The Other Side of Silence voices some dark truths about the history of the Partition of the Punjab Province and reveals some striking facts, kept in a shroud of silence. It highlights how men were convinced that though they could protect themselves, women were somehow incapable of doing so. To save a woman’s honour, by extension, the community’s, it was better to have them “martyred.” The book revolved around the idea of the nation-as-mother and the severing of the nation symbolic to the violation of the mother’s body, and the recurring of this theme in real life instances of rape, abduction and honour killings. Each woman did not just represent a metaphorical mother, but were potential mothers in the eyes of the communities. Therefore, their abduction and rape represented the actual violation of a mother. A raped or abducted mother was unacceptable. Forbidden was an abducted mother who expressed the wish of remaining with the abductor. This sexuality was not even comprehensible. How could the men allowsuch defilement to happen? Only when the women of the community were restored to their proper families on the right side of the border could the nation be whole again. Only then could their manhood remain unquestioned. The women had to be brought back, they had to be “purified” and even separated from their children-the impure products of impure unions. The nation’s honour honour was staked on the body of Mother India, and by extension, on all mothers and would be mothers.
The first female narrative I would like to analyses from the book The Other Side of Silenceis the story of Zainab and Buta Singh, pieced together by Butalia through newspaper accounts, Som Anand’s memoir, Lahore: A Lost City and other sources.
Zainab was abducted and eventually sold to a Jat from Amritsar, Buta Singh. Zainab was a Muslim girl and this incident had occurred when she and her family were on the move from Pakistan in a kafila. Buta Singh married Zainab and they soon came to love each other. They raised a family with two young girls. Many years after the Partition however, a search party on the mission of recovering abducted women traced Zainab down and forced her to leave Buta Singh for her original family. She was given no choice in the matter. It was now a matter of the nation’s pride. Newspaper reports describe the emotional moment when Zainab left her home, assuring her husband that she would be back.
However, Zainab did not return and there was now news of her getting married to an uncle’s son, property being the motive. Buta Singh was desperate. He sold off his land, put money together and even converted to Islam thinking this would help him travel to Pakistan. ButaSingh, now Jamil Ahmed, appealed for a passport and nationality, but in vain. At a time when when both countries were in turmoil, this was next to impossible. However, his application for a short term visa was accepted but on reaching Pakistan, he found that Zainab was already married. In his rush to find Zainab, he had forgotten to report his arrival in Pakistan which was and still is mandatory, and was brought before the magistrate. Zainab, guarded by a ring of relatives was brought as well as Buta Singh had cited her as the reason he was in Pakistan. Dashing all his hopes to pieces however, Zainab rejected Buta Singh, said she was a married woman and had nothing to do with his now. She was even willing to let him take his second child, whom she had brought with her, with him on his return.
Buta Singh was found dead under a train the next day, with a suicide note expressing his last wish which was to be buried in Zainab’s village, which was however, not fulfilled. In death, Buta Singh became a hero while the woman he had done all this for, existed in a veil of silence, which exemplified the theme of silence, its normative and claustrophobic presence, in the lives of every woman. Try as she might, Butalia could never retrieve her voice. What had Zainab felt when captured and most certainly raped? How had she loved a man who had bought her like cattle? Had she loved him at all or simply accepted her fate? What about the two girl children now orphaned? The feminine silence is haunting and a great signifier to how history is a man’s story. There were many women like Zainab. “Why should I return to India?” said one abducted woman, “Why are you particular to take me to India? What is left in me now of religion or chastity?” And another said, “I have lost my husband and have gone in for another. You want me to go to India where I have got nobody and of course, you do not expect me to change husbands every day.”
Writing an account of the hypocrisy of this ‘rescue work’ takes things to another level of barbarity altogether. The men involved were themselves at times harboring abducted women. Two police officers were on duty rescuing one woman when they themselves raped her. Mridula Sarabhai, a rescue worker, gives us a glimpse of what went on in the name of ‘rescue operations’. “In all of this, sometimes a girl would be killed or she would be wounded. The ‘good stuff’ would be shared among the police and army, the ‘second rate stuff’ would go to everyone else.” Women had no ownership over their bodies. Perhaps these rescue workers treated them as objects that were already damaged where further destruction would cause little difference. This is appalling, to say the least, but once a woman was raped, she would lose her identity as a human being and be branded as a ‘rape survivor’ and this would indicate that she had lost all agency over her body and it now belonged to men, to be used as they please, for she was ‘impure’ either way.
The violence that women faced during Partition is shrouded in many layers of silence and women were not even safe in their own families. Death was better than rape or conversion for how can a woman live a dishonored life? When men from another community dishonor a woman, they dishonor the motherland, and by extension, the protectors of the honour of the nation- men. Fathers would behead daughters as I have quotes Bir Bahadur Singh saying in the first chapter, sons would kill mothers, brothers would murder sister and uncles would end the lives of their nieces, all in the name of ‘protection.’ How can one kill to protect? Women were not the ones being protected here, sadly. It was their honour that was being protected and the women to whom this honour was connected to were being martyred in the process. I say ‘connected to’ for women were not the owners of their honour. It belonged to the men. It belonged to the community and the nation at large. Women themselves would also be agents of martyrdom and commit suicide to escape rape as they believed that was a fate worse than death.
Mangal Singh and his brothers had ‘martyred’ seventeen women of their family after leaving home during Partition. He says that they had to cross a boundary of water while travelling and that the women and children would not have been able to cross the water or survive the escape. “So we killed.” He did not even give them a chance. The weakness of women was taken for granted. The women’s side of the story is further silenced by the patriarch saying that these women had apparently “offered” themselves and this was not murder but martyring. “The real fear was one of dishonor. If they had been caught by the Muslims. Our honour, their honour would have been sacrificed. It’s a question of one’s honour…if you have pride, you do not fear” Masculine pride came before the lives of women and though violence could be countered, dishonor could not, for it would hurt manhood itself.
The next female narrative belongs to Basant Kaur, a tall, upright woman in her seventies, who recalls the incident when she and her husband Sant Raja Singh had left the village of Thoa Kahlsa on the 12th of March. During this time in 1947, Sikh villages in Rawalpindi district were attacked over a period of nine days by Muslims. She remembers how her jethor brother-in-law had killed his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter and his uncle so they may be spared from abduction and conversion. She also talks about how a beautiful girl had gone off with the Muslims and the community was scared as they feared that if one had gone, all the others would be taken as well. However, Butalia explains later that this girl had been used as a medium of exchange by the community where the members judged her as a ‘bad girl’ and was willing to exchange her to save the other women.
Basant Kaur goes on to recollect how her husband killed his daughter, his niece, his sister, and grandson. “He killed them with a kirpan.” Her brother-in-law’s son followed suit and and killed his mother, his wife, his daughter, his grandson and granddaughter, with a pistol.
Basant Kaur then narrated the horrific story of how all the women gathered at Mata Lajjawanti’s house which had a well nearby. They did not want to risk being taken away by the Muslims so some hundreds of them jumped into the well. Before Basant Kaur proceeded to jump; she gave her sister-in-law and her daughter opium. “She died and I think the village dogs must have eaten her.” Basant Kaur then jumped, with both her children. “But…it’s like when you put goyas, rotis into a tandoor, and if it is too full, the ones near the top, they don’t cook, they have to be taken out. So the well filled up, and we could not drown…the children survived.” An eyewitness recalls how he watched Basant Kaur jump into the well four times, but in vain.
Gurmeet Singh of the village Thamali describes how the gurudwara, filled with women, was set on fire and other young girls were killed with their own hands. “Women and children, where could they go?”
Among the recorded million who died during the Partition, it is probable that these women, victims of honour kills, or willfully commiting suicides, were not even counted, as families did not report such incidents since they tgemselves were responsible for them. Today, the Sikh men are celebrated for their act of bravery and the women are examples of heroes who ‘gave up’ their lives for the sake of religion. They are apparent ideal to look up to. Ideals, whose honours, like Kamla Bhasin said, only lay in their vaginas. Their sacrifice is compared to ‘sati’ and ‘jauhar’ which Jasodhara Bagchi condemned. What would have happened if these women had been allowed to live? Not conditioned into commiting suicide? They would have been raped, violated, abducted, and converted. Were all of these atrocities worse than the ultimate end from where ther is no return? Perhaps. But by that logic, should all rape survivors kill themselves? This glorification of women who gave up even a chance to survive simply celebrates the community’s honour which remained intact as these women had killed themselves or had been killed by the community and not been raped. In each of the cases mentioned the dispensibility of women, the assumption that they certainly cannot survive, is common and a glaring fact. Perhaps some of the women did in fact give up their lives willingly. I would argue that they were simply conditioned into valuing their honour more than themselves by a patriarchal society that believes that the complete absence of women altogether is better than the presence of impure women.
Bir Bahadur Singh’s recollection is important because it emphasises the silence that prevailed during the honour killings. No one even screamed on a room full of women who were all beheaded. Where then did the line between choice and coersion blur? Did Bir Bahadur Singh in his naarative ever mention that Basant Kaur was his mother and a survivor, not by choice but by chance? He mentioned his sister who had bravely moved her braid to assist her father in the process of beheading her. She was ‘honourably dead’ and his mother, dishonourably alive? We do not know what he thinks of his mother’s story as he simply glosses over it. A woman survivor had to tell her own story and the silence broke slightly. It was easy for the men to talk about the dumb, dead, women.
Mata Lajjawanti had shown powerful agency where she strongly encouraged the women to jump into the well and uphold the tradition of strong, upright, courageous Punjabi women. Did they know that they were acting upon a misperceived notion of what was good for the community and the misconception that the honour of a community lay in killing yourselves so you may be spared from the patriarchal violence of an alien community? We will perhaps never know what their silences hid but I do fee; that the problem lay in the fact that these women were conditioned by their community and society which was radically patriarchal to value their sexual purity and honour more than their individuality and sense of self.
The sheer magnitude of violence and cruelty that occurred during the Partition of the Punjab province was not carried out to that extent in the Partition of Bengal into East Pakistan or East Bengal and West Bengal. However, one compelling similarity between the experiences in Punjab and Bengal was that, in both these divided states, women, of all ages, were attacked, abducted, abused and raped. Not only did these women lose their homes, but they lost their sense of self, being subjected to torture and abandonment. As seen in the massacres in Punjab, in Bengal too it seemed that the easiest way of assailing a community was to defile the sexual purity of its women. It was common knowledge that women would be raped during riots as women’s bodies were were treated as territories to be conquered. Though incidents of rape had a less marked presence in the Bengal Partition, the fear of it marginalised women and prevent them from going out into the public domain, disrupted their education and curbed their freedom. “For the bhadralok middle class refugees, this particular brand of gender ideology entered the domain of ‘common sense.’” Nilanjana Chaterjee’s interviews with various kinds of male refugees resulted in this significant pointer: “The chastity of married and unmarried Hindu women seemed to symbolise most potently the honour, exclusively and continuity of the community- and to represent its site of transgression. Violence against Hindu women featured widely in the minority’s complaints of ill-treatment in Pakistan and as a topic of concern in West Bengal- the sexual possession of Hindu women by Muslim men being made to stand for Muslim domination, ‘miscegenation’, the loss and humiliation of the male Hindu self.”
During the Partition of Bengal, Muslims faced untold suffering in Tripura, especially under the Congress regime in 1964. Meenakshi Sen, in her essay, “Tripura, The Aftermath” from the book The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition in Eastern India, relates the account of two Muslim women; Akia Begum and Kulsum.
Akia Begum, the wife of Dudu Mian, was a simple woman to whom the motherland was her courtyard, her kitchen and her home in Tripura which was a gift from the king of Tripura as her husband was a royal mahout. After Partition, the king was dethroned and Dudu Mian lost his job. He was allowed to retain the house. However, when the refugees started to encroach on the land, their homes were taken away as it was owned by the king and they were rendered homeless. From Tripura, they left for Shivnagar but did not feel welcome there as they were a minority community, and finally they settled in Aralia, on the banks of the river Haora, in a hut. Akia’s brother-in-law, in the meantime, married a widow who had a daughter, Kusum. They had two other children together eventually, Renu and Idris. However, Akia’s brother-in-law died of tetanus suddenly and the widow left her three children with Akia and left. The childless mother adopted all three, though Kusum was not her blood because of which her husband had objected. However, Akia was strong in her decision to mother Kusum along with the other two.
Abject poverty post Partition kept the children away from education. Akia herself was born into a well to do family but was struggling to make ends meet in her latter days/ she could not educate Kusum though she desperately wanted to and was forced to get her married off. While giving birth to a still born child in Bangladesh, Kusum lost the use of her limbs. Not being able to tolerate a crippled wife, her husband smothered her to death one night and buried her. Akia felt like she had experienced the death of her second self that day.
The lives of women post Partitionin Bengal was ridden with poverty, illiteracy and lack of hygiene. Refugees lived miserable lives of indignity and insult. The ultimate truth of the lives of refugees was that they were living a hopeless existence, with their dreams dashed in two like the nation. The Republic of India could have embraced them into her fold but did not do so. The world of Akia and Kulsum was filled with misery and darkness.
The next female narrative from Bengal as documented in The Trauma and the Triumph is of Nalini Mitra, who was interviewed by the Research Team, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University. Nalini Mitra first talks about an atmosphere of peace and friendship in Dhaka among all communities. However, all this changed after 1926. The Divide and Rule policy of the British colonial rulers was a principal behind the foundation of the Dhaka University. The Muslim students enjoyed privileges and stipends Hindus did not. Perhaps there was underlying animosity regarding this though before 1926, all was peaceful. It all started with Muslims objecting to Hindus decorating the dais with earthen pots which they thought was indicative of Hindu hegemonic domination. Riots broke out for the first time in 1926. The situation rapidly worsened between 1926 and 1930. Yet, Nalini never dreamed of leaving her home and crossing over, however, they were left with no other choice, especially during the Muslim League regime.
The narrator, a college lecturer and dedicated social worker, was not one of those women who was going to sit back and be victimised. Under the leadership of Leela Roy, they started a campaign against Partition. However, this brought no change. Leela Roy went on to set up a woman’s organisation names “Purba Pakistan Mahila Samiti.” She became the president while Nalini Mitra was appointed the vice-president.
Unfortunately, the situation worsened for Nalini and her infant daughter and husband. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Nalini to walk to college through a locality of Bihari Muslims. The principal of her college advised her to wipe off her sindur, a mark of a Hindu married woman. Nalini refused to do so as vermillion on her forehead held tender emotions and sentiments behind it. She started taking her daughter to college as she feared leaving her alone with the ayah. One day, Nalini was subjected to obscene remarks while she was sitting in the common room. She realised at that instance that it would no longer be possible for her to live in her beloved motherland. They sold their house and moved to Calcutta in 1950. “For us, the decision to leave was taken quite suddenly. We could only place a few books in the hold-all. The rapidly deteriorating situation made us realise that it would be no longer possible to stay back in East Bengal. In fact, we were too anxious to cross over to this side of the border. But even then, after so many years, my heart still weeps for Dhaka. How can I forget my motherland? I still crave to go back there.”
The trauma of a lost home is something quite unforgettable. My grandmother, the late Ava Ganguly spoke emotionally and longingly about her childhood home in Ichapura, Dhaka. The huge courtyard where they played, a pond where she almost drowned, her crossing a narrow, dangerous path with deep waters on either side and her uncle who was a freedom fighter were some of her most precious memories. She could speak fluently with a Bangalaccentand ardently supported East Bengal in the football matches between the East Bengal team and Mohunbagan. Her stories of her “desh” and the nostalgia for the lost home was an important part of my life till she passed away a year back, taking with her the stories and memories which I failed to record when she was there.
Sukumari Chaudhuri’s narrative is of great bravery, pragmatism and spirituality. A victim of the Noakhali Carnage in 1946, she lost her first husband there, who had been hacked to death. She crossed over to West Bengal from Debipur in Hajigunj in 1950 following an outbreak of communal violence in East Pakistan. She received vocational training at Nari Seva Sangha, worked at Bengal Lamp, led protests there, was is the forefront of the worker’s movement and married again. Her second husband was a political activist. During a strike at Bengal Lamp, she was hauled up in a van by the police. She had threatened the police officer and had told him that she would drag him by the belt and throw him into a pond.
She had witness and been part of the refugees fight for space. The nefarious agents of landlords would try to evict refugees from empty plots and using ordinary kitchen utensils as weapons, the womenfolk would stage defiant battles. They were led by Sandhya Banerjee who used to lead women out of their house and organise protest marches. Chaudhuri, under her instructions, organised several agitations and withstood teargas and brutal lathicharges of the police.
Sukumari Choudhuri leads a quiet life now, immersed in religious activities. She says that she has no memory of a place where there is nothing left that may be called her won. Her indomitable spirit, her triumph over trauma and her fierceness is humbling and she is a proud symbol, along with many other women who refused to quit, of the true essence of womanhood.
Bithi Chakraborty recalls her memories of Partition to Gargi Chakraborty who interviewed her. Bithi Roy, before marriage, was barely fourteen years old when she was uprooted from her ancestral home in Dhanata village of Sirishbari in Jamalpur, subdivision of Mymemsingh district. She was born into a nationalist zamindari family.
The communal tensions started with the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946. Bithi was a student of Sarishbari Girl’s School and at this time, she was suddenly barred from going to school. She was not even allowed to step out of the house, as she was a young girl and liable to being abducted. She recalls how a girl names Jyotsna, from a well off family and studying at Bithi’s school had her house attacked, most of the family members were killed and she was kidnapped and gang raped. She became a raving lunatic after this traumatic experience. Bithi goes on to remember how Ghetu, a neighbor, had lost his wife and son who were stabbed while travelling by train, the Surma Mail, to Calcutta.
In December 1946, dressed in a bride’s dress while her youngest aunt wore a borkha, Bithi’s family of thirty seven arrived at Calcutta. “My studies had gone to the dogs. No school for four years.” However, Bithi fought for an education, worked hard, passed school final, Intermediate and even graduated. She wanted to pursue higher studies but by now, she had to take up the responsibility of the entire family, as she was the oldest. In course of time however, she completed her Special Honors and MA in Bengali. She even completed her BT with scholarship and took to teaching and giving tuition. Her family and she struggled through acute poverty all the while. Though born into a zamindari family, there were days where Bithi’s family lived on puffed rice and water. Bithi only married after making sure her siblings were settled. Dr. Chakravarti, her future husband had proposed at the time that they go abroad and had assured her he would send money to her family. But Bithi refused. She was a strong, independent woman, who did not have to rely on the man in her life to take care of her family. She was more than capable of doing it herself. Dr. Chakravarti waited. They married in 1967 when a;; her siblings had got jobs and the family was financially stable.
Bithi’s story, of admirable determination, a story of great victory and feminine strength, was inspirational but fortunately, not unique. There were many Bithis in West Bengal who fought for an education and independence. Simultaneously, her story is in sharp contrast to the life of Akia and Kulsum, also from Bengal. However, each female narrative of Bengal was exempla nary in its own way. Sukumari Chaudhuri’s courage and activism hand in hand with spirituality and practicality, Nalini Mitra’s independence and rootedness to culture, even Akia Begum’s adopted motherhood in times of peril and poverty, and of course, Bithi’s quite rage and tenacity are true stories of triumph over trauma during the Bengal Partition. They may be women, but they were not helpless, weak, mute, cattle. Their sense of self was strong and theirs spirit was indomitable. They did not doubt their strength because they were of the perceived weaker sex and they emerged victorious and gloriously alive. However, their histories were tainted with the countless female narratives which were not as triumphant. Thousands of women were raped, converted, abducted and forced to marry men who had just killed their husband. The history of India and its Partition is bloody but there are specks of triumph twinkling in the darkness which are truly inspirational.
While the Partition of Bengal was a slow, agonising process with outbursts of violence (1946 riots in Kolkata and Noakhali, 1962 riots in Nayanganj, Dhaka and more recently, Bhola and Jessore in 2001), the Punjab Partition was one bloody event which was more destructive than the Bengal Partition. However, incidents on both sides were barbaric and though the colonial masters fuelled the disparity between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, the underlying antagonism and hate harboured by members of these communities showed its true colours during the Partition. Bapsi Sidhwa, in a conversation with Alok Bhalla as documented in his book Partition Dialoguestalks about how greed was a strong motivator during the riots. Perhaps some communities thought that if they could get rid of the other, they could take over their business or remove competition. “Greed is a very strong part of human nature which can drive people to extremes,” she says.
Bapsi Sidhwa goes on to talk about how the Parsee community in Lahore too was affected by the Partition. Their biggest fear was that girls from their community would marry Muslim boys after Partition. There were hardly any Hindus left in Lahore for the community to fear them. Travelling across the border of Wagah had become cumbersome for the family. She had her mother’s family at Bombay and they were compelled to fill endless forms before going into enemy territory from Pakistan. Before the partition, Lahore was a place where Hindus and Muslims lived together and distributed across the city so as to form a mosaic. As a Parsee, Sidhwa says that it was sad to see two communities that lived in such close proximity fall apart so violently.
Anglo-Indian communities too were witness to and affected by the Partition. Many left India in its aftermath. George Henderson, an Anglo-Indian recalls his encounter in an interview with oral historian Dorothy McMenamin. This encounter, witnessed by George, was in Agra and is another example of the ferocious violence between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs and again, how women were tortured to an extent to which I had not thought was humanly possible.
“One Thursday, aged about thirteen, I was going with my bearer to buy some magazines at a bookstore on Tundla Junction platform, not far from Agra. A Muslim girl, probably fourteen or fifteen years of age, was walking along carrying her baby brother, when four Sikhs carrying swords came down some steps in the opposite direction. The girl tripped and said something like Aai Allah, a distinctively Muslim expression. The Sikhs snatched the baby, decapitated it, ripped open the girl’s belly and put the baby into it.”
George and his father had seen a train stationed, full of dead bodies with flies buzzing. George also knew of Anglo-Indians involved in incidents during Partition troubles. His cousin, Melville Killoway, was taken off a train and stripped to examine whether he was circumcised, therefore a Muslim. Finding he was in fact circumcised, he had to recite the Lord’s Prayer to prove he was a Christian, otherwise Melville believed he would have been killed. A train driver, Ginger Cracknell, was caught by rioting Indians and made to don a Gandhi cap and wave the Indian national flag, but was otherwise unharmed. George also heard about two Anglo-Indian nurses, the William sisters, being thrown off a train.
It was not only Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who were affected during the Partition of India but people of all castes, class, community, age and gender. The most basic essence of humanity was lost and mankind was turned to beasts. The few incidents of inter-community friendship and love was overshadowed by the sheer plight differences had brought.
The sacrifice of the women who jumped into wells in Punjab or were willingly beheaded is compared to the extreme sacrifice of the many Rajput women who undertook mass immolation when their husbands lost wars. The women who ‘offered’ themselves in this manner is glorified in the patriarchal society while the women who survived and are alive are somehow inferior to theirmartyred counterparts. Jashodhara Bagchi in her essay “Freedom in an Idiom of Loss” calls this a rather strange twist of logic. She cites Atulprasad Sen’s song ‘Balo, Balo, Balo Sabe’ where the artist calls upon the people of India who are the children of women who embraced the pyre to join hands in anti-colonial resistance. Bagchi condemns the fact that what had started out as an image of resisting the colonial masters had helped turn the women into potential victims of communal conflicts.
Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin cite Stasa Zajovic, who while analysing the mass rape of women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, says that as a result of rape “the female womb becomes occupied territory” and this image is taken to an almost literal level in George Henderson’s account of the Muslim girl. I have also written about John Moore’s encounter where he saw a pregnant woman who was carved open. The amputation of breasts and the mutilation of the female genitaliais akin to the want of wiping the enemy off the face of the earth by desexing the mother so she may never reproduce the enemy.
My grandmother, Ava Ganguly, a victim of the Bengal Partition, left East Bengal and her childhood home for West Bengal, but went on to a third neutral space after her marriage to Mumbai. She preferred living in Mumbai to Kolkata, a choice which reflects Atia Hosain’s preference for a third neutral space. She cried bitterly when she had to shift permanently to Kolkata, experiencing the loss of home all over again.
Patriarchy constructed women in a peculiar way during Partition. A woman’s dignity and respectability was confirmed by the extent to which she was able to remain sexually purity. She was made to realise that her sexuality was a threat to her and that she had no ownership over her body. It was not a question of her own honour as much as it was a question of her family’s, her community’s and her nation’s honour. She was the repository of her community’s honour. This paper confirms the fact that in a situation of conflict, defiling a woman becomes a symbolic form of dishonouring the community because rape or the fear of it is overshadowed in almost every female narrative analyses here. No matter what the differences were between the narratives,no matter on whichever side of the Partition, it was clear that patriarchal society, regardless of nationality, chose the woman’s body as a weapon of dishonouring the other community. The tradition of martyrdom and the concept of honour to combat rape culture was as harmful to women as physical violence. The history of both India and Pakistan is extremely bloody but the colonial masters had blood on their hands as well. Their disinterest in maintaining law and order at a time when this was essential, their disorganised and hurried way of dividing India and their furious retreat after exploiting India in every way, was the reason why the violence and atrocities escalated to the extent it did.