How a Hastily Drawn Border in 1947 Caused the Catastrophic Division Between India and Pakistan

In a highly informative historical video essay for the Vox series Borders, host and travel vlogger Johnny Harris visited the highly fortified border between India and Pakistan to explain the catastrophic division amongst people that took place when British India was partitioned into two independent countries.

Shortly ahead of Britain’s full retreat of the area in 1947, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, a lawyer who had no experience in demarcating borders, hastily and secretly drew an eponymous line across the two countries that separated families, turned neighbors against one another, pushed people out of their homes and created religious friction where there had previously been very little.

Two days after independence the borders were made public, prompting more than 14 million people to leave their homes, their lives for what was now their side of the border. Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan moved into India
and many Muslims in India moved into the new Pakistan. These were people who were indeed forced to lose their entire homes, their memories, their childhood and the things they saw. It was one of the largest forced migrations of people ever and it was chaos, a chaos that led to widespread unspeakable violence.

The effects of the 1947 partition are still being felt 70 years later.

Seventy years later, the shadow of partition continues to divide families, halt trade, cut connection, stop cooperation, instill fear, promote hatred and the people who live in its shadow on both sides, old and young, continue to live with this division that’s superimposed upon their history of deep connection.