Most of us learn that the British left India and that the country split into two parts--the Hindu majority in India and the Muslim majority in Pakistan.
But few of us understand the bloody legacy of that paritition, which is the subject of a new book by Nisid Hajari called Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition.
Did you know, for example?
- The partition represented one of the greatest human migrations in history
- Millions of Muslims migrated to West and East Pakistan while millions of Hindus & Sikhs headed in the opposite direction
- Sectarian violence broke out and atrocities were committed on a scale not seen since the Holocaust--"a mutual genocide as unexpected as it was unprecedented," writes Hajari.
- In addition, "some British soldiers and journalists who had witnessed the Nazi death camps claimed Partition’s brutalities were worse: pregnant women had their breasts cut off and babies hacked out of their bellies; infants were found literally roasted on spits.”
- More than 15 million people uprooted, 2 milllion killed
- The Islamic conquest of the 11th century blended Muslim and Hindu cultures "along with hybrid languages—notably Deccani and Urdu—which mixed the Sanskrit-derived vernaculars of India with Turkish, Persian, and Arabic words."
- This cultural mixing lasted well into 19th century but the British ended it, according to one historian, “the British started to define ‘communities’ based on religious identity and attach political representation to them, many Indians stopped accepting the diversity of their own thoughts and began to ask themselves in which of the boxes they belonged."
Below, you can listen to Hajari's interview with NPR's Fresh Air.