On the eve of India’s 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that August 14 will henceforth be observed as “Partition Horrors Remembrance Day”.
The PM made this major announcement in the quietest of ways, with a post on his twitter handle. “Partition’s pains can never be forgotten. Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence. In memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people, 14th August will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day,” he tweeted in Hindi and english adding “may the #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay keeps reminding us of the need to remove the poison of social divisions, disharmony and further strengthen the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment.”
देश के बंटवारे के दर्द को कभी भुलाया नहीं जा सकता। नफरत और हिंसा की वजह से हमारे लाखों बहनों और भाइयों को विस्थापित होना पड़ा और अपनी जान तक गंवानी पड़ी। उन लोगों के संघर्ष और बलिदान की याद में 14 अगस्त को ‘विभाजन विभीषिका स्मृति दिवस’ के तौर पर मनाने का निर्णय लिया गया है।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 14, 2021
Official notification of Govt declaring 14th August as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day
Govt says this will remind the present and future generations of Indians of the pain and suffering faced by the people of India during the partition pic.twitter.com/O70gQCjoZp
— Aman Sharma (@AmanKayamHai_) August 14, 2021
Many ministers, including Home Minister echoed the PM and said the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day will “strengthen peace, love & unity by eliminating discrimination and malice from the society.”
देश के विभाजन का घाव व अपनों को खोने के दुःख को शब्दों में वर्णित नहीं किया जा सकता।
मुझे विश्वास है कि #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay समाज से भेदभाव व द्वेष की दुर्भावना को खत्म कर शांति, प्रेम व एकता को बल देगा।
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) August 14, 2021
As expected the Prime Minister’s sudden tweet went viral within minutes and set off a debate on what the need was to name August 14 as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day. India’s neighbour Pakistan celebrates August 14 as its Independence Day.
There is always an attempt of cordiality between the two nations, on this day. In fact Pak Rangers and India’s Border Security Force (BSF) guards exchange sweets at Attari-Wagah border on this day to mark Pakistan’s Independence Day. The BSF commandant Jasbir Singh told the media that, “We will also gift sweets to them tomorrow”, as a part of the celebrations of India’s 75th Independence Day on Sunday, August 15. This year too, the occasion was reported widely on both Indian and Pakistan media. It is often dubbed “sweet diplomacy” and is a tradition carried out by the BSF that guards the massive India-Pakistan International Border.
#Pakistan Ranger’s Wing Commander Hassan presents sweets to #Indian Border Security Force (BSF) commandant Jasbir Singh during a ceremony to celebrate Pakistan’s 75th Independence Day at the India-Pakistan Wagah border post. pic.twitter.com/eapsB1ZAPx
— Shiraz Hassan (@ShirazHassan) August 14, 2021
Journalists also shared images of sweets also being exchanged by Indian and Pakistan Army troops stationed at the LoC Mendhar-Hotspring.
Annual rituals of irony. Indian & Pakistan Army troops at LoC Mendhar-Hotspring exchanging sweets today on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day. pic.twitter.com/klzZEYZQly
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) August 14, 2021
The sharp divide on social media was clear, while many who are fans of the PM agreed with his given title to August 14, there was an equal number who believed this was not a gesture that indicated peace and could in fact be most divisive. Some said it was politically motivated and reminded the PM that he himself has often greeted the people of Pakistan on their national days including their Independence Day.
The divisive duplicity exposed !
Congratulate Pakistan on 22nd March, the day Muslim League (22/3/1940) passed the “Partition Resolution”;
Congratulate Pak on every 14th August;
Start diversionary politics at home.
P.S- Pl read PM’s Letter & Tweet ? pic.twitter.com/qW2DIWotAT
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 14, 2021
‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’
This is vile! It is not about remembering people who lost families to the partition, this is done to opening wounds and create communal hatred.
— T M Krishna (@tmkrishna) August 14, 2021
Was Aug 14, 1947 ‘Partition day’?
As recalled in an article on Hindustan Times, Lord Mountbatten, India’s last Viceroy, released a plan on the country’s Independence from the British on June 3, 1947. This was the Mountbatten Plan, which “announced that India would be splitting into two nations after its independence — India and Pakistan. The division came into effect on August 15, 1947.” The plan “included the principles of partition and gave autonomy and sovereignty to both India and Pakistan. It also gave the nations the right to form their own constitution.”
On August 14, 2021, the government’s press statement on PIB added the reasoning as it were to naming the day. It stated: “Independence Day, which is celebrated on 15th August every year, is a joyous and proud occasion for any nation; however, with the sweetness of freedom came also the trauma of partition. The birth of the newly independent Indian nation was accompanied by violent pangs of partition that left permanent scars on millions of Indians. The partition caused amongst the largest migrations in human history affecting about 20 million people. Millions of families had to abandon their ancestral villages/towns/cities and were forced to find a new life as refugees. While at the stroke of midnight of 14th-15th August, 2021, the entire nation will be celebrating the 75th Independence Day, the pain and violence of partition has remained deeply etched in the nation’s memory. While the country has moved on, to become the largest democracy and the third-largest economy of the world, the pain of partition suffered by the nation can never be forgotten. While celebrating our Independence, a grateful nation also salutes those sons and daughters of our beloved motherland who had to sacrifice their lives in the frenzy of violence.”
Wall of shipping containers at Red Fort, high alert in Delhi
The national capital of Delhi, all roads leading to Red Fort where the PM will unfurl the National Flag on Independence Day are now covered under a security blanket. It is for the first time that a wall of shipping containers has been placed at the entrance of the Red Fort ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on August 15. The Delhi Police told the media that this has been done for security reasons. At the Red Fort the security arrangements include deployment of “NSG snipers, elite SWAT commandos, kite catchers, canine units and sharpshooters on high-rise buildings,” reported The Mint adding that “anti-drone systems have also been installed at the Red Fort in view of the recent terror attack at IAF station in Jammu airport.”
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