Anybody who has read Manto would have experienced vicariously the horrors of Partition. The scale of such an artificial displacement very often doesn’t get the treatment it ought to in our history books. Many of them start with the British rule, the resistance to it and lead up to the events that lead to Partition and the formation of the two new states, conveniently ignoring the horrors that it perpetrated.
In the heritage City area of Amritsar, you will find a red brick colored building which is dedicated to the partition. The partition museum, tries to recapture and present before us the horrors that unfolded during those days where the large mass migration of people happened anywhere in the world.
For a museum that tries to capture the horrors of a colonial rule ending in such an horrific manner, I found it distasteful that the building looked Western in it’s architecture. Though there are elements of Indian style, the huge pillars and the arched windows reminds you of classical Greek or Roman buildings. This is no way a critique of the contents of the museum. It is probably one of the best museums I’ve been to.
Inside the museum, you find various artefacts that were left behind by migrants or carried over to the new country by them. Many a times, given the violence engulfing them, these refugees could only carry a few articles that would be the most important to them and many such articles are on display. You often realise that the same faith that divided them is what gave them the power to survive such a traumatic event, when you see the torn Ramayana, rosary beads etc that were carried by those unfortunate souls.
You also find historic documents newspaper articles, video footages, journals etc of the time. The horrors of Partition and the suffering that the birth of two nation’s brought forth are reenacted realistically in this museum. If you are visiting Amritsar, don’t forget to visit the Partition Museum. You will never see such a museum elsewhere. It acts as a reminder for the present and also a memorial for the past.