School of Arts and Social Sciences
ATS1325 Contemporary Worlds 1
The partition of India in 1948 led to one of the largest mass migration movements in the world. The successful attainment of independence from colonial rule is also a narrative of religious nationalism, displacement and communal violence between the two nation states of India and Pakistan or more definitively the Muslims and Hindus. In Urvashi Butalia’s (2000, pp.264-300) “The Other Side of Silence” the oral testimony of Maya Rani, a Punjabi woman who was a child living in Pakistan during the Partition is particularly important to the histiography surrounding the event as it is told from a different perspective by a person not directly involved in the conflict that the emergence and independence of the nation caused. Maya Rani comes from a lineage of Harijans who are one of the minority groups in India. The Harijans were also affected by the Partition although their involvement in it was somewhat limited as the strife was for the most part between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Her testimony matters as the events that unfolded during and after the Partition as well as public sentiment of the escalating horrific and violent turn of events are seen through different eyes from a position of caste as well as of a child with lower stature in society. The testimony itself documents the upheaval and movement of mass amounts of people especially the movement and treatment of Muslims and Hindus and the religious nationalism that lead to the feeling of detachment on Maya Rani’s part of the events that happened. The author’s experience of the Partition was a relatively good one as she come out of it unscathed as she mentions in her narrative “Because we are Harijans, whether it had become Pakistan or Hindustan it made no difference to us” (Butalia, 2000, p.270). As a child she looted the homes of those who had fled or were persecuted and as a result of the looting she...