How this border transformed a subcontinent  |  India & Pakistan

How this border transformed a subcontinent | India & Pakistan

This is the Golden Temple. People come here from all over the world to
bathe in its waters, to look at the Holy Book that
is inside of this middle Golden Temple and to just experience the holiness of
this place. This place is the epicenter of Sikhism. It sits right here in
northern India in a city called Amritsar. Close by there’s another important Sikh site
called Kartarpur. It was established by the founder of Sikhism
more than 500 years ago. It’s the place where he spent the last years
of his life and it is the second holiest place in Sikhism. For centuries, Sikhs have been able to make pilgrimage between these two sites to move freely throughout their heartland. But in 1947 a British lawyer drew a border here turning what had been British India into
two new countries, India and Pakistan. I could only call it one of the most bizarre
lines, which were ever drawn across a map It went right here with the Golden Temple
on one side and Katarpur on the other. Thanks to this border Sikhs in India are now
cut off from their holy site. So many come here to a platform that the Border
Patrol set up. The platform looks across the border
where with the help of telescopes, Sikhs can look at their holy place just three
or four kilometers away. In addition to cutting off communities from
their sacred sites, this border separated families, cut across
rivers, forests, farms, railroad tracks. Today this border is heavily fortified with
nearly all 3,000, plus kilometers fenced. It’s lit so well that you can see it from space and barely anything or anyone crosses over it When we talk about the drawing of the line, what was the most painful was the division
of families which took place and that is a very big reality. This is the story of a violent
separation. One of the most traumatic events of the 20th century It’s the story of how a hastily drawn line
on a map separated one people into two. This is a horror story. What we saw was a town soaked with the stench of death. In the train of murder and arson, come the
refugees. Their suffering is the new tragedy of India. Many will never reach their new land. These are the things that are setting the
heart burning on either side of the line. The sun is setting and I’m walking along one
of the oldest roads in Asia One that used to connect this region but today
a border runs through it and instead of connection and trade what you
see here is this: There’s barbed wire, there’s fences, there
are officers everywhere and yet, there’s also ice-cream and popcorn
and paraphernalia. This feels like a sporting event. You can buy keychains of machine guns. Thousands of spectators file in, filling this stadium
that looks down on the border. On the other side Pakistanis are doing the
same. Then, both sides start their different show. Two hours of chanting and dancing Then the finale, a face-off between the
two sides. They strut back and forth in this coordinated
choreography and it all ends with the lowering of
each flag and the closing of this gate. This bizarre border show plays out every
evening. But this ceremony, this fence, this intense
nationalism If you rewind just a little in time, none
of this existed. The British controlled parts of
India for nearly 200 years but by 1947, a strong movement of independence
was swelling across the subcontinent while back in Britain, the country was in
massive debt after fighting World War II and didn’t have the resources to
hold on to their colony so they started making plans to leave India. British officials thought that a proper transfer
of power would probably take around five years but when the British leader in charge arrived
in early 1947, he hastily decided to shrink their exit timeline and so what needed five years would now
need to be done in just four months. British India was to be split into two
independent nations, a mostly Muslim Pakistan and a Hindu majority,
but officially secular India. To do the actual drawing of the border, the
British brought in a lawyer from London. He arrived the month before the British
were supposed to leave India. He hadn’t been to British India before and
didn’t know much about the region. He had no idea about India, no idea about
Indian geography, no idea about Indian politics. And yet, he was the one drawing the lines
on the map that would affect millions of lives. During his visit, this British
lawyer looked at maps and census data, focusing on the maps that showed
religious identity of people in India. India has a wide variety of religions
and based on these census maps, you can see that people of all religions lived
amongst each other all over the region. So to draw the line the British lawyer
looked at individual districts putting any district that had a Muslim majority
population into the new country of Pakistan, while Hindu and Sikh majority
districts would be kept within India. Based on this method the lawyer began to
see what a border might look like. He only had five weeks to do this. He later wrote that it would have taken years
to settle on a proper boundary and that’s because this method
of drawing the line conceals that within these districts there were
sizable communities of all religions that had been living side-by-side
for centuries all throughout India. August 15 1947, Independence Day for India
and Pakistan The British lawyer left that day. He would never return to India again. 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. We were told that you have to cross the border
to India. 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 cities on fire, sexual violence against women,
trains, full of dead bodies. The survivors I talked to were just
children when all of this happened. The division of the sub-continent became
known as the partition of India. A phrase synonymous with trauma fueled by the reckless mismanagement of an imperial
power. I’m in a small village right near the border on the Indian side that used to be a Muslim community before
partition. And in the middle of town is this shrine where residents would conduct ornate Muslim
burial practices on these graves. Look at the original maps at the British drew
up when they were trying to draw this line. This town was actually in Pakistan in most
of the maps. But in the end the British lawyer
decided to draw the line here. The people here discovered that they
were now a part of the new country of India and so many of them fled just across the border
to the new state of Pakistan and they left this place empty. But just as Muslims were leaving this
village for the new Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan were coming
across into India and some ended up here. The Hindus and Sikhs that now live in
this community have taken it upon themselves to continue the Muslim traditions
that this community was based off of. They continue to maintain these graves and
these symbols even though they don’t necessarily pertain
to their own religion. This is a sign of respect, of common
identity in spite of the border. But this is just one side of the story. The sub-continent echoes and shudders to
the sounds of a full-scale undeclared war. Within just a few months of drawing this border, India and Pakistan were fighting an all-out
war. One that centered on this region in the north,
which both sides claimed as their own. The new countries would fight several
more wars over the years, a border fence would eventually fortify
the majority of this boundary, and both countries would acquire nuclear weapons turning up the tensions and deepening
the division. But if you take away the geopolitical bluster,
the nukes, the barrier, the trauma of partition, you can still see how much these two countries
have in common. I’m at a school in Delhi. Students are skyping with a school in Pakistan. These kids are speaking a similar
language and it takes them just minutes to dive into the common roots of their
culture. This shared identity with these kids are
feeling isn’t uncommon in India and Pakistan. Same language, same taste, same food Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs used to live
together, attend each other’s social
functions, marriages, everything. We have this divide now. If you stand in the wall
city in Amritsar and you stand in the walled city in Lahore believe me, the smells, which is a kind
of giveaway are the same. I’m visiting a group of Sikhs coming off
the train. They were able to get a visa to go visit this
religious site that most have to see through a telescope. So with all these cultural similarities, all
these happy faces, shared interests? How do you explain this? You see, it is a politician, who poisons
people’s minds. The divide is created, nurtured, fostered
because it suits a certain politics. Over the years, politicians on both sides have
exploited tension with the other side to stoke feelings of nationalism. Back here at this viewing platform, there
are construction vehicles everywhere. For years, the Sikhs have lobbied for
easier access to their holy site and after years the two governments
finally agreed to build a little notch into this border, a corridor that will allow Sikhs
to freely access their site without a visa. These four kilometers will restore a small
part of what was once the Sikh heartland. But for millions of Indians and Pakistanis
who continue to live with the repercussions
of the traumatic events of 1947, this fortified and volatile border remains
unchanged. If anything, it’s getting thicker. 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.


  1. Hi everyone. I hope you liked Ep1! If you want some behind the scenes on Vox Borders, become a member of the Video Lab. This Thursday I'll be doing a live Q&A with the whole Borders team to talk about how we make these episodes:
    Also, Borders producer Christina Thornell's video recommendations are available to watch in the Lab now, as are a bunch of goodies from past seasons. Go check it out!

  2. India pakistan
    North south korea
    Venezuela colombia
    China hongkong macau taiwan
    Indonesia malaysia singapore brunei philippines timor leste

    And many more

  3. Funny how all the vox videos about the Indian-Pakistani border is shot in India. I wonder why. Speaks a ton about the two countries.

  4. Did Vox also visit the Pakistani side of the border and get perspectives from form that side also? Or not?

  5. I'm from Pakistan and I think Vox really did justice great to the whole issue. The partition, the divide between what once was essentially one culture, and the estranged families and cultural roots. Thank you, Vox.

  6. Great video. The British are divisive, they got what they wanted out of India and they didn’t care. The partition was a spiteful act. By leaving the EU, they will lose their United Kingdom.

  7. Amritsar and Lahore do have similarities but rest of Pakistan is so different from India we cant even understand modi's speech so how can you call us having being same culturally and linguistically

  8. Take a look how india is treating muslims. In india and what they are doing in kashmir … now you can understand why this boarder is important and two nation theory is correct … our religion culture ideas and interests are totally different.. we can be friends we can exchange good relationships but we don’t want to remove this boarder ….

  9. I am Sikh, and I just want everyone to know the proper pronunciation is like the word "sick." This was a great video but it pains me to see that over 2 million people just learned about this and now believe it's pronounced "seek" 🙁

  10. These is wrong dude….. Why r u showing only modi picture…. Is payment come from congress..?
    The Congress leaders are responsible for this. U don't know the real history. So stop this type of nonsense. After 64 years we have a great leadership of prime minister modi. U fool.

  11. 9:52 thats what the problem is. You didnt tell that British Lawyer conspired with Hindus to include Pakistan belonging Gurdaspur to India which was originally part of Pakistan, just to give access to India into Kashmir as it can be seen from the original map that no border of Kashmir was common with India. It was the only reason for doing it.
    After getting access to Kashmir India sent the Army In Kashmir, a Muslim majority sate, and since then it is illegally occupied by India.

  12. I'm from Northeast India the same happened here in eastern border also n my ancestors came from EAST- BENGAL now Bangladesh before partition but many hindu Bengalis had to leave their home though our language, culture is same . Punjabis could manage to overcome their situation after 70 years but Hindu Bengalis r still suffering…. Identity Crisis !

  13. This is a very well thought out, well presented perspective on the partition rarely seen in western media, I really appreciate it

  14. hindus,muslims,sikhs all lost their lives however no doubt muslims lost more lives than hindus and indians combined
    Pakistani soldiers are taller and more handsome

  15. I remember how Imran Khan tried to bring peace between both nations but India was unwilling then. And his govt is the one which approved the 10 to 20 years pending proposal of the corridor for Kartarpur.

  16. When you say "Hindu" and add word "Secular" thats the totally Wrong thing to say … Hindus are not Secular….
    They have killed more than 100,000 Kashmiris under their watch of Indian Army & Indian Establishment dn you call them a "Democracy" & Seculars… lol … Hats off to you….

  17. This partition was needed if the British were to leave the subcontinent as the Hindus were in majority and took advantage of their size and ruled over the Muslims in minority. We can see this from the 1930's election when the Hindus won and took over they oppressed and tortured Muslims. The need for a separate homeland was vital for the Muslims. Up till now Muslims in India are torture. Just last month Hindu extremists forced a Muslim man to Hinduism and killed him. Subcontinent Hindus and Muslims were never the same but similar. Both sides have different appearance, believes, religion and culture. Kashmir is a Muslim Majority region and you can observe Indian injustice and terrorism there. That's why Pakistanis separated them from india to avoid hindu nationalists

  18. This nation before '47 seem to be United but unfortunately they never were Two Nation theory was correct and still is those Muslims in India that's there choice but about this video borders demarcation was cruelty instead Pakistan ought to have more of the princely states

  19. Dear God, when you made no difference then why are we?
    All we can do is close our ears and trust hearts. We should not continue the fight like our predecessors /ancestors did.

  20. It's not just the leader, also the people, from both side of the border. In fact, leaders are representing the people only. Some leaders are representing their religious heads, some military heads. It's very deep and multidimensional, which cannot be explained easily. Still I appreciate your efforts, thank you for the video. Hope we the people of both sides of the border, one day, will be brothers and sisters.

  21. It so very very heartbreaking that India and Pakistan has to be two separate countries!…only if they could become one…. I wonder if peace would come if one side humbly give what other desires… cant image how painful it must had been for Gandhi to see a families storingtoring apart..

  22. My grand parents were from eastrn punjab and at the time of partion they want to live there (patyala). but the whole villege of family named (Jhill) near patyala was slaughtered. 450 people was martyred. womens, children, young and old with no difference. Dear its not so simple to said the border b/w Pakistan and India a dividing line. its a safe line for us that secure us from hindu terrorism. Because they are doing the same with muslims as in 1947 was done with my family. Study both sides.

  23. I am actually stunned that they showed Modi when some guy said it is politicians who poison. I appreciate your hardwork in making of the video, but Modi is helping India and calling out on Pakistan's bluff. So, you must really be careful what you put out into the world mister. You can't put false claims and say – hey, this is the reason why.

  24. Problem is people always hesitate to look in face of truth. And the truth here is "the bitterness between these people were created due to Islam". Adherent of Islam become incompatible with everybody else.

  25. 12:00 (from then on) I live in Dubai, I have a lot of Pakistani friends inspite me being Indian. T.B.H. Pakistanis' are one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

  26. My grandparents, pretty well to do in pre partition pak, crossed the border in which only their bogey was spared, only to reach here penniless.

  27. Can't blame it on the politicians. They only the Stoke fire that's already burning. They instigate the hate that's already there. Introspect, it's us who need to change. But to our credit we have no hate except that we want the hate to end. Precious young lives lost either side.

  28. Did India start the 1947,1965,1971,1999 wars check the facts dude before saying our Indian leaders did it we have to defend our country see where India is now and where Pakistan is they wanted there country which is economical broke and export terrorists Jai Hind

  29. If only there was no partion of United Hindustan and if only Mohamed Ali Jinnah had the vision & not fallen for the lure of a separation trap laid out by the British & the RSS Parivar; then the Muslims of the sub-continent would have been the single largest majority and would have easily won every election.
    If only he had believed in the strange power of democracy where elections are won on voting as low as 30%.

    Secular United India comprising of India, Pakistan & Bangladesh would have been a Super Power of the World and millions of innocent lives would not be lost in the process of partition, the subsequent violence and the unnecessary Wars.

    Currently almost 40% of the budget from the tax payers money goes to maintain huge militaries by both the counties, thus keeping every respective citizen in constant Tax Debt & poverty.

    After that, Governments are left with no sufficient funds for infrastructure development, health & education which is a basic requirement for a healthy & a vibrant society.

    I for one can never value such a senseless & visionless leader who forgot HISTORY and drove the community to cut off the roots and asked them to go plant themselves elsewhere – UNLESS if there was a REAL threat to life, property & way of life.

    Why was he afraid when our own Ancestors had been living throughout Hindustan for more than a 1000 yrs prior to Independence. ?
    Did he forget our great Sufi Saints who came in with a handful of followers and managed to bring in millions into the folds of Islam ?
    Did he forget the glorious Muslim Empire which existed for +/- 1000 yrs which was a Golden period of that time – just prior to the barbarous British rule of only 200 yrs which drove the population into abject poverty & famine ?

    Indeed, Jinnah's decision of agreeing to the Partition is the biggest mistake in the lives of the Muslims of the sub continent and all are suffering to this day because of this left over hatered and the earnest to complete the unfinished business of ethnic cleansing amongst the right wing hindus – in which case it will be the start of the greatest civil war which the world has ever seen and towards laying the foundation to the fulfillment of the Prophecy of 'Ghazwa e Hind'.

  30. I am from Pakistan.?? Thank GOD we are not one and we are not same. Indian army kills innocent Kashmiri people. India is a country where cows are more Important than someone's life.

  31. that's how all political leaders around the world maintain their control, turning commoners against each other, scapegoating foreigners, stirring up nationalism by mixing it up with patriotism, so that people can move their attention away from the exploitative capitalists and the corrupted politicians

  32. I think Britishers wanted India and Pakistan to remain connected so they drew a line in such a way that some of the connected places at that time are disconnected now……

  33. This video is composed of woefully bad historiography, with its repeated claims about how "British lawyer" drew a line like that was a single callous decision.

    No mention of how countless proposals to define the border had already been rejected, and people were slaughtering each other in the street riots, while the set date of British departure approached. The "British lawyer" solution was a last ditch compromise adopted because it was at least impartial in its lack of context, but the Muslims and Hindus of proto-Pakistan and proto-India do not get to shirk all responsibility for having utterly failed to reach a more reasonable resolution.

  34. Lot's of love for my Sikh brothers ♥️ my Grandfather was from Jalandhar. He had sikh friends. He told me alot of stories. Whenever i see such videos i have goosebumps. I wish one day i can visit indian administered Punjab. May we live in peace and love ??

  35. The british empire is a
    Bad disease
    They stole , they separated families, they spread hate amongst hindus muslims etc , under the British colonization of India, China , and many other countries, people suffered and they(British gov) committed genocides which they justified . Anyhow till date the Brits have no knowledge about the colonized countries and their sufferings which they caused . Go on the street of UK and ask what their colonialism have caused ,they wouldn't know a thing . Nor would they have read about It in their history books .

    After all that they have done to these countries they still wouldn't let people of India or anyone migrate into Britain , the damage they have caused and the amount of people they let migrate into their Country is at a huge gap .

  36. The border was built to separate two very different people (Muslims and hindus/Sikhs) and I respect that. Not meaning to be offended but I said it so u could know

  37. Nothing is holy about India…hindus are the worshipers of stones not one true GOD ..
    And Pakistan is the plan of God .

  38. Now Pakistan has allowed Sikhs to visit their religious place by crossing the line legally. Pakistan has provided all the legal arrangements for the pilgrims. Pakistan is the name of peace and respect, and you can only know this by visiting this country, not visiting the world media sites or their meta narratives.

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