The Partition of India and The Sikhs lecture by Professor Gurharpal Singh BSc MA PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at SOAS, University of London at Wigston Library, Leicestershire, UK on Saturday 4th May was well attended, professionally delivered and much appreciated by those attending whose age ranged from 10 years to 85 years. Professor Singh has written The Partition of India book in conjunction with Ian Talbot and Sikh Nationalism jointly with Giorgio Shani {International Christian University Tokyo } both published by Cambridge University Press. According to the Census figures between 1931 and 1951 the number of people missing are estimated to be between 1 million and 3.7 million.

The first citizen of Oadby and Wigston, Mayor Rosemarie Adams was unable to attend due to unavoidable circumstances. Nevertheless, she sent her best wishes for the success of the event. Councillor Manjula Sood MBE, City Deputy Mayor and the first Asian woman Lord Mayor of Leicester said she was honoured to attend the lecture which was a journey of Sikh history through British Rule. On the night of independence of India my late parents were present at the Red Fort in Delhi. |They saw Lord Mountbatten bring the Union Jack down and raise the flag of India. The first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was also present. One of the reporters asked my mother what her thoughts about independence were. She replied.

“My children will be able to study freely and safely”. The partition resulted in widespread violence, displacement and loss of life, leaving lasting impact on the region’s politics, society and culture. The Sikh community’s valuable contribution in spiritual, social and political field are remarkable.

Professor Jagtar Singh Dhiman, Pro Vice Chancellor Guru Kashi University India sent following message. ‘This initiative to delve deep into the intricate memories of the Partition, particularly highlighting its profound impact on the Sikh community is indeed laudable. As we commemorate this crucial moment in history it becomes imperative to unravel the nuanced narratives and experiences that defined this tumultuous period, especially for Sikhs. The Partition of India 1947 remains a watershed moment, deeply affecting various communities, none more so than the Sikhs. The Partition created the division and left behind a divided Punjab, a region deeply rooted in Sikh history, culture and heritage. For Sikhs, this division brought about immense turmoil, with widespread displacement, violence and loss of life.
Many still vividly recall the harrowing experiences of migration, often described as “Hallyan da time” marked by immense challenges to identity, homeland and security. The struggles of those who migrated from Pakistan to India are a testament to their dedication, as they rebuilt their lives from scratch, contributing significantly to India’s agriculture revolution and food security of the country.

The Partition even after 77 years remains etched in the collective memory of the Sikhs, a reminder of their enduring strength and spirit in the face of adversity. However, it is disheartening to witness the lingering culture of animosity, as evidenced by the daily Guard of Honour at the Atari Wagha International Border, reflecting the unfortunate growth of hatred over the years. I extend my best wishes for the success of the programme. ‘

Questions and Answers followed the lecture and some of which were :

The title is wrong. It is a fact that the Partition was of Punjab.

Lecture was very interesting.

It was very helpful to know the history and build up politically before the partition I wish more knew how well educated people were in the Sikh empire. We should strive for that again.

Presenter was exceptional. We should learn lessons from the 1947 Partition for the current debate of Sikh homeland.

Very educational. Felt like I was at College and University.

I did not know that the Sikhs were not held in high esteem by the British. An excellent talk, Loved it.

Most enlightening the detailed Partition story so eloquently detailed by Professor Ji.

It was only the start of our so-called Sikh leaders who have blood on their hands. They betrayed the Sikhs.

Participants were shown a video of eminent poet Sardar Sarbjot Singh Behl who told the story of his father who had to leave his home and belongings where they had lived happily all their lives with Hindus and Muslims [ now 92 years old} – titled ‘ Mein Gujjranwala Shodd Aeaa…I have left my home in Gujjranwala ‘.

It was great to attend another event set up by a group of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in the local area trying to live so friendly just like they all did in the Land of Five Rivers Punjab before 1947. To mark the 80th Anniversary of the Partition, the University of Leicester will e organising very special events in 2027.

In appreciation of the lecture, Professor Singh was presented with a book titled The Life of Banda Singh Bahadur who set up the 1st Sikh Empire with the blessings of Sri Guru Gobind Singh and a colour laminated photo of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was in charge of Khalsa Raj from 1799 to 1839.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.