Debating India


Advani has re-opened wounds of Partition

Thursday 9 June 2005

AHMEDABAD: It’s not just about the Sangh Parivar. Many in Gujarat, who have suffered the agony of Partition, are upset about L K Advani’s statement in Pakistan - calling Mohammed Ali Jinnah a secular leader.

They say Advani’s remarks have re-opened wounds created over five decades ago.

Sixty nine-year-old Sudarshan Joshi still cannot forget the parting. His family was forced to leave Lahore, leaving behind three palatial bungalows.

"It is an insult to those who bore the brunt of Jinnah’s doing. We experienced the hatred perpetrated by Jinnah and it pains me that a person of Advani’s stature could call him secular just to gain political mileage. It is like rubbing salt on our wounds,’’ says Joshi, who resides in Bopal.

Motiram Rochlani, retired superintendent of police (jails), left behind a luxurious life in Pakistan, only to be relocated in shanties by the sea in Darka during Partition.

Son of a vice-president of the Hindu Mahasabha in Karachi, Rochlani wants Advani to apologise for his statements.

"Jinnah was the cause of our ill fate. Advani was himself a refugee," rants Rochlani, currently president of the Sindhi Panchayat.

"How can Jinnah be secular? He wanted a separate country which led to the Partition and left both Hindus and Muslims suffering. Advani should not have made this statement," says Lalchand Goplani, 67, who was forced to leave his home in Hyderabad in west Pakistan when he was eight years old.

Goplani’s father was a forest contractor in Pakistan and enjoyed a lavish life.

Goplani, a resident of Gandhinagar, says the controversy has hurt his family who have not forgotten those "harrowing days" and all that they lost.

"Even a film on Partition leaves us in tears. Few can feel the pain like we do," says Goplani.

"Advani calling Jinnah secular brought back memories of our home, our land and our acquaintances - all that was snatched away from us. We have spent so many years in bitterness and now this statement has added to our burden of pain and longing. It has left us shocked," says Balraj Jumani, a 76-year-old cloth merchant here.

Jumani had a flourishing cloth business in Sakhar Sikarpur area of Karachi and business interests in Mumbai and Maskati Market in Ahmedabad.

"We migrated to Ahmedabad from Karachi during the Partition. It was a painful episode in our lives and now our leader says that the man who was responsible for all the suffering was a secular person and a good man. If Jinnah was secular, why did Partition happen?," fumes Jumani.

See online : The Times of India

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