History of Riots During the Partition of India: A Study of Urdu Literature


  • Dr. Khalid Mahmood


Independence along with the Partition of British India in 1947 was obtained at a great human cost. Communal riots already rampant since 1946, saw a mounting upsurge during the 1947 Partition process. All the three major communities Hindu, Muslim and Sikhs became victims of the most vicious atrocities. Whether Partition caused riots, or riots caused Partition has become a topic of historical debate, ever since Penderel Moon put forward the view in 1961, that Partition had caused the communal riots. In this context we turn to Urdu fictional accounts of Partition, because Urdu is the only language of literary expression common to all the three affected communities. Our inquiries reveal that literary critics were not as accommodative as the creative writers. We submit, that at times, works of fiction re-create the atmosphere and milieu of an era more authentically than those contained in bare documents like Police records. On another plane, riot history is also People’s History, because anonymity offers greater scope for imagination and it is imagination which creates the ambience which is needed to bring events closer to human conscience. In South Asia there is a tradition of drawing upon literature to comprehend history. In the first layer lie the fictional accounts themselves. Two important, though not exhaustive anthologies of riot fiction, are Mumtaz Shirin, Zulmat-i-Neem Roz, Lahore, 1991 and Zubyar Rizvi (ed.) Fasadat ke Afsane, New Delhi, 1995




How to Cite

Dr. Khalid Mahmood. (2021). History of Riots During the Partition of India: A Study of Urdu Literature. Quarterly Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, 69(2). Retrieved from http://phs.com.pk/index.php/phs/article/view/120