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Life at the Time of Partition

The Partition of India in 1947 led to a massive transfer of populations on both sides of the new border.

  • As a result of the partition, the population of Delhi swelled, the kinds of jobs people did changed, and the culture of the city became different.
  • Fierce rioting began after Indian Independence and Partition. Thousands of people in Delhi were killed and their homes were looted and burned.
  • Muslims left Delhi for Pakistan and Sikh and Hindu refugees came from Pakistan. Over two-thirds of the Delhi Muslims migrated to Pakistan leaving 44,000 homes empty.

Rural Sikhs heading towards India

Transfer of population

  • Delhi became a city of refugees as nearly 5,00,000 people entered Delhi from Pakistan. Refugees roamed the streets of Shahjahanabad, searching for empty homes to occupy.
  • The refugees stayed in camps, schools, military barracks and gardens, hoping to build new homes. Some were housed in refugee colonies.
  • New colonies such as Lajpat Nagar and Tilak Nagar came up.
  • Shops and stalls were set up to cater to the demands of the migrants; schools and colleges were also opened.
  • The skills and occupations of the refugees were quite different from those of the Muslims who left Delhi.
  • Many of the Muslims who went to Pakistan were artisans, petty traders and labourers. The new migrants coming to Delhi were rural landlords, lawyers, teachers, traders and small shopkeepers.
  • Partition changed the lives and occupations of the migrants. The large migration from Punjab changed the social scene of Delhi.
  • An urban culture which was largely based on Urdu was overshadowed by new tastes and sensibilities, in food, dress and the arts.

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