By Veena Das
This publication identifies serious moments in modern Indian heritage, resembling the Partition of India, the Bhopal commercial catastrophe, and up to date widow deaths. It describes the consequences of those occasions for India and analyzes, via them, the character of Indian modernity.
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Extra resources for Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India
According to Kamlabehn, women who were claimed by their relatives often found it impossible to acknowledge that they had borne children by their abductors. They were compelled by these circumstances to leave their infants in the care of camp officials. Sometimes women were torn between their older children, who were 'correctly' born, and an infant who was the fruit of violence. Thus, although the stand of the government in the Constituent Assembly debates was that children born to abducted women were to be defined as abducted persons--since they were not the result of legitimate unions and because it would be cruel to separate such infants from their in~thers-we can see that these children became defined as the 'undesirables' of the family through practices of the state.
This Congress session was followed by an Inter-Dominion Conference at which the two Dominions now agreed to the steps necessary for the recovery of abducted women and children. T h e implernentatior. of this decision led to a large number of women being recovered from both sides. Between December 1947 and July 1948, 9362 such women were found in India and 5 5 10 in Pakistan. It was also decided that a legal instrument had to be created for the work of such recovery. As a result of an agreement arrived at between the two Dominions, appropriate ordinances were issued in India o n 31 January 1348 and in Pakistan in May 1948.
The immediate problem is to produce a sense ofsecurity and rehabilitate homes and villages which have been broken up and destroyed. Women who have been abducted and forcibly married must be restored to their homes. Mass conversions which have taken place forcibly have no significance or validity and the people affected by them should be given every opportunity to return to their homes and the life of their choice. 61 During these disorders large numbers of women have been abducted on either side and there have been forcible conversions on a large scale.
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