In a very informative historical video essay for the Vox series Borders, host and travel vlogger Johnny Harris toured the highly secured border between India and Pakistan to explain the catastrophic division amongst people that took place when British India was partitioned into two independent countries.
Shortly ahead of Britain’s retreat of the region in 1947, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, a lawyer who had no information or knowledge in demarcating borders, quickly and quietly drew an eponymous line across the two countries that separated families, upset neighbors against one another, forced people out of their homes and built religious friction where there had previously been very limited.
Two days after independence the borders were made public, prompting more than 14 million people to leave their homes, their lives for what was now their side of the border. Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan moved into India
and many Muslims in India moved into the new Pakistan. These were people who were indeed forced to lose their entire homes, their memories, their childhood and the things they saw. It was one of the largest forced migrations of people ever and it was chaos, a chaos that led to widespread unspeakable violence.
The effects of the 1947 partition are still being felt even after 70 years later.
Seventy years later, the shadow of partition continues to divide families, halt trade, cut connection, stop cooperation, instill fear, promote hatred and the people who live in its shadow on both sides, old and young, continue to live with this division that’s superimposed upon their history of deep connection.