and alongside India’s first post independence Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. India arrives on the world stage on the 15th August 1947.
The creation India and Pakistan led to what has been described as the world’s largest mass migration. Anywhere between 14 and 20 million people were on the move.
In the North West frontier alone it’s estimated that one and a quarter million Muslims left western India but did not reach Pakistan. The corresponding number for missing Hindus and Sikhs is put at 840,000. That’s over 2.2 million people that went missing.
The story of the people of partition is being captured in an excellent oral history project called the 1947 Archive. “I feel like a bottled plant,” relates Z. Ansari, on becoming homeless overnight in the wake of riots that engulfed his homeland. “I have no roots. I can be put anywhere.”
If you want to learn some background, The Day India Burned, a BBC documentary, is an excellent resource. India’s independance is a happy story, but it came at a terrible cost.