Involuntary Migration in the Border Belt of Indian Punjab
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This chapter focuses on involuntary migrations of the people living in the border belt of Indian Punjab since partition of the subcontinent in 1947. These people not only became structural victims of the partition but also the machinations of both neighbours. Although more than 70 years have passed since the division of Indian subcontinent and India and Pakistan becoming independent entities, the baggage of the past weighs heavy on both states. The post-partition bitterness between India and Pakistan, wars at regular intervals and warlike situation on the border and criminal neglect of the development process in the border belt by the successive governments at the centre and state forced the citizens to continuously move out of their native places not only for the safety and security of their family members but also for their very survival. Boundary clashes, terrorist activities, smuggling, etc. are some of the other sources of conflict in the border area creating continuous insecurity and uncertainty that is detrimental to their normal survival. Time and again the state and national governments ordered its residents living on the international borders to vacate their villages. Sometimes these orders come as a bolt from the blue for the border residents (who are mainly marginal and small and middle peasants) in peak season of paddy or wheat harvesting. It not only creates panic in the area but forces lakhs of residents to move to the safer places leaving behind their houses. In addition to these, the floods in Ravi and Sutlej rivers which criss-cross border villages also bring untold miseries to the people and force them to migrate from their homes at regular intervals. Involuntary migrations have become part and parcel of their lives.
The chapter is divided into four sections. Section I introduces the theoretical explanations of involuntary migration and its history. Section II provides a brief overview of the border belt in Punjab and discusses the history of involuntary migration in the border area. Section III examines the impact of migration on the lives of the affected people, and Section IV sums up the study.
KeywordsInvoluntary migration State Borders Partition refugees Development Punjab
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