The first museum in Delhi dedicated to the partition of India in 1947, which split British India into India and Pakistan, will open on 15 August, India's 74th anniversary of independence.
It will focus on the impact that the partition had on Delhi, which is estimated to have taken in nearly half a million refugees from Pakistan in the months before and after partition. On display will be everyday objects such as clothes and photographs that were carried by people as they rushed over the new border amid widespread sectarian conflict, which resulted in a death toll estimated between 200,000 to 2 million people.
A signed land deed from refugees fleeing from Pakistani Punjab and an Independence-era electricity meter from Lahore are among some of the collection's highlights. It will also contain oral histories of Delhi citizens recounting their experiences around the mass migration.
The museum will act as an extension to the Partition Museum in Amritsar, Punjab, the first museum dedicated to Partition, which opened in 2017.
“Within these artefacts are the stories of people who were forced to migrate overnight when the country was divided. It serves as a lesson that we should not divide and rule," says Kishwar Desai, the chairman of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TAACHT), a private company that will manage the project.
The project will also resurrect the Mughal-era building Dara Shikoh Library, in which it will be housed. Built in 1643 by the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal, the space has been disused and decaying for over two decades. Its development began three years ago after it was assigned to the government's Adopt a Heritage scheme, which repurposes run-down historic buildings.
Two further museums are scheduled to open in the Dara Shikoh building, turning it into a cultural hub that has been tentatively called "Daastaan-e-Dilli" (story of Delhi). One museum will explore the history of Dara Shikoh, while the other will house medieval and ancient antiquities from the Delhi state archaeology department. They are both planned to open in 2021, following Independence Day.
Alongside TAACHT, the project will be launched by the Ministry of Tourism and the Delhi government, along with the private entities Monument Mitras and the Museum and Arts Consultancy (MAC), according to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism.