A new partition museum, recounting the India-Pakistan split, to open in New Delhi this August, coinciding with nation’s 75th Independence Day. By Presha Mahajan
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The indelible, haunting Partition of 1947 has had an everlasting impact on the capital of the country, New Delhi. While the city lost thousands of people, it also took in close to half a million refugees. To set in stone this seminal moment in history, a partition museum managed by The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TACHT), dedicated to this India – Pakistan split, will open its door to the public on the 75th Independence Day, August 15 August, 2021. Its commemoration is likely to take place along with the Delhi government’s Freedom@75 celebrations. The people’s museum, as the Trust calls it, will be established at Dara Shikoh Library building at Ambedkar University Delhi campus, Mori Gate, Old Delhi.
The museum, although an extension of Amritsar’s Partition Museum, will pivot around the impact of the partition on Delhi, its refugee camps, colonies, and people. For this, the Trust has acquired—and will display—artefacts and material memorabilia like letters, photographs, clothes, utensils, documents, and certificates that people barely managed to carry across the border. Some of the collection’s highlights are old signed land deeds scripted in Urdu, an appreciation certificate awarded to contractor Lala Beli by Mahatma Gandhi, and an electricity meter from Lahore. Additionally, it will also feature stories, narratives and experiences of the people who witnessed and outlived the horrors of the mass migration.
As reported by The Hindustan Times, Kishwar Desai, chair at TACHT says, “Within these artefacts are the stories of people who were forced to migrate overnight when the country was divided. It serves as a lesson that we should not divide and rule. The museum will also have inspirational stories of people who survived and those who helped them when they returned to this country after losing almost everything.”
Along with the Partition Museum, there will also be two other spaces set up in the building, in collaboration between the Department of Archaeology and TAACHT—one dedicated to Shah Jahan’s eldest son, Dara Shikoh, after whom the building is named; and the other to exhibit relics and artefacts in their possession.
According to The Indian Express, Desai elaborates, “The entire project is tentatively called Daastaan-e-Dilli, and is aimed at creating a cultural hub at the historic and beautiful Dara Shikoh Library. It will be a unique space in which we can consider the impact of divisions (the Partition of India) and unification (as through the Sufism of Dara Shikoh) side by side.”
The Archaeology Department also plans to curate tours of the three museums, including surrounding buildings of Kashmere Gate and Chandni Chowk, to showcase the history and the magnificent architecture of the city.