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Letters: India's Partition

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now, to your comments. This week, in addition to Russia, we've also been focusing some attention on South Asia and the relationship between India and Pakistan. In one report, historian Ayesha Jalal of Tufts University said she blames the British for the violence that accompanied the partition of India in 1947.

Professor AYESHA JALAL (History, Tufts University): The British simply didn't want to get their hands dirty in this business of keeping Indians from going at each other's throats with the result that the British military did not actually try to prevent people from massacring each other or abducting each other or taking possession of property.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Listener Anthony Matthews, a former British officer, took issue with that statement. He worked with the Indian army during partition. He says it's unfair to blame the British who were overwhelmed by the scale of the violence.

BLOCK: He writes, the speakers know all too well that the subject matter is complex and their immediate and unanimous response that the British did not plan it properly does little justice to either themselves or the people involved. And Mr. Matthews continues, plans were made and properly executed with Indian troops, with both British and Indian officers deployed in an effort to control the situation. They were far too few, but they were not anymore available.

NORRIS: We welcome your comments. You can write to us at npr.org and please click on Contact Us at the top of the page. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.