Old Sins

It is time for Punjabis to atone for the sins of 1947

The Akali leader Tara Singh addressing a public meeting in Lahore, in 1946. He later led the Akal Sena, which carried out brutal violence against Muslims during Partition. FE Chaudhary/Amarjit Chandan/NCA Archive, Lahore
14 August, 2022

The renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote a short poem in Punjabi about the Partition of 1947:

Kise beejiya ae, tusan waddhna ae
Kise keetiyan ne, tusan wartana ae
Aap wele sir puchhna gichhna si
Hun kise theen ki hisab manggo

Someone sowed, and you shall reap.
Someone did, and you deal with it.
You did not probe, and question either when it was time.
From whom will you seek explanations now?

Faiz was right. What the earlier generations did, the later generations have to suffer and endure. The partition of India, and, therefore, the partition of Punjab, was carried out by outsiders, without asking the Punjabi people.

But history—the public record or reality—keeps seeking answers from the dead and the living. It is a creature that never shuts up. It sees everything and rubs salt into wounds. It is as the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht once wrote: “When the wound stops hurting, what hurts is the scar.”