Historians race to preserve dying memories of 1947 India-Pakistan partition

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This photo taken on June 14, 2017 shows an Indian woman looking at a map of the India-Pakistan boundaries as fixed by the boundary commission on August 17, 1947 at the Partition Museum in Amritsar. On both sides of the border that divided the subcontinent 70 years ago during partition, historians are racing to record the accounts of the last living witnesses to one of the largest, deadliest human migrations of all time. In August 1947 the British Raj was dismantled, creating a newly independent India - though with chunks of its western and eastern regions hurriedly amputated to create Pakistan. - TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand / AFP / NARINDER NANU / TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand
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This photo taken on July 7, 2017 shows Mallika Ahluwalia, CEO of the Partition Museum, speaking in Amritsar. On both sides of the border that divided the subcontinent 70 years ago during partition, historians are racing to record the accounts of the last living witnesses to one of the largest, deadliest human migrations of all time. In August 1947 the British Raj was dismantled, creating a newly independent India - though with chunks of its western and eastern regions hurriedly amputated to create Pakistan. - TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand / AFP / NARINDER NANU / TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand
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This photo taken on July 5, 2017 shows Sushwant Kaur, 78, showing a photograph of her late father Sulkhan Singh, with her son Jaswinder Singh (L) in Amritsar. On both sides of the border that divided the subcontinent 70 years ago during partition, historians are racing to record the accounts of the last living witnesses to one of the largest, deadliest human migrations of all time. In August 1947 the British Raj was dismantled, creating a newly independent India - though with chunks of its western and eastern regions hurriedly amputated to create Pakistan. - TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand / AFP / NARINDER NANU / TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand
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This photo taken on June 14, 2017 shows visitors looking at photographs and newspaper clippings at the Partition Museum in Amritsar. On both sides of the border that divided the subcontinent 70 years ago during partition, historians are racing to record the accounts of the last living witnesses to one of the largest, deadliest human migrations of all time. In August 1947 the British Raj was dismantled, creating a newly independent India - though with chunks of its western and eastern regions hurriedly amputated to create Pakistan. - TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand / AFP / NARINDER NANU / TO GO WITH India-Pakistan-partition-history-museum,FEATURE by Ashraf Khan in Karachi with Alexandre Marchand
Updated 27 July 2017

Historians race to preserve dying memories of 1947 India-Pakistan partition

KARACHI: Sitting in her Karachi home, Jamshed Jahan Ara looks straight into the camera as she explains in a trembling voice how her family fled India during Partition in 1947.
Just six years old when she boarded an overcrowded train bound for the newly-created Muslim state of Pakistan, Ara recalls watching armed Sikhs approach — then hearing her father tell her brother to kill the women of the family if the convoy was attacked.
“One is my wife, another is my sister and one is my daughter,” she recalls him saying. “So, dear, be a man. I can’t shoot them. You must kill all three and we will fight (the Sikhs) till the last before we surrender.’
“I asked, ‘Why would Neeam kill me. I have done nothing wrong,’” the 76-year-old tells the camera, emotion flooding her face as she remembered her father’s reply: “A bullet is better (than being captured).”
On both sides of the border that divided the subcontinent 70 years ago, historians are racing to record the accounts of the last living witnesses to one of the largest, deadliest human migrations of all time.
In August 1947 the British Raj was dismantled, creating a newly independent India — though with chunks of its western and eastern regions hurriedly amputated to create Pakistan.
Partition etched a deep fissure in the region and threw millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs on the road to their new homeland.
Six thousand kilometers of new borders were drawn in just five weeks. Fifteen million people uprooted. Entire villages massacred. Tens of thousands of women kidnapped and raped. Possibly as many as two million lives lost.
But behind those statistics are the stories of the men and women who lived through that historic moment, the legacy of which still defines relations in South Asia.
In Pakistan’s southern metropolis of Karachi, students and volunteers are transcribing fragments of oral history collected across the country by the Citizen Archives of Pakistan.
“History for the longest amount of time has been limited to the people who were the rulers or the winners but history has a larger scope. It has individuals who get affected. It has cultures that get affected,” said Aliya Tayyabi, director of the archives.

Sukhwant Kaur, 78, had always struggled to find the words to explain her family’s terrifying escape to the Indian side of the border.
Sitting in her home in Amritsar in north India, the grandmother can still recall with startling clarity the horrors she witnessed as a child of eight.
A mother asking her son to drown her in a river. A small pond with corpses floating in it that was the only place to find water. A woman cutting the umbilical cord of her newborn child with the only thing she could find — a stick of sugar cane.
“I feel much lighter inside having dared to explain all this,” said Kaur.
It is stories like Kaur’s that, for several years now, organizations on both sides of the border including the Citizen Archives of Pakistan, the Amritsar Partition Museum and the 1947 Partition Archive have been hurrying to record and digitise.
“That generation is leaving us,” said Mallika Ahluwalia, director of the newly created Partition Museum. “There’s this real sense of urgency.”
The projects are also seeking to transform that volatile period into more than just a chapter in a school textbook.
In Punjab, which saw some of the worst violence of 1947, the Partition Museum enlisted the help of a dozen high school students from Amritsar.
Few families living around Amritsar, just 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Pakistan, escaped Partition untouched. The teenagers were told to find three stories from the period from among their relatives.
“While interviewing them, images were forming in front of my eyes. It was a painful experience, I almost felt the pain that they were going through at that time,” said 16-year-old student Aniket Bhatia.
Fellow student Rahat Sandhu burst into tears as she heard the story of a survivor whose baby sister was abandoned on the side of the road because no one could carry her.
“He cried, and I cried too,” said Sandhu.
“The kind of energy they put into their words, the kind of bond we shared for that time, for 15 minutes, is inexplicable.”

But within the tales of desperate decisions and senseless brutality emerge stories of love and hope.
“So many people who made it across, made it across because of the kindness of a friend, of a neighbor, of somebody who worked with them and in many cases even a stranger,” said Ahluwalia of the Partition Museum.
Survivors’ accounts also offer objectivity from those who suffered most, says Aleena Mashhood of the Oral History Project — an increasingly valuable perspective as time goes on.
“They say something like, that wasn’t us Muslims who suffered, it was also the Hindus who suffered,” she said. “Your bias breaks.”
In Amritsar’s Partition Museum, where the wounds that still define the region are preserved, the last room is perhaps aptly named “The gallery of Hope.”


Japan joins Malaysia in Olympics race to train 1,000 halal chefs for 2020 summer Games

Updated 19 February 2020

Japan joins Malaysia in Olympics race to train 1,000 halal chefs for 2020 summer Games

  • Japan has teamed up with Malaysia to introduce Muslim-friendly standards (MFS) for the Japanese food industry
  • The MFS partnership with Malaysia is expected to extend beyond the 2020 Olympic Games

KUALA LUMPUR: Olympics host Japan is going for gold in a race against time to train 1,000 chefs in halal food preparation for the summer 2020 Games.
With 5 million Muslim visitors from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia expected to descend on Tokyo for the sporting spectacular, which takes place between July and September, Japan has teamed up with Malaysia to introduce Muslim-friendly standards (MFS) for the Japanese food industry.
“Most Muslim tourists would want to try Japanese food,” said Keith Wong, CEO of Acrosx Malaysia, which has been appointed to the halal expert training committee of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to help develop halal versions of Japanese dishes.
Demand for halal Japanese food was booming and Wong told Arab News: “Tempura is popular among Middle Easterners and in South Asia, while ramen and unagi (eels) are popular among Muslims from Southeast Asia. Sashimi and sushi are very popular among all Muslims.”
He pointed out that MFS were needed because the number of halal restaurants in Japan was currently insufficient to cater for all visitor preferences during the Olympics.
The Japanese government has partnered with Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation to have more than 1,000 chefs trained in preparing halal food and become MFS-certified.
“We are aiming to train 500 restaurants for ‘Muslim-friendly’ certification for the Olympics,” Wong said, adding that MFS were even stricter than general halal standards.
Restaurants adopting MFS would be required to have a separate halal kitchen and provide different utensils for Muslim customers.
The Japanese chefs and restaurant operators taking part in the training will learn about the history of Islam, halal food storage and cooking methods.
The global halal industry is estimated to be worth around $2 trillion, and the Japanese see Muslim travelers as being more valuable than Chinese tourists, Wong said. “Chinese travelers to Japan would usually spend money on high-end, luxury goods. While Muslim travelers, with their friends and family, would spend money on food, lodgings and tourism.”
He noted that the MFS partnership with Malaysia was expected to extend beyond the 2020 Olympic Games.
“We will be aiming for the World Expo 2025 in Osaka,” he said, adding that Japan may become a global and high-quality player in the halal industry.