The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India

Urvashi Butalia

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The partition of India in 1947 caused one of the most harrowing human convulsions in history: over twelve million people were displaced amidst a frenzy of murder, rape and abduction on a massive scale. For decades these violent realities remained buried in silence, even though the memories of brutality never faded. Urvashi Butalia’s The Other Side of Silence was the first major work to exhume the personal trauma of the Partition. An undisputed classic, it meticulously locates the individual experiences and private pain at the heart of this cataclysmic event. Furthermore, Butalia reveals how people on the margins of history—children, women, ordinary people, the lower castes, the untouchables—were affected by this upheaval.

In a passionate and stimulating new introduction, Butalia examines not only recent developments in the expanding field of Partition studies but also the heart-breaking ways in which this colossal tragedy continues to impact our lives and what this means for the future of the Indian subcontinent.