10/08/2017, by Sashi Tharoor
On August 15, 1947, India won independence: a moment of birth that was also an abortion, since freedom came with the horrors of the partition, when East and West Pakistan were hacked off the stooped shoulders of India by the departing British.
Seventy years later, it is hard to look back without horror at the savagery of the country’s vivisection, when rioting, rape and murder scarred the land, millions were uprooted from their homes, and billions of rupees worth of property were damaged and destroyed. Within months, India and Pakistan were embroiled in a war over Kashmir, the consequences of which still affect us today.
There was an intangible partition, too. Friendships were destroyed, families ruined, geography hacked, history misread, tradition denied, minds and hearts torn apart. The creation and perpetuation of Hindu-Muslim antagonism was the most significant accomplishment of British imperial policy: the colonial project of “divide et impera” (divide and rule) fomented religious antagonisms to facilitate continued imperial rule and reached its tragic culmination in 1947.