The trauma of Partition is omnipresent in the lives of the survivors who are plagued with the haunting memories of that time period. Beyond the tumultuous period of intense fear, loss and tragedy that led to the formation of two nations, Partition survivors were forced to live in chaotic refugee camps where future prospects seemed bleak. However regardless of these circumstances, displaced individuals were able to miraculously rebuild their lives through resilience and by embracing a community spirit.
It is therefore vital to regularly remember and revisit the jarring realities of 1947 and to provide survivors with a medium to share their personal stories. The Dara Shukoh Library at the Kashmere Gate campus of Ambedkar University in Delhi is all set to open its doors to the public with a newly established museum that memorializes this painful legacy via a repository of poignant keepsakes and relics that tell the tale of the partition and the time spent in refugee camps.
Delhi is the focal point for this project as it acted as a central location for multiple refugee camps. Many monuments in Delhi were also used by refugees during this period and presently around 80% of its residents share connection with the Partition. The museum has recorded audio-visual testimonies of the Delhi residents who decided to stay back; bringing their experiences to life through physical installations, including one where a peculiar wooden sculpture of a horse loaded with skeletons and bones made by Kashmiri artist Veer Munshi makes an appearance in the library.
The museum offers a visual journey for the viewers via descriptive pieces diving into the incidents that transpired on the trains. It showcases visuals from Purana Quila where refugees struggled to even acquire food for survival, with their identities watered down to a ration card. Many other installations portray the pain and loss through broken homes and forgotten heirlooms scattered all over the area. The Partition Museum will be inaugurated on 18th May and will provide a chance for us to examine the dark past of our ancestors and reflect on a tumultuous time in the history of India.