In the 70 years since India and Pakistan were created from the former British Empire, there has never been a venue focused on the stories and memorabilia of those who survived that chaotic and bloody chapter in history. A new museum on the Partition of the Indian subcontinent opens this week, as the two South Asian giants mark seven decades as independent nations.
If you look at any other country in the world, they’ve all memorialized the experiences that have defined and shaped them. Yet this event that has so deeply shaped not only our subcontinent but millions of individuals who were impacted has had no museum or memorial 70 years later,” said Mallika Ahluwalia, CEO of the Partition Museum .
The exhibitions, housed in the red-brick Town Hall building in the north Indian border city of Amritsar, include photographs, newspaper clippings and donated personal items meant to tell the story of how the region’s struggle for freedom from colonial rule turned into one of its most violent episodes, as communal clashes left hundreds of thousands of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs dead and another 15 million displaced from their ancestral homes. An antique pocket watch that belonged to someone killed in mob violence in Pakistan. Woven fabrics from craftsmen of the time. A traditional rope cot carried by a refugee across the border. And many old black-and-white family snapshots.
The fact that it will be India’s first Partition museum makes it even more crucial, she said. Tickets are priced low at 10 rupees (25 cents) for Indians and 150 rupees ($2.30) for foreigners to encourage more visitors. The museum is a nonprofit trust that has raised money from individuals such as Indian ad guru Suhel Seth and companies including Airtel and the Hindustan Times. The Punjab government donated the space.