New Delhi, October 1
In just three months of its opening, the Partition Museum in Delhi’s Kashmere Gate area has become an integral part of the national capital’s tourism circuit. Located in the Mughal-era Dara Shikoh Library building in Ambedkar University on Lothian Road, it has been attracting 8,000 visitors a month. It was inaugurated to coincide with the International Museum Day on May 18 by Delhi Minister of Arts, Culture and Languages, Atishi.
Officials from The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, who manage the museum, say its focus on documentation of memories of the people impacted by the Partition had accorded the museum a special place. This is the only Partition Museum in the country after the one in Amritsar.
Centres of attraction
- Museum’s programme assistant Niharika says a black metal pot from the period draws a lot of attention.
- A lock and key, and a bank passbook too catch visitors’ fancy.
Museum’s Director Ashwini Bahadur said, “The museum is being visited by more than 8,000 people per month. It has been attracting a diverse range of visitors from around the world, including people from colleges, institutions, schools, communities, companies and organisations.”
Asked what drew in the people the most, Niharika, programme assistant at the museum, pointed towards a black metal pot placed in the migration gallery.
“This pot has been a witness to many struggles and travail of refugees. Its dents literally mirror the Partition-induced bruises people took on their lives. The pot’s journey has been as painful as that of the people it belonged to,” she said, adding that every time a train stopped at multiple locations, the rush of the crowds dented the pot.
The galleries of the museum have been taking visitors on a roller coaster of emotions. The heritage trust has replicated a ghost train that crossed the border with only the belongings that survived and blood stains of the refugees who didn’t.
Paras, a DU student from Jammu, spoke of how he was touched by the story of refugee Atul Keshap’s grandparents, who fled to India during the Partition via a traumatic train journey.
“I was very touched when I heard Atul Keshap’s interview,” he said.
Keshap donated a lock and key that his grandparents used to secure their trunk, carrying their belongings when they escaped from Muzaffargarh, near Multan, Pakistan. The lock and key has become a must see for anyone visiting the museum.
Another refugee family donated a passbook of the National Bank of Sialkot, stating that despite having money in their account, they were not able to access anything upon reaching India.
Bhumika, a DU student hailing from Haryana, described her experience as “highly emotional”.
“It was like reliving the Partition. You can’t help but feel overwhelmed at what happened. The abiding message of the museum is, when all is lost, there is still hope,” she added.
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