Involuntary Migration in the Border Belt of Indian Punjab

  • Jagrup Singh Sekhon
  • Sunayana Sharma


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.


Involuntary migration State Borders Partition refugees Development Punjab 


  1. Aggarwal, S. C., & Kumar, P. (2002). Migration in the north eastern region during 1901–1991 and emerging environmental distress: A case study of deforestation in Assam. Noida: V.V. Giri National Labour Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, R. (2010). Immigration and migration. New Delhi: Viva Books Private Limited.Google Scholar
  3. Barik, B. C. (1994). Rural migrants in an urban setting: A case study. New Delhi: Classical Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  4. Bharadwaj et al. (2008, August 30), The big march: Migratory flows after the partition of India. Economic and Political Weekly, XLIII(35)Google Scholar
  5. Census of India. (2001). Accessed from: Accessed on 14 April, 2018.
  6. Chaurasia, A. R., & Gulati, S. C. (2008). India-the state of population 2007. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cherunilam, F. (1987). Migration – Causes, correlates, consequences, trends & policies. Bombay: Himalaya Publishing House.Google Scholar
  8. Darling, M. (1949). At freedom’s door. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dasgupta, B. (1976). Migration and urbanization- issues relating to West Bengal. In B. Dasgupta et al. (Eds.), Migration from rural areas-the evidence from village studies. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Datta, V. N. (2002). Lord Mountbatten and the Punjab boundary commission award. In S. Settar & I. B. Gupta (Eds.), Pangs of partition. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Deshingkar, P., & Akter, S. (2009, April). Migration and human development in India. Human Development Research Paper 2009/13, UNDP.Google Scholar
  12. Dubey, R. M. (1981). Population dynamics in India with reference to UP (Allahabad: Chaugh Publishers). Encyclopedia britannica, “human migration”. Accessed from:
  13. Ficsher. (1997). Should I stay or should I go? In T. Hummar, G. Brochmann, K. Thomas, T. Faist, & G. Malmberg (Eds.), International migration, immobility & development – Multidisciplinary perspectives. New York: Oxford/Berg.Google Scholar
  14. Friedland, W. H. (1999). Migrant workers. In Grolier (Ed.), Encyclopaedia Americana international (Vol. 19). Danbury: Grolier Incorporated.Google Scholar
  15. Gorlier. (1999). Migration, human. In Grolier (Ed.), Encyclopaedia Americana international (Vol. 19). Danbury: Grolier Incorporated.Google Scholar
  16. Gosh, P. S. (2004). Unwanted & uprooted – A political study of migrants, refugees, stateless & displaced of south Asia. New Delhi: Samskriti.Google Scholar
  17. Government of Punjab, Population Statistics of Punjab. (1971–2011). Publication No. 947. Accessed from: Accessed on 26 April 2018.
  18. Harris, N. (2005, October 22), Migration and development. Economic and Political Weekly, 40(43)Google Scholar
  19. Hassan, M. I. (2005). Population geography. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.Google Scholar
  20. IOM: United Nations. (2000). World migration report 2000. Geneva: International Organization for Migration United Nations.Google Scholar
  21. Ishtaq, A. (1997). Exit, voice and citizen. In T. Hummar, G. Brochmann, K. Thomas, T. Faist, & G. Malmberg (Eds.), International migration, immobility & development – Multidisciplinary perspectives. New York: Oxford/Berg.Google Scholar
  22. Kaur, H. (2010a). Baptism by fire, survival by grit: Life in the border belt of Punjab. Working Paper Series No. 3, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy. Amritsar: GNDU Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kaur, H. (2010b). Study of exclusion in the border belt of Punjab. Research Report-2, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy. Amritsar: GNDU Press.Google Scholar
  24. Majumdar, P. K. (2010). Fundamentals of demography. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.Google Scholar
  25. Mitra, H. N. (Ed.). (1947). Indian annual register (Vol. I). Calcutta: The Annual Register Office.Google Scholar
  26. Narang, S. (2010, December 11). Understanding the status of climate change and refugees. Mainstream, XLVIII(51)Google Scholar
  27. Parveen, S. (2005). Changing face and challenges of urbanization – A case study of UP. New Delhi: Concept Publishing House.Google Scholar
  28. Puri, H. K., et al. (1999). Terrorism in Punjab: Understanding grassroots reality. New Delhi: HAR-ANAND Publications Pvt. Ltd.Google Scholar
  29. Rai, M. S. A. (Ed.). (1986). Studies in migration: Internal and international migration in India. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. Raj, H. (1993). Population studies (fundamentals of demography). Delhi: Surjeet Publications.Google Scholar
  31. Sanez, R., & Ayala, M. I. (2008). Migration. In W. A. Darity Jr. (Ed.), International encyclopaedia of social sciences (Vol. 5, 2nd ed.). New York: Thomas Gale.Google Scholar
  32. Sekhon, J. S. (1999). Migration due to terrorist violence in Punjab: A case study of a village. Punjab Journal of Politics, XXIII(2), 89–102.Google Scholar
  33. Sekhon, J. S. (2009). Personal interview with Rattan Singh Randhawa.Google Scholar
  34. Sekhon, J. S. (2011). Problems of border area farmers in Punjab: An empirical study. Unpublished ICSSR Project Report. Department of Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.Google Scholar
  35. Sekhon, J. S. (2013, September). The cutting edge: Experience of living in border areas. Man and Development, XXXV(3), 57–70.Google Scholar
  36. Sekhon, J. S. (2014). Farmers at the border belt of Punjab: Fencing and forced deprivation. In P. S. Judge (Ed.), Mapping social exclusion in India: Caste, religion and borderlands. Delhi: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, A. (1904). An inquiry into the nature and causes of wealth of nations, edited with an introduction, notes, marginal summary and an enlarged index by Edwin Cannan (Vol. 1). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  38. Smith, A. O. (2006). Disasters and forced migration in the 21st century, June 11, 2006. Accessed from: Accessed on 12 March 2018.
  39. Srivastava, R. S. (2008). India: Internal migration links with poverty and development. In B. Mckinley (Ed.), Migration, development & poverty reduction in Asia. New Delhi: Academic Foundation.Google Scholar
  40. UNESCO. (2018). “Migrant/migration”, learning to live together. Accessed on 11 March, 2018.
  41. UNHCR. (2017). Global trends: Forced displacement in 2016. Geneva: The UN Refugee Agency.Google Scholar
  42. United Nations. (2006). International migration report 2002. In A. M. Messina & G. Lahav (Eds.), The migration reader- exploring politics and policies. New Delhi: Viva Books Private Limited.Google Scholar
  43. United Nations. (2017, December). Population facts”, No. 2017/5, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.Google Scholar
  44. Varma, S. N. (1999). Foreign policy dynamics, Moscow and India’s international conflict. New Delhi: Deep and Deep Publication.Google Scholar
  45. Vombatkere, S. G. (2009, November 14). Managing disasters and displacements. Mainstream, XLVII(48).Google Scholar
  46. Weiner, M. (2003). Migration. In V. Das (Ed.), The Oxford India companion to sociology and social anthropology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. White, P., & Woods, R. (1980). The geographical impact of migration. London: Longman Group Limited.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jagrup Singh Sekhon
    • 1
  • Sunayana Sharma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceGuru Nanak Dev UniversityAmritsarIndia

Personalised recommendations