Amritsar, 17 August: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday inaugurated the world’s first Partition Museum as a tribute to the sacrifices of the millions of people who lost their lives and homes in the partition of the country in 1947, with a call for learning lessons from history to ensure that such a sad event is never repeated in any part of the world. It was a somber moment as Captain Amarinder unveiled the plaque of the museum – an initiative of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust or TAACHT, at a special commemoration ceremony which scripted the observation of August 17 as the Partition Remembrance Day. A minute of silence was observed after the ringing of a bell at the historic Town Hall, where the Museum has been built. The Chief Minister dedicated the Museum, developed in collaboration with the state government, to the nation on the occasion.
Capt Amarinder, in his speech filled with memories and emotions of the sad chapter of Indian history, lauded the efforts of Lord Meghnad Desai in giving shape to the first-of-its-kind museum, which had “recreated a very sad chapter of our history.” The museum, along with The Azadi Memorial in Jalandhar and similar initiatives, would serve to help the younger generations know and understand their past and learn from it, said the Chief Minister, adding that no nation could do well without learning their lessons from history. The Chief Minister said that while for the younger generation, those days of the partition had been reduced to statistics, those who went through it had many sad and grim memories of those times. The museum, he said, would help the youngsters actually see and experience one of the greatest migrations in history.
The event, which was marked by a poetry recital by Gulzar, who launched his newly translated book, Footprints on Zero Line: Writings on the Partition, on the occasion, was marked by a series of events, including panel discussions with eminent experts such as Urvashi Butalia and the poet Surjit Patar, a short play on Partition by Kahaniwala, and Sufi music recital by the Hashmat Sultana sisters.
Built in the long-neglected Town Hall building at Katra Ahluwalia near the Golden Temple complex, the Museum is inspired by the stories of Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto, who belonged to Amritsar and whose family home in Gali Vakilan was among the 40% houses destroyed in the Partition communal violence. The Museum has put together mementos and material of 1947 shared by various people and is a walk down memory lane, with its pictures, paintings and videos. A hall of the freedom struggle plays piped songs of resistance from the two regions most active in the struggle and a sad poem by Amrita Pritam, addressed to Waris Shah, plays in the background.